September 11th remembered

I wrote this back on the 10th anniversary, and I am at a loss to write about September 11th again. It still hurts. Never forget.

Hard to imagine that ten years has passed since that day that began so beautiful. I will never forget walking into the newsroom on that bright, crystal clear morning. Just off the elevator, I looked to the monitor on my left and saw the smoke pouring from the World Trade Center. The story had not even been on the air yet. Rick Williams, the executive producer (not the anchor) at Action News, was the only person I remember seeing in the room as I said, “Is the World Trade Center on fire?”

After that, it all seems a blur. The next thing I knew I was inside the control room waiting to figure out what was going on and what we might do. We were still in network programming as the second plane hit the tower. Those of us in the control room, like the rest of the world, could not believe our eyes, but at that moment it became clear we were under attack.

The situation became even more chaotic and confused after that. Phone calls to and from family and loved ones. Voices of those we love are needed in a time of panic. And in the newsroom, rumors of car bombs exploding in Washington preceded the next plane crashing into the Pentagon. Then the first tower fell. Disbelief.

Like so many that week, I worked endless hours covering this horrific attack. You go into auto-pilot mode in these situations because if you stop to really think about what just happened, you can’t do it. You live, breath and eat the story non-stop.

By Friday, I was exhausted, physically and mentally. But I remember that day almost as well as I remember Tuesday. I remember it because we had a report that they found someone alive in the rubble of the World Trade Center. Hope in the midst of horror. A rescuer went in front of the cameras convinced that someone had just been found. Just the idea that one person would have survived not only the collapse, but so long in the rubble lifts your fragile spirits.

A short time later we learned no one was found alive.

It broke my heart.

All the emotion that I bottled up in the days that followed September 11th flowed out of me. I just wept. People around me asked if I was okay. Our assistant news director asked if I needed to go home. I didn’t. I just needed to cry. It was not just sadness at that point. It was cruel. Fucking cruel. I wept not only in sadness but in anger.

No one I knew died that day, but today I met someone who did. Almost ten years later, the mother and sister of Don DiFranco came to Channel 7. Don was an engineer at the station. He was working at the station’s transmitter site on the 110th floor of the World Trade Center North Tower that morning. He made one phone call – to the master control room of Eyewitness News headquarters to alert fellow engineers of a possible disruption in service.

I did not know Don, but his mother looked me directly in the eyes today as she talked to us about her son. Her eyes welled with tears as she talked about her son, saying that they try to focus on the joy that he brought to their lives and not on how he left them. It would drive you crazy to dwell on it, she said. I felt pain on September 11th, but not like those who lost loved ones. I cannot even begin to imagine myself in their shoes. I could see the pain in Ms. DiFranco’s eyes, but I could also see something else. I’ve been struggling to find the right word for it….

Don lives on in her heart and in the hearts of those who knew him and loved him, and so his spirit lives on and so she still feels his presence.

It was never so apparent to me as it was today that the life we lead impacts others long after we are gone.

Maybe the word is love.

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Exploring nature and drinking GIANT SLURPEES!

There’s a great nature trail near our home, which is always good for a mini-adventure on a slow summer’s day.

On our journey today, we stumbled upon a few wonders of nature.   First, we discovered a gorgeous butterfly.

Helen captured this gorgeous photo on her iPhone:

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The trail follows a creek and the path leads to a duck pond, where all sorts of wildlife can be discovered like this little guy:






After our nature trek, we headed to 7-Eleven for the “Bring Your Own Cup Day” in celebration of 50th anniversary of the Slurpee.    We didn’t have the biggest cup, but Robert did manage to overflow a blender!






To end our day, we headed to the nearby reserve for some drone flying, but the boys seemed more interesting in catching a rare Pokemon called a Dragonite.

pokemon dragonite





The Dragonite escaped the boys, but our friend Carter somehow managed to snag it!

Check out the full vlog below and please subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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He almost lost the drone!

We discovered a new spot to fly the Phantom 3 drone at Perkiomen Creek. The park ranger wasn’t sure where we could fly without restriction, so we took a chance in flying over the creek itself. That almost proved costly as we lost contact with the drone at one point. Fortunately, DJI’s drones are pretty smart! The Phantom, nick-named Mayhem 1, began returning to the home base – although it did come pretty close to the trees. We eventually regained control of the drone and continued our flight, which included a close encounter with what looks like a crane or heron.

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Climbing the walls!

In this week’s vlog, we take a trip to the Philadelphia Rock Gym to experience rock climbing. It’s a lot harder than we thought! Great exercise, but some of the courses proved a little too difficult. The instructor, Steve, helped the kids do their best, coaching them every step of the way. I did not do the climb this time around, but maybe next time!

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Ocean City vacation from the beach to the boardwalk

We don’t usually spend our summers at the Jersey Shore, but this year we decided to spend a few days in the family-friendly enclave of Ocean City, New Jersey.

ocean city

The weather during our visit was perfectly pleasant! It was actually cloudy most of the time, BUT that actually made days on the beach cool and relaxing.

We arrived mid-afternoon, staying just a few blocks from the famed boardwalk. It’s a lot of fun strolling the boards and shopping, but the kids had the most fun hitting the amusement rides. We also discovered that seagulls on the boards tend to be a bit on the aggressive side!

We spent most of the first full day riding the waves, which were perfect for boogie boarding. Much of this video was shot using the GoPro Hero 4.

The boys and I went deep sea fishing for the first time, but our adventure did not go as planned. The seas were incredibly rough, and Daniel ended up sea sick. No one caught any big fish either. No one meaning us or anyone else on the boat. The captain said it was the worst day of the season! 🙁

On our final day, we took the drone to the beach early in the morning to get some great photos and videos.

Ocean City, New Jersey is a great beach town filled with fun for the entire family. It’s a perfect destination for your next summer vacation!

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