#1 NYT bestselling author Linda Lael Miller

The Road to Gettysburg

You are not going to believe this.

I had been feeling a bit peaky before setting out on my journey to Gettysburg, but I was determined.  I went ahead and made the trip.

Since Jenni, my usual traveling partner, was away in Europe, I was forced to rise to the occasion (okay, I admit it, I’m spoiled), getting the rental car in Baltimore, calculating the route to Gettysburg (God bless Google Maps), making the relatively short drive to my favorite Pennsylvania town.  I spent the first night at the Gettysburg Hotel, a favorite place to stay when I visit, and had supper at the Pub, which is just across the street.  So far, so good.  I slept well and, the next morning, headed for Gettysburg College to register for the Civil War Institute.  I was given paper work and keys to the dorm–ah, the dorm.  Therein, my friends, lies a tale.

In my younger years, I was an adventurous traveler.  I once flew to Bangkok, checked into a hotel, and flew on to Chang Mai bright and early the next morning, to ride elephants–pretty good, when you consider that a year before that, I had never driven myself to an airport OR to the local mall.  I have hauled luggage up and down stairs in Rome’s train station, sailed on the Sea of Galilee, caught a glimpse of Princess Diana on a London street, ridden battered buses up (and down) narrow, winding mountain roads in Costa Rica, seen prostitutes dance in the storefront windows of Amsterdam.  Those were the days.

It often escapes me that I have aged.  :)  That being the case, I didn’t give a second thought to the word ‘dorm’ in the Institute’s materials.  How bad could it be?  I paid a little extra for a ‘private room’ in a suite with a kitchen.  Since I graduated from high school, I have been what you might call self-educated.  I didn’t get around to going to college for a variety of reasons.  

I found my dorm room and, okay, I was a little taken aback by how small it was.  I figured most prison cells are probably more spacious, but what the heck.  I was on an adventure.  There was no elevator, it was hot and humid, and if there is air-conditioning in the dorm, I could not detect it.  The bed was low and narrow, with a foam mattress about six inches thick.  I had a closet and a desk and ONE electrical outlet.  (I must admit, this surprised me, given that today’s college student typically arrives with a wide range of electronic equipment in need of regular recharging.)  I brought up one suitcase, as my larger one was so heavy, I couldn’t wrap my brain around the concept of getting it up those stairs.  I decided I would leave it in the car and get fresh clothes as needed.  (What?  No bellmen?  No room service?  No coffeepot?  Hey, I told you I’m spoiled!)

I made up the little bed with its ill-fitting sheets and dashed to Walmart for the other things that are implied by the term ‘dorm’–towels, a private supply of Kleenex, etc.  I purchased two pairs of shorts as well, knowing I would not survive the Pennsylvania heat in my ranch-wear–jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers.  At 4 o’clock, I attended the orientation program.  Afterward, I went to dinner with my dear friends, Joe and Janet Wahl and Sandy Pennesse.  It was after I’d crawled into bed that the malaise kicked in in earnest.  I tossed and turned, coughing, my chest aching, unable to breathe well when I was lying flat.  I woke after a (very) fitful night lying on the bare plastic mattress cover, with the sheets twisted every which way.  (Did I mention that, for five women, there was one toilet and one shower stall?)  And that is when it hit me: Cowgirl, you are definitely sick.

I grabbed what might have been the last available hotel room in Gettysburg, this being the high season for tourists.  Then I packed up and left the dorm, heading back downtown.  It was too early to check into the new room, and I needed breakfast, sick or not.  After eating, I texted Sandy, who immediately came and gathered me up, took me to Urgent Care, sat with me throughout the two-hour wait to be seen.  I was given meds and told what I already knew: if I tried to attend the classes I’d planned on, I risked 1) infecting the several hundred other participants and 2) getting much, much sicker than I already was.  I was too ill to make the long trip home, even if I could have changed my tickets.  Sandy and I picked up my prescriptions and met Janet and Joe for lunch.  I was really flagging by then, but I enjoyed the food and the company.  Do you know what those kind people did for me?  Sandy and Janet drove me straight to the hotel, made sure I got checked in, and told me to REST and text them if I needed anything at all.  Joe, meanwhile, God bless him forever, fetched my car from a lot on the other side of town, drove it to the hotel, AND carried all my baggage upstairs.  Just more proof of my belief that God looks after us in every situation, if we ask.  I had my own crew of guardian angels: Sandy, Janet and Joe.

After a night in a real bed, with sheets that stayed put, not to mention a nice bath, I felt a bit better.  Yes, I would miss my classes, but I was still in Gettysburg, after all, and that is a place I love to be.  Sometimes, you just have to ‘cut your losses and run’, as my old daddy used to say.

