Sep 112009

Today is 8 years since the attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon.

Where were you 8 years ago? I remember it all very clearly because of the unusual, and as it turns out very fortuitous situation Lisa and I were in.

We had been up in the Rocky Mountains at Estes Park for the Clan Moffat Society AGM that had ended on Sunday 9 September 2001. We spent Monday 10 September driving up to the top of the Rocky Mountains above Estes Park and then back down and just out of Colorado into Denver.

I had driven out to Colorado and Lisa had flown out, with me meeting her at Denver Airport. I was to drop her off at Denver Airport early on the morning of September 11 and then set out for the 2 day drive home while she flew back. But up at Estes Park I hadn’t been so well, suffering perhaps a bit of mountain sickness, with a bad headache much of the time, so we decided Lisa would come back in the car, incase I couldn’t handle all the driving myself.

Tuesday morning I was down in the car park cleaning the car windows, talking to a biker dude from Texas who was readying his Harley for the day’s riding when Lisa came down and told me a plane had hit the World Trade Center. We went upstairs in time to see GMA show the second plane hitting live.

We spent all of that day driving 700 miles to the outskirts of Chicago, listening in stunned amazement to Public Radio from Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois all day. We endured a massive line at a petrol station and paid some artificially inflated price to refuel as everyone panicked about what the price of oil was going to be.

Got to a motel about 9 PM which was the first chance I got to see anything on TV to put pictures to what we had been listening to all day, so watched that for a couple of hours.

During the afternoon, somewhere in Iowa, with the news from NPR that President Bush who had been shuffling around the country in Air Force One was on his way from Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, which we had passed earlier in the day was on his way to Washington DC, and we saw this – unfortunately not taken quickly enough to capture the best we’d seen, or Air Force One with its F-16 fighter jet escort heading to Washington DC. They were of course by then the only planes in the air.

Air Force One 11 September 2001

Air Force One 11 September 2001

We were of course extremely thankful that the fates had seen Lisa travelling with me in the car – had we stuck to the original plan I would have dropped her off at Denver airport early on Tuesday morning, and headed east. She would have ended up stuck in Denver airport, while I would have been who knows how far away before I even found out what had happened, and that all flights were grounded. Neither of us had  a cell phone so it would have been very hard to contact each other again.

My brother from Australia was not so lucky. He had been in Louisiana at a computer conference and was due to fly back to Australia 11 September. So he was stuck in the US for quite a few more days and then had a very long chaotic series of flights lasting more than a day to get across the US to Los Angeles and then on to Australia once the planes did finally start flying again.

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