I’ll start with the fact that the trip still had me programmed to get up super early yesterday. But I quickly went back to bed for a two-hour nap. And today I slept until 9:00, laid in bed watching TV until 1:00. Hoping I’m now recovered…
But the story begins over a year ago, when Ben brought home information for this WorldStrides trip. Of course, I was surprised by the cost. But when we went through the list of stops that the trip would be making, it was a no-brainer that Ben needed to go on this trip. When asked if he wanted to go on his own, with his dad, or with me, I was surprised with his answer. So we spent quite some effort making extra money for both of us to go.
The actual five-day whirlwind began at 2:30 on Monday morning, when all of us met at the middle school, loaded our luggage onto our buses, and headed to the airport. (Thanks to two wonderful kids that sat with me and the funny Southwest Airlines flight attendants, my first plane ride in over 15 years was a great one.)
We arrived in Baltimore, took a bus to DC, and then met up with our tour guide (Darren) for the day.
We first got to see the White House.
We grabbed lunch at a food court.
Toured Ford’s Theater.
And then had a wonderful guided tour of the US Capitol. (This was my favorite part of that day. The capitol was beautiful. The tour guide knew his stuff and obviously loved his job. And we learned some really cool tidbits about the building, painting, statues, etc.)
We walked the grounds of the FDR Memorial.
And spent some time at the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial. (By this time I’m pretty overwhelmed by the greatness of the city, sites, and quotations… and I’m in tears.)
We grabbed dinner at a little cafe and then headed to the hotel for the night.
We walked over and toured the Lincoln Memorial. (No one’s photos can do this justice. It is grand and so beautiful. My eyes leaked again…)
And then we caught a few minutes of the D-Day ceremony as we walked around the World War II Memorial.
After a quick lunch, we got to spend a while in the Holocaust Museum (probably the most beautiful and heart-breaking building and exhibit I’ve ever been in).
We spent the whole afternoon walking around Arlington Cemetery, touring Robert E Lee’s home, and watching the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
We stopped at the Pentagon Memorial, and happened to catch a past employee who was happy to visit with us and tell us his stories of being in the building the day of the tragedy. (He spoke of the fact that he was in the building, but no one from their department even knew the plan had hit. He talked of the feelings, of friends lost. He said he could see the building burn for the five days from his home. He talked of the 8+ feet of water in the basement that scuba divers explored before they had to pump the whole building. He told us the whole story of the rebuilding process. And he let us in on the fairly unknown fact that the Pentagon’s groundbreaking ceremony took place on September 11, 1941!)
After dinner at an Italian restaurant and a night’s sleep at our hotel, it was time for the second part of our trip.
We woke up early again, had breakfast, and made the bus ride to New York. (Totally different activity, noise, and stress level… this city took me a while to get used to!) 😉
Our first stop was lunch in Grand Central Station.
Ben and I celebrated National Chocolate Ice Cream Day… and then I got him to the Lego store.
After our first (and very stressful) subway ride, we boarded our boat for a beautiful and fun dinner cruise around the bay, under the Brooklyn Bridge, and past the Statue of Liberty. (Lady Liberty took my breath away. And I cried again. Funny how emotions overflowed for me on this trip)
A good night’s sleep and breakfast at a local diner, we took off on our longest day of the trip.
We took a boat ride out to Ellis Island for a tour.
We got to have lunch at a local park.
We toured the September 11th Museum.
We got all dressed up for dinner at Dave & Buster’s and seeing The Lion King on Broadway! (This was grand! The props and costumes were amazing! And Ben’s favorite part of the trip!)
And then everyone was let loose on Times Square for a couple of hours!!!
Then we headed to the top of the World Trade Center. (102 stories up, the view of the area was incredible!!!)
Last, we walked through the Wall Street area and visited Fearless Girl before hopping on our bus to the airport, to head back home to San Antonio.
We were back to the middle school by 11:00 that night and back in our own beds quickly after.
Ben’s favorite part of the trip? The Lion King! My favorite parts? Our wonderful DC tour guide (who obviously loved his job and was great with our kids), seeing Lady Liberty, and the view from World Trade Center’s observatory! Also loved the Broadway show, the fact that everything was already planned for us and paid for, that we were totally prepared for the 6-10 miles of walking that we did each day, that I made some great mom friends while there, and that I had a fantastic roommate the whole time.
We learned SO much! And wonderful memories were made!
If anyone has a chance to send their child on this trip, I would definitely recommend it! And if you have the chance to go with your kiddo, go!
PS- A BIG thank you to the friends and family that helped us raise money for the trip… and to the teachers/coaches along for the ride (especially Mama Hen Mrs. Rust), who kept our kids happy and safe and were so welcoming to us parents!!!