In the days to come, I made short forays into the surrounding area with Sandy, who, as a resident of Gettysburg, showed me a side of the place I had never seen, even after many visits.  We would spend 3 or 4 hours out, then I would go back to my room and rest.  I shopped, of course–Gettysburg has a great outlet mall, and it happened to be just down the road from my hotel.  :)  I love to visit the Chico’s outlet especially, and this year I bought summer shoes to replace the ones Mowgli had chewed to bits.  I even sprang for new bras–I realized I didn’t own a single white one, and there were doggy-teeth marks in some of the old favorites.  (Ah, yes, I lead such a glamorous life!)  Janet returned from her home in New Jersey, and the three of us had a ball, lunching at outdoor cafes, checking out shops, and talking about the books and writers we love.

The meds did their work, and I was feeling pretty much back to normal when it was time to retrace my path to the rental car place, with the robot woman on Google Maps giving me turn-by-turn directions.  I dreaded this drive, to be truthful, but except for one near-miss, when I almost sideswiped a van changing lanes in all that Baltimore-Washington traffic, the trip went just fine.  (Thank you, angels.  I’m sure the driver of that van is grateful, too.)  

At each point, there was someone to offer help when I needed it.  Polite young men hoisted my suitcases on and off the shuttle bus, for instance.  

I had quite a long wait at the airport, so I decided to make good use of the time.  I had a much-needed manicure/pedicure, read, window-shopped and looked back over my adventure that almost wasn’t.

You know what they say about the best laid plans.  In this life, we have to be adaptable.

What did I learn?  Many things.  Most notably, that good friends are the best possible blessing.

Thank you, Sandy, Janet and Joe.

And thank you, my angels, visible and invisible.  For all the unexpected twists and turns, it was a wonderful trip.


64 comments to “The Road to Gettysburg”

  1. Billiesue Sanders
      · June 27th, 2016 at 11:50 am · Link

    Good for you, Linda! I love Gettysburg too!

  2. Theresa
      · June 27th, 2016 at 11:50 am · Link

    Glad you are back safe & sound! BTW: I ordered your wonderful new candle trio!! Can’t wait to get them!

  3. Lorelei Sawtelle
      · June 27th, 2016 at 11:52 am · Link

    OH, NO! I am so sorry you got sick. I know you were really looking forward to this trip. I’m glad you’re either well or getting well quickly.

    And how good of you to buy an extra pair of shoes for your furbabies to chew! (Maybe not your plan, but probably will happen!)

    Life is, after all, what happens when we’re making other plans.


  4. DONNA
      · June 27th, 2016 at 11:55 am · Link

    Glad all is well now.

  5. Ann Bartholomew
      · June 27th, 2016 at 12:11 pm · Link

    So sorry you missed your classes but glad you made the most of it. It’s good to have you back with us again!

  6. Mary
      · June 27th, 2016 at 12:14 pm · Link

    What a story! Hope you’re feeling 100% better. Thank God for the angels among us and the ones we can’t see.

  7. Margaret
      · June 27th, 2016 at 12:15 pm · Link

    You always have quite the adventures–whether planned or not! Glad you are feeling better.

  8. Dotty Weis
      · June 27th, 2016 at 12:18 pm · Link

    So glad you are better and had somewhat of a good time

  9. Patricia Taylor
      · June 27th, 2016 at 12:19 pm · Link

    Sorry, you missed your classes but apparently you had a great time anyway. Thankful you had a support team nearby.

  10. Melaine
      · June 27th, 2016 at 12:20 pm · Link

    Welcome home, Linda, and I hope you are feeling much better. While your trip didn’t go as planned sounds like you still had a good time.

  11. Teresa Fordice
      · June 27th, 2016 at 12:21 pm · Link

    so glad your friends were there to help you out!!

  12. LynneW
      · June 27th, 2016 at 12:23 pm · Link

    Sorry you were sick and missed the classes you had been anticipating for so long, but I’m very glad your angels were watching over you and took such good care of you!

    And really? They didn’t even provide towels? Or tell you to bring your own in the class description? That is ridiculous!

  13. Marjorie Hawkins
      · June 27th, 2016 at 12:29 pm · Link

    It looks like you made lemonade from what happened to you. I’m so sorry you had to go through the illness, but thankful for the friends who were there to help you. I’m a widow and one of the most difficult things for me has been going places by myself. I’m getting better all the time but it’s a challenge. I also am thankful for Google Maps on my phone. I use it all of the time. I love your books…have been a fan for years. Thanks for all of the hours of living other’s lives for awhile.

