Flight 93 National Memorial

Everyone our age knows where they were on 9/11/2001.  I was actually separated from my family because we were in the middle of relocating to New Hampshire and Lee was still in Ohio with the kids.  I was in our new home to be with the home inspector and the owner was watching TV.   Like everyone else I thought the first plane was a tragic accident, but when the second hit I vividly remember thinking, “This means war.”

The next two weeks were incredibly stressful as I didn’t feel comfortable flying home and being with my family.  I was also staying in a cabin in the woods, with no television or internet.  Many of those nights after work I went to the local VFW and watched what was happening surrounded by war veterans.  They welcomed me into their community and we watched together as the pieces came together as to what was happening.

Many images and feelings come to mind from that time period, but in particular the courage of that small group of people who fought back and died in a Pennsylvania field really spoke to me.  It gave me hope for the future of this country and made me extremely proud to be an American. When we learned that we were only 24 miles from the site of the crash I knew we had to go, and early Saturday morning Lee and I went to the Memorial.

I found the experience very moving and the Memorial was extremely well done.  I will let the pictures tell most of the story, and will just say if you are ever in the area, I highly recommend you stop.

The entrance is a bit hard to find and the signage to get there is not great.

“Every element in architecht Murdochs’ design is aimed at controlling what you see and when you see it. When visitors reach the parking lot at the top of the hill, they are greeted by a massive freestanding concrete wall rising from a field of wildflowers. It angles toward the horizon, evoking a plane’s ascent. Rather than provide an overlook where you can survey the entire crash site, the architects have completely blocked off your view. As you get closer, the great wall parts, allowing a glimpse of a second wall and a bit of sky. The one-room visitors’ center—a mere 7,500 square feet—is gripped by this concrete vise, unseen until you step through the breach.”

Upon arrival we saw an unusual long building

 

 

Even though it was outside I wore a mask which had the added benefit of keeping my face warm. It was chilly that day

The walkway is the flight path of the plane, and has time and location markers of the other planes.

 

 

We later learned that this field was part of a strip mine and the government bought the land and is restoring it to its natural state.

 

The end of the walkway. The flight path continues to a wall of names in the field and eventually to a boulder that marks the point of impact.

We didn’t really understand the design, but when we drove down to the memorial at the bottom we learned that the building was designed to show the flight trajectory.  It made much more sense from below.  The design of the memorial is very subtle, but every part of it has a meaning which I appreciated.

Not a great picture, but the black outcropping is the end of the walkway.

“When Paul Murdoch designed the concrete walls of the visitors’ center, he specified that the wooden formwork should be from hemlock trees. The hand-hewn boards, which came from old local barns, left the concrete deeply scored with the impression of the hemlock grain, a nod to the resilience of the trees in the grove, as well as a subtle connection to the region.”

After seeing the walkway we went back into the visitors center. It was crowded but everyone was masked and respectful.

 

The first section talked about the two towers and these pieces that were found after the building collapsed really moved me.

 

Then it started to walk through what happened on the plane.

 

What was interesting to me about this flight was it was half empty. the entire back third of the plane had no passengers. I didn’t realize that.  I also learned that the terrorists (grey color) were all in first class.

 

Flight Crew

 

Passenger List

They also showed the timeline and I was amazed by how quickly it all happened.  Keep in mind the people on the plane did not know what was happening in the world until AFTER they were hijacked and standard protocol at the time for hijackings was for the crew to go along in the hopes the plane would be landed.  Using a plan as a missile was not something the crew was trained for.

 

 

It was only 4 minutes between when the captain was notified of possible hijacking and when the plane was taken over.

 

At 9:32am the hijacker attempts to talk to the passengers and accidentally calls air traffic control. That’s when authorities knew that another plane was hijacked.

 

At 9:42am the FAA orders all planes to land at the closest airport.

To understand the complexity of this every dot on this map is an airplane in the sky at the time of the hijackings. Over 4,000 planes were in the air.  The logistical complexity of that is staggering, but they managed to get it done with no accidents.

