Thanks to all of you who asked and gave your good wishes for our trip to Gettysburg. We had a wonderful time. In a couple of weeks they'll be opening the new Visitors Center and it should be quite an enhanced experience. If you haven't visited the battlefield, I highly recommend going and getting a licensed battlefield guide take you around. You can pay a reasonable fee to have a guide come in your car and talk to your family as you drive around. This makes the trip so much better. Otherwise, you're looking at a field with monuments on it, but with a knowledgeable guide who can tell you stories about the men who fought on that spot and make it come alive for you, it is such a more fulfilling experience. For the past four years I've made this trip, we've been using the same guide, Tim Smith, who has written several booklets on Gettysburg, including one on Devil's Den. He's just great and the kids really enjoy his presentation. He tailors the tour for where we're from and so took us around to places where North Carolinians played a key role in the battle, which was just about everywhere. And then he took us down to Devil's Den and really made the fighting there come alive for us. Afterwards, we walked up Little Round Top. Or rather, I walked up and the kids ran up. It's a tough climb - I can't imagine how the Alabamians made that charge three times after having marched since 2 am over 25 miles to get there that day in the July heat with those hot uniforms and facing gunfire the whole way.
On the way back we stopped at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico. If you're driving up 95, take a couple of hours and stop there. It just opened last year and it is a very well-done museum that both kids and adults will enjoy. Several of my kids thought it was the "most awesome" museum that they had ever visited.
All in all, it was a great trip that left all of us with a renewed admiration for what the fighting men in our nation's history have endured.