Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Heart of Our Nation - Part 1

Our oldest son, Mason, was nominated by one of his teachers for the People to People Leadership Forum . The forum is a weeklong trip to Washington D.C. where the students that participate learn about the United States goverment, American history and technology. We thrilled when he was interested in going on the trip. We completed all of the paperwork until we reached the form Permission for a Minor to Fly Alone. Gulp.

My mother had been to Washington D. C. many times and had frequently recommended we take the kids for a visit. Why not? So we all went! We arrived at Dulles airport where the People to People staff picked Mason up and we did not see him again until the end of the week back at Dulles.

Bart, Dane, Spencer and I took off on our own.

Our first adventure was the subway system. After receiving assistance from an exceptionally helpful subway station worker, we bought our passes for the week and set off. It was amazingly easy to travel to downtown D. C. Those familiar with D. C. know of the mall, not like shopping, but a vast open grassy area with the capitol at one end and the Lincoln Memorial at the other end. Trust me looks can be deceiving. What looks like a short stroll in between is actually about 10 miles...just kidding, maybe 1/2 mile. Around the mall are all of the Smithsonian Museums and some government buildings.

Our first stop was the Air and Space Museum.

Fortunately, we arrived around 10:00 a.m. and this line moved very quickly.

Many cool things hung from the ceiling.

We waited a few minutes to go into the cockpit of a 747. It was worth the wait. It was an older plane than what is used today...I've never seen so many buttons and switches. Exactly how many people did it take to fly a 747???

That there was a huge rocket engine. I thought the space info was incredible. One room had a profile of each space mission and information on each astronaut including those who did not survive. I remember my roommate running into my room to tell me to turn on the TV, because the space shuttle Challenge had exploded.

Good thing it was was getting a little crowded.

We decided to buy lunch at a stand across the street. We noticed several buses full of People to People students and out of the corner of my eye, I saw something familiar. There was Mason! Our only sighting for the week. Yes, I waved like an idiot and surely embarrassed him.

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