 

On Flight 93 the passengers were sent to the back and they learned about the attacks. They quickly put together a plan and decided to do something.

 

It is worth mentioning that most of the passengers on this plane were middle aged business people. There were only a few younger people and yet they decided to take action.

 

When the plane crashed it was only 18 minutes flying time from Washington DC. Later information pointed to the Capital building (which was in session) as being the target.  As tragic as the day was, how much worse would it have been if many members of Congress had been killed.

The crash was catastrophic and there was very little left. Local farmers and fire fighters rushed to the scene but there was little they could do.

Picture of the smoke as seen from a nearby farm

 

 

After the crash the FBI setup and conducted one of the longest investigations in history.  I was especially touched by the actions of the local coroner, Wally Miller, who spent several years working with the families to identify remains and ultimately was able to identify every single person.

 

After the visitors center we talked about walking a large loop down to the memorial site but it was still pretty cold.  Instead we drove down to the lower parking lot and walked beside the field and to the memorial. The natural topography of the area is a bowl with higher elevations to the north and west so the landform provides the circle shape of the memorial; the memorial rests and follows the contours of the circle. The loop path travels clockwise from the Visitor’s Center down to the wall of names in what the architect described as a “circle of embrace” which points your attention down to the crash site which is the final resting place of the passengers and crew. The trees surrounding this “circle of embrace” are missing in two places; first, where the flight path of the plane went overhead (which is the location of the planned memorial overlook and visitor center), and second, where the plane crashed at the crash site (depicted by a ceremonial gate and pathway into the crash site).

 

The walking path

 

A memorial wreath area with benches

 

In the pathway we saw these lines and later learned they are the exact angle of the needles of the hemlock trees the plane crashed into

“One of the recurring motifs in the design is an abstracted hemlock tree. The symbolism works on several levels. In nature, the trees are bound together by a shared root system, like the passengers united by their shared destiny. Because the grove survived the fire from the crash, it was seen as a symbol of resilience. ”

The walls are intentionally slanted to stop people from placing things on them, or sitting on them. The rock in the far picture was placed on the main crash site.

But they did have a few cubbies built in for mementos.

 

Because we came a week after 9/11 there were still flowers on the sites

 

This bouquet in particular really touched me.  From “Dear Ole Dad and Karen.”

The one Japanese member of the plane also had a small stand that had a Japanese flag and some paper cranes.  His mother has visited every year since it happened but this year she could not come because of COVID.  Instead she sent the cranes to an ambassador who placed them for her.  This was incredibly touching.

After spending time in the memorial we headed to one last area the Tower of Voices.  This is a newly installed tower with 40 wind chimes and it was very beautiful.  Unfortunately it was not making much noise even with the wind, so the tuning may not be complete.

 

 

I feel very privileged that I was able to visit this memorial and pay my respects to these fallen american heroes.

Ordinary people doing extraordinary things reminds me of why I am proud to be an American.


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First Time Staying in a Cabin

What a fantastic weekend!!  I should start by saying that it isn’t really the first time we have stayed in a cabin.  Lee and I did a weekend back in 1993 but it was more of a resort cabin and I lived in a cabin in the woods for a month once while we were relocating, but this was definitely the first time we have stayed in one of those small campground cabins.    We had a really tough week..seeing our daughter Kay off to Air Force basic training was a very emotional experience,  plus  there was absolutely no movement on our house , and both of our jobs were insane last week.  So we both desperately needed a break and we set off early Monday morning to go to the Mountain Vista Campground in the Poconos to meet our friends.  Because our camper was professionally placed into the site we are in, we knew it would cost too much to take it so we decided to rent a cabin.  The cost was pretty outrageous ($138 a night), but I was grateful to our organizer Kelly for finding a campground that had an open cabin.  Since check in time for the cabin wasn’t until 3pm we had lots of time, but both of us really wanted to start the long weekend,  so we took off early.  Lee asked if there was anything I wanted to do along the way, and  I broke out the Roadside America app for the first time this summer  to see if there was anything cool along the way.  The app styles itself as Your Online Guide to Offbeat Tourist Attractions and it definitely does not disappoint.  I love goofy stuff and was tickled to see that Giant Hot Dog man was along our route and really not that far from our current campground.  The directions were a little vague but we found it and it made me smile.    If I could wander around the country with Lee looking at goofy stuff like this I would be perfectly content 🙂

