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History Tour with the Family: The Sequel

August 3, 2010

PortraitBecause you know the sequel is never better than the original–here is my attempt at portraying our spontaneous trip to Pennsylvania to see Dustin and Andrea.  I was missing them horribly and my Hero knows just the cure.  We get in the car and we drive.  We are really good at driving.  Well, he is good at driving.  I am good at riding. 

I am not exactly sure why Dustin, my son, left all the details in my hands.  History.  History.  Love it– but I don’t want to remember the details.  I want to celebrate in what our History has taught us and learn.  The details.  Not so much.  But–I did take some great pictures.

I will attempt a synopsis of our trip.  If you want History details, please visit  I am sure they will be able to help you out.


We arrived in good time on Friday evening and just spent the evening catching up.  I love just sitting and catching up.  I love to hear how their lives are going.  You can only say so much on the phone.  In person you can see the twinkle in their eyes as they talk of their jobs, their ministries in Church and their friends.  You can see they are really–really happy.  Does a mother’s heart good.


I knew Red Lion, PA was very close to Hershey, PA–which to me means nothing else but Chocolate.  Dustin works on Saturdays, so Andrea spent the day with us.  I was pretty excited about going to Chocolate World.  I had these great visions of chocolate fountains and streets of caramel.  No–just a lot of commercialism.  I do not do well at tourist spots.  I felt like everywhere I turned, they were just trying to sell me some candy item.  I did enjoy the trolley car ride through a simulated factory.  I was ready to leave in less than an hour. 

But–the town itself was adorable.  Look at these street lights.  Amazing. 

On Friday night I had posted on Facebook about going to Pennsylvania to see Dustin and Andrea–just so people wouldn’t think we dropped off the face of the earth.  A dear friend who has moved far-far away from me commented on my Facebook page that she was in PA visiting family while her husband is deployed in Afghanistan.  I asked her how far she was from Red Lion–she said they were just a few miles from Hershey!  So less time at Chocolate World meant more time I could spend time with Anne.  I love Facebook.

When Anne left me and moved to the other side of Michigan, she had one beautiful daughter.  Then she had another and moved to Florida.  Then she had another and moved to Washington state.  Then she had another and moved to Nevada. 

I think she needs to stop moving.  Anne’s husband is a doctor in the military. I love them both dearly.  I miss the times I could hear Anne’s voice of reason.  She has this gentle way about her that is strength to me.  We shared a love of music, food, family, food, and most of all–our love of God and our Church. 

Anne made the best brownies in the world–seriously–one time she brought them to a Church picnic–still warm.  She stopped me before we went under the pavilion, just so I could have one still warm.  You can’t find better friends than that.  I am going to share that recipe sometime this week for my Recipe Box Project.  I am so glad our paths crossed.  We had to come from Nevada and Michigan to meet in Pennsylvania.  Now that is divine intervention.

When Dustin arrived home, we went to eat at the infamous Shady Maple.  If you don’t know, which, I never knew, they have the most food in the world under one roof.  It is mostly Pennsylvania Dutch comfort food.  My favorite is the noodles.  You have to go there at least once in your lifetime.  My hero calls it a ‘hog trough’–no offense Pennsylvania people.  I think I said several times that I am never eating again.


Andrea got up at 3:00 AM to put a roast in the crock pot.  Yessirree–that is my daughter-in-law.  We went to Church and had an amazing lunch of roast beef-potatoes-carrotts-gravy-and hot rolls.  Oh wait–didn’t I say I was never going to eat again?  That was just for saturday. 

We had a relaxing afternoon.  Church that evening was the closing for their Vacation Bible School.  I really tried to get some good pictures, but I was too far away and didn’t take the time to mess with setting my camera up for being so dark and hazy in the building.  All of my pictures were dark and blurry.  I really need to work on my indoor pictures.  Not so good.

We decided to take some pictures by the Church.  The background is amazing.  Rolling Pennsylvania hills.  Who needs mountains when you can see for miles and miles over the country side? 

One thing I wanted to be sure to do this trip was to see Gettysburg.  The first time we drove out to see Dustin and Andrea, we took a wrong turn and drove through Gettysburg in the pouring rain at midnight.  It was almost as if time stood still as we drove through the town.  I knew I wanted to go back and see more. 

Our first stop was in town. I loved being in Lincoln Square.  My two little ones had memorized the Gettysburg Address in school last year.  I heard it everyday.  I think it really came to life to them this day. 

We walked the streets looking for someplace to eat–yes, again.  I really could have spent more times looking at the buildings and in the shops–but I was hungry–well, more importantly–my hero was hungry. 

