In the month we were in Pennsylvania, Will and I ended up having two date nights in Bedford, Pennsylvania. First, we went to pick up the fifth wheel, and then a few weeks later, we returned to have the hitch installed in the truck. Luckily, we found an amazing restaurant on our first trip, so we were able to capitalize on the opportunity to return for some of the best chicken and waffles I have ever tasted.
I had been through Bedford several times, as the Pennsylvania Turnpike goes directly through town, but aside from getting gas or turning to head south, I had never given the little town much consideration.
However, it turns out that it is a very cute, quaint town with lots of charm when you give it a minute to show you.
When I Googled “things to see in Bedford,” I was not quite expecting to find something like the Big Coffee Pot, but obviously, it jumped to the top of the list of things we absolutely needed to see. Built in 1927, the 18-foot-tall Big Coffee Pot was once part of a diner along the Lincoln Highway, though today it simply sits as a relic at the corner of the county fairgrounds. It was one of those kitschy little stops that just make you smile.
We took some time and wandered through town, seeing a gas station with a beautiful mosaic façade. We browsed shop windows and took in some tidbits of history before heading to 10/09 Kitchen for our dinner reservation.
When we returned to Bedford a few weeks later, we ended up having an entire morning to spend while we waited for the truck. Thankfully, East Coast RVs had a van we could borrow, so we were not confined to roaming around the dealership. I figure since we had already purchased the fifth wheel, they knew there was no chance of an additional sale, so there was no reason for them to keep us there looking at more RVs.
Since we knew we had several hours, we decided to head to the Flight 93 National Memorial outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Will had previously done some volunteer work at the memorial planting trees, but I had never been. We had driven past multiple times, but we knew that this was not a place we were ready to take Bird, so we had never stopped. This was something we both wanted to experience without the distractions of a toddler in two. However, since it was just the two of us, it was a moving way to spend the morning.
We started in the visitor center and exhibits then made our way out to the Memorial Plaza. As I was a senior in high school when the attacks of 9/11 occurred, it was truly like stepping back to that day and the many days that followed as we saw the pictures, read the minute-by-minute events of the day, heard the voices of the heroes on that plane who knew they were sacrificing themselves, and were reminded of that clear division of “before” and “after” that has shaped our lives.
While we made our way through the Memorial Plaza, we crossed paths with a group of elementary school-aged children on a field trip. It was a strange juxtaposition listening to them discuss the events of 9/11 as though they were in the distant past while Will and I were reliving our own histories and experiences.
The entire experience was obviously a somber one, and standing listening to the wind sing through the Tower of Voices, I was really struck by how history continues to speak to us and through us. It reminded me that whether it is our ancestor’s history or our own, we have the obligation to Bird and to society to continue to share these experiences and feelings…the good and the bad, whether it is through telling stories from a once bustling roadside diner or recounting events that changed the course of history.