1999 Family Vacation — Part One
While I was cleaning and organizing, I came across a piece of paper from Ramada Inn. You know how hotels usually have a pad of paper with their logo on it next to the telephone? It was one of those papers. I had written on it in pencil in 1999! It’s part itinerary and part journal. Even as a kid, I wanted to keep track of my travels!
From late July to early August in 1999, our family took a summer vacation east from where we lived. On the first day, we drove to Ohio to see my aunt, uncle, and three cousins. The next day, we saw Fort Necessity. My notes weren’t very detailed, so I looked this place up online and found out that it’s in Pennsylvania. It saw the opening action of the French and Indian War in the 1750’s. Later that day, we saw West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. I noted that we swam at the Quality Inn in Gettysburg. Swimming in the hotel swimming pool was important to eleven year old me! Nowadays, I hardly ever swim in a hotel swimming pool. I’m usually too tired by the end of the day, and I don’t really want to be in a huge tub of water with strangers! I’ve turned a bit into a germophobe, so I hardly ever pack a swimsuit in my suitcase anymore.
On the following day, we went on a self-guided tour of Gettysburg National Park. If you don’t know, Gettysburg was the site of a major battle during the U.S. Civil War which helped the Union (northern states) beat the Confederacy (southern states) in the overall war. It was the bloodiest Civil War battle and inspired President Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.” My dad really wanted to see a lot of American historical sites, so several of our family vacations included learning about U.S. history. According to my notes, we also “went to Civil War Wax Museum and The Hall of Presidents. Also went to shops. Went to National Cemetery and swam.” I’m sure we swam at the hotel and not at the cemetery! I looked up The Hall of Presidents, and it’s also a museum of wax figures! Apparently, Gettysburg likes its wax museums! I found a news article saying the museum closed in January 2017; it had been open for almost 50 years and was closing due to decreasing attendance. They held an auction to sell everything, even all of the Presidential wax figures! Abraham Lincoln was the highest sold President for $8,500, while James Monroe was the lowest selling at $1,000. One lady said she was descended from Andrew Jackson’s nephew and planned to put the wax figure of the President in her foyer. He would scare me each time I came into the house if I ever visited her!
I do remember walking around the cemetery and going up the Gettysburg National Tower to look over the battle site. I am not sure why I didn’t write about the tower in my notes. I remember my sister didn’t want to go up it because she was scared of heights, or maybe that was me. I do remember being at the top though! I looked this up, and it was demolished in 2000! I am almost scared to look up anything else for fear that it might be closed too! Apparently, it was built in 1974 on private land and was opposed by locals, historical preservationists, and most importantly, the National Park Service. In 1990, a law was passed to expand the park boundaries, the park seized the land in June 2000, and the tower was demolished in July 2000. So we went up it a year before it was torn down! That’s crazy! Stay tuned for part two of my family vacation back in 1999!