Wednesday, July 23, 2008

ROAD TRIP!!

When I was in the fourth grade in 1990, my class went to Washington DC. The class placed recycling bins all over the school, to collect aluminum cans and plastic bottles to raise money for the trip. The class emptied the bins once a week, the janitors let us keep the cans in the Wilson 5 storage room. Once a month, our teacher Mrs... Hughes, would take the cans to the recycling place, to be recycled, the class helped to load them in her car. The class collected cans all year, by April in early spring time we had raised enough money to fly on American airlines to Washington DC for two days and two nights. There were eleven students and four adults on the trip to Washington DC. The students were: Jessica, Chastity, Elizabeth, Heidi, David, Ryan, Adam, and I. The adults were: Mrs.. Hughes, our teacher, Mr... Nail, an administrator, Mr.. and Mrs.. Kohut, Adams parents. Adams parents were coming as extra chaperones on on the trip. On the day that my class left for Washington DC, we attended classes like normal, the class was not leaving until after school. At lunch, I hardly had a chance to eat my food, the girls in my grade who were not going on the trip, kept stopping by my lunch table to say, how lucky we were and they wished there class would take a trip to Washington DC. The last bell of the day rang at 3:15 p.m., I rushed back to the dorm to finish packing my bag for the trip. I checked in with the dorm parent, put away my school books, said good bye to the girls who were not going on the trip, as they went off to recreation time. Mr.. and Mrs.. Kohut had purchased everyone, identical looking blue bags. To keep from getting the bags mixed up, everyone had there names taped to the handle of there bag. After all the other girls had left, I packed two changes of clothes and toiletries in my bag. I carried my bag to the living room, put my bag by the patio door, sat down to watch television until Mrs. Hughes came to take us to the gym. When Mrs. Hughes came to get us, we picked up our bags, said good bye to our dorm parent, went down the hall to the boys dorm, the girls waited out in the hall, Mrs.. Hughes went into the boys dorm to get the boys. Mrs.. Hughes said that we had to go wait in the gym, for a member of the recreation staff to get a van to take us to the airport. When the van arrived, to take us to the airport, the adults helped us throw our bags in the back of the van. The school van was large enough for all fourteen of us to sit comfortably. As the van goes to the airport, I stare out the window, watching the city change from grassy lawns to sky scrapers. As we approach the airport, you can see planes taking off and landing.
When the van arrives at the airport, we are let out at the front door, the adults help us get our bags from the back of the van. Mr.. Kohute tells us to pair up and hold hands, like little children. We walk into the terminal, cross a large open space to some chairs. Mrs.. Hughes tells us that we will eat our dinner now, the adults hand each of us a sack lunch. The sack lunches contained: a bologna sandwich, a bag of chips, carrots and a cookie for dessert. When everyone was done eating, we threw our trash in nearby trash cans. We pair up again to walk to the metal detectors. A security guard tells us to take off any jewelry or watches we are wearing and to empty our pockets. All of this is put in a silver tray next to the conveyor belt. We place our bags one at a time on the conveyor belt to be scanned. As the bags are being scanned we walk individually through the metal detector. We pick up our bags, watches and jewelry on the other side of the conveyor belt. We pair up again to walk to the baggage check in area, where we hand our bags over to the attendant, who will put the bags on the plane. We pair up again to walk through the airport to our departure gate. The airport is very large, it feels like we walk forever before we reach our gate. It is exciting walking through the airport, I see people riding on scooters, others pushing luggage on wheels and a man pushing a huge tower of luggage. I see people from all over the world and hear them speak in foreign languages. When we arrive at our gate, we were seated by the window to watch and listen to the planes take off from the airport. The planes are very large up close. I watched as each plane pulled to a stop, you could hear the powerful engines turn off. A long arm would attach itself to the plane, you could hear the suction noise as the air was removed from the arm. This seemed to take a very long time. When this was done I watched a flight attendant at the counter next to me open the door leading to the long arm. Mr. Nail told us to quiet down and get ready to board the airplane. I watched a baggage cart drive near the plane, there were ten carts all hooked together in a row. I am unsure how they got the baggage on the plane.
A little while later the baggage cart drove away. A flight attendant comes on the intercom to say that people who need assistance boarding should board now. Mrs.. Hughes tells us to pair up and hold hands, as we walk to the doors behind the flight attendant, Mr. Nail shows the flight attendant our boarding passes, then we walk thru the departure doors to start the long walk down the arm to the air plane, the long arm echoes when I talk to my friend Jessica. When we board the plane I see a large cabin with several rows of seats on both sides of a long aisle, three on one side and two on the other. A flight attendant directs us to our section of seats, it seems like it takes us forever to walk down the aisle to our seats. I am told to sit in a three person seat with Heidi, Mr.. Nail and myself, Heidi gets the window seat, Adam, David and Ryan are sitting in front of us. Mr.. Nail helps us to fasten our seat belts and pull them tight. A flight attendant comes along and asks Mrs.. Hughes if she should give us any special instructions, she says no thank you and the flight attendant walks off down the aisle. The seats recline. The seat in front of me has a little turn down table that you can use for either work or to eat your in flight meals and a footrest. I have always heard that air plane food is terrible. We are traveling to late to get an in flight meal. The plane is starting to get crowded, more and more people are starting to board, the flight attendants are directing them to there seats, the aisles are crowded with people placing there bags in the overhead bends and settling in to there seats. The plane is very noisy with people talking and moving around. A little while later the flight attendant comes on the loudspeakers to ask everyone to buckle there seat belts, place there seats and tray tables in the upright position to prepare for take off. The captain comes on to welcome us aboard the plane, he says our flight will be approximately two hours to Washington DC and to have a pleasant flight. When the plane starts to taxi down the runway, I am thrown back in my seat by the power of the engines, I wonder if this is how astronauts feel when they blast off for outer space, there is a huge rush of adrenaline, the engines are so loud you can not even talk to your friends. It seems like I am stuck forever with my back pressed to the back of the chair by the planes sheer velocity, finally the plane levels off and I am able to look around at all of my friends. Mr.. Nail tells us we can take off our seat belts and stretch for a while. I