Big City Experience - My Family Travels

To a person who lives in a town with the best place to shop being a Super Wal-mart and where 15 minutes seems like a very long drive to get somewhere in town, a combined visit to Philadelphia, New York, and Gettysburg was quite intriguing.  The American History Club’s cross country experience was filled adventure from the moment I and 35 other students and advisors entered the airport.  The overnight red-eye flight that took us from Las Vegas to Atlanta, and then from Atlanta to Philadelphia made me go from anxiously awaiting the time I would be released from the cramped monotony to wishing I could go back to my sleepy seat when we hit the ground running.  The leader of my trip believed strongly in ‘getting your money’s worth’ and ‘seeing everything possible’ and, in theory, this sounded like a lovely and efficient plan.  However, when I found myself forced to walk all day attempting to appear excited about viewing what seemed like a hundred monuments and listening to one informational lecture after another while trying to keep my eyes open, I decided this might not be the best of ideas.  Nevertheless, as the week continued I found myself enjoying the trip more and more, and also learning a few valuable lessons.  Through trial and error, I was able to ascertain that tennis shoes are always better than sandals, walking at a steady brisk pace is preferable to slowly meandering and then being forced to run and catch up, you should always have a ‘make-sure-you-get-to-the-right-place buddy’ on the subway, and that bus rides are amazingly good napping opportunities.  I had the chance to walk in the graveyards that hold some of the nation’s most notable people and tour huge churches and museums.  In Philadelphia I was able to stand right next to the Liberty Bell, and tour the Constitution Center.  New York introduced me to the noise and glamour of big city life with an exhilarating visit to the top of the Empire State Building, a captivating Broadway production of Phantom of the Opera and a sparkling Lights of Liberty show.  In Gettysburg I gained respect for the many soldiers that died on the battlefield and took a ghost tour of the ‘haunted’ grounds nearby.  Traveling apart from my family helped me to establish a new independence by forcing me to make decisions on my own, and also gave me a taste of what life will be like when I move on to college.  By the end of the trip I had made new friends and become even closer to those I already had.  We had created inside jokes that would continue to last through the years and memories that would never fade.  Although I was somewhat doubtful about the trip at the start, it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life.  Since then, I have traveled more during my high school career then I ever expected to have the opportunity to and plan to join the same history group again this year to tour Washington D.C.  I have also become increasingly grateful every year for the chance that I have to travel the country, participate in new experiences, and run until I’m so exhausted I can hardly stand.


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