  14. Patricia Drennen
      · June 27th, 2016 at 12:36 pm · Link

    It sounds like a good story line to me.Sorry you were sick but you never know what will take its place.Glad you are home

  15. Gwenda Underwood
      · June 27th, 2016 at 12:43 pm · Link

    Such a great adventure, so glad you went!!

  16. Patti
      · June 27th, 2016 at 12:45 pm · Link

    Bless all your angels! And you too, of course!

  17. Kathy Hendrickson
      · June 27th, 2016 at 12:48 pm · Link

    What would we do without friends? I’m sorry you missed your classes and glad to hear you are feeling better. Even if it didn’t turn out like you imagined, I’m sure you came home feeling blessed by the turn of events.

  18. Linda Beaudoin
      · June 27th, 2016 at 12:56 pm · Link

    I’m happy your trip turned out to be a good one despite your sick start. Your had three wonderful angels to help you.

  19. Lois Rotella
      · June 27th, 2016 at 1:11 pm · Link

    Sorry about your classes. I am sure things happens for a reason. Travel is hard on any person of any age. I am always very tired when I travel whether it is by car or plane or even bus and train. I have traveled by all means. Glad to hear you are feeling better. Need to take vitamins and some zinc to help prevents colds. Now that you are home I hope you get added rest. Have a wonderful week.

  20. Sandra M. Smith
      · June 27th, 2016 at 1:13 pm · Link

    If you can get à book from “Mort Kunstler” title Images of the Civil War. The text of Jane’s M. McPherson. I’m sure you will enjoy this book. My late husband had a chance to meet him at the Harrisburg Civil War museum and he even sign his book for him. Glad you recover and had a good time in Gettysburg.

  21. Sandra M. Smith
      · June 27th, 2016 at 1:13 pm · Link

    If you can get à book from “Mort Kunstler” title Images of the Civil War. The text of Jane’s M. McPherson. I’m sure you will enjoy this book. My late husband had a chance to meet him at the Harrisburg Civil War museum and he even sign his book for him. Glad you recover and had a good time in Gettysburg.

  22. Phyllis Odell
      · June 27th, 2016 at 1:18 pm · Link

    Sorry you missed your classes and was sick. Great friends are a godsend believe me I know too. I have been to Gettysburg once but I do want to go back only saw the highlights on a tour. I enjoy the articles and books you write. Keep up the good work. Phyllis

  23. Caryn Horn
      · June 27th, 2016 at 1:22 pm · Link

    In my lifetime I’ve had many angels in many shapes and forms. I’m so glad your were nearby when you needed them. Stay well.

  24. Lynn Hill
      · June 27th, 2016 at 1:33 pm · Link

    Well Linda I have also been to Gettysburg but thank goodness I wasn’t sick. I am so sorry you were not at the top of your game. There will be another opportunity I am sure and your health is more important to us. Thank you to all the angels for taking care of our Linda!!

  25. Ruby Norwood
      · June 27th, 2016 at 1:35 pm · Link

    So sorry you got sick and missed your classes, but it seems as if you had a good time anyway. You are so right about good friends being a blessing.

  26. Linda Holmes
      · June 27th, 2016 at 1:37 pm · Link

    Glad to hear you are feeling better and that you had friends there to help you out.

    Is there a way for people who did not make the classes to still get the information.


  27. Trudy Wilson
      · June 27th, 2016 at 1:37 pm · Link

    What an awesome adventure! Yes, we all have angels disguised as friends and strangers. I’m glad you are feeling better! Keep writing….love your stories and books!

  28. Ida C
      · June 27th, 2016 at 1:40 pm · Link

    Sounds like quite the adventure and so glad you’re feeling better. We do have angels all around us, we just have to ask for their help, and then let them help us!! Take care & keep us up to date with your travels & trials. I love traveling with other people doing the work and me sitting home enjoying it all!!

  29. Juanita Rice
      · June 27th, 2016 at 1:58 pm · Link

    Linda, the white bra comment got to me. I just bought the first white bra I’ve had in many years. :)

    Glad you returned safely and in good health.

  30. Terri S
      · June 27th, 2016 at 2:07 pm · Link

    I’m sorry you were sick and missed your classes, but I’m glad you were still able to find ways to enjoy your trip. Sounds like you have a lot of great friends and found a few more. :-)

  31. Deborah Nelson
      · June 27th, 2016 at 2:15 pm · Link

    Glad you’re feeling better. And what a saga! You are blessed with friends and angels.

