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4/13/18 – 4/16/18 Greenbrier State Park, Boonsboro, MD and Antietam

Site C-19; Electric only.


This site is too small! Campsites are on a hill and while the gravel pad areas are nicely flat, 2/3 of them have sloped access. Our truck was at a 3 % grade or so uphill when I backed in, leaving the bicycles on the back of the trailer hanging over a steep embankment. Worse, the hitch was at such stress that I couldn't raise it high enough to take off the sway bars by hand. In fact, I had brought the power jack up so high that it maxed out and started missing gears. Then things went worse.

Although this photo was taken after we unhooked, you can see the angle of the truck compared to the trailer.

The trailer is on a bit of a hill.

I couldn't bring the power jack back down! (The power jack is on the front of the trailer hitch and allows you to raise and lower the trailer to attach or remove the trailer from the truck's hitch ball). I remembered the dealer telling me the jack could be lowered manually, but I couldn't remember how. That conversation was 9 months ago. I started looking for a tool that came with the trailer. There is a front hatch where I keep everything and I couldn't find it. I also looked in my tool box where I had a couple small couplers and tools. Nothing.

I looked for directions in the Airstream manual, the Airstream maintenance manual, and the Airstream Newbies books. Nothing. I took the motor cover off the top of the power jack and figured there must be something to grab on to turn manually, but I didn't see it. I could take off the motor, but wasn't sure. I saw two phillips head screws and two allen head screws holding the motor on to the jack. From past experience, I suspected the alan screws were holding the motor together and the philips may take it off the shaft. Airstream has great service so I called them. The service person said I should have a tool to crank the jack manually and that to use it I had to “remove the two allen screws” to get at the manual access.

Following his instructions, I removed the two allen screws and had the motor separate in half exposing grease covered gears in each half - exposed like an open heart. That idiot!!! I carefully put the two pieces back together hoping no gear fell out or got misaligned. I then went with my initial gut feeling.

I removed one philips head pretty easily, then could not get the other off. I stood on the hitch to get leverage and still couldn't get it. I could feel the head starting to strip. I was getting nervous as was Sandy. I stood staring in frustration for a bit, concerned I might be screwed myself.

I looked underneath and saw there was a ground nut – which wasn't on the other screw. A wrench on the nut got the screw out. Whew!

The whole motor assembly came off fine (no need to take out the allen screws). Now I could clearly see the pin to which I needed to attach a crank. I went back to my front hatch and threw everything out: the box of grease and oils; the extra bags of leveling blocks; the sewer support; the box of rags; the rubber mallet, axe; level; the 50 feet of extra water hose; and 50 foot electrical cable. There it was. NOW I REMEMBER IT!

Having placed it in the back of the compartment when we set out in October, and never having to use it, I completely forgot what it looked like. I grabbed it and cranked the hitch back down with a little effort. I then tried to run it with power again – nothing. What now?

I quickly thought about the ground screw, so I re-assembled the motor to the jack and screwed in the philips head to the ground nut and ground wire. It started up fine and I finished unhitching the truck. Done.

I cleaned all the grease (from unnecessarily opening the motor) off me and the tools, put the box of grease and oils, the extra bags of leveling blocks, the sewer support, the box of rags, the rubber mallet, axe, level, the 50 feet of extra water hose, and 50 foot electrical cable back into the trailer, took out the gravity chair, opened a can of beer and relaxed. Just another day on the road.

Antietam National Battlefield.

There's really too much to tell – even for me :).

I knew that this was a historic battlefield and planned this campground based on its' proximity to it. But, I had no idea whether the site was going to be simply a field with a historical marker or something more significant. Even having seen Gettysburg, I was not prepared for the size, detail and information I got from this park. Not quite the scope or beauty of Gettysburg, but close enough. Gettysburg is larger, and has many more monuments, fences, and guns, but the story here may be even more interesting.

There is a really good visitor's center with a 27 minute video that describes and reenacts the sequence of skirmishes. Then, when you drive around and follow the numbered points of interest, you can connect with the video to really imagine the events.

Please do a web search on the site to get more information. I can't cover it. What I will say are a few things that I found surprising and significant.

