It was 4 in the morning on a hot day in July of 2008. I was standing in the empty parking lot of my church with 20 of my closest friends and their luggage awaiting our bus, and its driver, hoping for greatness (and cleanliness) in both. After waiting in anxious anticipation for quite a while, our bus pulled up and we met our driver, Ms. Leslie, who we would quickly grow to love. We loaded up the luggage (boys on one side, girls on the other) and hopped on the bus (boys in back and girls in the front), then hit the highway to pick up the rest of our group. We greeted them with half-hearted hugs and sleepy smiles, and started (for real this time) our journey to the capital.
We were on a choir tour, so we wouldn’t actually be in D.C. for two more days because we had to stop and sing at churches along the way (summary: singing, ferries, Savannah, GA). We finally got there though, and just in time for the 4th of July celebrations. Our entire trip had been planned out, but Independence Day didn’t seem to want to work with the schedule. After being dropped off at Arlington Cemetery, our bus couldn’t get back to us, so we (all 40 of us!) hopped on the Metro and rode to our lunch destination. With a lot of praying on the chaperone’s part, and a lot of pushing the boundaries on the students’, we made it, all present and accounted for.
Our bus still couldn’t get to us, so we walked to our next destination. On the way there though, we walked through a parade where we pretended to be a part of it and waved to all of the children we passed. The laughs stopped once we reached the Holocaust Museum, where we spent a somewhat depressing but enlightening afternoon. I couldn’t complain about the walking or my stomach’s grumbling after that, but I was happy for dinner. Next we headed to the Washington Monument (again, on foot) to watch the fireworks when the rain started. It was OK, we enjoyed playing in the mud. We did stop at one point and one of our students ended up getting pick pocketed, which was definitely a low point of the trip. We managed though, and he cheered up pretty quickly. The fireworks were amazing to see and to feel. The sound reverberated off of every building in D.C. and sent a rattle through your entire body! When we finally found the bus, Ms. Leslie was sitting on top of it watching the fireworks.
The rest of the week worked somewhat smoothly (only a few mishaps: exploding toilet paper, angry security guards, suspicious water bottles, etc.) and we managed to stay mostly with the schedule. We learned a lot about our country’s founding, (which was the whole goal of the trip) but we also learned a lot about each other and grew closer than ever. On the trip home, it was just Ms. Leslie, her microphone, and us and we had to come up with clever things to do. I ended up hosting the evenings with stories, top 10 lists (one of which was 10 reasons not to use the microphone), karaoke, and stand-up comedy. It was 11 in the evening as we pulled up to our dark church parking lot, full of our parents’ cars. We got off the bus (boys and girls mixed) and unloaded the luggage (still separated) and headed home, a little sad, but anxiously awaiting the pictures to develop.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.