If you’re anything like me, you had a vacation (no matter how big or small) designated for 2020, but Covid happened, so your vacation didn’t. Can you relate? My husband and I were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary in July 2020, so we booked a dream-come-true vacation with Viking River Cruises. We were going to explore Budapest, Prague, and a few of my other ancestral cities. It was my husband’s surprise to me. But even before Covid crashed into our lives and blew up every single plan with threats of death and lung incineration, our septic system decided to fail. That major renovation project forced us to downgrade.
We went with CostSavers trip to Spain, Morocco, and Portugal to explore our mutual Spanish heritage (his gentile Spain and mine Sephardic, Jewish Spain). But the septic system was going to cost us twice as much as we were originally quoted, so I suggested a trip across the country on Amtrak. I was going to take my husband to the Los Angeles area where I grew up, but I wanted him to see the Western landscape as we traveled out. This seemed like a good compromise.
But then Covid.
Before we could even cancel things, Amtrak did it for us and gave us a voucher with a sharp deadline. Instead, we went here for two days: The Savage River Lodge in Maryland’s Appalachian range.
It was wonderful, but not Spain or the train through the Rocky Mountains. Still, we had a private, quaint cabin deep in the woods, from which we hiked every day. We ordered our dinner at the Lodge, which would normally have been opened, and took it back to our cabin. It was affordable and some of the best three days of rest I’ve ever had. There is no WIFI, television, or anything electronic to distract you. I usually experience some level of anxiety on vacation, but I had zero on this vacation, even while the world grappled with Covid. The road leading into and out of the lodge is rather rugged. It’s not for the faint of heart, I will say that. I can’t even imagine how stunning this place must be in the fall. I plan to go back just to observe the leaves. A girl from LA will never get over the beauty of the Mid-Atlantic/Northeastern turning of the leaves. Click on the photo caption to find out more about Savage River Lodge.
And then we went here. Gettysburg is an old standard for us and was just a couple of hours away from where we hiked and stayed in Maryland.
We stayed at the Brafferton Inn and purchased their Anniversary Package. Our room was on the deck and was lovely. The breakfasts were exemplary and accommodated my weird allergies and intolerances. The hosts were kind and offered a lot of insight into the historic buildings of Gettysburg. They probably would have offered even more if there hadn’t been the necessary mask and social distancing mandates at the time. Having taught History and Civics, along with English and ESL, at the college level I’m pretty well versed in Civil War history, so we didn’t need any tour guides or anything like that. Gettysburg is also our family’s go-to vacation spot. My third great grandfather fought there. It was the turning point of the war. Abe Lincoln spoke there. You get the idea. We know Gettysburg, and in fact, we usually stay at one of the Premiere Cabins at The Little Drummer Campground and RV park when it’s a large group of us. Cabin weekends at Gettysburg are absolutely the best weekend getaways in Pennsylvania.
The only complaint I have about the Brafferton is the overabundance of Confederate paintings. This made us feel uncomfortable as a racially mixed couple. My husband’s Puerto Rican flag mask was also a note of conversation between the hosts and us. They’d never seen that flag before. This is just something to note if you’re a minority traveling to anywhere in Gettysburg. Sometimes, the residents and visitors forget who actually won that war, and it wasn’t my Confederate third great grandfather. No, he was a big loser in this area of his life experience. Thank God. I also think, maybe, celebrating those Confederates is not great for business. But that’s just me.
Something wonderful to note about Gettysburg (among a million other things) is that there are miles upon miles of hiking trails behind the monuments, away from all the people. My husband and I are always looking for more places to hike, and ways to get away from the crowds, so this discovery (after more than 20 years of going to Gettysburg) was pretty fantastic. You can walk behind Little Round Top and come up to the ridge in the same way the 20th Maine did. The nerd in me was thrilled with this discovery. If you’re a ghost hunter, this is also your place. Trust me.
This May, our voucher came to its sharp deadline, so we had to book our Amtrak destination. To be honest, after a year of Zoom teaching and Zoom living, I was ready to go anywhere. However, grits and biscuits and gravy had to be on the daily itinerary, so we chose Savannah, Georgia. We loved this excursion, the bedroom we booked on the train, and the river boat we traveled on down the Savannah River. I’ll post more about that later this weekend. I can tell you we only had to wear our masks inside, people were kind, the weather was mostly perfect, and it was the longest vacation we’ve ever had at eight full days. For now, enjoy this picture and relax.