leave my seat belt fastened and turn the knob to release my turn down table. I reach in my backpack to pull out the book my aunt bought me for the flight, "A KIDS GUIDE TO WASHINGTON DC", it is full of fun and interesting facts about our nations capital, I read it for a very long time. Mr.. Nail tells Heidi and I to switch seats, I unbuckle and move to the window seat for a look outside, all is dark. I refasten my seat belt without help this time then go back to reading my book. Did you know that the White House was set on fire in 1814 by British soldiers. The flight attendant comes along offering us little bags of peanuts and cups of orange juice, the peanuts are good but the orange juice is sour tasting. I go back to doing the mazes, word finds and coloring in my book. I look out the window but all I see is darkness. A little while later the flight attendant comes on the loudspeakers to ask everyone to buckle there seat belts, place there seats and tray tables in the upright position to prepare for landing in Washington DC. Mr.. Nail gives Heidi and I a piece of gum to keep our ears from popping while we are landing. I start to feel butterflies in my stomachs as we descend towards the ground. Mr.. Nail tells me to look out my window, to see all of the lights of Washington DC come in to view as the plane descends towards the ground. The lights look like little pin pricks of light in the night sky, everything else is dark. A little while later I look out the window and can see the lights of the airport. I start to get very excited, we are in Washington DC. When the plane touches down there is a bump as the wheels hit the runway. The plane has to taxi to our arrival gate, this airport is very large, there are other planes all over the place. There is an Erie quiet for a second when our plane shuts down the engines at our arrival gate, then the captain comes on the loudspeaker to thank us for flying with him, he hopes we had a pleasant flight and to welcome us to Washington DC. Mr. Nail tells us to stay seated while the rest of our section clears out. I unbuckle my seat belt to stretch, watch other passengers get there bags from the overhead bends. And start to exit the airplane. Mrs.. Hughes says we can stand up to walk down the aisle and exit the airplane. It feels good to be standing and walking after two hours of sitting on an airplane. When we reach the doors to the airplane Mrs.. Hughes thanks the flight attendants for wonderful service on the airplane, then we pair up again to start the long walk thru the arm towards the arrivals door. A flight attendant welcomes us to Washington Dc when we walk thru the arrivals door. This airport is an exact replica of the one in Indianapolis only much larger. The airport is very crowded with people, it feels like we walk forever before we reach the baggage claim area, all of the luggage from the planes is on a large conveyor belt, you walk up to the conveyor belt to wait for your luggage to appear on the carousel, then you reach down to grab your bags off the belt. It is exciting walking through the airport, I see people riding on scooters, others pushing luggage on wheels and a man pushing a huge tower of luggage. I see people from all over the world and hear them speak in foreign languages. We all walk in a group with our blue bags thru the terminal towards the front of the airport. Before you may leave the terminal your bags must be scanned one last time. A security guard tells us to take off any jewelry or watches we are wearing and to empty our pockets. All of this is put in a silver tray next to the security X-ray machine. We place our bags one at a time on the machine to be scanned. The scanner takes a picture of the contents of our bags and beeps if there is anything metal in the bag. As the bags are being scanned we walk individually through the metal detector. We pick up our bags, watches and jewelry on the other side of the X-ray machine.
We are finally allowed to leave the terminal with our luggage. When we step outside it is a crisp cool night, I zip up my jacket to stay warm, we walk half a block down the street to a bus stop area, a bus comes along and we all get aboard. Mrs.. Hughes gives the driver the money for our bus fare, we all find seats, hold our bags in our laps, it is very crowded, the bus is empty this late at night. In big city buses the seats are not in rows like on school buses, the seats are long narrow benches that run the length of the entire bus and face one another, I almost fall off of my seat when the bus lurches to a start, I drop my bag to catch my balance, I grab the narrow window ledge behind the seat to keep my balance, I hang on to the window ledge the whole ride to our hotel. The bus stops several times to let people on or off, each time the bus lurches I hold the window ledge a little tighter. I see a lady with a cane get on the bus and a man carrying shopping bags get off the bus. The city goes by in a blur, it is so dark outside that you are unable to distinguish what you are seeing, it is all a blur of movement and shapes passing in the dark of night. I am starting to get sleepy, I can not wait to get to our hotel to go to bed. The bus stops again and Mrs.. Hughes tells us this is our stop, we stand up, pick up our bags and get off of the bus. The air has gotten cooler, I shiver in my jacket, I want to be inside where it is warm. We walk to the end of the block, turn the corner to walk down half a block to our hotel, the hotel is another skyscraper the top of the building is in the clouds. We walk thru the front doors in to the hotel lobby, Mrs.. Hughes walks up to the front desk to sign the registration log and to get our room keys, it feels like we are waiting forever in the lobby. Mrs.. Hughes finally returns, we start walking towards the elevators, I am so tired I am about to drop, when we reach the bank of elevators all in a row, Mr.. Nail presses the up button, a few seconds later the elevator arrives and opens for us to all get inside, it is very crowded with all of us crammed together with all of our bags, the door closes and Mrs.. Hughes hits the number for our floor, we are whisked upstairs, my stomachs does flip flops once again, a moment later the elevator doors open on our floor, we all start walking down this really long hallway, we stop at a door part way down the hallway, Mr.. Nail says that this is the boys hotel room, we say good bye to the boys and continue walking down the hallway, our room is at the other end of the hallway, Mrs.. Hughes opens the door to our room, our room is a double room with a connecting door on the inside to the next room, our room has two queen beds and two cots inside, Mrs.. Hughes and Mrs.. Kohutes room has just two queen bed inside. Mrs.. Hughes says that each bed will sleep two girls and that everyone will get one night on a cot while we are here. Jessica and I got cots the first night, I was so tired I did not even care, I would have slept on the floor it feels good to be able to finally set my bag on the ground. Mrs.. Hughes tells us to brush our teeth, change in to our pajamas and go straight to bed. Everyone was waiting in line to brush there teeth so I put my pajamas on then got my tooth brush to brush my teeth before going to bed. It felt nice to have clean teeth after traveling all afternoon and evening. I lay on my cot and listen to the other girls get ready for bed, as I am dozing off I hear Mrs.. Hughes say good night and turn off the light and shut the connecting door.
