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Vacation, Summer, 2004

Trip Diary


August 9, 2004

We arrived at Gettysburg, Virginia in late afternoon and checked into the Quality Inn on Steinwehr Avenue, which was known as Emmitsburg Pike during the war.  We discovered later upon reading the information posted in front of the hotel that it is situated where Pickettís Charge took place.  We walked around town briefly and ate dinner at the Dobbin House.


This house was built in 1776 by Rev. Alexander Dobbin.  He lived there with his wife and nineteen children.  During the battle at Gettysburg, it was a field hospital.  Itís now a restaurant.  The dining areas are in the house itself, on the left, and the wing on the right is a gift shop.  All the gift shops in Gettysburg, at least that I saw, have the same stuff, none of it very exciting.  Itís your usual tacky, touristy stuff.  The food in the restaurant, however, was outstanding, including a fresh fruit plate that was just amazing.  The tables are in various rooms of the house so you may be sitting at a table with only one other occupied table around you.  It was very intimate.  The candlelight and antiques added to the atmosphere.  It must be beautiful in the winter with the warmth of the fireplace.

August 10, 2004

The first place I wanted to visit was the Jennie Wade House and Museum.

I've read quite a bit about this story and was interested in seeing the house.  If you aren't into Civil War history, Jennie was the only Gettysburg civilian to be killed during the battle of Gettysburg.  She was at her sister's house.  Her sister, Georgia, had recently given birth and was resting in the bedroom.  Jennie's mother was taking loaves of bread out of the oven when she heard a sound from Jennie, who was standing kneading dough over a dough tray.  When she turned, she found Jennie dead.  A bullet had gone through two doors (the first door is the one on the left between two windows), hit her in the back and killed her instantly.  The actual dough tray is still in the room.  Some of the other furnishings are authentic, others are antiques.  Read more about Jennie here: Jennie Wade: a Gettysburg love story 

We also saw a nice exhibit at the Lincoln Train Museum.  Bill really likes model trains so this one was fun.  It also had an exhibit about the train that took Lincoln to Gettysburg for the dedication of the cemetery where he delivered the speech that became known as the Gettysburg Address.

Lunch was at The Historic Farnsworth House.

  Very nice.  Apparently, this building is haunted.  There are quite a few bullet holes in the building, which really makes you think about the many buildings in town that were there during the battle.  There are quite a few buildings there from the time of the battle.  The restaurant had an exhibit of props and costumes used in the movie Gettysburg.  It appears the actors ate there often during filming.

August 11, 2004

We left early in the morning for the five hour drive to Appomattox, Virginia, arriving late morning.  It was too early to check into the bed and breakfast so went to tour the national park.  The old town is there as it was at the time of the surrender.  This happened because the old courthouse burned down and was rebuilt some distance away.  Those living in town moved to the area where the new courthouse, the center of town, was built.  The McLean House, the site of the surrender, had been dismantled and there were plans to rebuild it in Washington, D.C. but this never happened so it was built on the original site again. 

  You can visit the house itself and the grounds, including the slave quarters and summer kitchen.  The only piece of furniture in the house that was there for the surrender was the couch in the parlor.  The reproductions of the desks used by Grant and Lee:

  Lee desk

  Grant desk

The originals are actually in museums now.  The tour guide said that Wilmer McLean was quite a wheeler-dealer and tried to capitalize on the notoriety of his home for years afterward.  He apparently was always trying to make some money.

We stayed at the Longacre Bed and Breakfast, a beautiful place.  Here are some pictures:

  This Tudor style home was built in 1933.

  The Manor Room, where we stayed

        1930's style restored bathroom


   garden and


August 12, 2004

We were off to Florida, St. Augustine to be exact.  Only problem was that since we were enjoying the peace and quiet at Longacre without TV or internet access, we had no idea what else was happening in the world.  Therefore, we didn't know we were driving right into Tropical Storm Bonnie.  After driving for hours in very heavy rain, we finally decided to turn off the mp3 player and turn on the radio and see what the heck was happening here.  We discovered the news about Bonnie.  So, that would explain the driving rain.  Not only that, we were heading for Florida, which was expecting Hurricane Charley.  Oh, boy.  Anyway, eleven hours later, we arrived in St. Augustine. 

