the three little pigs learn their ABC’s

Pennsylvania memorialized the bloodiest battle of the Civil War with a stunning white monument listing all its citizens who fought in the conflict. I decided to ponder their sacrifice by eating a pork chop and bacon sandwich at Appalachian Brewing Company, a brewpub in spitting distance of the battlefield.
Behold its excess. Three slabs of thinly sliced grilled pork topped with bacon. If only they put ham or pulled pork on it, the piggy trifecta would have been perfected. It looks better than it tastes, sadly- it lacks any spice and the pork was rather dry. I should have slathered it with BBQ sauce or something.

The restaurant is not far from here, where I stand on Little Top, a strategic observation post overlooking one of the bloodiest sites of the War, the Devil’s Den. We stopped to eat at ABC, where they sell the sandwich, decent burgers, and some good local beer. I liked the Jolly Scottish Ale. The Marzen-style beer and a Hefewiezen we tried were good, but not remarkable. The scotch ale stood out.
Milky had a Fire Jumper Burger, which turned out to be very mild. What do you want, it’s Pennsylvania! The further you go into the Midwest and the word spicy loses all value. He still enjoyed it, and it looks pretty good, don’t it?
However, in Gettysburg I’d head to Garryowen’s Irish Pub. We had a nice burger there and a fantastic corned beef Reuben. They have Guinness and Smithwick’s on tap, but not the local microbrews. I was glad I stopped at ABC if only to try their beer. I wish it hadn’t been 85+ degrees, or I’d have brought some Scottish Ale home.

Ghost Hunting in the Devil’s Den

When Milky and I went to Gettysburg last month, we visited The Devil’s Den, the site of some of the bloodiest fighting of the war. It was so named after a vicious snake that lived among the piles of rocks known as glacial erratics, large boulders pushed forth by the movement of glaciers. These rocks turned out to be a perfect vantage point for snipers as infantry fought to control Little Top, a hill with a strategic observation point covering much of the battlefield.
The site is best known through a photograph taken after the battle of a Confederate sniper by a makeshift bench rest made from a rock shelf. It is believed to have been posed by the journalists, so we’ll never know if the fallen soldier was a sniper at all. He’s just one of the hundreds of thousands of men who died in one of the bloodiest battles in history.
Here is the same spot today. The rocks have been cemented to dissuade souvenir hunters, though there are plenty of pebbles around the site if you want one.
We decided to visit the site that night after dark, after we missed two ghost tours around town, which seemed kind of lame anyway. I don’t want to pay $9 to walk around and hear stories by candlelight! I want to visit the battlefield, which is open to the public until 10pm. The information desk lady sneered at me with that Pennsyltucky inhospitality when I asked about night tours, so we did it on our own. After a quick dinner at the Appalachian Brewing Company- a pork chop & bacon sandwich to fuel the ghost hunting fires- we drove the Blue Meeny into the dark twisting roads of the Gettysburg battlefield.

That’s the view of the Den from Little Top, where cannon rained grapeshot and canister down on the men charging the hill, tearing them to pieces.
Imagine charging up that hill under fire, with snipers on those rocks behind you. Not a pretty sight. We arrived in darkness, with flashlights. Milky’s the ghost expert. I left the spook summoning to him. When he called upon the spirits to contact us in some way… it began to rain. So the ghosts apparently wanted us to leave, or buy parkas. I got a chuckle out of that. But more interesting, when we left in the sudden downpour, we saw a large black snake crossing the road. A descendant of “The Devil?”
Well, that one wasn’t going to spread his demon seed. He slithered right under my tires and felt like a firehose when I ran him over. I felt bad but I wasn’t going to go check on a wounded snake in the rain. It was probably a rat snake, but it was one of the biggest snakes I’ve seen in the wild. Maybe the rain was a good thing. It didn’t look like a poisonous species, but I could only judge size and color in that brief glimpse. But I wouldn’t want to have stepped on it in the dark!

And that is the nearby Wheat Field, the site of the bloodiest battle of the war, where it was said you could walk across the field on the bodies of the slain and wounded. Men lay for days before they were tended to, as wild hogs rooted through the corpses and fed on living and dead alike. It was one of the most horrifying tales of modern warfare. Even the wheat seems reddish in hue, as if the blood from all those men still steeps in the soil. Sometimes history is scary enough without ghosts. But of course there were no ghosts to be seen. No orbs. I keep my lens clean.

when you don’t have electricity, make Whoopee

Whoopee pies are one of the great gifts the Amish have given us. Firecracker and her sister discovered them when they lived briefly in Lancaster, and on my road trip to Gettysburg I was tasked with bringing them back to civilization. It was nearly 3 hours away, but I assure they were worth it. If you’re an old fart like me, you remember when Hostess’s Devil Dogs didn’t taste like chocolate-scented foam rubber with shaving cream inside it. A devil’s food whoopie pie tastes like the best Devil Dog you’ve ever had.
They also make pumpkin pie flavor, which is moist and delicately spiced, which sounds like I’m writing erotic fiction. Something the Amish probably disapprove of, even during Rumspringa. Another favorite is a chocolate chip cookie whoopie- two cookies made into a cream filling sammich! Yes, they are pure evil. I recommend Hershey Farms for your whoopies. They have a bakery and gift shop with pies and other goods.

sometimes only an Irish pub will do

For the tail end of Septober, Milky and I took the Mini Cooper to Gettysburg and beyond. You’ve already read about Hillbilly Hotdogs, haven’t you? It was the best meal of the trip. But before the hotdoggery, we stopped for victuals and libations at one Garryowen’s Irish Pub on the main drag of Gettysburg, and had a great lunch with fresh beer. That’s the “Blue Meanie” next to a memorial of col. Doubleday, who fought in the Civil War and also invented a little sport called baseball.
We also spotted the Nanner Puss’s car on the way. We tried to stop at the Red Rabbit Drive-In for eats, but they were closed except for weekends, so we were denied our Bunny Burger! Luckily I always look up Irish pubs in towns I visit for precisely this reason. If you’re surrounded by chains and franchises, they usually have good food and beer. And Garryowen’s serves up a fine pint of Guinness and one of the best corned beef Reubens I’ve ever had.
That’s Milky and his Black Angus burger. Not huge but satisfying and tasty. Good fries too. The Reuben is below, full of tender tasty meat and lots of flavor. Now I’ve had the Carnegie’s and Katz’s, and Garryowen’s beats one of them. (It’s impossible to beat Katz’s, sorry). That’s mighty impressive. Sure Carnegie will have enough meat to choke a goat, but if it’s flavor you want, Katz’s is where it’s atzes. Unless you’re in Gettysburg. Then you go here, and you will not be disappointed one bit.
They have live music most nights, but not the night we were there. I wish we’d gone here for dinner as well, the brewpub we went to was decent but forgettable. So when you visit our national battlefield monument, honor all the Irish immigrants who fought in the Civil War with a pint of Guinness and some bangers & mash at Garryowen’s.