The next morning Mrs.. Kohute comes in to our room to wake us up, she turns on the over head light and says good morning to us, she goes back to her room to finish getting ready for the day. I sit up on the cot and rub my eyes, I can not believe it is morning already, I was dead to the world last night as soon as my head hit the pillow w. I go to my bag to get my clothes to start getting ready for the day, when I am dressed, have my hair and teeth brushed, have made my cot, put everything back in my bag, then I finally sit and relax for a minute while my friends finish getting ready for the day. Mrs.. Hughes comes in to tell us that it is time to walk down the hallway to the boys room, I tie my Fannie pack around my waste, this has my spending money and an extra pony tail holder inside, then walk out our room door, Mrs.. Hughes locks the door then we walk down the hallway towards the boys room. Mrs.. Kohute knocks on the door and all the guys come out in the hallway with us girls, we say hello to the boys, Mrs.. Hughes says we should start walking towards the bank of elevators, I am excited and ready to start my day in Washington DC. My stomach does flip flops on the elevator once again then we are thru the lobby and outside in the warm morning air. A gray van is parked down the block for us to use in Washington DC, the van is very small it is supposed to only sit eight we are cramming twelve inside all at once. Mr.. Nail and Mr.. Kohute sit in the driver and passenger seats, Mrs. Hughes and Mrs.. Kohute sit in the front row with Jessica squeezed between them, Heidi, Elizabeth and Chasity sit in the back row, David, Adam and Ryan are on there knees in the very back of the van, where the luggage usually goes, I am sitting on the hump in between rows one and two. This is how we travel the entire time we are in our nations capital, it is very crowded and uncomfortable traveling, luckily we never have far to go before we can get out of the van.
Mrs.. Hughes says the first place we are going is on a tour of the White House, I am so excited to see the White House. As we start to drive thru the city the skyscrapers give way to a patchwork of beautiful gently flowing lawns and a sea of historic monuments. History comes alive as you travel thru our nations capital. As we approached the White House the first thing I see is the magnificent green of the east lawn, then I see the White House in all of its magnificent splendor the view takes my breathe away, I turn my head to tell Chasity and I see the Capitol building at the other end of the street, the dome is larger then I could have ever imagined, I hope we can go inside of the Capitol building while we are in Washington DC, I am on sensory overload. The van is parked about half a block away from the White House, we all pile out on to the sidewalk, Mrs.. Kohute tells us to partner up, Chasity and I are partners, we start to walk down the street towards the side gates. When we arrive there is already a large crowd waiting for the tour to begin, a tour guide comes out and says Maryland School For The Deaf and Indiana School For The Blind step forward, we are to be at the very front of this large group of people, experiencing and seeing everything before anyone else, I am very excited. The tour guide tells us to get in to a single file line in order to walk thru a security check point, we all line up single file, Mrs.. Hughes tells Ryan and Chasity to give her there canes, Chasity grabs my arm, Mrs.. Hughes gives the canes to a security guard, we all pass thru the security check point, Mrs.. Hughes gives them back there canes and Chasity lets go of my arm. We walk thru the gates on to the White House walkways, the paths curve gently thru the sea of green and blend seamlessly in to the White House lawn, the lawns seem to go on forever and are beautifully maintained, the second floor balcony is huge, it looks like you could play an entire basketball game up there with room to spare for spectators. The tour guide begins the tour by telling us some of the history of the White House, did you know the British set the House on fire in 1814, the second floor balcony is named after President Truman, the White House started to crumble in the 1950s and had to be completely restored, the First family stayed at Blair House during the lengthy restoration. As we prepare to enter the White House we have to go thru another security check point, Chasity grabs my arm as we pass thru the security check point. My memory gets a little hazy here. I was surprised in the Red Room, the Blue Room and the Green Room that everything was the exact same color in these rooms, Dumb I know, these rooms were decorated in fascinating 18th, 19th and early 20th century furnishings, the antiques were breathe taking, it made me feel like I was walking thru history. All of the rooms in the White House have breathe taking beautiful curtains that frame every window looking outside on to the White House lawn. The meeting rooms all have gorgeous oak tables, little side tables with period lamps to light the rooms and antique chairs. The walls of the White House are covered with works of art from all over the world, portraits of previous presidents and first ladies. I saw a map of the United States from the 1800s, the calligraphy was really intricate and poetic. I could not believe how crowded the White House was, there were people walking everywhere, the sheer size of the White House amazed me from the outside it does not look nearly this large or imposing. Mr.. Nail and Mrs.. Hughes are describing what everything looks like to Ryan and Chasity the Braille kids in our class. The tour guide have to slow down a couple of times when we almost run into the tour group in front of ours. The tour concludes with our tour guide thanking us for touring the White House, hoping that we have learned more about this historic house and telling us to exit the same gate we came in.
Mrs.. Kohute tells us to pair up again, as soon as we have gone thru the White House gates, for the walk back down the street to the van. We all take our places in the van, Mr.. Hughes drives us to a fast food restaurant to eat breakfast, we order breakfast sandwiches and drink orange juice for breakfast, we eat all of our meals at fast food restaurant during our entire stay in our nations capital, after breakfast we all climb back in to the van to continue our day full of sight seeing at national and historical monuments. Mr.. Nail says we are going to see the Lincoln Memorial, I know that president Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation to free the slaves and was later assassinated. The view of Washington DC driving from the White House to the Lincoln Memorial is a mixture of lush green open spaces interspersed with office buildings that reach to the sky, it is the perfect blend of modern and historic all in one uniquely designed space of masterful architecture. The van is parked about half a block away from the Lincoln Memorial, we all pile out on to the sidewalk, Mrs.. Kohute tells us to partner up, Chasity and I are partners, we start to walk down the street towards the Lincoln Memorial. Mr.. Nail tells us to stay close as the streets are very crowded with groups of people walking and eating picnic style sack lunches on the plush green lawns all around us, as we try to make our way towards the Lincoln Memorial. In order to reach the Lincoln Memorial you