Thursday, June 25, 2015

Off We Go!!

I started my day bright and early by waking up at exactly 2AM on a wondrous chilly Wednesday morning. Unexpectedly, I awoke with excitement and showed little sign of fatigue. I treated this early morning like any other morning. I showered, brushed my teeth, changed, and re-checked my luggage weight. Upon reevaluation of my luggage, I noticed that I was about five pounds over the required limit. I removed some items, reweighed, and found my luggage to be 45lbs.

The clocked ticked to 3AM, I awoke my parents and after some picture taking we were out the door by 3:15. 
One last family photo
We arrived at El Cerrito High School at around 3:30 at the exact same time that Izabel, Alyanna, and Saba showed up. Once we brought down our luggage, we were first greeted by Don and Ms. Thrift waiting by a small white table filled with snacks, small plastic bags, and some coat hangers. We waited in the freezing Bay Area wind for a few minutes before Deborah's arrival. Once the gang was all accounted for, Don began the itinerary for our departure. Don started off by having us sign some papers and weighing our luggage. Don weighed my luggage first and instead of it weighing to the 45lbs weighed by the scale at home, my luggage came out to an astounding 48lbs, just two pounds under the limit. Don gave me a forewarning that I may end up carrying some of the items in my carry on since airport scales can seriously be inaccurate and go over the actual weight. After this scary forewarning from Don I prayed that just maybe, I could possibly get through without having to unload and reload everything into an already heavy carry on bag.

Once the luggage weighing was done, Don gave us some pointers on what to look out for while we were there. Honestly, as scary as some of the things Don told us seemed, to me it just made the journey even more exciting!

 Don asked us some questions about our required reading. How did that go? Well... let's just say that we did well enough to make the trip..

Anyway, once that was over with, we headed over to the side of the school to to take our departure day photos. The most wondrous Don Gosney had an already set up photo shoot area for us. Don snapped a few pictures of us and before we knew it, we were done!

The Finished Product
Shortly after the pictures, we all said our goodbyes to our parents and waited once again in the cold Bay Area breeze for the last time.

Within minutes, we were greeted by the shining headlights of a large black Mercedes Benz van. The driver came out in a black and white suit and greeted us good morning. As he packed our things in, we took our seats inside the van with Don standing outside the doors. We said our goodbyes to Don with mine being "Bye Dad!"

By around 5:30 we arrived at the airport. My face soon started to cringe as soon as I saw the airport scale... Remembering Don's warning, I started to panic inside. As soon as I put my luggage on the scale a drop of sweat ran down my neck. The scale gave a 57lbs reading. I completely went into panic mode until the airport lady told me to stop leaning on the bag. I did as she said and the scale read 49lbs! "Someone really is looking after me after all!" I thought. And this ladies and gentleman, is my miracle of the day.

It was also relieving to find out that I was TSA pre-approved along with Alyanna. This basically meant that we didn't have to go through a full security screening. 

By 8AM we were already in the air. I was lucky enough to sit with Saba and Deborah and not with a compete stranger. The three of us quickly decided to take this opportunity to catch up on sleep. I slept for probably around 2 hours until we started our descent. The descent in altitude was horrible for me. I got extremely light headed and was almost on the verge of gagging, but we survived, and we soon arrived at our first stop in Texas.

The Airbus A319 that took care of us.
The second plane ride wasn't as bad as our first. I sat in between Deborah and a Caucasian male probably in his mid forties. I would've tried to strike up a conversation with this man but he kept his earbuds in throughout the whole flight and showed no particular interest in small talk. Similar to the first plane ride, I slept throughout the majority of our air time. This time the descent wasn't as bad as the first one. This time it felt that the pilot was more in control and flew with ease.

By around 5:30 eastern time, we arrived unharmed at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Within twenty minutes tops, we were already on board a shuttle en route to the Holiday Inn Hotel. As we drove, the thing that amazed me most was how green the grass was! For those unaware, California is currently going through a major drought so the grass isn't as lively as it was five years ago. Another thing that I found interesting was how important staying in top physical condition was to the people here. Everywhere we went, there was always a huge amount of people jogging, biking, or playing a sport in an open field.

After all the driving and short assimilation to our new environment, we arrived at our hotel. Walking into my room was just simply amazing for me. After countless hours of sitting monotonously it felt so good to finally stretch out and take a breather in an air conditioned room all to me, myself, and I. 

We had all agreed to meet up once again by the hotel elevator at 7:15 so we could walk around for a bit and see the beautiful monuments. We met up physically and mentally refreshed, caught two taxi cabs, and headed off for the Lincoln Memorial!

Izabel, Alyanna, and I were the first ones to arrive on seen with Ms. Thrift, Saba, and Deborah following soon afterwards. We walked excitedly towards the front of the Lincoln Memorial, all hoping to get pictures with Honest Abe himself. And there he was towering above us with the words " In this temple as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever" etched above him.

There were many American flags left behind by the families of the deceased.
It was a rather short walk from the Lincoln Memorial to the Vietnam War Memorial. The Vietnam War Memorial was deeply embedded in a somber environment. I don't have any family members who served in Vietnam, but the name that I tried to search for was Capt. Lance P. Sijan. Short history lesson for y'all: Capt. Sijan was an US Air Force Academy graduate who was captured by the Viet Kong and tortured for months. After months of constant flogging and starvation, the only information he gave up was his name and rank. Capt. Sijan's story is truly motivating to me simply because it reminds me to never give up no matter how hard things get. Anyway, I failed to find his name. But just seeing all the names of the thousands who gave their lives, made an impact on me. I felt a sense of patriotism knowing that all these men and women gave their lives for our way of life.

Along with the Vietnam War Memorial, we also strolled down to the Korean War Memorial. The Korean War Memorial differs mainly because it almost immerses you into the battlefield. In the middle of the memorial is a formation of US troops on patrol. These "troops'' are statues of course, but the detail put into each soldier's face is ghostly. You can clearly see the shock and sleep deprivation in each soldier's face.

Troops on patrol.
After the two war memorials, we headed off to go see both the Martin Luther King and the Franklin Roosevelt memorials. Out of both memorials, I found the MLK Memorial the best. Upon entering the MLK Memorial, you are greeted by two gigantic boulders that are both separated from each other...divided. You are then faced with a huge wall that reads "Out of the  mountain of despair, a stone of hope". Upon further investigation, you'll come across Martin Luther King himself, arms crossed, looking out into the Washington DC view.

"We Shall Overcome Because the Arc of the Moral Universe is Long, But it Bends Towards Justice"
Some long walks and cab drives later, we decided to get some grub at Safeway before we headed back to the hotel. Needless to say... we got fat tonight. We ordered fried chicken, cheesecakes, sandwiches, and a few drinks. As Izabel said, "The cohort that gets fat together, sticks together!".

We all met up at my hotel room to eat and work on our blogs. Once we started to get our hands dirty, however, the wifi had crashed, making it harder for us to work on our blogs. Izabel called the main lobby to let them know about our little predicament and they assured us that the wifi was undergoing maintenance. A few frustrated minutes later, wifi came back up and now some of us are still wide awake putting on the finishing touches...

Did today beat me bone tired? Yep. But am I LOVING this trip so far? Definitely.

1 comment:

  1. I read about Capt. Lance Peter Sijan. He was an exact definition of guts and determination. I am glad that his life has been a motivation to you.