By Emerald Anthony
On Sunday morning, our group of Wilson students, accompanied by Crystal Lantz, headed out for a day in Gettysburg.
Upon reaching the Gettysburg Military National Park, our first stop was a Ranger Site so we could browse some historical artifacts. The Ranger Program is intended to help first-time visitors get a deeper and a more inclusive insight into the battle history of Gettysburg while referring to a marked map and a few historical props. In my opinion, the props were not as interactive as they could have been, but the ranger put in a commendable effort in laying out the historical narrative for us. He stayed completely in character as he relayed the story of Gettysburg, so much so that he lost track of time. The 30-minute tour turned into 50 minutes before we finally moved along!
All in all, the Ranger Site was a good experience, but 20 minutes is probably enough time to spend there while still getting the full effect. All the information discussed is printed for you on the battlefield map, and you’ll eventually be out on a self-tour of all the sites that he talks about during his story-time anyway.
Next, we headed to the Visitor Center, and the first thing we did was grab some coffee and tea, courtesy of Crystal, because after our trip down history lane, we were drowsy and needed a wake-up decaf! Unfortunately, we realized that we weren’t allowed to carry our drinks into the Bookstore at the Visitor Center, so we had to leave them outside with Crystal while we went inside to browse. And once inside, we fell into the tourist traps that are giftshops. Perhaps if our advisor had not been guarding our drinks, we may not have been convinced to purchase things!
We ended up spending money on things that may have cost much less in other stores. I was well aware that the items were pricey, but given the time span we had for going around Gettysburg, I was doubtful that we would have time to stop at one of the local shops. I certainly didn’t want to walk out without a souvenir to take back home. I had to convince myself to buy something as expensive as $26, but I think my purchase was worth the intention I had behind it, as it represents a number of historical elements. My souvenir was a 3D model of Abraham Lincoln standing alongside a table with an embroidered covering over it, on which to place his hat. It also has a crystal ball with the “Emancipation Declaration” and a patriotic slab stating the full “Gettysburg Address.” Spending money on material things is something I try not to do, but that souvenir is a combination of history and art. To better justify my purchase, I also convinced myself that I was contributing to the tourist revenue of America, so why not?
The second half of our day began when we drove towards Cemetery Hill, the Pennsylvania Memorial, Little Road Top, Devil’s Den and finally Baltimore Street, where we were invited for lunch. I took more than a hundred and fifty photographs in the span of about five hours. This way, I’m certain that I’ll keep all the memories, as well as be able to share them with my family. My favorite may be with Crystal at the Pennsylvania memorial, as we were overlooked by President Lincoln. While departing, I felt as though I was taking a piece of the Civil War with me, along with some freshly brewed memories in my mind, and somewhere in my photo gallery, too.
To our surprise, our lunch host was Professor Bonnie Rock, Wilson faculty member who resides in Gettysburg, and she offered for Crystal to take us over to her house for lunch. She enjoys having students over, and she is a truly hospitable American, I must say. More importantly, her husband made us juicy and tender beef cheeseburgers, with grilled corn on the side. I’ve never liked sweet corn much, but this was a treat! The luncheon was a classic American BBQ on their patio and as someone from Pakistan, I’ve never experienced something as American as that before. I was so thankful that she let us relish the experience of a patio picnic itself, let alone the great food! What a lovely luncheon, and such wonderful scholars are both Professor Rock and her husband. I will always be grateful that they invited us over and made our trip so much better by making a BBQ in the heat of the day possible for us to enjoy.
It didn’t end there! Professor Rock also took us to the ice cream parlor right across the street. We had already driven past it three times that day, so I was excited to get to go inside. I’m not kidding, even their kiddie size ice cream is bigger than the cups we have in the dining hall. In my opinion, the regular one scoop amount is enough for two people! My gut went through torture to finish that dessert, because I was full to the brim, but that Reese’s cup ice cream did not deserve to go in the bin. So I forced it down, and it was worth it! The ice cream was a 10/10 in taste and flavor, but is just not a portion size that I’m used to. I like sweets and desserts, but I can guarantee that in Pakistan, we are not as obsessed with sweetness and sugar as Americans. There’s is a huge difference!
The ice cream concluded our trip. From Professor Rock’s house, we drove straight back to Wilson. I have no idea how she does it, but Crystal manages to drive us through dull days and hot days, as well as through exhilarating and chaotic days, without blinking an eye. I sleep through most of her drives, which is clear indication that she drives well! I can’t wait for our next trip – I have no idea where it will be, but if it’s with the rest of the international students and Crystal, then I certainly know that I’m in for fun.