As soon as Cliff got off work, we dropped off his car at some friends’ house and hightailed it outta Indy!
Earlier in the day, we had gone on a homeschool group field trip, met up with some friends at homeschool PE class, and plucked my new pastel moleskine journals from the mailbox.
Frenzied from UN-packing for a trip again, I relished the excitement we now could allow. A storm was closing in on us, and plenty of rain and lightning. I don’t know if this picture captures it, but the windshield wipers pushed thin pools of water to the sides of the window in sheets. Once the wind caught the deposits, the oscillating parcels streaked in lines, racing to the upright corner of the vehicle. I’ve never seen something so jaggedy-straight!
I wonder if our prayers begin to collect like this. Foster said, “Units of prayer combined, like drops of water, make an ocean which defies resistance.” It’s pretty powerful to think of.
Because of the rain, we did not make it to our intended waypoint. We were satisfied, though, when we took off from our temporary Walmart home at 5am toward the Flight 93 Memorial. I never knew it existed until my friend Laura shared their 2016 visit with me. I’m glad she did; we would have driven right by.
The Visitor Center is a nondescript concrete structure. The dark gray walkway represents the flight path.
The Park Ranger told us that the straight path is broken into nonlinear segments, which show the straight, but broken path of the passengers. It reminded me of the jaggedy lines on the windshield. It stops abruptly at a lookout area…
…then reconvenes far down below, near the impact site.
We spent much longer in the Visitor Center than we expected. The kids had never seen the news footage of the morning or Bush’s first speech. We listened to phone calls made by the passengers to their loved ones, intercepted by answering machines. Gut wrenching.
We watched a transcript of the cockpit flight recorder overlayed with a computer simulation of both the flight path and the flight yoke’s position, all in real-time with each other. Chilling. Inspiring. Helpless.
It was kind of like the Ice Bucket Challenge. It was shocking to see how much America has changed in that short time.
Of course, Cliff and I shared what we were doing when we heard the news. We did not know each other on 9/11/01, yet we were married about a year later.
The crash site was so small. When the news reported that it landed in “a field,” my Hoosier mind pictured one of the numerous cornfields I’ve seen all around Indiana. But, as you can see, it wasn’t like that at all.
I couldn’t get the “final moments” and “final resting place” out of my mind. Seeing the pictures of the victims displayed, as well as their granite-carved names, brought reality to it.
I also was so thankful that the one redeemed hijacking took no one on the ground.
A storm seemed to be brewing. The wind took our already-failing vent cover and sent it to the ground with a thundering crash. The sound rubbed me the wrong way, considering our location.
*** We interrupt this regularly-scheduled VisionoftheBirds post to recommend Natalie’s two favorite 9/11 children’s books. Don’t let the fact that they’re picture books sway you from checking them out. They’re appropriate for everyone. The Johnson County Public Library system has both of them. The two books are…drum roll, please…14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy, in collaboration with Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah…and…Fireboat by Myra Kalman. We now resume our regularly-scheduled VisionoftheBirds post. ***
Moving on from there, we crested the Allegheny Mountains as we headed toward Gettysburg.
Cliff was a little unnerved by the 10% grades, but as usual he did very well.
But as the Chieftain rolled downhill, so did our spirits, our trip. The toll roads sent us for a loop. One moment you think that you’re out in the middle of nowhere…
…the next minute, you round a hill and it spits you out somewhere like this…
…with no time to react.
As stress set in, we began to wonder why we didn’t just go west again? Our last trip was so perfect! Now we had traffic, congestion, and the worst of all, humidity! Lola, our less-than-affectionate name for our GPS, rerouted our journey to Gettysburg en route, unbeknownst to us. We were tipped off by this sign…
It says, “Welcome to Maryland!” That’s mighty nice and all, but both Flight 93 and Gettysburg are in Pennsylvania!
I am certain that we traveled twice as many miles as we should have. When we typed the Gettysburg Walmart into her search, somehow she kept the “Gettysburg” and dropped the “Walmart.” She brought us to the heart of the trendy old town on a Saturday night…and then left us hangin! (((I had terrible flashbacks of Bend, Oregon right at that moment, except that time it was our fault.)))
Once we arrived on the outskirts of town, we discovered that the Gettysburg Walmart doesn’t even allow overnight parking!
We scoured the area for something besides fast food (we were all sweaty & hangry by that time!), and found a Papa John’s!
Wait a minute…doesn’t this parking lot look like it would fit a Chieftain and its six inhabitants?
Yes! Thank you, Lord!
We were feeling kind of like the Israelites after they fled Egypt…grumbling! We decided not to worry about tomorrow and just go to sleep. If someone made us move in the middle of the night, so be it. But we were so tired and had nowhere else to go. I fell asleep thinking, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty…”