have to walk up a gently rising twisting and curving path surrounded by plush green lawns. You hear the birds nesting inside the memorial before you even see the Lincoln Memorial, I am not sure why we am hearing birds when we are supposed to be visiting a memorial. The massive columns supporting the Lincoln Memorial are the first thing you see when you reach the top of the path, these columns look large enough for our whole class to stand around and still not be able to touch each others hands. The reason we heard birds is the entire memorial is a massive two story open air structure with birds nesting in the beams at the very top of the building. The statue of Abraham Lincoln sitting in his chair is massive at least twenty feet tall and ten feet wide. This memorial does not have a tour guide just pictures and listening booths where you press a button to hear all about Abraham Lincoln life, this is a great feature for the Braille kids in our class, Mrs.. Hughes describes to them what all of the pictures on the walls are showing, I see one of a cannon, a confederate and union soldiers uniform and an 1860s musket. President Lincoln was assassinated at Forbes theatre in 1865, shortly after the conclusion of the Civil War. I learned that the Civil war was a terrible war but at the end of that war the slaves were freed and our country became a better place for all of its citizens regardless of the color of your skin. I feel privileged to have seen the Lincoln Memorial and to have learned more about that great man Abraham Lincoln. Mr.. Kohute tells us to pair back up, we walk back down the windy path thru the plush green lawns towards the van parked halfway down the block, we all climb back in to the van, it feels nice to sit down after all of that walking and Mrs.. Kohute tells us our next stop is the Washington Monument.
The van is parked about half a block away from the Washington Monument, we all pile out on to the sidewalk, Mrs.. Kohute tells us to partner up, Chasity and I are partners, we start to walk down the street towards the Washington Monument. The Washington Monument is the tallest building in Washington DC. The tour guide began his talk by telling us about the life of George Washington at the base of the monument. He told us how Washington lead the soldiers in there battle for freedom against Great Britain. The soldiers lived in horrible conditions during the war for independence, living in tents during the notoriously brutal colony winters, not having enough clothing or shoes for all of the troops to fight in during combat against the British forces, disease and starvation were a constant problem for the colony armies, more men died from the elements then in combat during the harsh colony winters. At the end of the war when the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia, George Washington was elected the new nations first president. He could have become like a new king in the colonies but he embraced democracy and all of its values and virtues, he served in office only one term when he could have been elected to an indefinite term in office. This is why George Washington is remembered as one of the great founding fathers and leaders of American history. I felt inspired and told Chasity that I wished I could have met the man himself. We thank our tour guide for a wonderful tour, Mrs.. Kohute tells us to pair up again, for the walk back down the street to the van. We all take our places in the van, Mr.. Hughes drives us to a fast food restaurant to eat lunch, we order Happy Meals and drink soda pop for lunch, after eating we all climb back in to the van to continue our day full of sight seeing at national and historical monuments. Mr.. Nail says we are going to see the Capitol Building.
The van is parked about half a block away from the Capitol Building, we all pile out on to the sidewalk, Mrs.. Kohute tells us to partner up, Chasity and I are partners, we start to walk down the street towards the Capitol Building, I can see the White House at the opposite end of the street. The Capitol Building is huge from the outside, there are two wings jutting off the main dome shape, I assume these contain the offices for the members of Congress. We are greeted by our tour guide who walks us thru the Capitol Buildings giant main doors that have to be at least ten feet tall. We enter the large main corridor to the Capitol Building, this space is huge the roof of the dome is at least four stories high, there are balconies all along the walls of the upper levels I assume so the members of Congress can look down and relax for a minute when they have a break from there myriad of committee meeting and mountain of paperwork. The tour guide walks us up to one of the Capitol Buildings massive columns, tells us to stand around the column, try to touch each others fingers, even with all fifteen of us we are barely able to reach around the column. I did not know that columns could even be made this large in size. The tour guide tells us that you can hear a whisper from the other side of the room, I am very skeptical being in such a large and crowded space that I will be able to hear anything, the tour guide disappears in to the crowd, a few minutes later we hear plain as day from our tour guide, "Good afternoon Indiana School For The Blind", I am in total shock and disbelief that I could hear him from across the room, a few minutes later he comes back to tell us the reason we could hear him is because of the dome shape of the building effecting the acoustics in the room, I am very impressed with this trick. We thank our tour guide for a wonderful tour, Mr.. Nail tells us to pair up again for the walk back down the street to the van. We all take our places in the van, Mrs.. Kohute says we are going to visit the Vietnam Memorial.
The van is parked about half a block away from the Vietnam Memorial, we all pile out on to the sidewalk, Mrs.. Kohute tells us to partner up, Chasity and I are partners, we start to walk down the street towards the Vietnam Memorial. As we approach the memorial a hush comes over our group, I have the sense that we are coming in to the presence of great men who paid the ultimate price for our countries freedom and liberty. The Vietnam Memorial is a massive wall that seems to go on for miles and miles, covered in the 58,000 names of the men who died fighting for our countries freedom. It is over whelming the sheer number of people who died in this one war, I am unable to comprehend this number. I see a group of soldiers in uniform walk across the grounds of the memorial, I wonder if they have just returned from serving in Iraq. I see people moving there fingers up and down the lists of names looking for a lost loved one who died so long ago and so far away from home in Vietnam. Mrs.. Kohute tells Adam that she had an uncle who served and died in Vietnam, they walk off to try to find his name on this massive wall of names. I see people leaving cards, gifts, flowers and photos at the base of the wall, I also see a lot of people kneeling in prayer and crying at the wall of names. My grandfather served as a surgical doctor for ten years in the military, six of them on a ship off the coast of Vietnam. I can not imagine my life without my grandfather as a major figure in my world. I feel honored to have read the names of these brave men, I say a silent prayer of thanks to the men who paid the ultimate sacrifice for me. I believe Mrs.. Kohute has been crying when I see her a little later on towards the end of the wall, her eyes are slightly red and puffy. Mrs.. Hughes tells us to pair up again for the walk back down the street to the van, we all take our places in the van. I feel emotionally drained after visiting the Vietnam Memorial.
