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The Trip of a Lifetime
It all started the week before my trip. It was quickly approaching and I still hadn't packed. That might not sound like a problem, but the preceding week was no ordinary week. I had senior retreat on Wednesday and we didn't get back until Friday. I was leaving for the trip on Saturday— at four in the morning. So I had to pack for retreat along with the trip by Tuesday. The problem really came when I needed things from retreat for the trip.
I basically had everything packed for the trip, so I just had to wash a few things on Friday before I could get to bed early that night. I figured It would be no feat to do this since I basically had all day Friday to do last minute things. Of course that didn't happen. The time disappeared and next thing I know it was six o'clock. I only had a few more things to do, when my mom comes home and says we were going out to eat. Of course. My mom knew my plans to get bed early so she promised we wouldn't be long.
We really didn't get back too late (it was only eight), but I couldn't just go straight to bed. After showering and reading for a bit, I finally was able to try to fall asleep around eight forty-five. Of course, I could hear the TV through my paper-thin walls and my brother, who just got home, and my dad laughing and playing around in the kitchen— because of course my brother got a mini-basketball goal for Christmas. So I drag myself out of my comfortable bed to go turn down the TV volume myself, since no one was really watching it, and pull the sliding the door to the back of the house shut. I get comfortable in my bed again and can still hear my family. At least it's muffled now and I finally fall asleep shortly after.
I wake up— what feels like minutes later— to my alarm blaring. I slowly get out of bed at an ungodly hour of the morning, exhausted, yet so excited. I hastily get dressed, scarf down my breakfast, and run out of the door with my mother who (semi-willingly) agreed to bring me to the airport.
We arrive at the airport on time for once, and meet up with the rest of the group. Once everyone has arrived, we tell our parents goodbye, and make our way to the terminal, following the chaperones like ducks... not in a row. Yes this is a school affiliated trip and six brave teachers agreed to bring thirty-two high school girls to Washington D.C.
When we land in D.C., Mr. Harty (the founder of the trip), informs us we are early and have an hour to spare before the fun begins. We take the big comfy bus to one of the museum's cafe in The Mall. After relaxing for sometime, we make our way to the Washington Monument where we have to wait outside in the bitter cold, for another forty-five minutes. We finally are allowed inside, but only five at a time. My friends and I are at the front of our group and thankfully are led inside quickly and begin to defrost. Now that we are completely thawed and a little warm now, it's our turn to go all the way to the top. There are eight windows to look out from and all have spectacular views of the surrounding landmarks. We go back down to regroup and head to our next stop: the Newseum.
I was really looking forward to this one, so I was disappointed to hear we only had two hours to eat lunch and go through the entire museum. Once we were given our meeting spot, we were free to roam around. I knew I wouldn't be able to see everything, so after I eat with my friends, we begin to walk around. I finally tell them I'm going around by myself because they were going a lot slower and I wanted to see as much as possible. I quickly walked through the second floor, and practically sprinted through the third floor. My sprint was pointless since the third floor was basically just the gift shops. I make my way to the designated meeting spot under the airplane since I only had three minutes left.
We soon leave the Newseum behind and go to the National Archives. Not that it wasn't really cool, but all we saw here was documents. These documents weren't just any ordinary documents. These were the ones that changed the way of life and made history as we know it: The Magna Carta, The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and many more. As usual, we left in a rush for our next destination.
Our next stop is the National Cathedral to take a quick look around and then we are off to another Church for mass. I don't know who thought this was a good idea since we had been awake for at least fifteen hours. Needless to say, few of us were able to keep our eyes open throughout the entirety of the mass. Mass flies by seeing as most of us were otherwise occupied, and we finally head to the hotel to get settled in our rooms.
Going to our rooms turned out to be a tease. We all had to meet in the lobby in an hour to go to dinner, which was in the mall under our hotel. This turned out to be convenient for the whole trip since it gave us access to more shops for breakfast and was connected to the Metro. Dinner was delicious and when we were about to get our bills, Mr. Harty announced that this one was on the school. My friends and I joked about wishing we would have gotten something more expensive since we didn't have to pay, but we were still excited nonetheless.
Finally! The time had to get to bed! I thought I could never be more excited to get some sleep, but proved that to be false as the trip progressed. The trip flies by as we try to soak in every piece of history we see. The next day we ran through the American History Museum and the Natural History Museum seeing everything from the First Ladies dresses and the original Star-Spangled Banner to the Hope Diamond and Award Winning Photos of the year.
I hardly remember the museum part of the day because right after that, we went to the Kennedy Center to see a play! This turned out to be my favorite part of the trip since the play, "Shear Madness," was an improv murder mystery play. We stayed a little longer to talk to the cast, which turned into half of our group stalking them on our way back to the hotel.