Giant Hot Dog man

Giant Hot Dog man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also stopped along the way and saw an ATM machine that is designed as a giant tree.  Funny thing, I have stopped near this at least 20 times in the last 5 years and never knew it was there.  Love this app

ATM that looks like a tree

ATM that looks like a tree

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Tree ATM

 

So between the side trips, restroom breaks, and construction on 84 it took us awhile, but we got to the campground at 3:10pm ..just in time for check in.  I was so excited about seeing everyone.  For the last several months Kelly, Jo, and Cori have been an amazing support system.  We all have new rigs, are all selling our houses, and all are dealing with major life changes at the same time.  They have been so supportive…taking texts or phone calls at all hours of the day and night and the support and encouragement has been unwavering.  I have not had this many good women friends in a really long time and never this many friends in a non-work environment since college. The gift of these relationships  at this stage of my life is really a blessing and one of the best things our camping adventures have  brought it to me.

After the check-in we went to the cabin which was right around the corner from the camp store.  Mountain Vista has a nice camp store and although my experience with them over the phone wasn’t so great,  in person they were much nicer.  We weren’t planning on spending much time in the cabin as Jo and Ben, Kelly and Bill, and Cori and Greg were all on the other side of the campground but right across from each other, but we did want to take a moment to drop our stuff off.   The cabin was a bit of a shock…no a big shock.  It looked nice in the pictures and was a “large” cabin but when we went in it was one room and pretty small.  The floors were clean but all the mattresses had a thick plastic on them and it looked like a bargain hotel room.  I’m not a snob or anything, but for that price the small kitchen area should have been cleaner and they provided absolutely nothing.  We had to bring plates, pots and pans, lined, towels.  The only thing it had in it was a coffee machine (no filters or coffee) and 2 ratty old blankets.  Cori had offered us the couches in her rig and I was seriously thinking about packing back up and taking her up on it.  I won’t say anything more about the cabin because the only thing we did was sleep in it, but the bathroom was the best part of it.  The shower was very clean and had plenty of hot water and the toilet was relatively new.  Let’s just say though I really really missed my camper and we won’t be staying in any cabins anytime soon.

 

Cabin looks waaay nicer on the outside than the inside

Cabin looks waaay nicer on the outside than the inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We walked down to see everyone and the rest of the campground was pretty nice.  It was full, but the sites were on a mountain so they were tiered and all had some greenery for separation between the sites.  When we hit the campground we saw Kelly and Bill and Jo and Ben and tons of hugs were given…well the girls hugged…the guys shook hands.  I hadn’t seen Kelly for months but with phone calls, Facebook, and texting it didn’t feel that long but it was so great to see her in person.  She completely opened her rig to us which was VERY nice…insisting we felt free to use the bathroom and refrigerator and in no time at all I did just that.  Kelly is the kind of person who means it when she says make yourself at home and her home on wheels is awesome.   Kelly and Bill are in the final stages of selling their house and just moved into their rig full-time.  Considering everything that’s been on her plate, she was amazingly organized.

