Driving to Gettysburg

Trip Start Aug 04, 2013
Trip End Oct 03, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Pennsylvania
Saturday, August 17, 2013

Saturday was mostly a routine driving day, with one sobering stop, several exciting stretches of road, and several dollars donated to the coffers of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

As to the latter point, no, I did not get stopped or cited for anything.  Instead, we used the PA Turnpike, which is a toll road.  We Westerners are not all that familiar with toll roads.  For the privilege of driving about 110 miles on the turnpike, we paid about $35.  Seems a bit high to me, but what are you going to do?

The sobering stop was at the Flight 93 National Memorial outside Shankstown, Pennsylvania.  The memorial is a tribute to the forty crew and passengers of Flight 93 who had the presence of mind to understand that their hijacking was part of the larger plan of the 9/11 attacks.  With the famous phrase "Let's roll," they disrupted the terrorists' goal of flying the plane into the US Capitol Building while Congress was in session.  Instead, they ended up in a crater thirty feet deep in a Pennsylvania field.

The memorial has a wall with each of the names of the forty victims.  The wall is aligned with the flight path of the plane as it crashed.  There is quite a lot of symbolism in this place, such as a gate with forty points representing the forty heroes.  The gate is made of hemlock as the debris field wiped out a grove of hemlock trees.  The site is still being developed, but it is an excellent reminder of how evil reigns in the minds of many and the ability of good people to rise to the occasion when they are thrust onto a stage that they did not want.  It made us angry all over again.

One last point about the memorial.  We had expected a relatively light number of visitors, given the location away from major highways and the like.  We were very pleased to see a very steady stream of visitors at the site to pay their respects.

As to the harrowing part of our day, we ended up driving many miles on US Hwy 30 through the Allegheny Mountains.  They tend to engineer their roads out here straight up and straight down the hills (these really are not mountains as we know them).  There are several stretches where the truck speed limit is 20 mph due to the 9% down.  This made for some exciting moments on the road, but of course all was well under control and we rolled into Gettysburg unscathed.
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