August 13, 2004

Even though Bill would not be able to golf in St. Augustine, we were at least able to see the World Golf Hall of Fame, which is what brought us to this area.

Hey, it looks like it was sunny for Pooh!

  The Hall of Fame complex is beautiful but I'm sure you can see from the picture how iffy the weather was. 

The tour guide here was really funny, very enjoyable.  We had lunch at a restaurant called Caddy Shack, which is run by Bill Murray and his brothers.  Their motto?  "Eat, drink and be Murray".  The food was great and I really enjoyed this place.

After touring the museum, Bill was able to play 18 holes on a putting course so at least he could play a little in the World Golf Village.

  In the afternoon, after seeing all we could see at the Hall of Fame, we headed back to Days Inn, stopping off to buy some supplies at the local supermarket since Hurricane Charley was due to head off the east coast of Florida through Daytona Beach, south of where we were staying.  Rain started later in the evening and continued until morning.  We were lucky that we didn't lose electricity and though the sun was out the next morning, the grassy areas outside our room were a bit flooded.  In fact, I was afraid the rain would seep into our first floor room and kept moving our luggage farther away from the door as the night wore on.  We stayed dry, though.

  It sure could have been worse.  The west coast of Florida was heavily damaged by the storm.

August 14, 2004

St. Augustine

We thought we'd be spending the entire day in the hotel, watching the hurricane in the Days Inn but we were pleasantly surprised when the sun was out in the morning.  So, since there was no way Bill could golf, we toured historic St. Augustine, the nation's oldest city.  Since we were unfamiliar with the city, we decided to take a tour on one of the Red Trains.  It's not really a train, but a tram sort of vehicle.  The driver was really funny and sometimes, I wasn't sure if he was telling us the history or another joke.  My favorite?  What does NASCAR mean?  Non-athletic sport centered around rednecks.

  Here's the statue of Ponce de Leon, who spotted this land in 1513 and claimed it for Spain.  He called it La Florida (land of flowers).  There is a huge fort there (I thought I took a picture but apparently didn't) that's made from something called coquina.  It's ground shells, sand and lime that is found only on a nearby island and Japan!  When it's exposed to the air, it becomes rock-hard.  The fort and many buildings were made from this stuff.

We shopped on St. George Street, very pretty:


The oldest "resident" of St. Augustine is a live oak tree called the Old Senator.  It's in the parking lot of the Howard Johnson's motel!

  Apparently, it was here when the explorers came.

  This is Magnolia Street.  If I remember correctly, the magnolia trees died so live oaks were planted.  It really was pretty but the story's a bit strange!

We ate lunch at a French cafe that served such things as hot dogs and turkey club sandwiches.  Only in America!

August 15, 2004

Off to Disney World

This was probably the shortest drive from place to place in the whole trip, only about an hour and a half.  The first place we stopped was Ron Jon's Surf Shop in Orlando to pick up new flip-flops for me and a bathing suit for Bill.  We then checked into the Coronado Springs resort at Walt Disney World.

  This resort is a bit different from the All-Star resort we stayed at four years ago.  It's really beautiful. 

  Our room is in the building on the right, third floor.  It's a huge place and we tend to get a bit lost.  By the time we check out tomorrow, we might actually know how to get to our room without following the signs!  The room is really nice and comfortable.  They have a health club and a really amazing pool with a water slide.  I plan to take pictures of the pool before we leave.  After we checked in, Bill went to play golf at the Oak Trail 9-hole course and I did a little investigating, trying to figure out where everything is.  Of course, I wound up at the shop in the lobby.  We had probably the best dinner of the trip that night at the Maya Grill. 

