It’s been three weeks since our wonderful trip. Hard to believe, since life at school went on so busily on our return. Enjoy the following description of our trip, written in collaboration by every child in the group. You’ll feel like a regular “fly on the wall.”
Diane and Jeri’s class has gone on their annual field trip! Since we are studying the Civil War, we decided to go to a couple of important historical sights. One of the places we visited was the Gettysburg National Military Park.
At Gettysburg National Military Park, each of our vans went on a separate guided tour around the park. Each van tour examined different monuments and battlegrounds. One of the tours went to multiple locations in and around Gettysburg. They were able to get close to real cannons, and see statues of regiments at Soldiers Cemetery, for example, The First Minnesota. They also saw, and took pictures of, the fields that Confederate soldiers were running on, and the grass that Union soldiers defended.
Our tour focused most on Little Round Top, the vulnerable left flank of the Army of the Potomac. We climbed the 81st Pennsylvania monument and looked over the battlefield. We also saw the 1st Minnesota monument. If you are familiar with the book, Soldier’s Heart, the main character, Charlie, was part of the first Minnesota Volunteers. Our tour practiced a Union march and a bayonet charge toward a classmate.
Our tour guide has been touring people around for thirty years or so. Before the tour guide joined the National Park Service, he fought in the military. The other tour guide was in the movie, “Gettysburg,” and clubbed three people with his musket in the movie. We had a big debate about which one is cooler.
After the tour and lunch, our class visited the Gettysburg gift shop for souvenirs. The shop had everything from books about commanders, to Abraham Lincoln keychains, to candy. After everybody got a chance to look at and buy souvenirs, we went to watch a roughly 45 minute documentary that gives a basic idea about what happened at Gettysburg.
Almost immediately after it was finished, we went up to see a cyclorama. The French artist, Paul Philippoteaux, a professional cyclorama painter and artist, painted the huge oil canvas of Gettysburg that seemed to capture a lot of what was probably happening at the battle. Fake cannons and muskets were scattered in front of the Cyclorama to give visitors a three-dimensional sense of what the battle of Gettysburg looked like.
The first day of our trip we stayed at a hotel in Emmitsburg, MD. We had three rooms — two boys’ rooms and one girls’ room, since we have more boys than girls in our class. After we went to our hotel, we dropped off our bags and got back into the vans to drive to The Palms restaurant.
Outside the restaurant, some hungry classmate started writing a new addition to a game that we play on the vans — “Street Sign A Capella.” The way the game works is: One person is the initiator, sing-reading a street sign, business name, car brand, etc. That person creates a beat that the other people more or less follow. The other people’s jobs are to read different signs, so with all of that (if done properly), it sounds like a full-out a Capella masterpiece. At The Palms, we did one that was from signs all around the area, and it went like this:
Person 1: No thru trucks over 5 tons. Person 2: On. Person 1: No thru trucks over five tons. Person 2: On Main Street. (repeat while next lines start) Person 3: The Palms Restaurant, Fine Food, Wine and Beer, Fine Food, Wine and Beer, The Palms. Everyone: The Palms Restaurant.
That was a fun song to make while we waited outside, but the funny thing is, we didn’t end up eating there. The Palms Restaurant was way too crowded and it occurred to everyone that it would be another six hours until there would be enough open seating for our crowd of 17 people (maybe a bit over-exaggerated), so even though we wrote a song about The Palms Restaurant, we didn’t eat there. The place we did eat at was the Ott House, an old-fashioned pub with great food and attentive staff. At the Ott House, we ate fine cuisine in a pub-like atmosphere. We handled our own tip very well.
After dinner, we came back to the hotel and went to the pool. Most of us swam, while others played card games at the tables. We played games in the pool like Marco Polo, Lifeguard, and Tag. When we were done swimming, everybody went back up to their rooms, got settled, watched TV for a bit, and then went to sleep.
On the second day, we went to the battlefield of Antietam, the location of the bloodiest single battle fought in the American Civil War. We visited places there such as Bloody Lane, Dunker Church, and Burnside Bridge. We also saw a short movie about the battle, as well as visiting the the gift shop, which was luckily not overpriced. We learned a lot there, and I would love to go back.
Food on the Second Day
In the beginning of the day at the hotel, we went downstairs to have breakfast at the hotel. Next, for lunch we drove into West Virginia to Shepherdstown,WV. In Shepherdstown, fifth and sixth graders split up in groups and all found different restaurants to eat at on the avenue. From pizza to ham, egg, and cheese croissants, everything was delicious. Then after Harpers Ferry, MD we all drove out to Chili’s, because the restaurant we wanted to eat at in Harpers Ferry, “The Potomac Grill,” was closed. At Chili’s, some kids had a very good experience with good tasting food and fast service, but some kids didn’t. Overall food on day two was pretty good.
