During a recent long weekend in Gettysburg, PA , I decided it was time to read The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. Dave and I have now been to Gettysburg on long weekend trips every year for the past four years. Two of those years during Thanksgiving weekend, one in February and one at the end of June, close to the timing of the actual battle which took place July 1, 2, and 3, 1863. The first time we went together as a couple to Gettysburg was also the first time I was ever there.
Dave had been to Gettysburg often through the years. He participated for a number of years as a civil war reenactor with the 15th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry, as well as being an extra in the movie “Gettysburg” which was based on the novel The Killer Angels.
What’s in a title? Michael Shaara’s title evokes a memory from Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Chamberlain of the 20th Maine, whose regiment fought brilliantly during the second day of the Gettysburg battle protecting the Union line at Little Round Top. Chamberlain remembers a speech from Hamlet in which Hamlet states that man is “in action how like an angel!” Chamberlain’s father, when he heard this says that “if man is an angel, he’s most definitely a ‘murderin’ angel”. This comes directly from a speech that Chamberlain gave after the war called “Man: The Killer Angel”.
This was so true during those three days in 1863 where over 50,000 casualties were reported. This is where President Abraham Lincoln would give his famous Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863 in dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery in Gettysburg where most of those that died on the battlefield those days at the end of June 1863 are buried.
Gettysburg National Military Park is a very somber place. The Visitors Center at the National Park includes a museum and a Cyclorama of Pickett’s Charge, which occurred on the last day of the battle. These two attractions are not to be missed and provide a nice overview of not only the battle that took place here, but of the Civil War itself. It is worth spending at the very least a full day at the battlefield and a weekend is even better.
Walking the battlefield is peaceful now, but it does stir in one grief over the loss of life, a memory of a time we should not forget about and awe over what a beautiful place Gettysburg really is.
On a very cold Black Friday morning, Dave and I rose very early and met with our photo guides for the Day, David and Eric of Action Photo Tours out of Kanab, Utah. Our mission, instead of shopping, was to capture Bryce Canyon at Sunrise. And capture it we did. The picture above was taken on the hike down into the Amphitheater. Note the scale of the canyon walls when compared to members of our photo tour. The sweeping majesty of this National Park is awe-inspiring.
We arrived at the Amphitheater just at sunrise that morning. And it was a very cold morning at about 9 degrees F. I didn’t even notice the cold (I was bundled up pretty well in layers of appropriate clothing) when I spied the view with the sun just coming up over the southeastern rim. But in the picture I took below, you can sense the cold.
Once we took some sunrise pictures of the top of the Amphitheater, we took the Navajo Trail loop down into the Amphitheater and was treated to a better view of the iconic Thor’s Hammer.
And here is a picture I took of my husband Dave shooting while getting instruction and tips from Eric.
David and Eric of Action Photo Tours were wonderful. Their insight, suggestions, instruction were spot on for both of us and I would highly recommend taking a photography tour with them. It was an unforgettable visit to Bryce Canyon.
And sunrise in Bryce Canyon is not to be missed.
Continuing with our November trip, while we had our base in Page, AZ, we took a drive out to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, through the Navajo Nation which covers most of the top Eastern Corner of Arizona and extends up into Utah. Monument Valley itself is actually in Utah. This is a place that should not be missed. The picture above was taken while on the scenic drive through the park. The scenic drive is 17 miles in total. The road is dirt and extremely rutted in some spots so a high seated vehicle is needed, otherwise I would be worried of bottoming out.
Back to the picture – you can see a snow squall coming in from the distance. This was November and there are areas of the desert and surrounding areas that do see snowfall in the late fall and winter months.
This picture was taken on our way back to Page while in the Navajo Nation. Forrest Gump could have been running on this very road.
Back to Monument Valley. Below are two of the most iconic sites in Monument Valley, The Mittens. Buttes that look like hands, or hands in mittens.
The visitors center at Monument Valley is located at the entrance and includes a gift shop, restaurant and hotel. We stopped in for lunch at the restaurant and had traditional Fry Bread (mine actually was a Navajo Taco). Delicious.
As a few of the scenic stops along the drive in Monument Valley, local artisans sell their handmade crafts. I’m sure during the summer months these stalls are full and even though it was November there were a few individuals still plying their trade.
Finally, here is a picture of the photographer who took most of these pictures, my husband Dave.
There is an iconic photo that all seem to take of Horseshoe Bend at Glen Canyon. My husband opted for something a little bit different. The picture above is of the Bend, but looking down the Colorado River with others seen in the distance on the left to give the canyon perspective. This was at sunset on the evening we arrived in Glen Canyon during our November 2016 trip to Utah and Arizona.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area include not only the “Bend”, but Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam – along with numerous other amazing wonders. Page, Arizona which is located right at the Southern end of Lake Powell by the dam, is where we stayed for exploring not only Glen Canyon, but also to visit Monument Valley (more to come later).
From the trailhead, it is a 1.5 mile roundtrip hike to Horseshoe Bend and well worth the visit. If you are afraid of heights, getting right up to the edge might be a bit scary – it was for me. Dave had is tripod and camera perched right on the edge – he claims he was 1/2 foot away from the edge, I don’t think so. To be honest I had a little bit of a panic attack just watching him.
Exploring the area includes a visit to the Glen Canyon Dam. Built in the 1950’s (well after Hoover Dam) and created not only Lake Powell, but Page, AZ as well. There is still controversy over the dam as it altered the natural flow of the Colorado, but it still is a beautiful area to visit. At the visitor’s center they offer a nice tour of the dam itself which Dave went on while we visited.
Being there in November is not the time to grab an iconic houseboat and spend time on the lake itself. Instead we spent our time marveling at the Canyon itself.