Mr.. Hughes drives us to a fast food restaurant to eat dinner, we order Happy Meals and drink milk for dinner, after eating we all climb back in to the van to start the drive back to our hotel for the night. We all pile on to the sidewalk, we walk thru the front doors in to the hotel lobby, I am so tired I am about to drop, when we reach the bank of elevators all in a row, Mr.. Nail presses the up button, a few seconds later the elevator arrives and opens for us to all get inside, the door closes and Mrs.. Hughes hits the number for our floor, we are whisked upstairs, my stomach does flip flops once again, a moment later the elevator doors open on our floor, we say good bye to the boys at there door and continue walking down the hallway, our room is at the other end of the hallway, Mrs.. Hughes says that Chasity and Elizabeth will be on cots tonight, I am glad to be in a bed tonight, it feels good to be able to finally sit down. Mrs.. Hughes tells us to brush our teeth, change in to our pajamas and go straight to bed. Everyone was waiting in line to brush there teeth so I put my pajamas on then got my tooth brush to brush my teeth before going to bed. I lay on my bed and listen to the other girls get ready for bed, as I am dozing off I hear Mrs.. Kohute say good night and turn off the light and shut the connecting door.
The next morning Mrs.. Hughes comes in to our room to wake us up, she turns on the over head light and says good morning to us, she looks funny in her pajamas without any makeup on, her hair is a total mess going all over the place, I am so used to seeing her very neat and put together, she goes back to her room to finish getting ready for the day. I can not believe it is morning already, I was dead to the world last night as soon as my head hit the pillow. I go to my bag to get my clothes to start getting ready for the day, when I am dressed, have my hair and teeth brushed, put everything back in my bag, then I finally sit and relax for a minute while my friends finish getting ready for the day. Mrs.. Hughes says we should start walking towards the bank of elevators, we say hello to the boys at there door. My stomach does flip flops on the elevator once again then we are thru the lobby and outside in the warm morning air. We all climb in to the van, Mr.. Hughes drives us to a fast food restaurant to eat breakfast, we order breakfast sandwiches and drink milk for breakfast, after eating we all climb back in to the van to start our day of sight seeing. Mr.. Kohute tells us we are going to Maryland to ride the tallest escalator in the world, the only escalators I have ever been on has been at the mall. Mr.. Nail says that to get to the escalator we are going to ride the subway, what is a subway? Jessica asks, he says that it is a train the travels underground thru tunnels. We travel deep in to the city, skyscrapers are all around us, the van is parked about half a block away from the entrance to the subway station, we all pile out on to the sidewalk, Mrs.. Kohute tells us to partner up, Jessica and I are partners, we start to walk down the street towards the subway station. To reach the subway we have to walk downstairs in to the ground, the stairs are steep, long, narrow and are not lit very well, Mr.. Nail tells us to hold on to the railing and walk very slowly down the stairs. I can feel my feet vibrating on the ground as I walk down the stairs. The subway station is very crowded with people, there are shops all along the far walls of the station. You can hear and feel the vibrations of the subway approaching long before you are able to see the shining lights come thru the tunnel. You have to pay money to walk thru a turn style before you are allowed on the subway platform. When a subway comes in you hear the hiss of the brakes, a loud voice telling everyone to get behind the yellow line on the platform for safety while the train is coming to a halt, doors automatically open all up and down the subway, people pour off the train it seems to me in a mad dash to be the first one off the subway. Mr.. Kohute says our subway will be arriving any minute now, we slowly make our way down to the departure platform, I can already feel the vibrations of the approaching subway. As the subway approaches the blast of the whistle is almost deafening, the brakes sound like a million fingers going down a wall of chalk boards. We stand far back from the yellow line so that we will not be trampled by the people leaving the subway. The doors open, people rush off as if in a race, when the doors clear Mr.. Nail tells us to walk to the edge of the platform, Mrs. Kohute says to form a single file line to board the subway one at a time, as I wait in line my apprehension grows, I am afraid the doors will close on me before I can step in the subway leaving me stranded on the platform as my class goes away, silly I know, when I board the subway I almost lose my balance, even though the subway is stopped there is still a great deal of shaking and vibrating, I have to grab the sides of the door to steady myself, then I step on the subway. In the subway the seats are not in rows like on school buses, the seats are long narrow benches that run the length of the entire subway and face one another, I almost fall off of my seat when the subway lurches to a start, I shove my partner a little on accident when I try to catch my balance, I grab the narrow window ledge behind the seat to keep my balance, I hang on to the window ledge the entire way to our stop on the subway. The subway stops several times to let people on or off, the noise of the brakes is not as loud inside the subway car, each time the subway lurches I hold the window ledge a little tighter. It feels like we are on the subway forever, the subway is very crowded, all of the teachers have to stand the entire time we are on the subway, holding on to racks above there heads for dear life, swaying with the trains every movement to keep there balance. I am squeezed between Jessica and a lady carrying a large shopping bag, I feel like a sardine trapped in a can that someone is shaking very hard and fast, will we ever reach our destination. Finally, Mr.. Kohute says our stop is coming up and for us to prepare to leave the subway, our destination must be near the end of the subway line because our section is practically empty, everyone now has a seat to sit on and no one is left standing in the aisle. The subway lurches to a stop, the brakes squeal, the subway shudders to a halt, the door open, I step confidently this time on to the platform and away from the yellow line. Mrs.. Kohute tells us to partner up again, I grab Jessica's hand as we start to walk away from the subway platform. Mr.. Nail reminds us that we are about to ride the tallest escalator in the world, needless to say I am very excited and a little scared to go this high in the air. As we approach the escalators I have the feeling that we are in a cave, the walls surrounding the escalators are solid rock, the lights have been built in to the rock to help people see on the escalator, the rock feels very smooth with a few rough patches around the edge of the wall. The escalator goes up so high in the air