Our sons were 12 and 9 in September, 2011. Just after Labor Day we had embarked on a 3 week camping trip (pop-up tent trailer, no electricity, no TV) driving US 89. If you don't know US 89, it traverses some of the most beautiful landscapes in the western US. Our destination was the Museum of the Rockies to see the dinosaur fossil collection, something the 12 year old had want to do since the age of 4. Yellowstone, The Grand Tetons, Zion, Arches, and the Wasatch and Rocky Mountain ranges just happened to be on the way.
Come September 11 we had made it to the Grand Tetons. I was sitting on a bench in Moose WY, gazing at the immutable serenity of the Snake River Valley and the Grand Tetons, while my husband and the 2 boys bought tickets for a raft trip on the Snake River and checked out the fly-fishing shops. They heard the news on a radio in one of the shops and the 9 year-old came running to me "Mom, Mom, they bombed the World Trade Center!"
We were a stunned. We couldn't take it in, we didn't really believe it. We'd been on our way to pick up groceries so we drove to the first place we thought we could see a TV (poor radio reception in our old Bronco), a K-mart in Jackson WY. With hearts pounding we walked to the electronics section where many people stood staring at the screens. We spent about 5 minutes there. We had seen all we needed to see. We got our groceries and returned to our peaceful campsite near Jackson Lake where we ate dinner, built a campfire and just talked about whatever came up: war, peace, dinosaurs, fear, fly-fishing, anger, revenge and choices. We even considered cutting our vacation short. There was much uncertainty and many "I don't knows" that night.
We decided to finish our trip as planned and made an intentional decision to avoid TV for the rest of our time on the road.
On September 12 we took a long float trip on the Snake River, through that ancient valley which cradled us peacefully and allowed us the experience that even in ugly, scary, dangerous times, there can be peace and beauty. One doesn't cancel out the other.