    Concerning the luggage… After taking a wonderful 2-week Rick Steve’s tour of Europe last summer and adopting his one-piece-of-luggage mantra, I never travel anywhere with more than one carry-on and a small (really small) backpack). If it doesn’t fit in that, it doesn’t go. And I feel completely set free. I can manage my luggage up and down trails, stairs, anywhere.

  32. Andrea Lammly
      · June 27th, 2016 at 2:21 pm · Link

    Sorry you got sick and missed your classes but thank goodness for friends to help you through your ordeal. You seem to be jinxed as far as Gettysburg goes though. Didn’t you sprain your ankle last year when you stepped into a hole or dip in the ground as you were walking around the battlefields? Love the history of Gettysburg and can’t wait to read this series. Glad you are home safely and feeling better. Now to get those four legged friends to stop chewing your shoes. :)

  33. Marjorie Martin
      · June 27th, 2016 at 2:29 pm · Link

    The older I get the more I realize how much I treasure my friends. I feel that we get to make the family we wished we could of had sometimes with the good friends we are given. I agree that I am grateful for the Angels God does put in my path. Also, they teach me how to be a better person. Sometimes, as you experienced, the journey is that much better by not being as you had planned.
    So grateful that you were able to “make lemonade out of lemons”!!
    God Bless

  34. Diana E.
      · June 27th, 2016 at 2:46 pm · Link

    Golly Linda, you are much braver than I!!! So glad you had angels there to help. Hope all is well now. Blessings.

  35. Sue Gahagan
      · June 27th, 2016 at 3:32 pm · Link

    Life is Good, and friends are better!!!

  36. Virginia Horton
      · June 27th, 2016 at 3:34 pm · Link

    Gosh I know it had to be bad to get sick on your trip. At least you had angels to take care of you. I can remember taking a trip with my son when he was about 4 and he got sick. We couldn’t find a childs Tylanol in the town we were in. I learn then to always pack those sort of things. I am so glad things work out for you in the end. Thanks the Lord of those angel friends.

  37. Brenda Miller
      · June 27th, 2016 at 3:42 pm · Link

    You are to be commended on just the driving part. It takes two people to drive nowadays, even if you’re home in familiar territory. If I look at anything besides the road in front of me, I end up where I’m looking (almost in the ditch). Besides, I don’t enjoy traveling alone. Even if you missed the classes, it turned into some leisure time and all was not a “bust”. Better luck next time, huh?

  38. Judith Cooper
      · June 27th, 2016 at 4:45 pm · Link

    You have the most delightful way of making such a bad time for you, interesting reading for your fans. Lol I am so glad for your angels, and for the attitude you had about it all. Also, I bet your babies are happy to have you home. Stay well!!!!!

  39. jan
      · June 27th, 2016 at 6:32 pm · Link

    Wow! What an adventure! Sure hope you are feeling much better now. Thanks for wonderful friends who were able to come to your aid.

  40. gretchen maine
      · June 27th, 2016 at 7:40 pm · Link

    I truly believe in angels-I have had one with me for several years now who always helps me out of major scrapes.

  41. Dawn E Roberts
      · June 27th, 2016 at 8:07 pm · Link

    I find that the unexpected is usually the most fun. I remember one weekend we took the kids to Flagstaff, AZ to see the first real snow of the season, we played and sledded down hills, we had a nice dinner, crashed in a hotel and planned to head home the next day…well so much for best laid plans…a snow storm came in and we were there for another two days. The kids had a blast, I was doing laundry in the hotel sink, and we were able to get some food but nothing was moving around town. But it was one of the most memorable trips ever. Kids are now 120 and 22 and they still talk about how much fun that was. Did I mention they were 5/7 at the time.

  42. Peggy Casey
      · June 27th, 2016 at 8:29 pm · Link

    We are all blessed by your adventures… thank you for sharing! We usually only hear people telling of their successful journeys and less about the “normal challenges” life tosses our way. Hope you are feeling better!

  43. Pamela Devereux
      · June 27th, 2016 at 9:07 pm · Link

    I am sorry you didn’t get to go on your retreat. Health always comes first. Glad you have good friends to look out for you. Shopping with friends is always fun. So next time you will be more healthy to do all the research you need for your next book.

  44. Valdi M.
      · June 27th, 2016 at 9:25 pm · Link

    I also beleive in making lemonade! Sometimes lemonade is great!

  45. Pat Parker
      · June 27th, 2016 at 9:32 pm · Link

    The best laid plans…..Glad you are feeling better.

