Shockingly, Fred and I ended up with an overnight to ourselves, so he surprised me with a getaway! First we went to celebrate my mom's birthday with her at my brother's house. We all had an amazing time, but I could tell Fred was getting antsy to get on the road. I had no clue where we were going. Sadly, my mother-in-law had accidentally mentioned where we were going as we we're heading to my brother's but I was reading something and completely missed it!
As we headed to our "destination unknown" I tried reading my book because I didn't even want to guess where we were going, and I didn't want a street sign to accidentally give it away. What I loved about this weekend was we didn't have to be anywhere by a specific time. We saw a farmer's market as we drove, and then came across an antique market. There were so many little spots along the way, but unfortunately it was late in the day and everything was closing. Fred and I have already decided we have to go back to enjoy all of the little stops.
Thankfully I made it all the way to "destination unknown" without me figuring it out! I love surprises so much, I was thrilled to make it there without it being blown! I was excited to find out Gettysburg was where we were headed. I'd never been there! We settled into our hotel room, watched the sun sent, grabbed dinner, and relaxed until we fell asleep.
First, if you get the booklet that we had, there's a sticker that comes with the book that you're encouraged to use so that way people know why you're going slow or stopping frequently. Unfortunately, we didn't see that note until we were leaving because it's on the very last page of the book. It should be on the front page or the page with the CDs. I just though it was a special sticker that came with the book. lol I'd even suggest getting this the night before you do the full visit just to go through and read some of the history.
Third, expect this to last a LOT longer than 3 hours if you do anything OTHER than the book. If you stop, get out, walk around, take pictures, read plaques, interact with period characters, etc this could literally take ALL day long. Bring along a picnic and eat along the trail. There are like 1500 memorials, and you'll never have time to look at even 1/8 of them on a weekend.
Fourth, there's a QR code that if you scan it when you see it, you'll get digital content along the way. I didn't download it or experience it because there was just so much to take in with what was around us, the CD, and the book. I have no doubt the digital content would've been great, too.
Now, on to our experience...
The map in our book shows the landmarks that match along with the narration of the CD. There are 16 stops, 3 of them unmarked. At a few stops there are observation towers. Those are pretty cool to give visitors a sense of what the entire scenery and battlefield, in land, must've looked like.
Speaking of observation towers, we went up the first one at Stop 3 Oak Ridge. That's a pretty spectacular view. You can see 360 degrees and that's when I realized how many memorials there are, one right after the other! And that was just the start of our tour.
There are a lot people, especially on a holiday weekend, so just go with patience knowing people will be driving very slowly, stopping at random times in the middle of the road to take a picture, and pulling over/out at various locations. That may or may have not been us during our day.
As we were about halfway done with our tour, Fred pointed out that there are a variety of ways to take a tour:
Through the foundation:
- guided bus tour
- guided car tour
- personal car tour unguided
- bikes (single & tandem)
- scooter - that would be SO fun
- horse carriage
- horse back - this seems heavenly