Months ago, my dad started planning for this year’s World War II weekend in Gettysburg. He booked three hotel rooms–three non-refundable hotel rooms, which would pose a problem in case someone ended up unable to go, like, say, Uncle Eric or my grandfather, who want to go every year then bail.

They were expensive rooms and my mother was furious, so my dad hilarious kept begging Brandon and I to go, saying, “If you don’t come, I’m screwed.”

He’s lucky that my much-anticipated Erasure show is the weekend after, because I didn’t check before I bought the tickets.

Brandon and I both went, as did Paul and Kelly, much like last year.

Dad went up Friday and drove by Uncle Clark’s house, because fuck if I know why. I think it has something to of with sneaking around and checking out the state of the house, possibly even taking valuable things out of it in case he gets rid of them or the house gets repossessed. But because Dad saw Uncle Clark’s car in the driveway, he did what any brother would do after having driven three hours to get to the area and he drove away. My dad insists he’s done with Uncle Clark because Uncle Clark swore at him and called him names. Now, I discussed this with my therapist and he pointed out that this may be my dad’s limit, much like I’ve reached my limits with people and moved on accordingly, but I think it’s hypocritical and stupid. Everyone has their limits, yes, but this is more like a sibling squabble blown out of proportion because the whole family is dysfunctional and doesn’t know how to handle a problem like adults. I also have a theory that only two of the siblings in that family can get along at one time, otherwise it throws off the balance of the universe. And now Uncle Eric, who was once the bad guy who was mean and called my dad names, is his BFF he has breakfast with at least once a week and Uncle Clark, who used to be the BFF and favorite, is now the nasty black sheep. I expect this to shift back to Uncle Eric once again in a few years, unless maybe my dad somehow makes himself the black sheep.

Despite all that, the rest of the weekend was actually pretty nice. After Paul, Kelly, and I got off work, everyone convened at my parents’ house, we stopped for gas and food, and got on our way. We got in around 10 and headed to our rooms, which were naturally separated by gender and not couple.

I don’t think many parents are comfortable with knowing that their kids are having sex, but my dad’s especially uncomfortable with it and insists we stay separate when he’s around. Thing is, he actually gets freaked out at the mere possibility of sexual activity and avoids the situation rather than enforcing his own rules. Granted, we were tired, had little time, and were frankly too wimpy to ask each other to swap rooms or squeeze in some sexytimes somehow, but with my dad’s room on the opposite end of the hotel and no real way to control four 20-somethings, we could’ve done whatever we wanted. All he did was say, “No hanky panky” and leave, although his version of that to my mother was that he laid down the rules. She suggested we prank him and act like we were up to sexual shenanigans. Brandon did make some joke about he and Paul getting naughty, which probably offended my dad more than any other jokes would have.

Paul was the voice of reason who wasn’t too into doing anything possible to make my dad uncomfortable, but I think this is partly because doing anything remotely close to that with his parents would be a catastrophe. But I’ve grown up with pranks and harassment.

And really, I should’ve said something just to get even with the annoyances of traveling with my dad. We had separate rooms, but he likes to text and call and then call the room to wake me up. The one perk to waking up was free breakfast, plus a cake he’d bought from Harrisburg bakery Dingeldein’s on his trip to creep on Uncle Clark. Dingeldein’s is amazing, I highly recommend it, and that’s the tastiest, lightest, most appropriately moist cake I’ve ever had. Their pastries are excellent, too, and the one disadvantage to staying in Carlisle this time as opposed to Harrisburg was not visiting Dingeldein’s in person.

The day in Gettysburg was good and fun–the World War II reenactment was interesting as always.

And then Uncle Clark showed up. My dad pointed him out walking across the field while we listened to a veteran discuss his experiences. He stopped near us briefly and we said hi, then he made his way up to the big, main tent where the featured speakers are and we never saw or heard from him after that. Brandon advised me since that Uncle Clark is claiming we ignored and avoided him, and if that’s true, this is one time I can safely say that’s bullshit. I’ll grant that it’s possible that he interpreted the day that way, but that’s not what we did–although I can’t speak for my dad. And I’m not sure if this is coming from Uncle Clark directly or if my grandfather or even Uncle Eric is playing middleman here. I don’t know if my dad and Uncle Clark have talked to each other directly, and I don’t expect them to either way because they’re like children who can’t just have a conversation and clear up a misunderstanding. That said, if I was Uncle Clark and my dad said he wasn’t trying to avoid him, I don’t think I’d believe him given that he ignores his calls regularly anyway.

We went to the Dobbin House for lunch, which is always delicious, although I think I’d like to try a new place next time. Then we drove around the battlefield, let Paul run rampant over rocks in Devil’s Den, and did a little walking through town. I was trying to avoid too much physical activity so as to not burn out before our ghost tour at 8, and I did a pretty good job. My dad kept making fun of me for it, but when he was sore and tired the next day, turns out I was right. Suck it.

The ghost tour was the best we’ve ever been on, thanks to our awesome tour guide, Steve. Paul thinks he saw an orb and I smelled incense that I can’t really explain, but other than that, it was a pretty uneventful tour. And maybe that’s a good thing…

We did hear down to McPherson’s Farm afterwards, where on multiple occasions now, we’ve seen weird, flashing lights in a little break in the tree line. It’s possible it’s headlights reflecting off a monument, but I think the look of the lights–at least at their strongest–doesn’t match up with the look of the glare or reflecting. We’d have to truck out again and maybe split up to know for sure, but it’s definitely a fun, weird place to visit, and we’ve seen those lights every single time.

After all that, I was exhausted and fell asleep on the way back to the hotel, then had trouble sleeping in the room hanks to a loud wedding party. But the next morning, it was off to home.


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