August 16, 2004

We visited the Magic Kingdom today.  It was lots of fun, despite the heat and humidity.  It's that usual tropical weather, hot sun and humidity and thunderstorm in the evening.  They have small tram shuttles to help you get around the resort and one of the drivers yesterday said that the weather gives you two choices, heat or rain.  Anyway, we were able to go on our favorite rides, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, saw the Enchanted Tiki room, Hall of Presidents.  As the clouds rolled in, it was a little cooler and rain was threatening.  We left the park around 8 so we didn't get caught in the rush of people leaving after the parade at 9.  After a Chinese dinner in Kissimmee, we came back to the room.  Surprisingly, I took NO pictures at Magic Kingdom.  I've probably taken enough pictures of the Cinderella castle and it was just too hot to take any pictures of the two of us.  We looked a bit bedraggled.  Tomorrow, we plan to swim, relax and prepare for the trip home.  It's been a great trip but I'm ready to head home.

August 17, 2004

We spent the day at Downtown Disney, which is like a shopping mall with restaurants.  Cirque de Soleil is also there.  When we visited in 2000, this was fairly new but has expanded quite a bit since then.  It's divided into the West Side and the Marketplace.  I probably hit every Disney related store in the place and had myself a very good time!  I found a store called Pooh Corner.  Ok, did they know I was coming or what?  This was LOTS of fun!  We went back to the hotel in the afternoon and went for a swim.  I had planned to take some pictures of the Dig Site pool but as we were on our way out the door, the inevitable afternoon thunderstorm was threatening.  So we went to swim at the smaller pool closer to our room so we could make a quick getaway in case of lightning.  Unfortunately, that meant no Dig Site pictures.  But here's the website for Coronado Springs and if you do the virtual tour on the main page, you can see pictures of the pool.  It has a water slide, which was lots of fun.

After the swim, we went back to Downtown Disney to have dinner at Rainforest Cafe.  When I saw it was there, that was my choice for dinner.  Kelly and I had visited one of these restaurants in Costa Mesa, California and it's an experience.  The food is great and very reasonable.  Here's the website:  Rainforest Cafeģ   I highly recommend it if there's one near you.  It's a cross between a theme park ride and a restaurant.  There are animatronic animals, elephants and gorillas, all around.  The sky is dark blue with stars and there's vegetation everywhere around you, as well as huge fish tanks.  Periodically, the lights dim, there's thunder and lightning and rain falls in parts of the exhibit (not on you, of course).  It's so much fun.  Bill was a little skeptical at first but I was insistent and he really loved it.  There was a Rainforest Cafe restaurant in Westbury but I think it closed around 2000.  It's a pity.  I'd love to go there again, it's so much fun.

Here are some of the elephants near our table.  They have a great dessert called the volcano.  It's vanilla ice cream with rectangles of brownie around them, whipped cream on the top covered with chocolate and caramel sauce.  It's obviously something you share.  When the wait staff brings it out, they yell, "VOLCANO!" and all the other waiters/waitresses answer "VOLCANO!"  It was fun.

When we were coming back to the hotel, there was more rain and I took this picture of the sun peeking through the clouds.  It was really pretty:

August 18, 2004

Time to Go Home!

As much fun as we had, we were ready to go home.  We had a last breakfast at the Pepper Market, the food court at Coronado Springs, and then took a few last pictures before starting our journey.

Here's the hallway leading from the restaurants and shops into the lobby.

and the view the opposite way, towards restaurants and shops.

registration area

Me in front of the lobby fountain.  I don't look worn out by vacation, do I?

   Bill at lobby fountain.

So, we were ready to begin the journey home.  We drove twelve hours the first day (Wednesday) and arrived home after an eight hour drive on Thursday.  Oh, one funny story from before we actually left on the trip.  As we were setting off on Monday, the 9th, we stopped at the eye doctor to have my new lenses put into my frames.  The woman said that the optician would be in at noon and could I come back then.  I said no, that we were leaving on a trip and that I'd just come in after the trip.  She offered to go pick up the optician and bring him in early to do my glasses!  I insisted that she not disturb him.  It wasn't that earth-shattering.  But the receptionist said, "Oh it's ok.  He's her nephew.  She'll go get him."  Well, she brought him in and he put my lenses in my frames and we went on our merry way.  I couldn't believe it.

That's the trip story.  We really did do a lot in a little less than two weeks.  Now, it's back to school in a couple of weeks.  Wow, this summer flew.

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