that you can not even see the end of the stairs they just disappear in to thin air like magic. Mr.. Nail tells to form a single file line to step on the escalator, I grab the railing and step on with Chasity behind me and Jessica in front of me. Mrs.. Hughes says she is going to time how long it takes us to reach the top of the escalator, it feels like I am on it for a very long time, no one really talks as we go higher in the air, I am hunched over afraid that if I stand up straight I will lose my balance and fall backwards in to Jessica. When we finally reach the top of the escalator it is a relief to step back on to solid ground and be able to stand up straight. Mrs.. Hughes says we were on the escalator for four minutes, it felt like an eternity to me. Mr.. Nail tells us to pair up again, we have time to look at the stores on this level before the subway arrives to take us back to Washington. I tell Mrs.. Hughes that I want to buy a souvenir in one of the shops, we start to look in the various shops all I am seeing is a bunch of T-shirts for sale, I am getting a little frustrated that I am unable to find any souvenirs to take back to school with me to show my friends, after a lot of looking we finally come across a souvenir shop in one of the last stores we visit, I buy palm size miniatures of the Lincoln Memorial and of the White House for under fifteen dollars, there design is very intricate, you can feel the shape and contour of the buildings in your hands, this is something that I will cherish forever. Mrs.. Hughes says that it is time to start walking back towards the subways to catch the next one to arrive back to Washington. Mrs.. Hughes says that we will be taking the elevator down to the subway platform. When we arrive at the elevator it is made of solid glass even the floor, when the doors open we all crowd in to the elevator, Mr.. Nail hits the down button, my stomach does flip flops as the elevator moves, you can see the rocks vibrating all around the outside of the elevator, when the doors open we all pile out, Mr.. Nail tells us to partner up again, our subway will be arriving any minute now, we slowly make our way down to the departure platform, I can already feel the vibrations of the approaching subway. When the subway arrives the brakes squeal, the doors open and the people make there mad dash off of the subway, we stand well behind the yellow line. We board the subway, our section is practically empty, we all get seats together, even the teachers are able to sit down this time. I hold the window ledge the entire ride back in to the city as the subway shakes and lurches down the tracks. The subway rapidly fills with people the closer we get to the city, I start to feel like a sardine in an over crowded can I am squeezed so tightly between Jessica and Chasity. We finally reach our stop, people make there mad dash out, we leave the subway once the rush is over, Mrs.. Hughes tells us to partner up again, we walk thru the subway station, Mr.. Nail tells us to take it slow on the poorly lit stairs to the surface, finally we are at street level, it feels good to breathe fresh air once more. We walk the half block to the van and climb inside, Mr.. Nail drives us to a fast food restaurant to eat lunch, we order Happy Meals and drink soda pop for lunch, after eating we all climb back in to the van to continue our day of sight seeing. When we were back in the van Mrs.. Kohute told us we were going to the Jefferson Memorial. The Jefferson Memorial is in an open air building, the memorial is a larger then life statue of President Jefferson, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, he fought to make our nation free from Ternary and oppression. Mrs.. Hughes said that it was time to head for the airport to fly back to school. I am sad that my time in our nations capitol has come to and end, I have made memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life, the experiences of the last few days will last me a life time.
We walk the two blocks to a bus station, in a few minutes a bus arrives to take us to the airport, Mrs.. Hughes pays the bus fair as we board the bus, the bus is crowded with passengers, the teachers have to stand in the middle section hanging on to the railings as the bus sways and lurches along, I hold the window ledge the entire ride to the airport, I can not even enjoy my final minutes in our nations capital the bus is so crowded with people. We are told to partner up again after the bus leaves us on the sidewalk outside the entrance to the airport. When we reach the security check point all of the teachers bags are searched, the scanner showed all of the souvenirs they were carrying for us students, so the bags were opened and searched, I am sure the teachers were very embarrassed to have someone pawing thru there personal belongings. After the security check we walk to the baggage check in to hand over our bags then we proceed to the boarding gate to wait for the flight to board. The flight attendant tells our group to board early, we walk thru the arm to the plane, once we are on the plane we are shown to our section of seats. We are seated in the exact same order as when we came to Washington, Mr.. Nail, Heidi and I are in a row together, I have the window seat, this time I do not need assistance with my seat belt. When the planes powerful engines start I am thrust back in to my seat with the force of the plane moving forward down the runway and in to the air. Washington looks beautiful from the sky, I can see the Washington Monument from the air. When the seat belt sign goes off a flight attendant comes on the loudspeaker to say dinner will be served shortly. I can not wait to try airplane food I have always heard that it tastes worse then even hospital food. A flight attendant comes along offering us either coffee or cola as a drink, Heidi and I want cola with the dinner, Mr.. Nail wants coffee, she says the food will be along shortly. When the food arrives we are served meatloaf, corn and some kind of yellow jello food that looks gross and is squishy when I touch it with my fork, the meatloaf tastes perfect, the corn is cold and the jello stuff I do not even try to eat. After I wash everything down with my cola, I switch seats with Heidi, I put down my footrest and recline my seat to try to take a little nap. The next thing I know Mr.. Nail is waking me up as we get ready to land back in Indianapolis, I put my footrest and chair in the correct position, a few minutes later the seatbelt sign comes on again. I am still trying to wipe the sleep from my eyes and wake up as we start the descent towards the ground. I am jerked back in my seatbelt as the plane touches the ground and begins the taxi towards are arrival gate. We exit the plane, walk thru the arm towards the terminal, past the arrival desk towards the baggage carousel to collect our bags. It takes forever for our bags to finally appear, we pick them up, wait forever at the security check point, we are finally free in the fresh air outside the terminal. A spacious school van is waiting for us at the curb, we actually have room to move our arms without hitting anyone, we are driven back to school, the van lets us off at the entrance to our dorm. I am so tired that I go right to the showers and straight to bed, I do not even talk to anyone until the next morning. These memories will last me the rest of my life.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Weird

