The other side of the ridge is a vast quiet meadow, once a strip mine, marred by the snakelike road that leads to the black slash of the memorial plaza. Hallowed ground. We park, and find we should take Trixie in her carriage – just as well, since the end of the memorial is a fourth of a mile from the parking area.
The temporary shelter is marked with signs explaining the familiar story before we walk the length of this black angular walkway, with an angled black wall facing the crash site and debris field, and wide benches facing the open fields to the other side, where a larger visitor’s center is planned on the hill overlooking the site. The quiet and openness of the area is oppressive, marred by some patriotic parents who can’t control their little running kid, who wants to take things from the niches where people can leave memorial offerings – rather like a church or a temple.
White slabs of marble rise at the end of the black scar, following the flight path of the doomed airliner, with the victim’s names inscribed on the washer board like panels. A wood gate bars the way into the site proper – only the victim’s families are permitted to visit that area now. Nearby, a park ranger speaks to a group about the site.
Once we have taken all this in, we head off again, rejoining the interstate and driving on through the mountains. By the time we hit the border of West Virginia, it is obvious anything worth seeing will be closed, so we opt to drive onto Columbus Ohio where we spent the night at a singularly overpriced and hard to locate hotel.
Total miles between refueling stops: 279 miles.