  46. DIXIE hadley
      · June 27th, 2016 at 10:50 pm · Link

    What an adventure! So glad that God provided the guardian angels to help you long the way. God bless you :-)

  47. Jo Ann Holcomb
      · June 27th, 2016 at 11:08 pm · Link

    Well, sorry you were sick, but meant to be, since because of it you had an fantastic trip with cool friends & got to see lots of great things. All because of great friends & getting sick. Could have been left out, but look at what wouldn’t have come about if it hadn’t. Including some great shopping. Glad you’re better & the best always. This week we’re in the 100’s+ here in central California. Jo Ann

  48. Sharon Sovereign
      · June 27th, 2016 at 11:26 pm · Link

    You’re braver than I am to try to stay in a dorm. I did go to college so would have known what to expect. Sorry you were sick but glad you had a good trip anyway.

  49. Linda Blenkiron
      · June 28th, 2016 at 5:01 am · Link

    Sorry to hear your trip didn’t go according to plan and that you weren’t well. I always say when things don’t go to plan that I’m on an adventure. It’s all about how you handle the curveballs life throws you. God always puts the right people in your way. Blessings Linda

  50. Eriko
      · June 28th, 2016 at 9:35 am · Link

    What a whirlwind adventure you had on this trip! I am so sorry you got so sick, but thank goodness for the Angels and your friends. You made the best of your time away from home. Your adventure could be one of the characters in your wonderful novels! Thank you for posting, even when you are not feeling your best! By now, I hope you are 100% well.

  51. Mary Wornick
      · June 28th, 2016 at 11:31 am · Link

    Wow, it sound like you had a good time. Sorry about your being sick. I have angels in my yard a beautiful lady angel and she is with me when i walk my pups in morning and at night too.. They say if you have butterflies in your yard that is angels too. Don’t know how true that is but it makes you feel safe . Have nice day and hope all is going okay with you now that your home……….

  52. Mary Wornick
      · June 28th, 2016 at 11:54 am · Link

    Wow,you had wonderful friends while you was on your trip. It is always good to have friends with you when you go off on a trip.
    It sound like so much fun y’all running all over town going here and there and then you going back to hotel to rest up for the next day and all of the running around town…… Boy you have been every where !!!! That is great I have never been any place like you . You go girl ………..Have the time of your life now with your friends just have fun ……..I love to hear you talk about your trips so sorry you got sick …….but all is a okay now ……..

  53. Elaine Key
      · June 28th, 2016 at 1:04 pm · Link

    Thankful you are better.

  54. Leanna
      · June 28th, 2016 at 11:07 pm · Link

    Glad you are back and feeling better.

  55. April Mc Vey
      · June 29th, 2016 at 10:42 am · Link

    Thankful for friends! Sounds like a great adventure after all!

  56. Jo Ann Baker
      · June 29th, 2016 at 5:14 pm · Link

    Angles do turnip when you need one.

    • midge watkins
        · July 1st, 2016 at 10:36 pm · Link

      It may be a typo, but I love “turnip”. May I use it?

  57. midge watkins
      · July 1st, 2016 at 10:35 pm · Link

    What an adventure! And it’s wonderful that you’re tough enough to enjoy it. Hope you are much healthier now. I have
    a feeling the book about Gettysburg is going to be one of your

  58. Patti
      · July 2nd, 2016 at 5:41 pm · Link

    I saw what I think are two new Mojo Sheepshanks books. Am I correct?

  59. Linn Carlile
      · July 2nd, 2016 at 10:48 pm · Link

    My goodness, you sure do have the adventures. Good to know you are doing better and had good visits with your friends.
    Thank heaven for angels seen and unseen. We are indeed

  60. Nancy Frederick
      · July 7th, 2016 at 5:32 pm · Link

    I was wanting to find out if you were going to wright more books for the MOJO series? I are going to keep going good with the series?

  61. Mary Wornick
      · July 13th, 2016 at 11:35 am · Link

    I love reading about all the places you go . All of the friends you have and you get to go visit them all the time.

    You are one busy lady and your a great writer love your books and thank you for the time you take with all of us who read your books and other books …………thank you/,

    Have a nice day bye for now .

  62. Mary Wornick
      · July 13th, 2016 at 11:45 am · Link

    Linda, I just think you have wonderful friends and they seem more like angels ……….they where there for you when you got sick and took care of everything for you . Thank goodness they got you a nice hotel room so you could rest and get better.

    Talk with you later, take care and don’t do to much until you are well ……

  63. Carol L
      · July 13th, 2016 at 4:59 pm · Link

    How wonderful that such wonderful friends were with you and to help you. I’m so happy you had a good time. Thanks for sharing with us.
    Carol L

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