On September 11, 2001 Roger and I woke in a cabin in Sierra City, Ca. The phone was ringing in our room. It was the first full day of our vacation. We had left Santa Cruz on Sunday afternoon September 9th and driven 250 miles to Truckee, Ca where we spent the night, and the morning drove the back roads to Sierra City. Our plan was to get there some time on the 10th, maybe do an afternoon hike, but to start our hiking vacation in the beautiful Lake Basin on the 11th. Our cabin had a full kitchen and bath, a TV with satellite, a telephone. We didn't have cell phones or a laptop. Primitive by 21st century standards. I had given our travel plans to my mother and my sister. They always know where we are, and we talk everyday no matter what. So even though we planned to be essentially out of touch, we were not out of reach.
The phone rang in our cabin at 7:00 in the morning. I couldn't believe it. Who would possibly call us so early? I picked up the phone with trepidation. It was my sister. She said, "Turn the TV on."
I said, "Are you kidding. It's 7:00 in the morning. No. You have to tell me why first."
She said, "Turn the TV. You have to see what's going on."
I said, "You have to tell me why first, Lynn. You're totally scaring me."
She said, "Planes hit the World Trade Center in NY. Turn on the TV. You have to watch this."
I said, "Oh my god."
I hung up, while Roger fiddled around with the satellite TV and found the news. We turned it on just in time to see the first building fall.
This was the first morning of our vacation. We didn't know whether to stay in Sierra City or drive home immediately. We kept the TV on and thought about it for a while. We made our tea and toast and watched the second building fall. We both said out loud in that cabin, "Osama bin Laden." We knew right away. We did not say, Saddam Hussein. We knew right away.
We decided that we should at least hike that morning and think about what to do while we were out on the trails. We hiked around between 6,000 and 8,000 feet. We cried at alpine lakes. We wondered about our loved ones who worked in NYC (who we later learned were in the throngs of people who walked across the Brooklyn Bridge that day). Our original plan had been to stay until some time late on Friday, but this disaster took all the joy out of our steps.
We stayed all day Wednesday and took a longer and more challenging hike in the high country, but felt hollow and detached from the moment. We decided to pack our car and head home on Thursday morning. We needed to be with our families and our neighbors. We listened to NPR all the way home. We arrived and found our nearest and dearest neighbors, we stood in the middle of the street for a long time talking with them. We repeated every story, every rumor, every fear, every hope.
We knew then that some aspect of our nation's innocence had been taken, but what we hadn't expected was how the Bush administration would steal everything else.
And here we are.
Where were you that day, and how do you feel about it all now?