The stunning Mrs. Clark and I woke up that Tuesday morning in Long Beach WA, after attending the annual Rod Run To The End Of The Earth.
The date was September 11, 2001.
I turned on the TV as we lingered in bed, only to see that one of the Twin Towers in New York had been hit by a plane. At that point the news was reporting it as a horrific accident. Not long after another plane flew into the second tower. Then the reports of other planes crashing – one in a field and another into the Pentagon – began coming across the news feed. Sherry and I looked at each other.
“What the hell just happened?” she asked me.
We continued watching the TV, like seeing a train wreck, and tried to make sense of the developing story. What began as a presumed accident had become a full-fledged attack on the United States. By watching the news it was clear that fear was grabbing hold of the country. We still had to pack up to head home after our vacation. Our trip would take us right past Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base; those facilities were already reporting lockdowns and higher security measures on the perimeter roads…including Interstate 5.
That meant our drive would be on back roads and more for a longer drive.
At a restaurant in Long Beach the wild rumors were already spreading amongst the guests from lack of information. Unsubstantiated theories about the assailants, nukes, and of course all sorts of talk about “World War 3.” I gassed up in Long Beach, because it was already being reported that some gas stations in Washington were doubling and tripling the price of their fuel – out of fears over supply. With few answers to the questions gripping our world that morning, we had no idea how this tragedy would play out – or how it would impact our lives.
Sherry and I hit the road for home, filled with uncertainty.