Thursday, June 16, 2011

Memorial Day motorcycle ride to the Flight 93 crash site

(This post has been delayed by a hard drive that seemed to be flaking out. I reformatted it and reinstalled the OS and other software which took some time. I hope my problems with it are behind me...we'll see.)

My wife and I made an impromptu decision to take an over-night road trip to spend Memorial Day visiting the Flight 93 Memorial crash site in Pennsylvania. We had made a previous road trip to the site in 2007 with two friends and had a very good time. We were interested to see what, if anything, had changed since then. As it turns out, a lot.

The weather during most Memorial Day weekends in the Washington Metro Area is overcast, often cool, and very likely raining. Such has been the case for DC motorcycle event Rolling Thunder for the last 7 or 8 years. So, it was uncharacteristic to hear weather forecasts that promised hot temperatures and no rain.

We got on the road Sunday at around 1pm after church services retracing the route we took four years ago: west-north-west through West Virginia into western Maryland where we spend the night. Then, on Monday Memorial Day, north into Pennsylvania to the Flight 93 crash site with a leisurely ride back home.

Riding north into the oven

It was hot. Record breaking hot. I saw “temperature signs” at banks showing 102o. (Yeah, I should have taken a photo.) The only difference, which is rather significant, is that unlike the dog days of August, the humidity wasn’t overly oppressive. This made the high temperature easier to bear. Enough griping...

The outbound trip was rather uneventful...a good thing. We headed west on Rte 50 to Winchester and then north on various roads winding our way to La Vale, Maryland where we spent the night.

The cacophony of sounds, smells, and sights that defines a motorcycle ride was as invigorating as ever and underscored the righteousness of taking this road trip.


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Tip:

Spray on sunscreen is the best thing since sliced bread. No longer do you have to get your hands all gunky with the slimy stuff and then smear it all over your helmet, handle bars, or motorcycle controls. However, make sure you spray the sunscreen evenly over all exposed skin--otherwise, you going to get those unsightly “sun tattoos”.

The Memorial--currently not the memorial it once was

The official Flight 93 National Memorial will open this year in September commemorating the 10th anniversary of the crash. It looks like it’ll be quite a production. Because so much of the current site is under construction, there wasn’t much to look at and it didn’t have the charm of four years ago. I was taken by the “organic” nature of the memorial back in 2007: monuments, placards, trinkets, and memorials left by visitors touched by the heroism of the flight crew and passengers. I trust the new memorial will be equally gripping when it opens later this year.

The ride back home was uneventful

Though it seemed unusually long, maybe because of the high temperature. We rode back through the mountains primarily along Rte 50 heading east. I listened to an audio book during the entire ride--a great way to multitask.
I’m trusting this most excellent Memorial Day ride is an omen of a good riding season, though admittedly we have no firm plans for a summer trip this year. Maybe something will come up?

Riding stats

450 miles total
30 mph overall avg
40 mph moving avg
70 mph max speed
15 hrs total on the road (not including over night stay)
11 hrs moving
4 hrs stopped
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