Monday, June 25, 2012

June 25, 2011

One year ago today, I began my journey known as Citizenship Washington Focus. This is a 4-H trip made available to students 13-19. The core of the trip is spent in Washington, D.C. learning more about our country’s form of government and about how to become, in our respective communities, forces of change with which to be reckoned.  To keep our interest, though, they also throw in some sight-seeing and cultural enlightenment.  My delegation to this conference consisted of about 47 Missouri teens and 4 chaperones. I think we also went through about 5 bus drivers in the whole 11 days as well. But that story comes later. I anticipated this trip for about 9 months, which is funny, because the first time I saw information about it, I thought, “Nah, I’ll pass. I don’t really wanna shell out the money [$2000].” But then Mom encouraged me to really consider it, and so I did. Once I started looking into a detailed itinerary, I was hooked. I hadn’t been to D.C. and Philadelphia in 10 years, and I had never been to New York City. I knew I better not pass this one up. Since this was a trip of a lifetime, I knew I wanted to take good pictures, and keep a detailed account of everything so I will remember this for years. I kept a notepad with me at all times (basically), and wrote down my thoughts, and then every day I wrote down a lesson or two that I had learned that day. And I took pictures and made sure to only keep ones that were memorable. I had wanted to set up a blog that I could update every day during my trip, but that did not work out. So now, exactly 1 year later, I have my wish: here is the story—in bits and pieces—of the trip that literally changed my life.

Day 1

                “It was the best of times; it was the worst times…” In other words, I was extremely excited, and it was WAY TOO STINKIN’ EARLY. We had to board the bus at 4 a.m.
(Did you really expect me to take a flattering photo at 3:22 in the morning?)

4:18 a.m. Thank you, Jackson Farmer! We are now 18 min. behind schedule because you drug your rear. This is the most ungodly time ever.
(I boarded the bus at 4:07…which was only seven minutes behind schedule.)

4:43 a.m. You know what’s funny about getting up at 3:15 this morning? That’s about what time I went to bed last time I stayed at Alex’s!

5:28 a.m. Springfield, some random gas station. It would be McDonald’s, but they don’t open till probably 6 or 7. Everyone else went straight for the donuts, but me? Peanut butter granola bar that I brought and a mighty mango Naked juice that I bought. Simply delightful.

5:46 a.m.  So I don’t think I’ve ever watched the sun rise, but I’m pretty sure it’s been rising for about 30-40 minutes now. I have to say a sunrise is one of God’s prettiest creations.

6:14 a.m. Oh, that’s lovely! We’re traveling on 1 of 2 busses from this company that has a sensor problem or a bare wire somewhere. It just randomly shuts the engine down. And of the 2 busses, this bus does it the worst. What fun!

7:25 a.m. I’ve been up for 4 hours—I’m usually crawling out of bed at this time!

8:44 a.m. Well, I feel awful for our bus driver, since he’s more stressed than we are. HOWEVER. This makes for a drag-y trip.

10:42 a.m. In the words of Jeremy, “Everything rolls downhill.” Be it barf, tea, Kool-Aid…

10:46 a.m. Nice. A moose with wings. On top of a mobile home business sign. I’ve been up too long. (If I’d been a speedy photographer, I’d have a picture. But, alas, I was not fast enough, and, I was consciously conserving my camera battery.)

Sometime around 11:30 am, we arrived in St. Louis, which wasn’t previously in our itinerary. But we needed to change busses and get a new bus driver, and this was the place to do it. So we just squeezed in a little more sight-seeing.

11:43 a.m. A giant tour bus and skinny brick streets of downtown St. Louis=nail-biting alertness! I would NOT want this job!

12:29 p.m. Guess what? You can’t get cell phone service oodles below the ground at the St. Louis Arch.
(We didn’t go up in the Arch due to long lines, but I did get some nice outside pictures of this monument to our country’s westward expansion.)
There were some Marines Week activities happening on the Arch’s riverfront grounds. I thought these sharply dressed young men made a nice picture…
…but I was actually more amused by this witty young lady walking around these activities in this t-shirt. If we’re taking sides, I’m on hers. Just sayin’.
(FYI: It says “Army Strong.”)
(The news had been reporting for the past couple of weeks about the excessive rain causing the Mississippi to overflow its banks and flood some property. I took this picture to show “the folks back home” that, yes, the Mississippi was high. This was one of the walkways into the subsequently mentioned Riverfront Café.)

1:02 p.m. Fish sandwich and jazz music at the Riverfront Café…yeah, I’m liking St. Louis style lunches.

1:25 p.m. According to Abbie Kennedy, “We get name tags, so if we get run over, they can identify us!” Yeah, right.

1:42 p.m. Welcome to Illinois! I haven’t been in this state since we visited Aunt Annette in 2008.

2:30 p.m. Perspective is a funny thing. At the stop-light, we saw a semi carrying a wrecked, burned out Greyhound bus. Just a reminder that things could always be worse.

4:30 p.m. We are now in Indiana, and I’m pretty sure we’re in the Eastern Time Zone.

Sometime between 4:30 and 8:00, we passed the Lucas Oil Stadium, which is where the Indianapolis Colts play.
(This trip is where I learned the difficulty of taking quality pictures through a bus window. I’m not sure I ever mastered it.)

7:57 p.m. Blibo Baggins?!? Seriously? And you don’t know where he lives? Sheesh. Some people need to read more.

8:55 p.m. I guess we’re watching the Last Song. In the words of my mother—WHATEVER. We’re in Mt. Comfort, Indiana.

9:51 p.m. Welcome to Ohio!

10:44 p.m. Man, 2 skunks in 1 day is all I can handle.

11:00 p.m. I had no clue other people got as loopy as I do late at night.

11:10 p.m. You know, I don’t care one whit about your stupid love bug sandwich….

11:15 p.m. Okay, seriously? My youth group has got to be the best-behaved kids around!

11:22 p.m. Comfort Suites Motel, Yellow Heights, OH!!!!! I thought we’d never make it. Thank you, Lord.

A motel bed has never felt so good.

These were the lessons I learned on Day One:
Sometimes life throws you curveballs. So be patient, and find the good in the situation.


We obviously spent many hours ‘en route’ during this whole trip, which provided the opportunity to watch probably two dozen movies. I kept diligent record of what we watched so I can laugh at myself in 27 years.

Movies Watched:
National Treasure 1, National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, A Knight’s Tale, The Last Song