Just an intro to the day of the battle:

Lee and his 40,000 men had just finished a series of successful battles including the second Manassas to the east and he was looking to begin an assault in the north - Maryland.Things were going well enough that Britain and France were poised to recognize the Confederacy, which would give a fatal blow to the north. They just needed to see one more victory from the South.

Lee was therefore poised to do damage in Maryland that could sway the war. He moved west in Maryland and divided his men to take Harper's Ferry. Meanwhile, 39 year old Union General McClellan and 85,000 troops marched from the east. Skirmishes were fought along the way until Lee settled in Sharpsburg Maryland.

This Dunker Church was where the Confederates coordinated before the battle.

The 12 hour battle on November 17, 1862 produced the bloodiest day in U.S. History. Of 100,000 engaged in battle, 23,000 were either killed, wounded or missing.

While considered a “draw” in battle terms, the fact that Lee moved back across the Potomac River into Virginia was enough for Lincoln to issue a Proclamation of Emancipation. It also meant that the Confederacy did not get the support of Britain it needed.

Interesting facts: If McClellan had been more aggressive (he kept ¼ of his men in reserve) the war could have ended the war right then. If Lee had succeeded in driving the Union back, Britain and possibly France would have backed the Confederacy and the war's outcome would have been different. If Lee had won this day, there would not have been an emancipation of slaves.

The clash in the cornfield is mind boggling. The following few photos from the brochure and my pics give some detail. The cornfield is still a cornfield.

The cornfield rows can be seen over this fence.

Hard to read, but this describes the Irish Brigade, named for the Irish born commander. Massachusetts regiments were heavily involved. "The brigade lost over 4,000 men during the war. This total is larger than the number of soldiers who served in the brigade at any time." - or 100% turnover as I'd say.

The bloody lane today.

One of several plaques near bloody lane.

A surgeon's bone saw.

Surgeon's implements.

As the day wore on - from the cornfield to the bloody lane, the battle finally ended at the south bridge.

The sycamore tree in the foreground can be seen in the photo below.

The sycamore tree on the far side is the same tree as seen in the photo above (but from the opposite side of the bridge).

500 Confederate troops sat on the hill picking off the Federal troops trying to cross, until the Federals simply charged over.

This view shows roughly where the final path of retreat of the confederates.

The farmlands within the park are pretty breathtaking.

A cloud over a field near bloody lane.

Harpers Ferry.

I have been fascinated with John Brown and Harpers Ferry since a boy when I read about him. After almost a full day at Antietam, and without lunch, we drove another half an hour south. We set the GPS to Harper's Ferry National Park. What a mistake. It is on the north side of the Potomac, on a road so narrow and twisty with rock overhanging one side and a steel railing barely stable on a cliff to my side, there were often section where I slowed nearly to a stop to squeeze our truck and an oncoming car to pass.

Turns out the town and the museum is on the other side of the river. By the time we got gas and found our way over there, we went down a hill into the cute but busy historical district. There were many people walking down the sidewalk. When we got to the park area, there was one small parking lot with cars looping around and a policeman issuing tickets on the street. I didn't stick around.

We continued past lines of people cuing up for ice cream and other assorted tourist food items in little shops. Signs indicated a visitor's center and parking. Sure – about 3 miles up the road! A shuttle bus could take us back to the mayhem. 3:30PM I'm tired, hot (it was 88 degrees out!), and way past hungry. We bid goodbye to Harpers Ferry with misgiving, but hope to return. On our way back along the Potomac we saw countless kayaks running the wide and rapid filled river. I could see the park at the point we had just driven by at Harper's Ferry and also could see what a nice spot it would be if there was a #!@$%$ place to park.

Oh well. Win some....


We stopped in Boonsboro for dinner after the parks. Nice little town and a half decent tavern.


Dan's Tavern. Good though small, beer list.

Crawford was closed or we would have had some great choices.

In closing, we had two days in a row in Maryland that reached 88 degrees. Here, on our last day I have had time to write because it is about 50 degrees with 15-25 mph winds (gusts to 30 mph) and a forecast for rain and thunderstorms overnight. A chance of snow tomorrow when we slip into Paradise, Pennsylvania. Back home, my family is dealing with snow and freezing rain – April 15.

As I said my plans for tomorrow, let me add that tomorrow is also Sandy and my 30th wedding anniversary. Yes, for that I am taking her to Paradise!


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