I’ve likely been through Pennsylvania’s interstates the most frequently of all the states. But today I planned some stops to break up an otherwise long, boring drive into chunks. Starting from Pittsburgh in Western PA, I first headed to Shanksville, the crash site of the United Flight 93 on September 11, 2001, where there is now a national memorial.
It is hard to imagine that the calm, peaceful fields of Shanksville were ever anything more. But the striking memorial begs you not to forget the passengers who averted the plans of 4 suicide hijackers. These passengers, who voted to take action against the terrorists, are true heroes. None boarded that plane intending to sacrifice themselves. None had taken oaths to serve and protect as part of their chosen employment. But they did.
The plane went down right there.
Like I described in my post about 9/11 on its 15 year anniversary in 2016, I was worried about visiting this memorial for the same reasons I have not been able to see the one in downtown Manhattan. I’m a huge baby. As an emotional basketcase, I can derive strong a emotional response from the mundane. An event like September 11, a catastrophe of such high a magnitude, I just can’t get to a place of understanding and I can’t handle it emotionally still. Opened in 2015, the extent of the artifacts and level of detail in Visitor Center’s exhibit is mind-blowing, including recordings of actual phone calls made by passengers and crew of the flight. But I wasn’t able to stay long before an explosion of tears on the jog back to my safe place, my car. I would like to try again one day. It was such an impressive exhibit.
Finding a place for lunch in central PA was a bit more difficult than say Pittsburgh or Philadelphia. After a timing fail at Garlic Poet, I wound up at VRAI in Lemoyne, right outside of state capital Harrisburg. I am pleased that there are new options in what was once a dead zone of vegan eateries.
I got the Quinoa Burger which was a hearty red quinoa patty with a Thai chili slaw, a fresh herb salad, and a grilled pepper relish. So much flavor! This was a very impressive vegan option done right. I was happy to have had all my servings of vegetables before moving onward toward New Jersey.
Ok, it isn’t the most glamorous of pictures, but it was so good that I had to capture its cross-section.
I also devoured my whoopie pie from Pattycake Bakery for dessert. Just like a devil dog! Even the stickiness of the chocolate cake that sticks on your fingers.
I was excited to visit the small town of Centralia, PA, population 7. The city, subject to several documentaries, has a coal mine fire burning beneath it since 1962. It is an intriguing history that drew me in, but I didn’t feel comfortable exploring it, now mostly overgrowth and empty asphalt roads, on my own. The current residents that remain in the city seem to have a bizarrely misplaced pride. The number of No Trespassing signs, both official and homeowner-made, read of frustration of outsider interest and paranoia. Additionally, there are wooden hunting grounds within the area. Though now I am able to easily locate where the ground is still smoldering visibly, service in the town was weak. Like the memorial, this site is close enough to return to with more time, research, and other people.
A far less intense stop, and given the proximity to my path, I just had to stop at the Boden outlet in Pittston, PA. The outlet has fixed prices. Dresses are $40, which are my main thing. But I was happy to learn that I fit in the 13-14 and 15-16 girls dresses and shirts, $20 and $15 respectively. Score! Though I often exist under the typical person’s sightline, there are perks to being petite sometimes.
Trying stuff on. I don’t know why I took the picture. I guess I just wanted to have this post show all of my stops back to New York.
My final stop! Penn Hills Resort is an abandoned honeymoon resort located in the Poconos. The exterior is viewable from the main road, but there is plenty to explore within. This final stop would serve as initial research to a more in-depth exploration at a more opportune time, since I was losing daylight and was, alas, solo.
Sold in January 2016, the property has yet to be redeveloped. That means I need to get in there to see the decaying heart-shaped tubs, floor-to-ceiling carpets, elaborate circular beds, and wedding bell shaped pool very soon.
And with that, it was onward into New Jersey and home, New York.