Sonoma Innkeepers remember...
Though the normal summer activities continue here in the Sonoma Wine Country...(we are deep into the harvest now and there are some fun events planned this weekend) I did want to mention this 10th anniversary of 9/11. We all have memories of that day...the original horror, the tragic losses, the loss of confidence and perhaps naivite of the American public. It was a life changing day for us all and we will always mourn those we lost. This weekend the flags will be flying and there are many events to commemorate the event. Here is a link to a recent interview with one of the firefighters that day. Read it please.
Here in California I have been talking to some of our fellow innkeepers about their memories of that day. We all lived through the day as you did but also had a houseful of guests to care for. At the time I owned a bed and breakfast inn just down the road a few miles from the Farmhouse Inn. It was September and high season so every room was full and a lot of our guests were from out-of-state. My business partner at the time (and sister-in-law) was originally from New York- she heard it on the radio on her way to the inn to help me with breakfast- by the time she got to the inn she sobbing hysterically and had not even seen the pictures. I had heard it on the radio in time to turn the TV on and see the second plane hit. Up until that moment they were reporting it as an accident- when the second plane hit the whole story changed. I just remember such a sense of unreality and disbelief.
It was our job to somehow break the news to our guests... we moved a TV into the dining room so we could all watch the news together. The guests all had grand wine country vacation plans for the day but all that went right out the window. One guest was on her way to Alcatraz and a day in San Francisco...she just could not get the idea that things were not going to be normal in the city. Other guests had to try to re-structure their travel plans (everyone just wanted to get home to their loved ones as soon as possible) but planes weren't flying for a few days and they were stuck. Hotel rooms in San Francisco were not emptying out for new guests as no one could get anywhere.
We were in as much shock and pain as anyone but somehow had to hold it together enough to try to help our guests. One couple said they were just going to go to the coast, sit on the beach, and pray. I wish I could have done that.
Here at Farmhouse Inn Joe said he heard it on the radio on his way in to the inn and by the time he got here all the guests were piled in the innkeeper's apartment watching it unfold on her TV (the rooms here did not have television at the time- no cable) and the day was a scramble of trying to get information for guests. They had a group of 6 people from New Jersey that simply could not believe there was no way to get home. As innkeepers we all feel responsible for health, welfare, and happiness of our guests but there was absolutely nothing we could do except try to keep calm and try to get them as much information as possible.
There are still wine country events happening this weekend...the Cajun Festival in Sebastopol, the Heirloom Tomato Festival over at Kendall-Jackson Winery, and the Big Q Barbeque Event in Santa Rosa but I do think it will be a bit of a somber weekend for us all.
There are many events commemorating 9/11 for those of us wanting to remember and honor those we lost. The local radio station, KZST teamed up with one of our favorite local hardware stores this morning to give out free flags...the only requirement was you had to promise to fly the flag on Sunday.
Personally I think I will stop by the new Graton Fire Station on Sunday...
they are dedicating the new station (20+ years in the making) and remembering the anniversary of that horrible day. How appropriate and the Deputy Fire Chief, Bill Bullard is an ex-innkeeper (used to own the Inn at Occidental) and friend. He has been a volunteer firefighter for as long as I've known him.
The Pacific Coast Air Museum in Santa Rosa has acquired the very first fighter aircraft to arrive over New York City on September 11, 2001, an Air Force F-15A “Eagle” aircraft. This aircraft and its pilot escorted over 80 aircraft out of New York air space, developed the air defense plan for New York on the fly that day, and provided comfort for the responders at the World Trade Center and for the citizens of New York. Here's a video of it's dramatic arrival at our local air museum.
This Sunday at 2 pm they are holding the 10th Anniversary Commemoration and 9/11 "First Responder" F-15 Exhibit Grand Opening Commemoration and everyone is invited. The event is free but they are still looking for donations to help install the exhibit. So, try to make it, won't you?
Though everything seems to be over shadowed by the 9/11 anniversary don't forget this week is the National Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa. It is the "World's Fair" of the heirloom and local food movements and I just heard admission is free for kids 17 and under. All profits from the event are donated to school garden projects and other food related charities- what a great way to help educate ourselves and our children about our food and where it comes from.
I cannot seem to get my mind away from that day 10 years ago and I know it is not the happiest of subjects but we will all be remembering that day on Sunday (and all days) - so do find a way to honor those lost and fly the flag with pride (can we just not talk politics for this one day?)!