American Heroes & a Bald Knob!

Now, that’s got your attention hasn’t it? No, oh well…….

Today’s blog is going to have a number of American heroes in it.

On Thursday, my friend Phil was again busy at work, so it was left to Tiffany to entertain me. The weather looked as though it might rain later in the day so we went for a walk in the morning. When I say morning, it was lunchtime before I got up and got ready to go out.

We went to a lovely local park, Hudson Springs Park which has a 50 acre lake which we had a pleasant stroll round. It was good to have a chance to chat about life the world and the universe. We sat for a while on a little secluded peninsular chatting, much to the obvious disappointment of a teenage couple who turned up expecting a quiet location.



Beautiful isn’t it?


Thursday evening, Phil, Tiffany and I went to Canton in Ohio to watch Their 15 year old son Nick play in a state cup football (soccer match). It was interesting to watch the difference between U16 football in the USA and in UK:

  • There was a much higher level of ball control and ball skills in US game
  • There was an almost lack of physical contact and any contact was penalised by the referee
  • There was no dissent whatsoever even when the referee gave a very dubious penalty
  • There was no diving and no play acting
  • There was a lack of appealing for decisions e.g. throw ins, corners etc.

If this U16 team were to play an English U16 team with a European referee the English team would win owing to their physical style of play. However, the US players are more skilful and this must hold the US in good standing for the future. Skills need to be learned earlier.

Once back home, it was time for my last supped with Phil & Tiffany & a fitting supper it was. We had Salmon in a spinach sauce. Yes, I ate fish & spinach!

Friday morning saw me having to leave Phil & Tiffany’s home and set off on the 400+ mile drive to Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. Before we said goodbyes, there was just time to reminisce about our time and comrades at university back in the 1980s – Rusholme Curry houses, The Phoenix Pub, The Whitworth Hotel, The Gemini Takeaway, Owens Park, The Odeon Cinema – Moss side, Broadfield Park, The Moss Lane Black & White Cafe. Whalley Range High School for Girls etc.

It was sad to sad goodbye. The two of them over the years have looked after me in so many ways, from Phil in Benidorm after my accident some 24 years ago, through their wedding and my trip to Ohio last year. Even when they pay their all too infrequent and too short visits to the UK, they always make time to see me and invite me to family get togethers. They are true friends and have made my last two trips to the USA so very enjoyable. Let me be self indulgent for a moment and say a public thank you to them both for the time and effort they have gone to for me this year and last year. They are the first of my American heroes today (ok, well Phil is English!).

After leaving Phil & Tiffany I made a quick stop at Wal-Mart to stock up for the journey. Lots of bottles of diet Dr Peppers and some CDs for the journey. Trying to find CDs that I like or would listen to was not easy in a vast selection of US musical horrors. Could I find Oasis, The Clash, The Jam, The Sex Pistols or anything like that? Not a chance.

I ended up with a double (ok triple) Bruce Springsteen CD, Michael Jackson’s singles, A Motown compilation and a Who CD. I also bought a road map. Then it was time to head south and east.

After around 150 miles, I got off the interstate at Somerset in Pennsylvania and stopped at McDonalds there. You may recall that last Sunday I was posting on Facebook from there about how I didn’t know where I was. A quick use of their Wi-Fi enabled me to deal with a number of emails relating to child welfare issues at LVYCC. Amazing to be dealing with issues nearly 4000 miles away.

After leaving Somerset PA, I headed towards Shanksville PA to find the memorial to those who died on Flight 93 on 9/11. This was the flight that crashed in the countryside after the passengers fought back against the hijackers. The hijackers fearing they may be overpowered crashed the plane to ensure they were killed and not taken prisoner. The 40 passengers and crew realising it was a suicide mission  tried to regain control of the plane and as a result prevented it from crashing into the Capitol Building in Washington.

I came across the 9/11 Memorial Chapel and  the memorial on the road from Somerset to Shanksville.


There was no mention of where the plane had crashed and there was no signs on the ground. I was about to get back in my car when Patricia, a lovely lady from Florida pulled up to see the Chapel. She took the picture below of me at the Chapel.


She then asked if I had been to the crash site. When I asked where it was she volunteered to take me there. It was a drive down several back lanes and a number of miles away.

When we got to the memorial, I had a chance to speak with her. She was driving back to her current home in Virginia from visiting relatives in Michigan. She had spent the previous night in a little town called Bedford PA and was following the route from a guide book. She kindly told me about a very scenic route from the memorial back to the Interstate taking in several covered bridges.

As a result of her encouragement I tried going the Bald Knob way! (oooh errr Missus!). Bald knob is a mountain summit in Somerset County in the state of Pennsylvania (PA). Bald Knob climbs to 2,930 feet (893.06 meters) above sea level. What did you think it was.

This summit is on Route 30, which is the Lincoln Highway.The Lincoln Highway was the first road across the US, from Time Square in NYC to Lincoln Park in San Francisco and opened in 1913.

Not content with doing all this for me, Patricia even gave me the pages from her guide book to help me find the route with the covered bridges. The best of America was displayed by Patricia and I’d like to thank her here if she is reading this ( I did hand out my blog details to her!). I must comment on how nearly everyone I have met on this trip has been so very helpful and kind to me.  The US knows how to make people feel welcome, if you  show them respect. Thank you Patricia.

The Memorial to Flight 93 is still being built and is due for completion in 2014. At present it is a hut on the site of mine workings. It was also the first vantage point the world saw of the crash as it was here the press gathered and also the location the rescue effort was co ordinated from.

From reading the full story of what happened and reading details of the phone calls and cockpit conversations which are at the museum, it is clear the passengers and crew on this flight were indeed true heroes. They prevented Flight 93 crashing into the Capitol Building in Washington DC.





Above, the crash site with the memorial taking shape



One Day a True and fitting Memorial Will be Here

When I left the crash site, it was now around 16:30 and I still had around 220 miles to go to get to Philadelphia! It was going to be a long drive. Route 30 was very interesting and reminded me of driving Route 66 which I did in 1998 and 2006.


Route 30 – The Lincoln Highway – A Long Road

The drive to Philadelphia was long, but relatively easy, apart from the 3 or 4 very heavy downpours I had to drive through. It is easy driving in the US, just get up to a decent speed and set the cruise control and chill out listening to music on the cd player. Not sure that the variety of music had any common theme to it. Oh, I forgot to mention I also had a Black Eyed Peas CD as well.

I was in two minds about driving to Philadelphia today. Phil and Tiffany tried to persuade me to stay an extra day with them. I was very tempted to do so and drive early on Saturday morning from Hudson to Philadelphia to get there in time for the soccer game tomorrow night. I reluctantly decided to go today so as to give me time to go to Shanksville and have more time this weekend to see Philadelphia. I am  pleased in the end that I did go today, partly because I got to see the memorial and met Patricia but also because it gave me time to think about my life and what I want out of it.

Driving over 400 miles alone today gave me time to do a lot of thinking and enabled me to think about who and what is important to me and also who and what is not important in my life. I can safely say that I am clearer in my mind where I am going and who and what are not important to me. I have some plans to work through to get to the position in life that I want. One thing I do want is to be back in the US next May for the Police Unity Tour as the last two trips have had significant impact on my life, my thinking and my goals.

Tomorrow, its hopefully going to be a visit to see some of Philadelphia and then to see an MLS game at Philadelphia where the Philadelphia Union are playing.