We also stopped at the Visitor’s Center and Museum.  I loved this place.  Here we got a close up of the guns and ammunition that was used during the war and caught a glimpse of what life was like during that time period.  We bought our tourist things–Adam got a canteen and something else I can’t remember.  Catie got a canteen and a souvenir gold coin.  I bought a coffee mug and two read aloud books about the Civil War to read to Adam and Catie this school year.  I have this thing about coffee mugs.  I tell you about it sometime.


 We piled back in the car, grabbed a Diet Coke and headed out for our tour of Gettysburg.  I know most people don’t have the distinct advantage of having a History Scholar for a son.  I am going to stop the tour and tell a story.  When Dustin was in the 4th grade in a Christian School, he won the National Geographic Geography Bee.  For the whole school.  He was in the 4th grade.  The Geography Bee was for 4th-8th graders.  The boy used to go to bed with a World Map tucked under his pillow.  When he was in the 6th grade-he won again (they didn’t have one in the 5th grade)–then he went on to the State Competition and only missed 2 questions.  The winner didn’t miss any questions.  Ok–do you get it now.  I have my own tour-guide.  He is worth at least 80 dollars on a tour.  End of Story.

I was amazed at all the monuments erected to commemorate this war.  To me it was a war of wars.  Fought on our own soil.  Brother against brother.  The monuments were there so we could all remember those who gave their lives for what they believed in–whether right or wrong–their bravery showed what this country was made of.  Divided we fall–United we stand. 

At each stop, History unfolded in front of our eyes.  This is the first and only time I have ever wanted to see a reenactment.  There was so much I wanted to see.  The CD in our car told of the battle and how it transpired, but my imagination fell short. 

We continued and the pieces started coming together for us.  We started to see and feel the battle as stories were told of men that gave their lives so bravely without fear–it seemed.  Our imaginations were being shaped by being right where it really happened.  We could look across the fields or behind a tree and wonder if it was the same rock or the same tree that was there so many years ago. 

We became very solemn at times.  We imagined what it must have been like to be there.  Would we have been brave enough? 

The CD ended, and so did our tour.  I had climbed a lot of steps and passed through winding roads and rocky hills.  It was good to be reminded that a war changes people.  A Civil War–changed a nation. 

There were 208 stairs to this tower.  Andrea counted them.  Here is my hero looking out over the battlefield.  He was deep in thought.  I could tell.  I was wondering if he was putting himself in the battle.  Wondering where he would bunker in and take a shot.  Would he be able to load his gun fast enough?  Would he live to be with his family again?  Then I remembered that he is deathly afraid of heights and he was probably wondering when we were going to get off of this platform!

It was an amazing day and an amazing weekend. If you ever get a chance to visit the wonders of Pennsylvania, you will not regret it.  You have to get past some of the very — different — customs and traditions, but you will fall in love with them at the same time.  I will never-ever eat pigs stomach!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. August 3, 2010 6:50 am

    Welcome back; looks like you had a wonderful vacation! I love your family picture as well as your ones of Gettysburg. Seems like just yesterday I went on a teen trip out East and we stopped there. Had such a great time, but I don’t think I appreciated all the history behind all the places we went. Would love to visit there again!

  2. August 3, 2010 1:12 pm

    We absolutely loved Gettysburg! It was such a peaceful place though back in 1863 (I think – Dustin would know) it was anything but peaceful! I’m so glad y’all had such a good time together. And “kudos” to your “hero” for making the climb!

  3. August 3, 2010 3:43 pm

    Well, if Dustin & Andrea haven’t told you, I am becoming DEEPLY interested in all of this history! Thanks for the pictures & the personal experiences. Also, the family pictures are great. It’s nice to “see” everyone just for a little bit.

  4. Andrea Speckhals permalink
    August 3, 2010 9:00 pm

    The pig stomach is called “Hogmaw” for the record! You can read more about it at this link: . (You may have to copy and paste it.)
    On a better note, we had so much fun too!

  5. August 4, 2010 6:33 am

    Amazing trip,
    in so many ways:
    connecting with your
    friend and her darling
    daughters; being with
    your boy and his wife
    {they are sooo cute!};
    taking in Gettysburg….
    My son learned the
    G. Address this last
    year, too! And my
    daughter visited G.B.
    in the 8th grade when
    her class went to D.C.
    I’ve never been, but
    it looks wonderful.
    What a great spontaneous
    xx Suzanne

  6. Anne Snyder permalink
    August 4, 2010 1:14 pm

    Thanks for sharing-beautifully written and the pictures were WONDERFUL. So blessed that you took time to stop by and see us. Remember we’re only 5 hours from the Grand Canyon if you ever want to come sight see! Love and prayers for you all.


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