While my husband was recuperating from an illness, he started planning a trip to New York City. We both grew up in Brooklyn, and now lived in North Carolina. Our youngest son lived on Greenwich Street in Manhattan. My husband decided that we would be tourists. Since we were driving up, we might as well stop for a day and see Washington, DC too.
He had plenty of time to plan. How about the Statue of Liberty… I’d love to see her. I grew up on 16th Street, and she watched over me every day while I played. How about the World Trade center… nope .. not me. Last time I was there, I was plastered to the wall on the observation floor by the elevator. Well then, what about the Empire State… okay.. that would be fun.. and the planning went on for about a month.
We were to start our journey on September 8th. I found a great rate at a hotel in lower Manhattan. We’d drive up and spend the night near Washington.. see some of DC the next day …then head on to NYC.
My husband decided to put off the trip for two days. So on September 10th, we packed our car and started our journey. We stayed in a nice hotel just outside of Fredericksburg.
As usual, I got up very early and went to the lobby for coffee… my husband slept on. 5:30, 6:30, 7:30 passed. If we were going to see DC, he better get up. Around 8:30, I woke him up. We arrived at the front desk somewhere around 10AM. Not a soul was there. We waited and waited.. heard people… but saw not one. Finally, someone appeared to check us out. She asked which way we were headed.. DC… Haven’t you heard.. all roads are closed. Huh? She pointed to the TV, and for the first time we saw what was going on.
We got into the car, and my husband said.. Drive east. I started driving. We basically dead-ended at the Cheasapeak Bay. During this time, I tried many times to reach my son who lived only 3 blocks from the WTC.. no luck. My sister, who lived in Florida, started frantically calling …. thank God for cell phones. She couldn’t reach my son, nor her son-in-law. She remembered that her son-in-law had worked at the WTC, because the previous bombing was on his wife’s birthday. He was out buying a gift when the bomb had gone off. I assured her that he no longer worked there since his boss swore he would never set foot into the building again. His office was now located somewhere mid-town. A few seconds pass, and she is frantically calling again… still can’t reach our youngest son, and now she told us about another plane crashing near our mother’s hometown of Johnstown, Pa.
Oh my gosh… I don’t know when I realized it, but if we left just an hour earlier, we would have been right near the Pentagon when the plane crashed into it… or worse yet.. if we were on our original schedule, at the time of the crashes into the WTC, I would have been in the lobby of the hotel across from the WTC sipping coffee while my husband was asleep on some floor above! God was with us.
Here we are, trying to find an open road north, can’t reach our son, and my sister is frantically calling literally every five minutes. By late afternoon, after trying many roads, and asking many people for directions, we reached somewhere near Annapolis. Drive east .. said my husband.. and my sister kept calling. By now, she had spoken to her son-in-law, and our relatives in Johnstown… but not my youngest son.
We drove on many side roads, and stopped often asking people for directions. All wished us luck, but the roads are closed! We drove north, east, south and west…and often on the same roads more than once. By nightfall, we crossed the Delaware Bridge, and still not a word from our youngest. Got to the toll booth for a ticket, only to find out that the turnpike was closed. Again, my husband said… Drive East!
Here we are again, driving east on back roads late at night. Don’t ask me why or how we ended up in Atlantic City, but we did. Maybe it was because the ocean stopped us from going further east.
We stopped at The Resorts and got a room. We finally heard from our son….. he had to evacuate. I went to the front desk and explained the situation. My son and his friends were all evacuated and had no place to go. Was there any rooms available? There were plenty of rooms… and the hotel would be happy to comp them.
My son and his friends arrived in the middle of the night. I was so happy to see them. They each told their story.
By now, I was able to watch tv and see what was going on. Atlantic City was very quiet… not many tourist. But those who were there, each had a story… and that was mine.