Kelly and Bill's Landmark

Kelly and Bill’s Landmark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were all talking and catching up when Cori and Greg arrived.  They have a super nice Class A and were parked right next to Kelly and Bill.  I haven’t seen Cori either since the rally and there were more hugs and everyone shared their excitement over finally being together.  Jo, Ben, Lee and I had spent some time together and Cori, Greg, Kelly, and Bill had gotten together but we all had not been in the same place since April.  It’s no small thing to coordinate everyone’s schedules, especially because everyone has jobs, but Kelly did an awesome job of pulling us all together.   Greg setup the Class A (which compared to a fifth wheel takes no time) and we all hung out well into the night.  Greg cooked some amazing crab cakes and corn and Cori brought a beautiful cheesecake for everyone.   Plus Jo bought me a bottle of my favorite wine for my birthday so everyone was having a really good time.  Everyone but us has dogs and although there was some initial fuss the puppies soon settled down and got along just fine.  We had Peyton and Annubis  (Jo and Ben’s Malamute and Shepard mix), Hobi (Cori and Greg’s bichon/cavalier mix) and Poco (Bill and Kelly’s =Autralian Shephard mix).  Aunt Tracy brought her dog treats with her and Lee and I spoiled the dogs shamelessly the entire weekend.

Greg cooking the crab cakes

Greg cooking the crab cakes

Cori and Greg's rig...instead of tiki torches they have some cool tiki pots that work great

Cori and Greg’s rig…instead of tiki torches they have some cool tiki pots that work great

 

Hobi hanging out in his doggie bed

Hobi hanging out in his doggie bed

Everyone chilling by the fire

Everyone chilling by the fire

 

Sleeping in the cabin that night wasn’t that bad.  Kelly had loaned us a blanket to put between the plastic cover and our sheets and the alcohol helped 🙂  We did wake up pretty early though and the total lack of coffee was a problem.  We are early risers, but knew others weren’t so we popped out into East Stroudsburg and got some Dunkin Donuts.   I have to say the town was pretty depressing.  There are lots of activities available such as zip lining and sky diving plus a huge park with hiking trails and waterfalls but the economy of the area was obviously depressed.  We picked up our coffee and I bought some bagels and donuts and we headed to the campsites.  Only Jo and Ben were up and moving and it was still pretty chilly so I laid the donuts out and ran up to the camp store for some wood. Bill had brought some wood in his truck, but I wanted to contribute something so I got some extra and we had the campfire going by the time everyone was up and moving around.  Eventually Greg and Cori fixed eggs and sausage for breakfast.  They have this cool small Weber grill that fits on the picnic table but it holds quite a bit and the eggs and sausage were yummy.  After breakfast Lee, Jo, and I left and made a liquor store/grocery store run and got some deli meat and veggies for lunch.  PA has weird liquor laws..wine and spirits are sold in a state-run store and beer is only sold in Beer stores or in bars.  We got back in time for lunch and laid everything out and right after we finished eating Eileen and Gene came.  Eileen and Gene just retired and starting full-timing in their RV not that long after the RV-Dreams rally.  They have been on the road for two months and have gone on quite the tour visiting their 5 kids and traveling from Denver to Boston.  We were all really curious about how things were going with them and loved talking about the realities of being full-time on the road.  Plus they are really nice and funny people and their dog Max (another bichon-cavalier mix) was a total cutie pie.  so there was a lot of talking and eating and drinking and talking.  What a great day.

Eileen and Gene

Eileen, Gene, and Max

Ben

Ben

 

From the left Ben, Bill, Kelly, Jo, Cori

From the left Ben, Bill, Kelly, Jo, Greg, and Cori

 

 

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From left Greg From Right Jo, Kelly, Bill, and Ben

 

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Lee, Jo, Cori, and Greg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The girls really went out of their way to make me feel special for my birthday.   They kept walking up and giving me hugs and wishing me happy birthday.  Jo bought me another bottle of my favorite wine( which isn’t cheap) and they kept me fed and happy throughout the day.  I kept hoping Kay might be able to call but apparently the drill sergeants don’t let the recruits call their mommies on their birthdays.   I think I would have been really sad if my other daughters hadn’t called and my friends hadn’t made such a fuss.  Kelly made seafood enchiladas which I LOVE and they were fantastic.  She’s sending the recipe soon and I’ll list it in my recipes when it comes.   Cori had called Lee and found out what my favorite cake was and got me a yellow cake with chocolate icing and my name on it.  They all sang happy birthday and I was really really touched.  Everyone likes a bit of a fuss on their birthday but Cori, Kelly, and Jo amped it up to 10 and it really meant a lot to me.

