Wow what a week! A rite of passage for 8th graders across the country. Our trip was coordinated by a teacher at Quinn’s school but was managed by a company called World Strides. I wasn’t 100% sure we wanted to go but Don still remembered his 8th grade DC trip and encouraged us to do it…so off we went.
We met at the school on Thursday at 5:15 pm to catch the bus to LAX. We had a red eye to DC and the kids were encouraged to get some sleep but it was a 4 hour flight with very little sleep. Upon arrival at DC the kids were excited and tired.
This was our itinerary for the week. The idea is to leave very little free time and get back to the hotel late so the kids don’t have an opportunity for monkey business. The items in yellow are firm appointments that we couldn’t change but everything else was flexible. For example we were scheduled to see the White House on Monday but the Easter Egg Roll was scheduled for that day so we did the White House another day.
There were 72 people total with 55 kids and 17 adults. These awesome shirts and hoodies said LC/DC to represent Los Cerritos (Middle School) in DC for the 20th trip. They were a great conversation starter and we got alot of questions about them.
We had 2 buses and the kids were broken into groups of four with a chaperone for frequent head counts and check ins. Each bus had a Tour Guide and they knew where and when to stop and were able to think on their feet if we needed to change plans or find a bathroom.
Day 1 first stop US Air Force Memorial. It was great to get outside and stretch our legs. This large memorial designates the path the plane travelled on 9/11 before flying into the Pentagon. These 5 kids stuck together the whole trip. Note: I have lots of pictures to post and will post them in these “galleries”. If you want to see them larger, you can click on them and then scroll through each gallery.
Next stop, Eisenhower Memorial and then on to breakfast at the Hard Rock Cafe. They opened early for us and as we were leaving another school group was arriving. On to the MLK Memorial and FDR Memorial. It was great having a guide filling in all the little details. We were just past the cherry blossoms blooming which is probably good because it wasn’t as crowded.
Then we got on the buses and drove to Charlottesville, VA. We had lunch at a very cool place called Michies Tavern where they specialize in Fried Chicken and Southern Comfort food. It was a great start.
We had dinner at Red Robin and then headed back to VA to check into our hotel. Each night the kids were given 15-20 minutes to get ice and buy snacks and then were not allowed to leave their rooms. There was a chaperone meeting every night to discuss wake up procedures, breakfast, and preview the activities the next day. Most nights we were in bed around 11 pm. A guard was hired to sit in the hallway from 10 pm – 5 am.
You can imagine how easy it was to wake up the kids at 6 am each day. Ha! However, I was assigned to the best group of girls. We were supposed to go into their room and not leave until everyone was out of bed. But my group of girls and I worked out a plan that I would text them every morning and they would text me back they were awake. I did have to knock on their door the first morning but after that they got themselves up every morning. Two of them were on Quinn’s Odyssey team. Lex (in green) took a bullet for this group and roomed with another group of girls.
Day 2 we were off to Mount Vernon. The benefit of the 6 am wake up call is that we are the first to arrive.
The Smithsonian Air & Space Museum was closed for renovations so instead we went to the Udvar-Hazy Museum. Hundreds of aircraft were housed in this huge hangar.
Then off to the Mall where the kids had the choice of 3 Smithsonian Museums: Natural History, American History, or Gallery of Art. They had 1 hour and had to go in groups of 4 but without a chaperone. Many of the moms, including myself, weren’t super comfortable with this. I told them I would follow them but they could do whatever they wanted. Lex wanted to go to the Gallery of Art and the boys agreed to go.
Dinner and then on to Vietnam Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Korean Memorial, and Iwa Jim Memorial.
Day 3: We arrived at Capitol Hill at 8 am on Easter morning so we had the place to ourselves. Again, it was great having the guide to fill in all the little details.
The 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon was really moving. There is so much significance in all the little details. Each person who died has a bench and they are organized by age. If you are facing the Pentagon while reading the name, the person worked at the Pentagon. If you facing away from the Pentagon the person was on the plane. This bench is for General Timothy Maude who my cousin met with at the Pentagon the day before the attack. I didn’t get a picture from this angle but you can see the large sculpture designating the route of the plane. this was one of my favorite stops on this trip.
On to Arlington Cemetery. The kids were loud & crazy on the bus but were told that they needed to be quiet and show respect at the Cemetery, especially since there might be family members visiting loved ones on Easter, and they were great.
Einstein memorial where it’s said if you rub his nose you will gain intelligence. Jefferson Memorial.
Day 4 starts at Fords Theatre and the Peterson House across the street where Lincoln actually died and then on to the Washington Monument.
The National Archives was a brief visit where we went into the Rotunda to see the original Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. The documents are large and faded but very cool to see the originals.
One of their best friends who wasn’t able to go on the trip always wears a NASA hat. Quinn bought hats for all of them and they plan to wear them on Monday, the first day back to school.
Our DC tour was done and it is on to Gettysburg. It was cold and rainy and actually snowing when we reached Gettysburg. The kids were outside the buses dancing in the snow. We had a dinner mix up but ended up at a fabulous buffet with last minute reservations for 72.
Then it was on to the Farnsworth House, one of the most Haunted Houses in the country. If you ask any of the kids, this was probably their favorite part of the trip….Ghost Stories. We started in the basement where the host told us about the ghosts that haunt the house. Let’s just say the kids were easily swayed and were freaking out. Quinn thought it was mostly BS but was curious about it. On the top floor a woman used dowsing rods to identify people when the kids said a name. Quinn said the name Fitzgerald, the nickname for his friend Thomas, and the dowsing rod pointed to Thomas. The kids loved, loved it…and had nightmares.
Day 5 is our final day. We had a 2 hour bus tour of the battlefields and our tour guide was fantastic! She kept us all very engaged. In fact, she said that she was so impressed by our kids that she was going to look at the school’s website and email the principal to let him know how impressed she was with our kids.
Then back to DC for our flight home. It’s amazing how many things we were able to fit into 5 days. I am so glad I went. The kids were happy to spend so much time with their friends and I know some learning seeped into their brains. I made a bunch of new friends with the other moms and we all have memories for a lifetime. Exhausted and Grateful , for sure.