This is primarily a travel blog in which I write about traveling in our motorhome. Our travels have

Nacogdoches, TX, United States
I began this blog as a vehicle for reporting on a 47-day trip made by my wife and me in our motorhome down to the Yucatan Peninsula and back. I continued writing about our post-Yucatan travels and gradually began including non-travel related topics. I often rant about things that piss me off, such as gun violence, fracking, healthcare, education, and anything else that pushes my button. I have a photography gallery on my Smugmug site (

Sunday, August 11, 2013

"John Brown's Body..."

We left the RV park around 9:30 this morning en route to Antietam, MD and Harper’s Ferry, WV.  Although we had visited the Antietam National Battlefield on our way to Canada, we wanted to stop by today because it was a “live history” weekend and there would be some Confederate re-enactors on site.  Based upon Harper’s Ferry history it seemed only right to visit there since it was less than 30 miles away.  Antietam would be about half way between the RV park and Harper’s Ferry.

In our usual hustle and bustle to get out of the RV park I left all of our maps in the motorhome.  No problem.  We had GPS.  Two, as a matter of fact.  An in-dash navigation system and the Tom-Tom app on my iPhone.  I tried entering Antietam into the in-dash system but was not successful.  It could not locate a place by that name (Antietam is the name of the battle.  Sharpsburg is actually the name of the town).

I took out my iPhone, loaded the Tom-Tom GPS app, and entered Antietam.  It found the Antietam National Battlefield and I was instructed to turn right out of the RV park.  A mile or so down the road Tom-Tom became confused, wanting me to turn onto a non-existent road.  Finally, it seemed to realize that it didn’t have a clue where we were going and had given me erroneous information regarding the turn out of the RV park.  It took me around in a big circle and after something like six miles we were passing by the RV park.  Carol Ann then entered Sharpsburg into the car’s GPS and we were finally headed in the correct direction and found the battlefield.

After speaking with some of the “Confederate” soldiers about their gear and camp life we watched a demonstration of them firing replicas of the muzzle-loading rifles used in the Civil War.  I took a few more photos and we got in the car and entered Harper’s Ferry into the in-dash navigation system.  It was only about 15 miles and we were directed to Harper’s Ferry Road, a narrow and curving rural road through some very pretty country.  We eventually came to the Potomac River and a sign welcoming us to the Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park.  The road began to follow the river and when the navigation system announced that we had arrived at our destination there was no town in sight.  We stayed on Harper’s Ferry Road, assuming that it would eventually take us to Harper’s Ferry.  It turned out that we were actually on the wrong side of the river, the Maryland side! Harper’s Ferry Road didn’t actually go to Harper’s Ferry, but you could see Harper’s Ferry across the river from it. 

We came to an intersection and I mentally flipped a coin, turned left, and got directions at a service station.  We still weren’t sure where we were going and made another wrong turn before seeing a directional sign for Harper’s Ferry and headed in that direction.  We finally arrived at the National Historic Site, showed our pass, and drove to the visitors’ center.  It was noon and we were both quit hungry.  We still had not seen any town whatsoever.  We got on a park shuttle bus that drove us two miles to the “Lower Town” of Harper’s Ferry.  We spotted a bakery and walked over to it only to learn that all the buildings that we were looking at were not real businesses.  The old buildings had been fixed up by the Park Service to look as they did back in the 1860’s.  The bakery wasn’t real!  We walked a couple of blocks through this faux town until we exited the National Park Property.  

Across this dividing line were the “real” businesses, tourist businesses.  The buildings were still old but now housed restaurants, coffee shops, ice cream shops, gift shops, etc.  All for the tourists.  We found a café that looked pretty good and went inside.  It looked better on the outside.  I guess that was to sucker people into the café.  Since we were so hungry we decided to stay.  I had a cardboard hamburger but the French fries were pretty good.  Carol Ann had chicken salad, which she said was good.  After lunch we walked up the street, got some ice cream, and then walked down to where the Shenandoah River meets the Potomac River.  There were cars driving in the streets so I assume there must be a way into the town other than through the National Park’s shuttle buses.  However, I never could figure it out.

It was very hot and humid.  The temperature was 86 degrees but I walked crossed the Potomac on a pedestrian bridge (Carol Ann waited in the shade by the river reading), took some photos, and then Carol Ann and I jumped back on a shuttle bus and returned to the visitor’s center and our car.  Fortunately, the GPS was able to find the RV park and get us back without any problems.

Tomorrow we have to start putting some miles behind us so we can be home sometime Friday.  If we average around 250 miles a day we should be home Friday afternoon.

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