Sunday, April 24, 2016

My Trip to DC--by Brooklyn Wheeler

Back in March, Brooklyn went on an amazing field trip with her fifth grade class to Washington DC.  When I first saw the itinerary, I found it rather ambitious, and was pretty skeptical that they could actually make it to even half of the places they had planned.  Here's what was scheduled, just so you know what I mean:
March 8th:
4:30 am--Meet at the Omaha airport
11:15 --Arrive in DC, eat lunch on the bus
12:45--National Archives
1:35--American History Museum
2:00--Washington Monument viewing, then return to American History Museum
4:00--Lincoln, Korean War, Vietnam, and WWII Memorials
Eat Dinner on Bus
5:30--MLK and FDR Memorials
6:15--Jefferson Monument
7:30--Fords Theater and Gift Shops
8:30 pm--Depart for Embassy Suites Alexandria.  Pizza and cupcakes upon arrival.

March 9th:
6:00 am--Breakfast
7:30--Leave for Arlington Cemetery
9:45--Leave for White House Tour
12:15--Capitol Tour, Supreme Court, and Library of Congress
4:15--Leave for Williamsburg
6:30--Pierce's BBQ
7:15--Ghost Tour in Downtown Williamsburg
Head to Hometown Suites by Hilton Williamsburg

March 10th:
7:30 am--Breakfast
8:30--Head to Jamestown
12:30--Head to Yorktown
3:30--Yorktown Battlefield
4:30--Leave for DC and eat at Miguels
7:30 pm--Air Force Memorial, Iwo Jima
Swimming at Embassy Suites in Old Town Alexandria

March 11th:
6:30 am--Breakfast
8:15--Mt. Vernon
9:00--Raise flag at Mt. Vernon
12:30--Leave for Reagan International
4:25 pm--Arrive in Omaha
Believe it or not, from all the reports I heard, the entire trip ran extremely smoothly.  Mr. Wiles has organized this trip for years and seems to have it down to a science, all the way from the matching shirts (to quickly identify wandering students) to the bus caterers (to quickly feed the hungry mob so they can get back to sightseeing.)  I felt pretty nervous sending my girl off on her own, but was comforted by the fact that I knew and trusted so many of the chaperones.  Brooklyn, on the other hand, was positively ecstatic to go.  She'd spent a lot of time and effort preparing for this trip, whether by learning about DC in government club, researching Yorktown, or selling coupon books to raise money.  In the end, I think the trip was as rewarding as she hoped.  Here's the blurb she wrote about it for their school newsletter:

            If you want to see the sights of D.C. for only $825, Mr. Wiles’ D.C. trip is the place to go. We went everywhere from the National Archives, (where we saw the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution) to Mount Vernon (Where George Washington lived and died). I learned so much on this trip, and had a ton of fun. I also made a lot of new friends. This trip was worth the $400 dollars I raised myself.
Our schedule was so busy, my mom said that we would be lucky to get to half the places Mr. Wiles had planned. Even now, I’m not sure how he brought 50 people all around D.C. and still give us time to shower every night and swim on Thursday, without losing anyone. Mr. Wiles put so much effort into this trip. During class he’d bargain about room prices on the phone and give us a math problem that had to do with it. I just want to say Thanks.
My favorite part of the trip was going to the Yorktown settlement and the Battlefield. It was so interesting to see how the trenches and walls and cannons are still there (I think the cannons might have been replicas, but who cares?). We got to charge the imaginary British. At the settlement we got to check out the daily life of a colonial family. It was about 75 degrees Fahrenheit and they still had a fire going in the kitchen, one hot enough to cook cornbread in. I was the one closest to the fire and it was HOT. Then we went to a continental army camp and saw how they fit 6 fully grown people in a tent half the size of our family’s minivan.
We went to colonial Williamsburg and did the ghost tour. Mr. Wiles has a picture on his computer of a colonial soldier drifting in front of the group. Yes, I mean a ghost. Two other pictures were taken one after another in front of a house with lights in front. In the first picture the lights are on, in the next picture some have gone out. Freaky.
We had the privilege of going to almost all of the memorials in the national mall. We even got to go up the Washington Monument! We didn’t climb the stairs (I’m not sure if there are stairs.), we rode the elevator. When we got to the top, if you looked down the crack in between the elevator door and the ground you could see down 500 feet.
I was really excited to go to the white house. That was going to be one of the highlights. Too bad someone threw something over the fence so all the reservations were canceled. We weren’t even allowed to take a picture at first, “Safety of the President”. At least we got to talk to a Secret Service guy, and, hey we saw the First Lady’s Van drive by.
The capitol was a lot of fun, even if the first tour wasn’t the best. We got to watch a senator sit down. My favorite part of the capitol was the Old Senate Chamber. I really liked how in the front area there was a sort of throne. I can just imagine listening to Senators debating and falling asleep in that chair, it looked so comfy. I liked the clock that is older than my house, and my house is about 115 years old.

