Thursday, June 25, 2015

No Sleep, All Fun

Today I got only 30 minutes of sleep, yet the energy that ran through me since the moment I woke up was as if I had a 12-hour  because I had to leave my home at 3:20 AM to go to El Cerrito High School, because today is the day of our departure to the east coast! I don’t think I can put into words how long I have been anticipating this journey and my disbelief that it has finally began!

El Cerrito High School at 3 AM
When I arrived at El Cerrito High School at about 3:43 I was pleased to see that the majority of my cohort had already arrived. We all gathered together to listen to Don as he told us the valuable information we needed to know before we got on the shuttle to SFO. He weighed all of our luggage to make sure that we did not go over fifty pounds and when he weighed mine it was a nice 41.5 pounds.

After our parents signed the necessary papers, we took our customary professional photographs with Don’s impressive camera and gear. Unfortunately we did not have our Columbia banner but Don made the best of it by just taking some more pictures of us.

We waited about 30 minutes for our shuttle to arrive, and when it did I said my goodbyes to my family and off we went. When we got to the airport we checked in our luggage right away and when it was Mark’s turn to weigh his luggage we saw that he was over 50 pounds. Before we had time to panic the woman weighing the luggage kindly told Mark to take his hands off the luggage and when he did his luggage weighed 48 pounds which made us all laugh.

We had about an hour before we had to board the plane, so we all settled for breakfast at a Mexican fusion restaurant. When we boarded our plane I was seated in the same row as Deborah and Mark, and when I got comfortable I went right to sleep.

Sadly I had to wake from deep slumber because we had a connecting flight in Dallas, Texas. We took the time between flights to buy some Starbucks and charge our phones.  When we boarded the second plane I was no longer sitting next to my cohort. I was seated next to a man in his late twenties or early thirties who fell asleep just as fast as I had on the last plane. I followed suit and slept for about half the flight.

After all the hours of traveling we finally arrived in Washington D.C. and I couldn’t believe it. This is my first time in the east coast and I couldn’t wait to explore. After we exited the plane, we all  went to baggage claim and Joyce arranged a shuttle to take us to our hotel. We shared our shuttle with a couple that started up a conversation with Joyce. I would have chimed in on the conversation but I was struck by the scenery of Washington D.C. and couldn’t help but get excited every time we would see a monument in the distance. When we arrived the Holiday Inn (our home for the next two days) the girls had to pair up to share rooms, so Alyanna and I paired with one another. We were given 25 minutes to settle in so that we could get ready to visit the monuments.
Exterior of the Lincoln Memorial.

When we were ready, we split up into separate cabs and went to the Lincoln Memorial first. I can honestly say that it took my breath away. I have always known what the monuments looked like because of pictures and T.V. but those never did them justice. No camera lense can ever capture the beauty of the monuments and I know that because every time I took a photo it would never look as good as what was right in front of me. After we took our photos we took a moment to take in the view of the Washington Monument from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial which was absolutely amazing.
The Washington Monument.

We then made our way to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial. When we entered the memorials we entered with a more solemn and quiet demeanor in respect for our fallen soldiers. I found it really interesting when Joyce told us about how the design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was chosen from a contest which was won by a female Yale student. The design of black shiny marble with the names of deceased veterans engraved in it was truly beautiful.
Names of those who were lost in the Vietnam War.

I really liked the Korean War Veterans Memorial as well because it had life-sized statues of soldiers that were positioned to make it look like they were marching, but as the sun went down they began to look very ghostly. The Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial were similar because they both had walls of black marble but the Korean War Veterans Memorial had etchings of real people in the war.

Ghosts of the Korean War.

Etchings of soldiers.

Afterwards we walked to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, which was way bigger than I expected. I have to say that it was probably my favorite one because of the quotes in marble behind him and how he seemed to look across the water in front of him.
Looks so much larger in person.
I noticed that when I went through the entrance of the memorial it seemed that the statue fit perfectly into the entrance's opening. On the side of the statue was the quote, "Out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope." I think the huge stone represents the oppression, discrimination, and segregation of the minorities of America and the statue of MLK represents him breaking away from that and standing as a sympol of hope for freedom.
Entrance to the MLK Memorial.
Although we were quite tired and hungry we had to go to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. His memorial was one of the most inspiring because his statue was him in a wheelchair and I think that shows how strong he was and how he did not let his disability inhibit him from performing his duty as the President. As we walked through we all had to stop at one particular waterfall that was just too mesmerizing to overlook.
President Roosevelt.

Beautiful Waterfall.
After our long day it was time to head back, so after splitting up into two taxis again we all met up on the street our hotel is on and began walking to find a place to eat. It was already past 10:00 PM so most of the restaurants in the area had already closed, so we ended up going to Safeway and grabbing a whole bunch of food, including cheesecake, fried chicken, and potato salad. After buying our food we brought everything back to the hotel in Mark’s room and began blogging while eating.
Our Safeway feast.

Today should have been hectic and tiring but I have to say that it was actually super fun and pretty laid back. I think its because I was blessed with a cohort that was able to click right away, which makes me feel so much more comfortable and made our transition much more smooth. I can already tell this trip is going to be so much fun!!

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