Some stories and emotions are too large to capture in photos. Words too, can fail – so we’re left with thoughts. The Flight 93 National Memorial in Stoystown, Pennsylvania is such a place.
This Tuesday marks the seventeenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack. On that day, United Flight 93 had left Newark, New Jersey en route to San Francisco. Hijackers seized control and were likely going to crash into the U.S. Capitol. The memorial commemorates the extraordinary courage and heroism of the 40 passengers and crew, who fought with the terrorists and saved many other lives.
“A common field one day, a field of honor forever. We honor the passengers and crew of Flight 93 who perished in a Pennsylvania field on September 11, 2001. Their courageous action will be remembered forever.” —Congressional Gold Medal
A Field of Honor
Final rest – The Wall of Names, flight path, and large boulder that marks the impact.
The Memorial opened in September 2015, and today (9/9/18) they’re holding a dedication ceremony for the Tower of Voices – the final phase of the park. It’s a 93-foot tower with wind chimes for each of the 40 heroes.
We went there to pay our respects back in July on our way from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia. Thinking about the courage and actions of those 40 souls is somber, moving and inspiring. It’s an experience every US citizen should have.
The last time I wrote about covered bridges was way back in August of 2007 when we visited Indiana (The Covered Bridge Capital of the World). I find them interesting, so maybe it’s time for another article!
When we were in Bethlehem, PA, we had some extra time and Lynn found a web page describing a tour of covered bridges in the area (Lehigh Valley Covered Bridge Tour). We printed out their PDF brochure (from this link) and set off one morning to explore.
We ran into trouble right away trying to navigate to Bogert’s Bridge using a street address. We ended up pulling over while Lynn figured out the lat/long location for each one. Using those proved much easier and we didn’t have any further nav issues. If you go, here are the numbers we used.
Covered Bridges of Lehigh Valley Pensylvania
The early morning weather was nice with blue skies and some puffy clouds. But the sky got grayer the farther we went.
Covered Bridges in Florida? I got curious about covered bridges in our state and did some web research. www.dalejtravis.com has a huge amount of info on covered bridges (and round barns too) including state by state listings. His page for Florida lists many covered bridges. Unfortunately, the structures here in Florida are decorative and / or modern – there aren’t any “authentic” / historical covered bridges listed in our state. You’ll just have to travel elsewhere if you want to see some. Pennsylvania and Indiana would be good places to start!
Guitars are another long-time fascination of mine. It began when my folks got a piano and my sister started lessons. I must have been jealous because Mom and Dad bought me a Harmony Guitar (but no lessons!). I learned a lot with it and kept it for over 30 years. I finally sold it at a garage sale sometime in the late 90s – wish I hadn’t.
When people ask, I usually say that I “play at” guitar. I think the small amount of natural talent I have comes to me from my Mom’s side of the family. Her father played in a band on the radio in the 1930s.
Granddad Harrison’s Band, about 1939. He’s the one in the middle with the fiddle.
Anyway, Martins are a sort of ‘holy grail’ for guitar players and I wanted to visit. Since we were already in Pennsylvania, I talked Lynn into stopping by the C. F. Martin & Co. Factory in Nazareth. They have a wonderful behind the scenes tour and I signed us both up.
Ed, outside the Martin Guitar Factory. Lynn said I looked like a kid in a candy store!
We got there a little early and spent some time in their museum. It’s interesting to see guitars that many of my favorite musicians played. Martin started in 1833 and their collection of memorabilia and more than 200 instruments show off the history and timeline of the company.
The factory tour itself was wonderful and lasted about two hours. Our tour guide (Ben) was the retired plant manager. He certainly knew a great deal about how they’re built.
Panorama from a walkway overlooking the factory
The first thing I noticed walking in to the factory was the delightful aroma. I won’t soon forget the smells of all the wood being worked.
I built a guitar (from a kit) once, so I’m familiar with how they go together. But seeing the factory in action, with its blend of hands-on craftsmanship and modern machinery / robots was spellbinding.
Robot Neck Carving
Using machines on some pieces (e.g. necks) increases the accuracy and precision of the parts and fit. And they can apply finish and polish without exposing humans to the fumes and dust.
Robot Body Polishing
There’s still a lot of hands on work, especially in their custom and Retro Series guitars.
Hand carving top braces
Custom back and fretboards
Almost done – these are waiting to be strung up and tested
They’re very photo friendly on the tour. They don’t want you making any video, but photography is fine, except for a couple of locations (they’ll let you know). The light is pretty good inside. I used ISO 400, f/1.8 – f/2.8, and my shutter speeds varied from 1/13 sec. to 1/200 sec. You’ll need to be careful if something’s in motion, but otherwise image stabilization should take care of the slower shutter speeds in dimmer light.
The 1833 shop is next to the museum and sells Martin branded items. And their “Guitar Maker’s Connection” is located in the old Martin Factor a little bit away from the main site. The behind the scenes tour is $25, requires a reservation and begins at 9:30. Highly recommended if you’re anywhere nearby. Check Martin’s site for more details.
I’m still the “semi-official” PITCA photographer, so I spent a lot of time there photographing the people, activities, and displays. I also presented a talk on “Collectible Photography” that seemed to go well. But I did manage to fit in a bit of exploration time.
The first photo above is from a morning I spent up on Mount Washington – what a spectacular view of the city! Highly recommended if you’re ever nearby.
On another day, we went on a riverboat cruise that PITCA arranged for the group and that’s highly recommended too. Three different rivers converge in Pittsburgh, so there’s a lot of water and many bridges that add to the scenery.
Pittsburgh: From the junction of the Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny Rivers
Duquesne Incline – from the river up to Mount Washington
When I was a kid, we used to visit my grandparents every year. We’d usually travel to Cedartown, Georgia in the summertime where my Mom’s folks lived. At Christmas, we’d go to Cannonsburgh, Pennsylvania to be with my Dad’s family. I remember Pittsburgh only as an “almost there” waypoint on the route to Cannonsburgh – I don’t think we ever stopped. As an adult, I visited Pittsburgh on business once or twice and went to see my Dad’s brother (also named Ed) who lived in Ambridge (just north-west of Pittsburgh). But this is the first time I’ve ever actually had a little time to go into the city and look around. I wish I’d done it sooner – Pittsburgh is very picturesque!
Pittsburgh: West End Bridge and the Ohio River
After the convention, Lynn and I spent a few more days traveling around other parts of Pennsylvania and I have some photos from that I hope to share with you in a future post.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!