The Rough Draft

If you can't go through it. Go around it.

How can you not want to ride this road?

So this year’s trip came out of a crazy idea to go down to Bedford Virginia to check out the National D Day Memorial on June 6 and to see the observance.  That would actually go all pear shaped but were a few posts away from that yet.  This time (or so I thought) I’d left myself some time to actually take my time going through Pennsylvania and West Virginia and ride some new roads I’d passed but never gone down.  Highway 666 was one I had to hit as I’d ridden past it on my trip to Dayton and thought it was funny then and I still think it’s funny now.  How this road designation still exists in a country where God is very prevalent is an anomaly.  A welcome anomaly but an anomaly none the less.

Of course the reasons for the number are pretty mundane.  Anton LaVey was working for the PA dept. of Highways…  Well no he wasn’t .  Highway 666 is sort of the mid point between Highway 6 and Highway 66 so it sort of makes sense to just combine the two.  It’s expedient and it makes sense.  The weird bit though is on every other highway section I was on, there’s a road identification about every other mile.  On 666 there’s one at the start and one at the end and that’s it.  So somewhere, somebody was weirded out by it enough to cut their sign allocation.

Bottom line though, it’s a pretty stretch of road to ride.

But let’s back up a bit.

My original plan was to work the Monday do a regular eight hour stretch and be on the road for the US by sixish.  Of course I got stuck on a job out in Pickering which automatically pushes the day to ten hours and I didn’t get down to Buffalo and Darleen’s hotel room till nine.  Wrangling the bike at the Four Seasons proved to be a bit of a pain (as you’d expect) and remains one of the main reasons when you’re on a bike, it’s Motels for you or a ground floor unit you can park you’re bike outside.

Oh and I got selected for a random search at the border.  You want to rummage through my rain gear and tire repair kits, knock yourselves out.  So I roll over to the search area and the guy waiting to go through my gear.  He was nice enough and we kept it light.  He pulls out my mesh jacket from the left side box and he’s trying to figure out how to get it back in and he just looks at me and says, “I’m going to let you handle this.”  He signed off on me and I went inside to collect my passport.  Boston was up on Pittsburgh 4-0.

The next morning I said goodbye to Darleen and set out from Buffalo down my usual standby of US 219 to Springville.  The general plan was to cut East across PA and then go South through the Allegheny State Park and National Forrest.  I’d done the West side of the park down the Allegheny River the year before and wanted to explore the heart of the place a bit more.  PA was as usual still pretty cool and I had the liner on in the jacket and the rain gear pants on over my mesh armor and as much as I didn’t want to use them, the heated grips made the morning bearable on my hands.  There’s never much photography from this section of my travels because I’m simply having fun just enjoying the ride.  On any long trip it takes me a a good chunk of the day to get back in the groove of going for distance on the bike.  Unlike other times on these roads or maybe because I was in new territory, it seemed like there was a lot more coal traffic on the highways.  A standard coal truck looks like a dump truck on steroids.  It’s seems wider and everything is a square edge on it.  They go like hell and they don’t stop for anything.  It’s a bit of a negative when you’re just trying to take in the scenery.

Other than that though, you just try to leave yourself open to seeing things.  Somewhere on the Lincoln Highway I came across this Excavator.  Id like to think it was left there to rust but the grass was compressed up to the tracks so it might have been running.  Diesels are pretty robust after all.

Ten miles down the road from the Excavator was a sign for the Flight 93 Memorial.  At first I wasn’t going to go but part of me reasoned that I was on the road to see stuff and that this was a memorial to history that occurred in my lifetime.  I should go see it.  So I punched it up on the GPS and followed the purple line.

The Memorial site is very large.  US Parks bought up twelve farms in the area to secure the memorial site so it’s a three and a half mile drive from the main road to the memorial proper.  The site itself focuses on the flight line to the impact site and then also protects the debris field resulting from the crash.  A large boulder has been placed on top of the area where the bulk of the human remains were buried in a mass grave and Marble markers make up the memorial wall at the far end of the walkway.  Much like Little Big Horn, this is a grave site and the debris field is separated from the walkway by a large concrete berm with alcoves cut into it for people to leave items of remembrance or tokens of respect.  It is a somber and quiet place – as it should be.

The memorial is based on the line of flight to the impact point. This is the hill that Flight 93 came over at low altitude on its way to the final impact point.

This is the main access gate to the debris field and impact point. The boulder seen between the slats of the gate is where the recovered remains were entombed. There is a path cut through the grass to the boulder.

 

The other end of the memorial’s 40 panels.

The Concrete berm separating the general public from the debris field.

Walking back to the entrance. Note the alcove cut into the wall.

There are three alcoves cut int of the berm for people to leave tokens of remembrance. I can only speculate but if the Parks service has the same policy here as they do at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in DC, these items are collected, tagged and stored for future reference. There is an excellent book called, “Offering at the Wall – Artifacts from the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Collection,” if you are interested.

A place to sit and reflect.

I ended my day in Elgin West Virginia.  Pretty happy with the day’s ride.  I was just following where the road took me.  Where it was going to take me the next day though was going to very interesting with a good dose of technical thrown in for good measure.

 

 

 

 

 

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