Monday, May 11, 2009

23.9 plus miles!

That is how far we walked after spending five days and four nights capturing the sites of this great country's capital, Washington DC, with the entire 8th grade and nine other chaperones... My phone has a pedometer that reads the steps as long as it is in my pocket... not telling what the actual number is for times I left it on the bus or was talking on it!

The following account is through the eyes of a Chaperone Tourist! Never being there, I felt just like one of the kids experiencing all that there was to see. For somethings there are photos, for others not... some things have memories, others just thoughts... I am not comfortable including photos of kids, so it is strictly through my camera lens that you will take this journey with me! And trust me... I do have pictoral evidence that I was with the said 84 people! I don't have time to put up any more photos (certainly this is enough eye candy for your bandwidths), so I only put 1-2 photos to represent each memory/thought/drive by!

Day 1:

We got to the airport at the unforunate hour of 6:45... after checking in all the students, eating breakfast, etc, we are airborn... only to realize that we have significant turbulance and rain meeting us in DC! (unfortunately, this rain would stay with us for the remainder of our trip!)

Isn't it pretty in the rain? Yes, people, this is the Pentagon... looks unfamiliar from street level... but I assure you, I was told it was... how about that rain... this is 1:30 in the afternoon! We passed it on the way to the Dulles Air & Space Museum! This place was just overwhelming... I couldn't believe I could be in a place with so much history (only to feel this feeling again, many times over) Here is the Enola Gay as well as the Space Shuttle Enterprise...

OK, so if you are in the situation and are travelling with any large amount of teenagers, the rest of the evening is probably a grand idea... but I won't be eating here anymore!

Then off to the movies (you try putting 8th graders into a hotel room and telling them to "be good!"), where we buddy off with the right amount of chaperones per group per movie. My group goes to see Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. GREAT movie if you like chic flicks... ok movie if it is with nine 8th grade girls, not a good movie if you are with 6 8th grade girls and 3 8th grade boys! My comfort level was tested... especially when they GOT the inuendos!

It was definitely time for the hotel... we had been up for a LONG time! And should I say, if you are ever in the Alexandria area... don't stay at the Washington Suites in Alexandria!

Day 2:

OK, the beds worked... or I was just exhausted... but I still won't give this hotel a positive review!

Didn't get any pictoral evidence from the Spy Museum, but I did get souvenirs for my favorite six-year-old spy! That place is so much fun! GO!

At the American History Museum, we saw some pretty cool things! The Pop Culture, Julia Child's Kitchen, First Lady's dress, and Star Spangled Exhibits kept my attention... the food... expensive! We actually got to see these... and more! Trav's favorite ride at Disney and one of my fave characters from Sesame Street!

Next stop is the capital or is it capitol? I never remember! I know I teach English and that there is a secret to it... but I don't remember it, so relax! But it was awesome in the truest meaning of the word! So much happens in this very building! Man I am proud to be an American!

That evening we donned our special Astro's shirts to go cheer on the boys from Houston! However, no one got to see most of those shirts because it was 48 degrees and misting! We were FREEZING! Sweatshirts up! And thanks to a precious 8th grader, I had a long-sleeved shirt to wear under my shirt for the evening!

Day 3:

We began this day with a humbling experience to the Holocaust Museum! I am just lost in thought over this one! No photos... I visited Dachau as a girl scout when I was a kid, and the piles of glasses and shoes stopped me in my tracks as a middle schooler... seeing the history behind this tragedy this week, just added to that. It was never meant to be a horror story, but those people lived true horror!

After we remove ourselves from that (as we will never be able to remove that from us), we headed to the National Cathedral... I initially thought I could have done with out this tour, but OMGoodness... this is just phenomenal! Besides being a beautiful building... the stain glass was beautiful!

From there we hit Ford's Theater where the assassination of Abraham Lincoln happened. It really is weird the feelings that hit you when you realize you are standing in a spot where history happened! We didn't get to see the museum tour, as they didn't tell us that the museum was being redone... but we got to see the very spot he sat the night he was shot!

