Monday, 14 April 2014

History and Politics Trip to the USA: Day Six

by Will Wallace

Friday 11th April 2014


Coach journey to Harpers Ferry
We had to get downstairs and onto our coach by 0830, which meant quickly packing our bags, as well as going through the normal morning routine. Luckily, we managed to leave DC with all our kit intact (which, for me, was quite an achievement!). The trip to Harpers Ferry National Park lasted a good two hours, which most ended up sleeping through in order to make up for the early start.

When we arrived we were greeted by Tom, one of the park rangers, who sent us on a fact-finding mission through the various museums that lined the street. This was followed by a quiz, with teams including "The Three Musketeers & Dog", "Blood Hand Phin & the Mötley Crew" and "Team With No Name". Questions focused on the history of the site, which saw industrial growth, presidential visits, supplies for the Lewis and Clark Expedition, a civil war, one of the first integrated schools in the country and record high flooding due to its situation at the confluence of the Potamac and Shenondoah rivers.

Harpers Ferry
We were given time to grab lunch in the town of Harpers Ferry before catching our coach to Gettysburg. For most, this was a simple task. For myself and the other members of "Blood Hand Phin & the Mötley Crew", this meant sitting outside a bar and grill, waiting a crazy amount of time for the food to appear. When it did, we had three minutes till the coach was due to leave - the other diners must have thought we were utter animals, given the speed we got through our burgers!  
Gettysburg is a massive site, so we were quite pleased to learn that we'd be driving around for most of our guided tour. Our guide had an incredible amount of knowledge and taught us, in depth, about the three days that were fought at Gettysburg: an event which, initially, Union and Confederate military leaders had tried to avoid - it turned out to be the bloodiest battle of that four-year conflict. Scattered around the battlefield were memorials to divisions from each state, and we hopped off the coach to observe these and other important areas.

The Eternal Kight Peace Memorial (shaft made from Alabama limestone, base from Maine granite - symbolising unity)

From Gettsburg, we drove on to Philadelphia, the journey lasting a painful couple of hours, napping in an uncomfortable position. It was immediately clear that Philadelphia is markedly more busy than DC, with heavier traffic and taller buildings making for the city atmosphere that we had expected of America. We waved goodbye to Joe, our faithful coach driver for the day, and unpacked at the Holiday Inn where we would spend the night. Our rom has a nice view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, an icon of the city, and (more importantly) an en suite bathroom.

Supper in Philly
Mr Lemieux found us a cracking restaurant for supper, where pizza was on the menu. We made our way back to the hotel for get some shut-eye. Though it's not a problem that we have to share double beds, I've found that there are some snorers on this trip... Last day of the trip tomorrow, and a visit to the birthplace of the United States.

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