In the afternoon of the second day of our class trip, we went to Harpers Ferry. When we got there, our teachers told us that we were going to do a scavenger hunt. Then we all split up into groups. Most of us thought this activity was very fun because we got to walk around Harpers Ferry. In the town, there were cute buildings with historical scenes that had been created to teach us about what had happened there. This was a very important part of our trip, because this was the place where John Brown was captured and hanged. The scavenger hunt was great, because we were able to see history right up close. I thought one question in particular was very amusing. We had to look at the side of the mountain (Maryland Heights) to see what the sign said. It was painted around 1896. The sign said: “MENNEN’S BORATED TALCUM ****** POWDER” The answer was… TOILET!!
On the second day, in the morning when we turned on the TV, this super dumb show came on called the Umizoomi’s about these little cartoon characters who found shapes that gave them superpowers! In the evening, we went to a hotel called The Hyatt House. In this hotel, unlike the previous hotel, all the boys were in the same room, making our room very crowded! There were two double beds, one king, one pull-out couch, and space to sleep on the floor. Once everyone had a sleeping spot and had put their stuff down, we started a number of things:
- Played with toy soldiers that someone had bought. The set came with two Robert E. Lee’s, but only one Union General. We had a huge battle!
- Watched a various assortment of TV programs (on three TVs!)
- Cooking shows
- Disney Channel
- We dressed up a pillow with someone’s rain jacket, a pair of sunglasses and a souvenir civil war cap. When Zach came into the room, he thought it was Finlay, and started talking to it. Much to his surprise, a few moments later Finlay stepped out of the bathroom,
- Some people took showers that were longer than others!
- Ate leftovers
- Fell asleep
Apparently, I move and talk in my sleep a lot!
Our class trip overall was so fun!!! On Thursday night, we stayed at a hotel called the Hyatt House. The boys had a suite “big room” and the girls had a suite. All the girls did a few skits in pairs just to have fun. Then Maggie had a skit with Julia and Maggie. She threw her stuffie across the table and it knocked over the bag of popcorn. IT WAS SO, SO, SO FUNNY!!!!! But then we had to clean it up. Another hilarious part was when Ma’at and Maia did a skit about how to “workout.” We were all dying laughing on the ground, it was so funny, and was the best time we all have had in awhile.
Day 3 …
Tears and Exhaustion
Throughout the whole trip, I think everyone can agree this was an exhausting three days, mostly from walking a lot and the heat. On the third day, I think the exhaustion was hitting us. Throughout the second night, Maggie and I (Julia) were feeling under the weather. In the morning, I realized that I most likely had a stomach bug. When we went down to breakfast, the tears started to hit me. I’m pretty sure that exhaustion wasn’t helping. The whole time people were eating breakfast, Maggie and I were in the corner just trying to feel better.
We arrived at the parking lot in Washington D.C. at Arlington Cemetery. Then we walked to the main entrance and got into the cemetery. It was blazing hot that day; it was in the nineties! As we walked through the cemetery, we looked at special gravestones and visited the Tomb of the Unknown Civil War Soldier, which was a burial place for all the soldiers whose names are unknown. We had a “little incident” when we turned on a powerful water pump! Julia turned it on and, to her surprise, it pushed her water bottle away! At the cemetery, we looked at the eternal flame and the Arlington House where the Lee/Custis family lived. Even though it was hot that day, I and most of everyone else thought the burial place for the brave soldiers was very interesting. It was sad to see all of the dead soldiers but the war was truly an important part of history.
The Long Walk
Before lunch, we went on a very long walk. First, we walked from the Arlington National Cemetery to the Lincoln Memorial. But we didn’t stay too long. After that we walked to the Washington Monument, but didn’t stay to look at the detail because we needed to get lunch at the the Natural History Museum.
Natural History Museum
After the LOOOONG walk from the cemetery, we reached the Natural History Museum. The first stop we made was the cafeteria, for lunch. At least for me, I think the food was a little over-priced. After lunch, we split into groups and went to explore the museum. Everyone started at the Human Origins exhibit. Then my group went to the mammal exhibit. It explained how science proves that humans were descended from apes and other monkeys. Another group of people went to go see the Hope Diamond! I wish I could’ve seen it! A lot of people said it wasn’t that exciting though, it was a tiny diamond in a glass case.
The Last Leg of the Trip
After the museum, we walked to the Metro station. We went over to the big machines to get our cards to ride the Metro. Then we walked through the gates and down the stairs. We watched a bunch of trains go by, but none of them were ours. Finally our train arrived! We all got on, luckily most of the seats were available. Soon, we came to the Arlington Cemetery stop. Then we walked back to the vans. We were driving to Panera for dinner when it started to rain. Then it started to hail. We had to wait in the van for the hail to stop. Finally the hail stopped and we ran through the rain to Panera. We all ordered and sat down in groups to eat. It was so cozy inside. Then we all climbed back into the van for the long ride home. In my van, we made up “the acronym game.” One team makes up an acronym and the other team guesses what it means. We all had so much fun on the trip. We will always remember it!