We only get an hour in our rooms before we had to be ready to go again for our nighttime adventures. Our chaperones decided to trust us in Georgetown to get dinner, shop, and walk around the area at nine o'clock at night. We enjoyed the freedom, but soon returned to the bus to go see some monuments: the Iwo Jima and the Air Force Memorial. These were really cool to see at night and I was amazed that even the youngest visitors respected the solemnness of the memorials.
Monday, as I soon found out, was a day full of walking. It starts off with a trip to Arlington Cemetery and many important graves including John F. Kennedy's grave, high ranking military men, and the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Our group donated a wreath to lay at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is guarded around the clock. These guards are meticulous in everything they do. Their uniforms are spotless, their movements are exact, and their steps are in a perfect line, walked over so many times that you can physically see their path.
After our wreath is laid, we finish our tour of the cemetery to go to the Capitol for a tour. At the end the usual tour, our tour guides lead us on a detour to Steve Scalise's office and behind the scenes things of the Senate and House of Representatives. We have ten minutes before we leave for the Holocaust Museum, so we scarf down a quick lunch and run out the door. The Holocaust Museum, sad indeed, didn't appeal to me as much as the other museums since I already had a class on the Holocaust. It was a good reminder of what I had learned but the shock factor wasn't there for me.
We take the metro back to the hotel, but get off at the Rosslyn stop so we can ride up the longest escalator in the world— or so we thought (another country had topped this 'longest' escalator in recent years). Every corner we turned we expected to see the long-awaited giant, only to see wall after wall. We finally turn the last corner and are even further amazed. It seemed to go up forever! The ride up was long and we all took pictures to make sure the height of the escalator was visible, and take it right back down with more pictures along the way. We get back on the metro and change for our night tours. We go to the mall to shop for a while and head out to see more monuments. We saw the Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Vietnam, and Korean memorials. Needless to say, these were all in a semi-close proximity so we walked to all of these in the bitter, cold, windy weather. This concluded our last night in D.C. and we all returned to the hotel to pack our bags since we had to ready to never return to the hotel by eight in the morning.
Why the early wake up call you may ask? Because we were going to tour the White House! Of course, my roommates procrastinated packing until midnight but we still managed to be ready on time. I can't say that for some of the other girls since we waited fifteen minutes before we realized a whole room (only four girls) was missing. Mr. Harty stayed behind with them, so the rest of us wouldn't be late. We power walk to the entrance where we have to go through an extensive security check. We make it through with only minor snags and finally enter the president's house. As cool as it was to be in the White House, it wasn't what I thought it would be. It was really pretty with elaborate dishes, a character-filled library, ornate dining halls, and color-themed sitting rooms. What I thought was sort of funny, but really clever were the sitting rooms' walls because they weren't exactly walls. I of course had to poke one after I learned they were made of big pieces of silk stretched over a wooden frame. We exit at the front of the White House and meet in front of the gates for a group picture.
Our group is soon on the move again and we break off in groups based on what we wanted to do. I chose to go to the Supreme Court. Since we were already in the country's capital, I couldn't pass up the opportunity. It turned out that we had to sit behind a curtain so I couldn't see much. I had a clear shot, however, of the judge who looked like he was about to fall asleep, which kept me amused. At least I could still say I heard a Supreme Court case even though I didn't quite understand what was being fought over. We soon have to leave since other people were waiting to take our spots.
We meet up with rest of our group who were in the National Gallery of Art Museum. We stayed at the Art Museum while half of the other group went to the Air and Space Museum and the other half went ice skating. As much as I wanted go ice skating, my feet were hurting so bad I could hardly make it through the Gallery. Thankfully, the chaperone we were with was one of our art teachers so she gave us the quick tour of all of the famous artist including: Picasso, Bernini, Rembrandt and VanGogh. I could have never made it through the entire thing, but what we saw was really cool! We made our way over to meet the whole group at the Air and Space, but our small group from the art gallery decided to just sit in the cafeteria area because we were that tired. Thankfully we were leaving for the airport soon, but until then we all got our fair share of french fries, coffee, and ice cream, from McDonald's. My friend and I attempt to do our homework but give up shortly after we start because we couldn't focus. Many of us took naps while others were on their phones. Either way, the time was spent, and we were on our way to the airport before we know it. We rush to the terminal to get dinner and a seat to rest for the next hour. We all spread out and have things thrown everywhere, but we didn't seem to care at that point. Before we know we here our plane being called to board. With in minutes we are on the runway and taking off. I can't to get in my bed.