New Orleans to Canada: Day 13 Pennsylvania to Virginia

Steve Kinchen, Sr/ May 29, 2013/ BMW R1200RT, General Rants & Raves About Riding, New Orleans to Canada 2013, Touring/ 0 comments

Date: May 29th, 2013

Departure TIme: 7:41am

Arrival Time: 6:35pm

States Covered: Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia

Miles Covered: 258

Temperature at departure: 65 degrees

We rallied this morning at 7:30am to depart for our ride through the battlefields of Gettysburg. Our hotel was conveniently located just a few blocks from the national parks entrance and, after a few missed turns, we were immersed in our Gettysburg experience. The weather was cool and the fog had begun to lift by the time we arrived at the first memorial site. There is so much to take in, so many monuments that seem to blend in with the landscape, but each one tells a very personal story of the loss of life, valiant service on both sides of the battles, and should serve as a reminder of how our nation is stronger when we are united than when we are divided.

I could not help but think about how much my two older sons would enjoy what we saw this morning, and how the historical significance is lost on most folks of our generation. Everything from the visitors center to the maintenance of the parks roads are done with great pride and respect for the solemnity of the location. These are stories that we as a nation should not, and can not let fade away into obscurity.

We climbed a tower (must have been 50 flights of stairs… not really, but it felt like it…) that provided a spectacular overview of the battlefields. After our time in the museum yesterday afternoon, it was fairly easy to reconstruct the details of what it must have felt like during the heat of the battle. We came across one sign that had a quote from 1st Lt. Benjamin F. Rittenhouse of the Union Army, 5th U.S. Artillery, Battery D, that described the night of July 2nd as follows:

“The night of July 2nd was bright moonlight, but it seemed to me there were spirits flitting from Little Round Top to Devil’s Den and back, all night; and as I lay awake, the only sounds I could hear were the groans of the wounded lying between the lines.”

We could have spent several days discovering thousands more such plaques and signs scattered throughout the park, but we needed to press on towards Antietam Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Maryland. We soon were greeted by a volunteer that was quite eager to tell us all about the park and its history. I was shocked to learn that the battle at Antietam was the bloodiest, and still is, in American History. 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing after twelve hours of savage combat on September 17, 1862. The Battle of Antietam ended the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia’s first invasion into the North and led to Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

We pushed on after a few obligatory photographs towards Harper’s Ferry. When we discovered that it would cost $10 each to enter the park, we opted not to visit the third site of the day and pressed on towards the Skyline Drive.

I was delighted to have an opportunity to finally ride the Skyline Drive as it is too far north to be accessible during our annual fall visit to the smokies. The ride was everything that it has been billed to be: scenic, great roadways, fun and somewhat challenging twists, and overall a great experience. After 45 or so miles of the Skyline, we opted to make some time as the day was getting away from us. We hopped on I-81 attempting to make it to Roanoke, VA.

The traffic and level of aggressive drivers proved to be more than we were willing to put up with, so we opted to crash at the Holiday Inn Express (and yes, I already do feel smarter!) in Waynesboro, VA. We will ride out tomorrow at 8am with the intentions of picking up the Blue Ridge Parkway on into the Tail of the Snake (33 miles, 489 curves, 3 mountains and 1 valley… see here for more info: ) and the Back of the Dragon. This should set us up in Bristol Tennessee tomorrow evening, and then we make the final leg home.

With the riding that is left to do tomorrow, I will save the waxing philosophical for a later time. But suffice it to say at this time, I am a changed person after having been a part of this adventure….

























Share this Post

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *