For those of you who got to sit down to a bountiful Thanksgiving dinner....you suck! I got McDonald's. Ok...so I gave up stuffing myself for a free trip to Washington but still. I wanted mashed potatoes, dressing and rolls. Thursday morning was the day we left to head to Houston to gather the 27 teenagers we were taking to DC. We got up and headed to my sisters to drop off a few last minute items (she and my Mom split parenting duties while we were gone.) Thanksgiving for my family was being held at her house and it smelled really good. We had to leave when my brother in law pulled out the amazing tenderloin. I think Derrick nearly cried.
We got to Houston and checked into the hotel and gathered the kids who were from all over the state. These 4-Her's earned the privilege to go on this trip by having the best record book in their category. We had 12 boys and 15 girls ranging in ages from 15 to 19....at this point I was thinking that I must be crazy. We were very fortunate to have two other awesome chaperones with us....Drs. Chris and Randi Boleman....yes...we took the head of 4-H with us....we are not STUPID. Any hopes the kids had of acting up....got shot down on Thursday night!!!
With the kids gathered together, we began to LECTURES. We told them the do's and don't's and what would get you sent home quickly (bomb jokes and gun gestures). We divided the kids up into 4 teams so that it would be easier to do head counts. My team (the best of course) decided on the name Heart Attacks. Derrick had the BruCrew, Chris had SWAG, and Randi had the 12's. We decided a little competition upon the groups would add to the fun....it was a monster in the making but more on that later.
We sent everyone off to bed because we had an early flight.
Do you know how long it takes to get 31 people through check in and security? Let's just say that Continental is not real fond of us. Some of the kids had never flown before and security really terrified them...especially the few who got the honor of the pat down. Ah...memories!!!
A few of the kids chilling!
The flight was long and cramped but no one threw up or got stuck in the bathroom so that makes it a good flight for me. Dillon's Bus Company would be our ride for the first few days and Monique was our bus driver. Little did we know that Monique would truly make this a memorable trip. We loaded up and headed straight for the sights. Our first stop was the Mall area. This has the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, The Vietnam Memorial, WWII, the Korean, and the MLK Memorial. We have the kids two and a half hours to see these sights. I was so excited. DC is truly an amazing place. D and I headed straight for Lincoln. I was awestruck...He is majestic looking and gave me a moment of wonder...then I wanted him to stand up and talk to me like he did in Night of the Museum 2. That is when D said we had to go...party pooper!!
Our next stop was the Vietnam Wall. It truly is a sight. To see all those names just breaks your heart and to see families huddle together holding on to each other as they pencil rub their loved ones name....devastating. I cannot imagine the grief. A somber moment for all.
We went to the Korean Memorial after that. I love how this one was created. It is a scene straight out of the war. Rain slickered men looking out for the enemy. Each face shows a different emotion. My favorite part was the wall. Actual faces from soldiers were etched into the granite...beautiful!!
Me at the Wall
We wondered to the WWII, which is beautiful. It is the coolest thing to see at night.
Derrick giving the "gig 'em" sign under the Texas wreath.
And finally, we head to the new Martin Luther King Memorial. It hasn't been open very long and it was very crowd. It is an impressive sight. Families were all trying to take their Christmas card picture in front of it. Women were sighing, grown men crying. Very cool!
Our first test was next....could we get all 27 teenagers back on the bus and not lose anyone? Yes, we did. Whew!! Then the madness began. Monique, our bus driver, heard us talking about our little competition and decided to join in!! The point of the competition was to earn the most points by the end of the trip. They could get points for anything...they could also get them taken away. Monique has been in the DC are for over 30 years and knew quite a bit of trivia. So the games began. We asked questions about the sights they had seen and interesting facts they had seen. It was great.
It was dark by this time but that didn't stop us. We headed over to the Jefferson Memorial and then onto the FDR memorial. The Jefferson is a sight to see at night. It also has a great view of the Washington Monument, which we couldn't visit because of the damage done to it by the earthquake.
I loved the FDR Memorial but some of the lights were out in the area and it was very dark and you couldn't see some of the important scenes. Plus dark and lonely corners are never a good mix with teenagers!!!
By this point of the day, we were all dragging. So we headed over to Union Station and let the kids find dinner and do some shopping. The adults headed to a nice quiet sit down dinner and tried to determine if we would survive the week...don't get me wrong...the kids are great...we were just exhausted. We had a great dinner and people watched and then discovered Crumbs....a cupcake bakery...OMGosh...INCREDIBLE. D got a Cinnamon Roll Cupcake and I had the Dolce De Leche one. HEAVEN!!!
Full, tired and sore, we got to the National 4-H Conference Center and passed out room keys. Sent everyone off to bed and prayed that they all listened! Ha!. We all had bunk beds....It has been a very long time since I slept in a bunk bed but I didn't seem to have any trouble!!!