Gettysburg Camping Trip

DateJuly 23-24, 2005
HostsCheryl Prudhomme and Mark Cook
WhereGettysburg, PA
Who (else) Helen and Bob Bird, Brenda and Larry Isherwood, Jane and Paul Kimmel

The "Second Annual DOGS Camp & Ride" with Team Cudworth and Team JETSTream began with a bit of trepidation. Terrible erosion and overall destruction of our standard base camp at Bull's Island on the Delaware River by a storm last summer sent us in search for a new location. A decision was made to explore the area of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Debbie found a camp ground near the town, establishing base camp for 2005 - Round Top Camp Ground. We tossed around the notion of submitting the adventure as a DOGS ride. Great idea - "The more the merrier!" The Isherwoods, Birds, and Kimmels climbed on board for the pending adventure. The slate was set and plans were in motion.

Unfortunately, as the event weekend approached, Al developed some health related issues that prevented them from participating in the long awaited expedition. (So far it appears as if Al pushed past the limits of any normal human being by riding a bit too hard in the mid-summer's heat!) In any case, we were bereft of our leaders and tour guides. Despite their situation, Deb and Al made some adjustments to cue sheets gleaned from a previous ETR held in the same area at a nearby hotel.

Couples rummaged through remote storage areas of their homes in search of seldom-utilized and slightly strange smelling camping gear. Each packed for survival for at least three months without contact with civilization! Cheryl and I arrived first at Round Top some three plus hours from home. The camp site was primarily populated by enormous and elaborate "homes away from home". The tent sites to which we were assigned were congested and far too near other families and the shower/toilet facilities. We quickly drove back to the office and requested a change to a set of sites that provided a bit more shade and separation from the rest of the natives.

Each of the couples arrived and set up camp early afternoon on this very hot and humid Friday. After everyone was moderately settled, all changed into Spandex and cycling jerseys and headed off on a proposed 22 mile ride around the hallowed ground of Gettysburg battlefields and beautiful outlying expansive farms of the area. Larry and Brenda made one of the key stops of the weekend by dropping by the Gettysbuirg Information Center where they purchased a local county map. The cue sheets were not exactly accurate either in mileage or turn directions. We missed some streets, explored some new ones, and occasionally stopped to see where we were on the map. We even made it across an old steel mesh bridge that was closed, by circumnavigating the piles of gravel walking our tandems to the other side. Needless to say the 22 mile ride was more like 30 by the time we arrived back at base camp where our core temperatures were reading levels similar to nearby Harrisburg's Three Mile Island! Thankfully, there was a huge, delightful swimming pool at the camp site in which several of us divulged. After we cooled down somewhat, it was necessary to conjure a plan to do what we do best - consume nourishment! Three couples dressed in casuals headed out in search of dinner while the Birds cooked at the camp site. They were VERY prepared. The caravan headed into town, locating an Irish Pub at which we ate "al fresco" beneath an ivy-laden arbor. Later we strolled through the town looking into shop windows, mixing with characters re-enacting civil war period clothing, arts, and other skills. There were bus tours, story tellers, ghosts tales told by the locals. One could almost sense the tortured entitles still remaining from such a terrible time in our country's past. It was becoming late by the typical tandem couple's time table so we headed back to the site to relax for a few moments before retiring to our tents for the evening. Several of us took a brew in hand, clacked the glass bottles together, toasting Al in his absence who certainly would have enjoyed this ceremony. Crawling into our tents we discovered the most distasteful aspect of our well planned outing. Just beyond the trees and bushes of all the tent sites at Round Top was Route 15 - a major, multi-lane highway! The roar of tractor trailers rushing home for the weekend in conjunction with the hot humid weather made for some genuinely restless evenings. But, then again, what is an adventure without a little challenge? The next morning all were looking a little tattered from the lack of rest.

This day we selected a 44 mile route slip and headed out after a hearty breakfast at camp. The day was a beautiful one - much less humid and about 10 degrees cooler. Fields of eight foot tall cornfields lie adjacent to far less majestic ones filled with soybean crop. The views were spectacular, roads well paved, and traffic was nearly non-existent. Again, we made an incorrect turn or two, but clearly the greatest challenge was when we encountered a bridge that was washed out by Spring storms. Out came the map and Brenda's expert orienteering skills and we were back on our way with a revised route in hand. Forty some miles into the ride we diverted from the cue sheet into the small town of Biglersville to lunch at "Mama's Pizza", who treated us as honored guests. The air-conditioned dining hall was much appreciated. By day's end the 44 mile ride was extended to more like 52, done at a leisurely 16 miles per hour pace. Time for another well-deserved swim. Teams split up for dinner with the Kimmels joining the Birds for an on-campground cookout while teams Breeze and JETSTream departed in favor of Chinese cuisine at a fabulous local restaurant. Post-dinner activities included starting the proverbial campfire, making "smores" and toasting marshmallows ad nauseum. It was a truly relaxing evening staring at the mesmerizing campfire. Crawling into our tents this evening we really looked forward to sleeping in the much cooler temperatures than the previous night and hoping that we would acclimate to the sound of 18 wheelers vibrating the ground beneath us. Perhaps the individual who invented the "Magic Fingers" vibrating beds seen in some hotels fabricated the original thought while attempting to sleep at Round Top Camp Ground!!!

Sunday morning we awoke to a cool morning with the sun rising above the tree line to the east. Following a breakfast of hot coffee, eggs and fresh fruit we donned our cycling gear to take advantage of the beautiful day before breaking camp. Helen and Bob decided to be prudent and close up shop and head home early. The remaining three teams headed out of camp on their selected treks. Paul and Jane chose a new route to go on their own while teams Isherwood and Cook/Prudhomme aimed at taking a swing at review of Friday's ride. Second time through we did a much better job of avoiding the pitfalls of the previous effort. It was even better second time around. The area is quite beautiful and there are no significant climbs of which to speak. We gathered our belongings, packed the vans and headed home to resume our "civilized" lives. Next year we will likely investigate a different area for the Third Annual DOGS Camp & Ride Weekend. Look for details next Spring.

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Copyright © 2005, Mark Cook (text and photos)