Our rendezvous point this year was a log cabin near Thurmont, Maryland during the weekend of October 15 through 18.

Photo of the cabin from the west while the sun was rising Monday morning

Gail and Al arrived around noon Friday to unlock the place. Everyone else arrived during the afternoon.

There was a place for everyone to lay his or her head, and then some. The Zinks got the master bedroom with a king-sized bed and its own bathroom, Maya took one of the two twin beds in the loft, Bowers and Burkes each had a lower-level queen-sized bed in the first floor bunk room, and the Holms took the king-sized pull-out bed in the downstairs recreation room.

The recreation room also featured a regulation slate pool table, a full sized air hockey, foosball and darts, but we did not take advantage of them.

After getting there and while getting settled, an important activity was our dining.

Relaxing before dinner Friday night Bill slices the onions thinly for Friday night's dinner
Maija, Looly and Bob 
           relax in front of the kitchen Bill slices onions in the kitchen
Awaking to coffee and juice while breakfast is being prepared The dining area with our improvised table extension
Folks gather around the 
               island in the kitchen for coffee and juice while Bob works
               to prepare breakfast. Maija, Ann, and Lolly sit at the table

The kitchen included a microwave oven, a toaster oven, and a dishwasher (happinesss!) as well as a sink, range, convection oven, and refrigerator. The toaster oven did more crisping of the bread than toasting, so Bob Zink pleased us Sunday morning by making fry bread. The coffee maker failed Saturday morning - a real disaster - but a call to the owner later that day revealed a backup unit in the basement storage area. Glasses and wine glasses were in short supply, but we made do. The supplied knives were kind of dull, but again, we made do.

Sign at Gettysburg national battlefield
     vistor center

Gettysburg is where Robert E. Lee's second attempt to invade the Union failed.

Finding the National Battlefield Visitor Center at Gettysburg was our first challenge, but eventually both carloads got there. We thought about taking a tour bus, but the ones that serviced the visitor center did not allow the passengers to get out to walk around at the sites, so we opted for the self-guiding auto tour. After watching a film about the battle and seeing the cyclorama painting, “Battle of Gettysburg”, we visited the first three sites on the auto tour. By then it was 2 p.m and time for lunch. Our luncheon needs were satisfied at the Appalachian Brewing Company by sandwiches, soups, birch beer, and a variety of brews.

It was getting late when we got started after lunch, so we limited our stops to a field where a small group of Conferate re-enactors was performing, to Little Round Top, and to the High Water Mark, where Pickett's charge was repulsed.

Confederate re-enactors MinnClan on Little Round Top
Confederate re-enactors
          along Seminary Ridge in the bright sunshine Lolly, Ann, Bob, 
     Gail, Maija and Julie. Bill is in the back with the red hat.
Looking down at the Devil's Den from Little Round Top Looking from Union positions across the fields of Pickett's charge
Devil's Den seen from
          the Union positions on Little Round Top. The small size of the
          cars shows the distance. A cannon points from the Union positions at
          the Angle across the fields where Pickett's division advanced
          toward the trees in the far distance where they started.

The day was beautifully sunny, but a bit windy and chilly. It was good to get back to our cabin to the Bower's meal.

Sign at the Antietam national battlefield
     vistor center

Antietam is where Lee's first attempt to invade the north was thwarted on Sept 19, 1862. There were more American casualties on that day than any other before or since. Some of the words of the survivors can be found here.

We were kind of late in getting there and then we watched films about Lincoln meeting with the Union general George McClellan and about the battle itself. Without breaking for lunch, we joined a guided tour that started at 1:30 p.m. Once we joined up with the Park Ranger giving the tour, we learned a lot. It was very sad to hear how thousands of soldiers were sent marching to their deaths because their commanders did not understand the situation and were inflexible in their orders.

The Sunken Road or Bloody Lane. Union soldiers came from the left. Looking down on the Burnside Bridge from the Confederate's heights
Park Ranger talking about
          the battle that raged at this Sunken Road or Bloody Lane
          site Burnside Bridge looking
          down from the Confederate side

Meet Me In St. Louis

We initially considered having next year's excursion at Oktoberfest in New Ulm, MN, but decided that accommodations and alcohol policy would be a problem. Then we agreed that descending upon the Zinks in St. Louis (lately named as the most dangerous city in the United States - Courage!) would be fun. Ann has suggested three events for our consideration:
  1. Japanese Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden on Labor Day weekend, Sept 3-5;
  2. Kaskaskia Music Festival on Sept 24-25. This is a traditional music festival at Ellis Grove, Illinois, about 50 miles southeast of St. Louis;
  3. Best of Missouri Market on Oct 1-2 featuring food producers, crafts, and live music at the Missouri Botanical Garden.
The Bowers would not be able to attend the Best of Missouri event.