We’d just had breakfast. Americans make the best breakfasts in the world, pancakes, crisply bacon, fresh fruit, steaming hot coffee. The day was ahead of us, we planned to climb a couple of ‘sportingly bolted’ routes up towards the Tioga Pass, above Yosemite Valley. The sun was breaking through, warming the crisp morning September air, we were in the most beautiful place in the world. Life was good.
As we headed for our motel room, an American couple said, almost in a casual way,
“Have you heard? A plane has crashed into the World Trade Centre. It’s fallen.”
What? We said. You’re joking. As if anyone would make such a sick joke.
Back in the room, we turned on the TV and watched. In the time it had taken to get there, the second plane had hit and the horror was unfolding. Live reports from New York showed the shock, destruction, the heroism. The TV showed the impact again and again and again and again.
We just sat there and watched. It was unbelievable. It couldn’t be real. Of course we were helpless. There was nothing we could do. But it seemed almost disrespectful to carry on with the holiday. We looked at each other. Crying.
What do we do?
I guess we climb
Trite? No. What else could we do? So we did. And a very strange day it was. Everybody had something to say. Everyone shared the sense of loss.
Over the next few days the contrails disappeared from the skies as plans were grounded. The visitor centre in Yosemite National Park became home to a book of condolence. We moved on through Nevada and Arizona, sharing stories and sadness with everyone we met. Security was tight, but no-one minded.
As we left the USA, wondering if we would ever be able to return, the pilot assured us that we would never be as safe as we were that day.
Today’s lovely thing
Home-made tuna fishcakes with chilli