When I talked to my family about the school, they thought the school rules were weird. Having a 9:30 lights out in the 7th grade. Not being able to study in your bedroom. Having no privacy in the dorms. Every day having to attend recreation time, even if you did not feel like being there. When I was in elementary school, at dinner the dorm parents made us take at least one bite of everything on our plate. I HATE spinach, brussell sprouts and cooked brocoli, at least twice a week I would have to try one of these foods at dinner time. I usually tried to choke it down with a drink of milk, sometimes it helped sometimes it did not help me eat the food.

Blind Camp

The highlight of my summer, was when my parents let me go, to the week long blind summer camp, where I got to spend a whole week with my friends from school at camp. My mom would take me to school, where I would wait with my friends, Jessica, Elizabeth, and Lisa for the bus to camp. We would all sit together on the bus ride to camp. When we got to camp, we would wait in the Activity Hall, to be assigned a cabin and counselor. Jessica, Elizabeth, Lisa and I always requested to be placed in the same cabin together. The last two summers we went to camp, we were in Cabin 7 with the same fun counselor. After we unpacked our bags and made our beds, we went down to the lake for a nice long swim. We took showers when we were done swimming, then we went to dinner in the camp caffeteria. After dinner, the whole camp met at the flag poles, to lower the flags, two cabins were selected to lower the camp flags and fold them for the night. Then we went to the camp amphatheatre to sing songs and tell stories. We went back to our cabins to get ready for bed and lights out. This was the first day of summer camp.

