While most of you were out lounging around cottages and/or consuming vast amounts of bargain-price domestic beer, I was in southern Pennsylvannia doing what I do best- tromping around an old battlefield.
And brother, what a battlefield it is.
Gettysburg was the site of the largest battle ever fought on North American soil, and a defining moment of the American Civil War. And if you're in any way interested in military or American history, this place is like Mecca. It is, by far, the best preserved and best presented military site in the world.
The Battle of Gettysburg took place between July 1-3, 1863. Some 160,000 troops fought in the engagement, and around 51,000 of them were killed, wounded or captured. In short, it was a big deal. Today, much of the battlefield remains as it was 145 years ago. The big difference is the hundred of memorials that now dot the landscape, dedicated to the individuals, units and states that fought there. Like this one, to the soldiers from North Carolina:
All parts of the battlefield are interpreted for visitors. But if you want the whole experience, get the audio tour. And a car or bike- the battlefield is about 12 miles long.
For a little extra period flair, you may also run into a few of these fellows along the route:
Reenactors are frequently mocked as the apex of historical nerdery. But I view these folks fondly for two reasons. First, they know a lot about the history of combat in the Civil War, and are only too pleased to tell you about it. Second, there's about a 90 per cent chance that I will be one of these guys in a few years, so I'm trying to preempt the mocking now.
All in all, Gettysburg is a cracking good time. Of course, it helps to have a solid battlefielding partner. Luckily, my Dad fits the bill. He knows more about the Civil War (and most other things) than I do...and that's a fair bit.
So, if you're a big history geek like me, get thee to Gettysburg. And on your way back, why not stop at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio? It's the perfect capper to a man-trip, and I got a sweet new Pittsburgh Steelers hat. Best. Long weekend. Ever.