Jersey - My Family Travels

My brother had been in the United States Coast Guard boot camp for eight weeks now and it had come time for us to go and retrieve him. Our destination was Cape May, New Jersey, the home of the only Coast Guard training camp in the country.

It was January when we made the trip, and when we were about to land in Philadelphia, I glanced out my window and saw scattered lakes and ponds that were entirely frozen over. This was a drastic change from Gulf Coast region that I have known for my whole life. This also happened to be my first flight, and I was smitten from takeoff. It was an experience that you swear you will never forget, and I highly doubt this will be an exception.  We called for a cab at the airport and quickly noticed changes in the people up there. Our driver had an accent I had only previously heard on television. This is told me that I was in a much different place.

He drove us to a rent-a-car dealership and we picked out a small sedan. We then drove to the hotel that we had booked for two nights and were met with possibly the coldest night I have ever had to sleep through. I don’t recall the temperature, but I can comfortably say that it was well below freezing. The hotel manager did not have the heat on for us when we arrived, so by the time it got going, we were waking up. My parents were more upset than I. The thrill of being in a place I had only previously seen through a screen managed to interfere with the freezing weather. My excitement kept me warm through the night.

We awoke at sunrise and traveled to Cape May. The temperature did not surrender to the sun, however, and only seemed to get older as the day progressed. When we pulled into the base, I saw a recruit standing outside, frost biting at his face, standing on duty. I felt for him and pondered if my brother had been forced to do the same thing. All of the families of the graduates were directed into a small auditorium and were shown a video that consisted of interviews of past recruits and their experiences. This only heightened the anticipation of seeing if this past month and a half had altered my brother’s personality or work ethic. Shortly after, we were allowed into a nearby gym for the ceremony. We sat in the bleachers for what felt like hours. At last, all of the recruits filled into the gym. As they passed by us, each family would see their loved-one and yell for them. I was surrounded by parents that had not seen their children in eight weeks, so it was bound to get emotional.

Immediately after it concluded, everyone in the stands rushed the group inductees. He was overwhelmed at the sight of his family, as were we to see him. It was too early to tell if this experience would have any lasting effect on my brother, but my mind was somewhere else. We were headed to New York City. This was climax of the trip and only lasted two hours, but Times Square was amazing. We also drove to the coast and I saw the Atlantic Ocean for the first time.

Before I knew it, we were home in Houston, and all of the excitement came to a bitter halt. I had been in awe for a solid weekend.

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