Day Students

When I was in second and third grades my family lived in Indianapolis, I was a day student for two years, traveling home daily to be with my family at home. The difference in being a day student is that I know that I will see my family that evening at home. As a residential student I had to wait until Friday evening to be with my family at home.

My mom would wake me up at 6:00 a.m. I would get up and get dressed then watch some television in the family room with my sisters. When mom says it is time to eat, my sisters and I go to the kitchen to have breakfast. After breakfast, I brush my teeth, my mom tells me to get my back pack and coat on, it is time to start watching for the school bus. When the bus arrives, I say good bye to my mom then get on the bus. I am the first pick up of the morning, Anna is picked up right after me. The students on my bus are all in high school. As the bus picks up more students, I stare out the window, watching the sky change colors, as the sun starts to rise, in the morning sky.

The bus arrives at school about ten minutes before the first bell of the day. I walked to my dorm, to talk to my friends before school. The bell rang, I went to school with my friends. The last bell of the day rang at 3:15 p.m, I said good bye to my friends, as they headed back to the dorm for the evening. I went to the gym to wait for a teacher to tell me my bus had arrived to take me home. The wait was never very long, I got on the bus to go home for the evening.

When the bus dropped me off at home, I went inside to tell my mom about my day at school. I went to play, outside on the hill with my sisters, until mom said it was time to eat dinner. After dinner, I brushed my teeth, watched television or played Barbie with my sisters. After a while, mom said that it was time to start getting ready for bed, I went to my bedroom, put on my pajama's, then turned off the light and went to sleep. As I drifted off to sleep, I felt very fortunate to be going to sleep in my own bed, instead of in the school dorm.

I wanted to stay connected to the girls in my dorm, my mom made the arraignments for me to stay at school one night per week. On the day that I stayed over night in the dorms, I would take an overnight bag with me to school. In the morning, when I got to the dorm, I would put my bag in my locker, go to school with my friends. After school, I returned to the dorm with my friends, to participate in all of the dorm activities that I missed out on as a day student. At bed time, I liked listening to my friends talk as we all got ready for bed. When I woke up in the morning, the dorm parent was waking me up instead of my mom. I got ready for school with my friends, instead of my sisters at home. I ate breakfast in the school cafeteria, not in the kitchen at home. When we went back to the dorm to brush our teeth and get my books for school. The bell rang, I went to school with my friends. The last bell of the day rang at 3:15 p.m, I said good bye to my friends, as they headed back to the dorm for the evening. I went to the gym to wait for a teacher to tell me my bus had arrived to take me home. The wait was never very long, I got on the bus to go home for the evening. When I arrived home, I told my mom about all of the fun things that I had done at school, I went outside to play with my sisters. I had fun staying the night at school.

ISB Scare

The dorm, was usually a big happy family, until one night, an accident occurred, that turned the dorm dark and scary in the blink of an eye. In sixth grade, my friend Ester, cut her wrist and had to have several stitches. She was running down the stairs to the bathroom, without thinking she put her hands on a glass pane in the bathroom door, pushing on it and breaking the glass causing the glass to cut her wrist. The house parent came running from her office and my friends and I came from the study room when we heard Ester scream. "I just told you not to run in the dorm Ester! Nicole ran upstairs to the laundry room to get towels to try and stop the bleeding. HURRY!" "I'll never be able to use my arm again!" "Yes you will I am taking you to the hospital to let them fix your arm." The blood looked like bingo chips as it fell on the floor. "I can not believe this is happening, the bleeding is still not under control Lisa!" "It will be all right Jessica, Ester is on her way to the hospital." I just stood around, kind of in shock, unable to believe what had just happened to a close friend. The dorm parent lead Ester out of the dorm towards a waiting car that would take her to the hospital. One Ester left the dorm we all just stood around kind of in shock. Nicole got the mop from the downstairs bathroom and started to mop the blood up in the wash bucket. A few minutes later a dorm parent arrived from another dorm to tell us that we could go to REC if we wanted to. I did not feel like going to REC so I went back upstairs to my room to lay on my bed, I could not believe that this had happened in the dorm. I learned a few days later, that Ester had staples put in her arm. Ester almost lost enough blood to require a transfusion, she was going to be all right. I never looked at that glass door the same way again, even after they replaced the glass pane.

FIRE!!

In the middle of a cold January night, in Wilson Hall, dorm four, the dorm parent woke us up, saying we had to quickly leave the dorm, there was a fire in Wilson two dorm. We all got out of bed, left the dorm in single file, walked downstairs, out of the building, away from the school. We stood barefoot on the sidewalk, shivering, for what seemed like forever, my feet felt like they were going numb from the cold, before one of the dorm parents, had the idea to let us all pile into the staff cars, to get warm. All ten of the girls in my dorm fit in one car, Jessica and Laura sat on my lap. After a while, we were told to leave the car, walk across the parking lot, to the administration building, when I walked on the welcome mat, my feet were so cold that it felt like someone was putting knives in my feet. The dorm parents took us to a faculty lounge, where we sat for a while, waiting for word that we could go back to our dorm. When we finally went back to our dorm, it was time to start getting ready for school. We were very tired that day. We learned later, that the fire in dorm two, had actually been a microwave that had started smoking and shooting out sparks, in the middle of the night.