We get some time in the hotel to change into something a little more us and less heals and dress clothes/uniforms and head into Old Town Alexandria, I could live there in a heart beat! That place is just adorable! Bugsy's was the funnest (and tastiest pizza) little place to eat! After that, a quick run through some shops before meeting someone like this for a ghost tour! How fun is he?

It rained, so they came on the bus to tell us their tales of woe... I bet it would have been so much better on foot! And my feet even hurt!

We were supposed to see some memorials at night, but the rain just didnt' stop! So... back to the hotels to catch our Rockets WIN against the Lakers! We will take in a few of these over the next few days and those will be posted after while... (are you tired of photos yet?)

Day 4:

What a way to start this day... being reminded all that was lost to make us have the freedom that we so dearly love today! This place (Arlington National Cemetary) is just so reverent! We were lucky to see the changing of the guards twice, and then four of our students were chosen to lay the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier! Just makes my heart stop thinking about that again. And, yes, the sun peaked out for us during this ceremony! Small treasures!

Went to the neatest museum next called the Newseum! An entire museum based on the NEWS! We could have spent many more hours here... I feel like we missed quite a bit of different places... I spent the entire "free time" in the Photo Journalism exhibit! Just WOW! This is a piece of the actual Berlin Wall!

Then to Mount Vernon for a tour, shopping, and visitor's center! I actually WALKED through the room where George Washington ate a meal! Just History! You know... and I hated history as a kid! Where were these trips when I was younger?

We finally got to see ONE of the memorials at night... then the rain hit, and since we had literally been on the go for 15 hours, we headed back to the hotel... Tomorrow is another day! Here is the Lincoln Memorial at night! Just Wow... (again!)

Day 5:

This will prove to be a busy day, where more than EIGHT miles will be walked before we hit the airport to head home! We hit as many monuments/memorials as these little bodies can take before hitting the DEA museum. Take a peak to see all that we saw!

I will say, that when visiting these memorials, you get the same sense of humility as when you are at the cemetary. You almost hit an invisible wall that slaps you across the face and says WAKE UP... we died for you, so that you can enjoy the level of living that you do! Don't waste our lives! It was really hard picking the photos, as the better photos had students in them!

The Vietnam Memorial: Thank you Daddy for coming home! A Vietnam Vet that was helping people find names. He gave me a special paper as I found one of Dad's former pilot colleagues. Each student picked a Texas Hero to do a rubbing on and then left a flag and note in the tray under their names.

The entry way to the 911 Pentagon Memorial: We weren't allowed to take photos next to the Pentagon, so this is all I got! What an amazing memorial that is. If you have the chance to go, look up the symbolism that went into that memorial! This is on the grounds next to the side of the Pentagon that was hit by the plane on 911.

The Air Force Monument: This is as close as we got when I actually had my camera poised!

The World War II Monument: This is HUGE and just a really neat set up.

The Korean Monument: These are actual photos sandblasted into the wall! Just stunning!Iwo Jima: Took a shot of this and sent it to my Baby Brother... Thanks, John, for being who you are!

A shot of the Washington memorial through the haze on my lens from the FDR memorial! I thought it was pretty surreal!

FDR: I really had better photos of this one, but not without students!

I think this is the Jefferson memorial... it rained so much, that the water line came up too high to walk to it!

Well, if you stuck it out this much, you know I thoroughly enjoyed this trip, and would love to be invited back next year! I certainly plan to pay more attention to history! I know Dad, it is hard to believe!

Lights Out!



Bev said...

such an amazing trip! I went with my son's 8th grade class also. That was 10 years ago now, but I still remember the awe I felt at all the monuments and museums.

Musicmom-Amy said...

What an exciting trip!!

KateB said...

It's so funny- I live here and haven't been to most of the places you went to! Most times, we go to the same museums over and over when friends come to daughter did do the Holocaust Museum last week and yeah, the weather just started to clear yesterday..unusual for us to have this much rain just so you know. Next time you come on an adult trip, call me!!

KateB (coordinatescollections)

Lisa Smith said...

What an exciting trip with the students! I think it is great you were able to go with your students.

Cracker Scraps said...

Awesome! Thanks for taking the time to share!