Sunday, June 17, 2007

Pot Pourri Some Sugar On Me

Nicer Sediments

I had better results last week with draining the hot water heater than I did last time. I still needed to use a coat hanger to break up the sediment, but there wasn't nearly as much of it. And I acted quickly to prevent any fountains in the basement by placing a towel over the open valve until I could get the nozzle back on it (nice suggestion, love!) I can still use the sediment for sand, concrete, or a poor substitute for Metamucil. And I learned that I could avoid this by just drawing a Bouquet bucket of water from the heater each month.

Your Papers, Please

We waited about as long as we possibly could to submit our passport applications; the passports just may arrive before we head to my brother's wedding in Buffalo (with a reception at Niagara Falls!) and our subsequent visit to The Great White Waste Of Time Canada in early September. Ehhh, we should have done this a month ago. Now if the passports don't arrive, we'll be able to return to the U.S. without them, but not as of next year. Plus, passports are good to have as proof of citizenship for a new job, and I suspect we may leave the country again in the next 10 years.

So on Saturday afternoon we trekked down to the city post office. We couldn't find anywhere to go for the passport applications, so we made the mistake of asking one of the helpful (ha!) employees behind the desk. She steered us toward the forms, not the office. LC noticed another couple who had come for their passport application asking a different employee who knows where they needed to go. (This postal employee, naturally, will be fired.) I went outside and, at about the same time, discovered that there's a separate office door that leads upstairs. The four of us converged on the door and headed up.

We felt for the examiner in the passport office; she was about ready to crack. The couple she was with came from a Francophone country and hadn't filled anything out; applicants are to bring their completed but unsigned forms with them. Meanwhile, we got our pictures taken. We had gotten passport photos taken at CVS, but the lady said she couldn't accept them. Either CVS or the State Dept. has a racket going, and I don't know whom.

Well, all we had left to do was pay the examiner for the applications. Oops: we had forgotten the checkbook! Now we're part of the problem. Going back downstairs to the post office proved fruitless; for money orders; they wouldn't take a credit card! So I drove back home and got the checkbook (these things are pricey!), and hopefully, our passports will arrive before the first week of September.

The Final Day

After the arduous passport applications, we headed north out of town toward Gettysburg, and enjoyed a nice pizza lunch at the Mamma Ventura Pizzeria Restaurant & Lounge just off the downtown square.

Off and on over many years, we'd gone up to the battlefield armed with the Army War College guide to the battle, featuring original reports from the generals involved. The book took us on a different route from the more popular auto tour, and even had us off the battlefield on Day One so we could track troop movements before the battle started.

Having completed the first two days of the battle before, we started out on the third and final day over near Spangler's Spring, where both sides drew water. We took in a field hospital encampment going on at the time and learned about what nurses had to deal with when treating badly wounded soldiers with . . . not much. I ascended the observation tower at Culp's Hill, where the Union held its strong defensive "fishhook" as the Confederates repeatedly tried to drive them out.

From there, we headed across the battlefield to the General Lee statue, from which Pickett's Charge (actually largely led by Gen. Lewis Armistead, who would die from injuries sustained in the attack) ensued. In addition to marching nearly a mile into withering cannon fire and gunfire from the Union on Cemetery Ridge, the Confederates had to climb over numerous fences, making them easy targets. It was a gallant but futile effort. That's where our tour ended.

Afterward, Lee withdrew into Maryland, passing through several towns near us toward the Potomac. President Lincoln was quite upset that Gen. George Meade didn't pin Lee's army back against the Potomac River; instead, he escaped into the Shenandoah Valley.

Following this, LC and I went into battle ourselves . . . on the miniature golf course at Mulligan MacDuffer. It was a challenging course, making copious use of gravity and water. Guess who won? |-D

Oh, you do NOT want to knock your ball into the rushing water here; you likely won't see it again because of how fast the water goes! Someone on another hole made a diving stop to save my ball, injuring his knee in the process. Hey, guy, it wasn't THAT important!

After getting some much-needed liquid refreshment, we traveled west through Fairfield and Carroll Valley toward Blue Ridge Summit, the one-time home of Wallis Warfield Simpson, the woman King Edward VIII abdicated the throne for. I showed LC the Jesuit Retreat House where I had been on retreats in high school, college, and afterward. This is the view from one of the houses toward Pen Mar (get it?) Park back in Maryland.

The park was our next destination. At one time, Pen Mar Park was a full-fledged resort and amusement park! Unfortunately, the current scaled-back park was closed by the time we got there. It still has bands and dances on Sunday nights.

So we headed instead further uphill to High Rock. At one time, an observation deck sat atop this mostly flat rock (toward which the above picture is looking) with a sheer drop of several hundred feet toward the forest below. Sadly, a number of people have died from that precipice, whether intentionally or accidentally. I made sure I knew who was behind me.

Hang gliding remains a popular activity off High Rock. Large microwave towers used to sit atop the hill, and some of those who hang-glided reported feeling like they were being microwaved flying in front of the towers! I have no idea how true that is.

The last thing we were going to do before heading home was to show LC where a good friend of ours and his family lived near Carroll Valley. I saw in my map that a back road would take us right into his neighborhood! But instead, we found ourselves on this back road heading toward Emmitsburg. So I turned around and looked for the turnoff toward my friend's place. Turns out it was a dead end, which isn't what my map said! (Google Maps, however, confirmed the dead end. Time for a new map, I guess.)

So I turned around again and headed to Emmitsburg, passing a family sitting in front of their trailer a total of *three* times. They waved at us the third time, knowing we had to be lost. "They can't be from around here!" they were probably snickering to themselves.

Then we went home without further incident. What a nice day with my sweetie.


4HisChurch said...

Gettysburg, nice place to visit. Some of us even live here! ;)

Wallace Warfield Simpson lived in Blue Ridge Summit?! Wow....Learn something new every day! Hmmm...I'll probably be thinking of that every Sunday when we go to Mass there.

Oh, dh swears by Google Earth for maps. He likes how it actually shows the road so you can see what it looks like in real life.