The Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 was the turning point in the Civil War, but the battle’s legacy extends beyond military history, as Gettysburg National Military Park today preserves 4,000 acres of the battlefield and adjoining areas. Preservation of the Gettysburg battlefield began shortly after the battle ended, with a portion of East Cemetery Hill developed by the War Department into Gettysburg National Cemetery, where President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address four months after the battle at the cemetery’s dedication.
Before long, I was driving up fire roads on the Los Coyotes reservation near Warner Springs to the forests at the base of Hot Springs Mountain, only to be sideswiped by a view of the Salton Sea I will never forget, appearing like a giant mirage through the trees. I visited the oak groves of Oakoasis in Lakeside and was pleased to find such heavy tree wisdom so close to civilization, cared for as a county park. I walked along the headwaters of the wild Santa Margarita River on the backside of Camp Pendleton, and was calmed by its stillness and quiet.