I grew up in suburban Phoenix, Arizona. Throughout my childhood, my parents owned and ran a store, which meant vacations were rare. The few vacations we took to California and Sedona were beautiful getaways. The beaches of California and red rocks of Sedona were the seven wonders of my world. Travelling was my favorite thing in the entire world, even if I did not do much of it. Travelling is learning and meeting new people.
SEMI-FINALIST 2015 FTF TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
When I received an invitation to attend a week-long summer leadership conference in Washington D.C this summer, I nearly kept it from my dad and did not accept the invitation in fear of not having enough money to buy my airfare and expenses. My dad cracked me, though, and we created a plan. For the next five months I hand-painted and sold flower pots to my classmates and family members. A month before the conference, my dad proposed we drive to D.C., and with a mouthful of Corn Flakes, told me “We’ll stop by NYC too”. The next month consisted of me crying my eyes out almost everyday and dreaming of all the people and mountains and forests and gas stations.
Car rides have always fascinated me. I love the blurs of trees and buildings created on the window, the feeling of being chased by the moon, and the way rain drops hustle together when it rains. As a kid, I fell asleep to the sound of the motor, my sisters’ horrible jokes and my parents’ cheesy old school songs. I always felt most relaxed in the car. However, one can only spend so much time in a car with seven other people without seriously considering walking to D.C. as the better option.
We crossed New Mexico, where everything was flat and brown with patches of green and tumbleweed; Texas, where colorful barn houses lit up the infinite fields of whatever is grown in Texas; Oklahoma, where I cried at the Oklahoma City National Memorial under the 9:03 gate; Missouri, where my dad cried at the St. Louis Cathedral; Illinois, which I unfortunately slept through; Indiana, where I strolled through the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s greenhouses, and fought the urge to completely ditch my family and live there forever; Ohio, where I discovered their McDonald’s do not sell Hot n Spicy’s, indeed a very depressing moment for me, a Mexican 16 year old; Pennsylvania, where I literally blasted “I’m Proud To Be An American” by Lee Greenwood for the entire 6 hours I spent there; New York, where I relived every movie I have watched; New Jersey, where I met the Atlantic for the first time; Delaware, where I saw 5 Bambis; Maryland, where I visited a historical slave plantation from the 1800s; The District, where I took a selfie with a very miniscule and blurry Secret Service agent; Virginia; where I cried because it was time to go home.
This trip gave me the opportunity to realize how awesome this country is and how beautiful all the the people in it are, including myself. And as predictable as it is, New York City is the greatest city I have ever seen. I visited the Museum of Modern Art and befriended Frida Kahlo and her monkey, Fulang-Chang. At the 9/11 Memorial, I gave “Michael E. Roberts” a white rose and prayed and cried. I have no idea who Michael E. Roberts is. I don’t know what it is about me and memorials and foreign cities and people.
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.