Liz departed for the airport and her week in South Africa. It was very lonely back in the hotel room and the subsequent loading of the bike on my own some just highlighted how efficiently we had worked as a team on the ride.
The ride out of Manhattan and into the Lincoln Tunnel was slow but steady, but I was surprised and put out to be warned of a traffic delay on the New Jersey Turnpike. I dropped of, incurring a toll charge of 35 cents (I laughed) only to run smack-bang into another queue. I hit the 'avoid' button on the GPS and it actually worked rather well. At this stage I should record that my destination is Jamison PA, where I would be meeting an old friend, Amie, and her husband Frank.
I am making steady progress through the rather drab urban landscape and begin to enjoy the ride a bit more as this starts to look more like suburbia. Until I run into another traffic queue near New Brunswick. Time to stop for lunch, a tactic that was reasonable given the time of day, because when I returned to the road it was flowing better.
A word about New Jersey drivers. Some are desperately incompetent.
It was good to get to Frank and Amie we just say down and talked and as they were off to church I was happy to go along Rather interesting. Afterwards Amie drove us around the area, focusing on Doylestown. It is a very pleasant town and it has the really fascinating Merger Museum. Iamented the fact that I did not have my camera with me.
A simple dinner with Fiano to drink and we chatted and played music until late. Such an easy friendship, it is lovely. Another chat over breakfast and it is too soon time to hit the road.
In the early 2000's I had driven through Gettysburg and had been greatly impressed with my impression of how that battlefield had been marked out and maintained. That planted within me the desire to return and look at it more closely. This I was about to do.
I had recently heard on the ADVrider site about couch surfing. I had signed up and put out a request for a couch in Gettysburg and received an acceptance. So I had arranged to meet my host Nathan and his wife Gleice (she is Brazilian) .... at church! This I duly did. They were a very welcoming group and I felt right at home with some solid Reformed preaching. I met Nathan's mum and dad and (I think) all of his eight siblings! It is their habit to hang around Church afterwards and this we did until 10.30 pm.
Nathan has an interest in wine, guns, reptiles, theology etc etc, a man after my own heart. We covered a lot of ground in the short time we were together and I really appreciated their hospitality and our time together.
On to Gettysburg. I arrived shortly after 8 am so beat the eventual crowd. That meant I was able to get a really good position in the Cyclorama show as well as have an unhurried look at the exhibits. Once again, a fabulous presentation of American history.
After that I toured the battlefield and cemetery. In relation to the former, it is clear who won, made plainer I imagine by the fact tgat Pennsylvania was a Union state. I think that there are now too many monuments and it is rather cluttered on the Union side.
The Confederate side has fewer memorials and they are smaller as well creating, at least for me, a simpler and more dignified atmosphere. To give one example, the statue of Union General Meade is perhaps twice life size, on his horse, in the open and very prominent. I found that of Confederate General Robert E Lee on the side of the road in the woods, life size, no horse and two roadside parking bays. That is not nice.
Gettysburg is seared into the American soul. Although a Union victory, it was American killing American and the South lost not only wealth, but the flower of its youth. Some might venture that 150 years recovery is not yet complete. And of course Gettysburg is internationally renowned because of Abraham Lincoln's immortal address.
I am no historian, but I wonder why it was thought necessary to fight. Economic sanctions would have worked, surely.
I could easily return to Gettysburg. If I do, I will take a personal guided tour. It is a sad place, but the lessons of history are if you don't know it, you are doomed to repeat it.
Inspired by Gettysburg, I decided to visit Antietam. I will post that tomorrow morning.