Tag Archives: Challenger

and a happy time was had by all

Um, then again, maybe not.

So, I really liked traveling by train. Talk about leg room! I’ve flown 1st class exactly once in my life, and that was only because a bunch of us missed our connections in Miami coming home from Santo Domingo a few years back and Wubby and I were lucky enough to catch the last 2 seats to DC, 1st class. From there, it was the back row of a Dash-80 to Raleigh. “The last shall be first, and the first shall be last.” Or something like that. Did you know that you can see the PILOT from the back row of a Dash-80? You do now, don’t you?

So anyway, train was fun. Rest of trip, not so much.

I’ve helped plan a lot of trips to places for teens in my career as a professional chaperone, and let me tell you, this thing might have planned well, but it was executed poorly. First and foremost, the heat index was 120. 120!!!! People, this is dangerous, hello, get a clue! Day 1 was spent at Arlington National Cemetery, followed by a play at the Kennedy Center (that I skipped because I couldn’t walk or breathe.) Day 2 was spent touring government buildings (Capital, Supreme Court, Library of Congress), Smithsonian American Indian and Air and Space, National Archives, then a night “tour” of the monuments. The info we got from the trip coordinator said “tourmobile”. There was no tourmobile, it was a WALKING night tour. I spent this day in the National Gallery of Art (the Impressionism exhibit in the West wing is being renovated, FYI), the American Indian Museum and the Archives. Then daughter and I bugged out of the night tour and high-tailed it back to the hotel before I croaked, literally.

Day 3: I got late check-out, then enjoyed the lobby and lounge at the hotel while students went to Holocaust Museum, American History (where they saw the 1st ladies dresses and NOTHING else), and Natural History (where they saw the Hope diamond and NOTHING else). Then back to the hotel, catch the train and come home.

Long story short: that was $800 that could have done so much more. Lesson learned (as if I didn’t already know this one): take your kid to DC yourself, as we’ve already done twice and will probably do again unless the country goes completely to hell in a hand-basket next Tuesday. And for heaven’s sake, have a plan B for things like insanely hot weather, hurricanes, floods, blizzards, etc.

We got back to the train station Sunday morning at 12:39 AM exactly on time, back home by 1:30, and slept for 18 hours straight. Sad, but true. Now it’s almost a week later, and I’m just about back to 1 week post-surgery, where I was 2 weeks ago. I miss my brain.

Arlington always overwhelms me, and this time was no exception. Everyone always stands at JFK’s gravesite and talks about where they were, etc. I was not quite 3 years old then; I don’t have a clue where I was or what I was doing. RFK’s assassination is what I remember. We acted it out at after-school care every day for weeks, everyone wanted to be the first one to play charades so they could stand up then fall down.

We watched the changing of the guard at the Unknowns, always sobering, all of us standing quietly, sweating bullets, while these men repeat the drama every 30 minutes, completely without emotion, so precise, so dedicated to what they do. Then we headed behind the amphitheater to the mast of the Maine, but I stopped, couldn’t cross the street. Just sat on the curb and cried. Partly because I was so hot, partly because of what I’d just seen, and partly because of what was in front of me on the other side of the street. Something that really isn’t that emotional, but….it was the memorial to the Challenger Flight Crew. THAT is a day I will never forget. I was working at my first programming job, went to lunch w/ my parents since both of them worked nearby, and we went to a stained glass supply store so my dad could buy some glass. He was an artist with glass. They dropped me off back at work, I walked in and heard about Challenger, and we all just sort of sat there and stared at each other.

I walked across the street and up to the Challenger memorial, along side the Columbia memorial, and a memorial to the service men killed in 1980 in the failed attempt to rescue the hostages in Iraq.

Later that night, while the students were at the Kennedy Center, I scribbled something down about Arlington, which is already posted.

Here’s the last thing I saw as we were leaving the┬áCemetery:

Seemed appropriate, a male Cardinal…the color of blood.