Cake

My very cool birthday cake Cori got me.

 

 

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Me eating my birthday cake

 

 

The weather was beautiful all weekend.  It only rained Saturday night after we went to bed and it cleared up for breakfast on Sunday.  Bill made some outstanding pancakes…I’m not kidding these taste like the kind you get in a really good restaurant.   We also had  pork rolls, bacon, sausage links and sausage patties.  Lee who is a big fan of the breakfast was in heaven.  We were all sad to leave but hope to see each other over the winter in Florida and I know even if we can’t see each other all the time we will remain really strong friends.  I have run out of adjectives to use so I’ll just say  I love, love, love my girls… and their guys aren’t  so bad either 🙂

The gang

Front row:  Ben, Bill, and Jo                      Back Row: Kelly, Eileen, Gene, Lee, me, Cori, and Greg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kelly’s Shrimp and Crab  Enchiladas

Filling

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups raw shrimp, medium size cut in half (Kelly used 31 – 40 count)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 16 ounces imitation crab meat, chopped (Kelly used equal portion of claw meat)
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley

Sauce

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 1/2 cups milk (low-fat or skim works great – save the calories)
  • 1 cup sour cream (light (not no-fat) works great)

  • 2 cups Mexican style shredded cheese (divided)
  • 8 medium size flour tortilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

  2. Drizzle the olive oil into the pan and add shrimp and garlic.

  3. Saute for 2 minutes then add crab and parsley.

  4. Season with salt and pepper.

  5. Saute for 3 more minutes and remove from heat.

  6. Set aside and stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese.

  7. In a medium size saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.

  8. Once butter is melted, add the flour.

  9. Cook for one minute stirring constantly until mixture is combined.

  10. Add the milk and sour cream.

  11. Whisk the mixture together and heat for 2-3 minutes until it starts to

    thicken.

  12. Add 1 cup of the sauce to the shrimp and crab mixture and stir.
  13. Add 1/2 cup sauce to the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish and spread tocover the bottom. (9 x 13 pan won’t fit in RV ovens, Kelly used an 8 x 11(can fit 5 tortillas and 8 x 8 (the other 3 tortillas) – worked out great)
  14. Place shrimp and crab mixture across each tortilla and roll up.  (try to portion it out somehow before you start filling – so the filling is evenly distributed)
  15. Place seam side down in the baking dish and repeat until finished.
  16. Pour remaining sauce over the top of the enchiladas, spread to cover if needed, then sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cheese over the top.
  17. Sprinkled with a little paprika for color
  18. Bake for 15-20 minutes until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted.
  19. Serve with green onions sprinkled on top

 

  1. Kelly's Shrimp and Crab Enchiladas

 

 Campground Review

Mountain Vista Campground 415 Taylor Drive East Stroudsburg, PA 18301   2 out of 5 pine cones – 2014

The campground has good WiFi throughout with sites on the larger side that are staggered on a hill to give additional separation.   The camp store was moderately well stocked and the people who ran it were friendly in person.  They were not however friendly on the phone and the campground only takes cash or checks and doesn’t even have a Pay Pal site.   We stayed in a cabin which was very expensive and although clean had no amenities ($138 per night).  Basically the campsite was overpriced and I didn’t see much that would justify the expense or inconvenience of booking it.  It is packed though with seasonal’s and there are things to do in the area such as sky dive, zip line, and numerous hiking trails and waterfalls.   The nearby towns however are very depressed and don’t have the ambiance that I like when traveling to an area.  Essentially, it would be ok for a couple of nights in a pinch, but I would not choose to travel here for a long weekend.

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