Where It All Began – Virginia to New York

I often say this trip is where my love of travel first began, but in truth I probably love travel because I was hauled all over creation with my parents when I was a kid. But for simplicity sake I am going to continue to call this trip “WHERE IT ALL BEGAN” in big booming letters. It was in fact my seventh grade liberty trip to the east coast.
I think I have heard of other schools doing this sort of thing. The schools allows the top students to apply and then you have to raise money to go, and then some VERY brave parents and teachers escort a bunch of wildly hormonal pre-teens up and down the east coast learning all about American History.
The idea is pretty cool, and the execution is mostly reasonable. You after all in theory have the most level headed, intelligent kids in your school. Which is great, except even the most level headed intelligent pre-teens, and are still pre-teens. Surprisingly nothing horrible happened, and it was actually a really fantastic trip. I am sure some of the teachers were silently sobbing in their hotels rooms each night.
We flew from Portland Oregon aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall the way down to Virginia. Since this was about 400 years ago I remember very little (read nothing) of this flight. We went to Busch Gardens and road some roller coasters. It was here that I and half my classmates discovered sun stroke. Not surprising given we all grew up in a place where the sun never shines. We stayed at a hotel with a really wild indoor pool that had a waterfall, I have no idea what the hotel was called.
We visited Jamestown, Plymouth Rock and Williamsburg all of which I loved and have been dying to go back to even since. I am a huge nerd, and a history buff (hence getting a spot on the trip). After some days in way too sunny Virginia, we moved on up to DC.
I was dying to go to the Smithsonian, instead we spent the whole day walking around monuments and the capital building. All I recall from this really is there were way too many steps, my shoes were really loud and I kept getting shushed in the capital building. And some story about the statue on top is facing away from the city because some dude got the city instructions upside down. I feel like even for a seventh grader this was a really horrible dumbed down version of what actually happened, and I was pretty miffed at the tour guide.
On the second day I was still dying to go to the Smithsonian, instead we went to the Ford Theater and watched changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Ford Theater was really great, and it only fueled my intense love of history.   The changing of the guard was very grand and wonderful and patriotic, but again it wasn’t the freaking Smithsonian.
Finally on the last day there  we were going to get to see the museum. But on the way in all my friends got distracted by the guys on the street selling sunglasses. So half the day was wasted right outside the museum, buying knock off sunglasses. It was rough. I was mad. In the end, before they shuttled us on the bus, I got to see some old dresses, some planes and some plants. I really need to go back.
I got my first ever boyfriend on the bus somewhere between DC and Philadelphia. We sat next to one another the whole way and didn’t speak a word to each other. Somewhere between getting to the baseball game in Philadelphia and meeting Tim Allen at the concessions stand we had broken up. He was just too needy, the boyfriend, not Tim Allen. I have no idea what Tim Allen is like really, other than he ordered a hot dog.
We then drove up to Gettysburg. We got a lot of information about ghosts and photos that wouldn’t turn out because the battle fields were all haunted. Mine turned out fine, other than the fact I was 12 and using a Mickey Mouse camera. Actually I take that back, all the pictures are horrible. But not because of ghosts.
Then we were all lined up and told to charge one another to “experience the intensity of battling your friends and family”. My best friend accidently clothes-lined one of our teachers, he was certainly feeling some intensity the entire bus ride to New York that night.
New York quite honestly scared me and still does a little bit. I am a small town lass, I like the country. So the sprawling estates, small charming towns and battlefields we had previously visited were totally my jam. New York was….intense.
Turns out I loved it. I didn’t love all the people, or getting stuck in a rotating door, or getting hip checked by a taxi cab. But I loved the architecture. Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty were amazing. Broadway was amazing, the buildings and history all of it. I loved it. I cannot wait to go back there some day as adult with much more ability to control what I see and do.
Did your school offer a similar trip? Did you go? What are some of your favorite experiences in these states?

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