Monday, June 30, 2014

Memorial Madness

Today I woke up early, at 3 in the morning, drove to the rendezvous point, my alma mater, El Cerrito High School, where I met up with the rest of the Penn cohort, the Vanderbilt cohort, and Don. After one last informational talk and group photo, the bus to take us to the airport arrived and off we went. 

Shortly afterwards, we were on a plane hurtling through the stratosphere towards the East Coast at an average of 550 miles an hour. Sadly, despite my best efforts to meet interesting new people on the plane, my attempts were thwarted by the tragic lack of passengers in my row of seats. (I pretty much had the entire back of the plane to myself.) Unfortunately I had already resolved to stay awake and talk to people, and in order support myself in this endeavor, I drank espresso in the airport. This meant no sleeping on the plane, so there was nothing to be done but stretch out, relax as much as I could with that much caffeine pumping through my veins, and catch up on my favorite podcasts. The view from my window was extra stunning. I loved watching the ground recede as the airplane took off. Watching cars and buildings shrink to the size of ants and seeing civilization spread out beneath me made me feel godlike. (I have such fun.)

The plane was quite nice, and as the flight progressed, we all began to discover the various features of the plane's seats and interactive TV screens. This cumulated in a group chat with all of the members of the UPenn cohort. Then we began our descent and I was surprised that the plane ride was over so quickly. Just as we landed, I finally managed to strike up a conversation with another traveler, who cordially welcomed us all to Washington D.C., along with warnings about the weather.

Statues like this one are ubiquitous in Washington D.C.
Soon enough, we arrived at our hotel, which is a very nice Holiday Inn. In case you are wondering what is just so nice about it, the answer is COMPLIMENTARY ICE CREAM. Which is great because it is very hot here. After we arrived and got situated in our rooms, we ventured back outside into the heat in order to find food. Fortunately this was easily accomplished, and we went to a lovely pizza place just down the street for a late lunch or early dinner, depending on which time zone you go by. Lunch/Dinner there was delicious and everyone ate so much we all had to go back to the hotel to rest for a while. When the cohort was sufficiently recovered, we took the Circulator, (a very nice bus), to the center of town, and did a walking tour of the city.  

This was by far the best part of my day. In my opinion, the only thing better than free ice cream is historical monuments. We began by walking past the White House. (No biggie, just the symbol of our government and where the president lives. Hardly worth mentioning, really.) We continued past the Treasury 
It's the White House!!!
Building to the WWII Memorial, the MLK Memorial, the WWI Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and close to the Washington Monument. Then, as if it were possible for me to geek out anymore, we also visited the Vietnam War Memorial on our way back. This is the first time I have been to Washington D.C. and as someone who loves history, getting to walk around the monuments was incredibly rewarding. My favorite monuments were the Vietnam War Memorial, the Korean War Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. I was pleasantly surprised by the Korean War memorial, which features statues of soldiers who seem to be wading through bushes. The overall effect was very eerie. I think I liked it so much because I felt that of all the memorials and statues I saw today, this memorial attempts to depict war accurately. Today was incredible and I look forward to tomorrow, because we will be going to the Smithsonian.

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