And here are some photos, courtesy of those taken by chaperones.  (Students weren't allowed their own cameras.  Apparently in the past they've spent far too much time photographing and far too little time actually processing whatever they see.)  While they pictures are not in any particular order, Brooklyn helped me with the captions.

Brooklyn and her Daddy outside Eppley airfield on the morning of her flight.  She looks so grown-up!

Brooklyn with another handsome Wheeler, her Uncle Lance, where they met up outside the Capitol building.

Hanging out in the airport.

Reading her Kindle on the bus.
A view of DC from the top of the Washington Monument.

Brooklyn and Karma in the very spot where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.

Brooklyn and all of her roommates at the Lincoln Memorial.  What a great group of girls!

Brooklyn quickly found the Nauvoo Sunstone at the American History Museum.

Another group shot at the Air and Space Museum.  (Can I just say that this museum wasn't even on the itinerary?!)

Future astronauts.

Happy hotel faces.
Brooklyn battles her hair at Yorktown.

Spending a moment with Lincoln at his memorial.

Unloading the ships at Yorktown.

Sleeping in the tents where colonial soldiers would have slept at Yorktown Settlement.

Our friend Jaden dressed up as an early settler.

The MLK monument was huge.

Arlington National Cemetery

Pool time!  Here are the boys playing while the girls sat out.  (Mom was pretty happy they were separated.)

WWII Monument.  Brooklyn is the blond on the left, front and center. 

A jumping photo at the Capitol while waiting for a tour.

An entire group photo at Mt. Vernon.

The fearless (and understandably tired) chaperones.

Gazing at a beautiful chandelier in the Capitol.

The gals pose with the guys at the Air Force Monument.

The Library of Congress--what a magnificent space!

"All the buildings look the same in DC.  I think that's a building we just walked by and stopped to take a picture on the stairs but never actually went in."

A group reenactment of Washington riding his horse after the battle of Yorktown.  Senorita Cruz, Brooklyn's Spanish teacher, is George Washington, while Mr. Wiles, her English teacher, is the horse.

The original painting by John Trumbull.

Cupcakes from DC Cupcakes.  Brooklyn got lime, but had been hoping for lemon.  They all look yummy to me!

Carving out the inside of a canoe at Jamestown.

Brooklyn and her friends at Mt. Vernon, with the Potomac in the background.

Another picture at Mt. Vernon with Senora Dowling, the first grade Spanish teacher.

"Sun in my eyes!"  Here's the group in front of the White House.  They didn't get to go in for their tour because of a security threat (aka someone threw something over the fence.)  Bummer.

Another group photo at Mount Vernon. 

Raising the flag at Mount Vernon.  Theirs was the first group from Nebraska to do so.

Posing in front of the cloaked Capitol dome.

The Korean War Memorial.

The FDR Monument

Mt.  Vernon.  "That's the four of us who ran ahead of the group--with Mr. Wiles."  "Why did you run ahead?"  "Because we were excited!!!"

Brooklyn's Summary:  "DC was so much fun!  I hope I can go back again."  I hope so too, Brooklyn.  Even more, I hope that next time we can all share the experience with you.  We sure missed you, sweet girl!  Your quick wit and special smile brighten our home.  We love you to DC...and back.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We do live in a beautiful, choice country. Not only are its monuments and buildings remarkable, but the freedoms and sacrifices they represent are inspiring and enduring. I'm so grateful Brooklyn experienced D.C. as a 5th grader. I still recall with fondness a family trip to the East coast, including D.C, when I was a 4th grader. And yes Brooklyn, there are stairs leading to the top of the Washington Monument ... those I remember. Keep smiling!