My name is Briana Taylor and I am from ATW Journey West #18. I departed on July 7th-20th. My trip of a lifetime journey has been quite an adventure and I can honestly say I have no regrets whatsoever. Most of all, this was a learning experience for me that I will always remember. I have learned and overcame many obstacles I thought would not happen. I arrived at LaGuardia Airport at 5:45am and it was sort of bitter sweet for me to say good-bye to my parents because they were so excited yet so sad seeing me grow up and venture out to new possibilities. While I was waiting for others to arrive I started meeting some of my fellow colleagues. It was a lot of getting to know my peers and sharing the wonderful experience that we all were about to partake in. Heading out on the plane I was so frightened because, I have not flown in years. The plane was the first step to opening up new ideas and starting off my once in a lifetime journey. My first destination was Denver, Colorado. When I arrived in Denver, the beauty and the smell of this place that was always like a dream for me was just beyond beautiful. It was breath-taking. As we looking forward on our way out to the hotel as we landed in Denver and met our great bus driver who was driving us from state to state day-in and day-out we were all so excited. We started reaching closer to our location at this beautiful resort we were going to be staying in, I began to start looking over my shoulder outside the window and saw the overview of this great place, seeing the beautiful mountains and all around. Once I entered my deluxe suites, it was so gorgeous. The view we had even though everything was all for just one day, was amazing. I was thankful to have also shared this experience with my sister Bria and we were able to roommate with one another. One of the things we did when we landed was going out and exploring the world. Seeing what others have not been able to see I've seen different oceans and different types of animals. After sightseeing we went out to eat, at an incredible restaurant named “Moore Mang,” and the food was so delicious. Everything was homemade and in all these restaurants that we have gone to, I can never understand the food titles because all these foods were so different to me but yet so interesting. To me that was the most interesting part about all the places we have gone out to eat to. After everyone finished their first meals of this trip we did some more discovering. We all discovered and saw different sports stadiums and they were beautiful even though I am not the best baseball fan, this place was very nice. Every moment that I traveled from state to state, I have never felt more energized and fully rejuvenated. While spending the night in Denver, I saw things that I would only imagine on TV and in my dreams. The next day at this hotel called “The Embassy Suites”, I had breakfast in the lounge and the dinner was served also buffet styles. I couldn’t stop eating the delicious food, it was unbelievably tasty. The breakfast food was absolutely astonishing. I just couldn’t believe it. I have never eaten so much in my life in a hotel. After heading out to another state no other than Rabbit South Dakota. On the road I saw barns, many animals such as cows, horses, buffalos, pigs, and more. It was just peaceful out here. I honestly wished I lived in all these places. I even saw growing crops and foreigners. The people were all so nice and friendly. Not to mention, while on the road we played many fun games to keep everyone entertained. We all were just very excited about our journey ahead of us and never stopped talking about it. Meeting such incredible people and also this great staff that was chosen out for us. These great people were so much fun and entertaining and especially our trip director Kevin. Even when he gets frustrated and stressed out because there’s so much going on, he always showed his absolute attention, concern, and showed us the true definition of fun. We all can relate to each other and we all showed teamwork just like the famous quote “Teamwork makes the dream work.” My sister and I laughed and have not stopped smiling since we landed in Denver. I remember when we first got on the plane and when the plane was taking off my sister and I screamed and was so nervous because we felt the plane drop in the air. It was an experience.
One thing so far that I can say was that from this entire experience I learned that communication is everything and without it, how can you understand something or someone. Similarly, getting to know someone else is key because you never know what that person might have to help you understand something better that you were so confused about before. Throughout this entire trip I have been telling everyone that I am trying to get something from this trip. I am trying to make a difference in society. I am trying to mentor young people and give great advice. I am trying to teach the youth a lesson by showing them that never say never and believing in yourself even when the road gets tough you keep going. All the road trips we all had, we have had quiet time where everyone falls asleep or even just checking out the beautiful views and it has given everyone time to think and even time for them to relax. We cruised through Gruenberg and what interesting things I learned about this town. This town has 76 populations and from rumors, this small little town just makes everyone relatives to each other. Likewise, Wyoming was the first state to give women the right to vote. Overall, Wyoming has the lowest population out of all 50 states. While experimenting and finding out new things about Rabbit South Dakota, I have gone through the Badlands National Park and saw amazing and very colorful mountain rocks. It was just a breath of fresh air and a moment that I will never forget. Passing through such beautiful houses, they were all just to die for. Unbelievably I saw houses on top of mountains that look so stable but then look like it was going to tilt over. While in South Dakota we went hiking and saw beautiful animals yet vicious animals like rattle snakes. I could not believe where we were headed next which was no other than going to Mt. Rushmore where our founding fathers are stone into rocks. They were beautiful. So big and tall and I was thinking about climbing them myself. Seeing those founding fathers up there, I felt so blessed and honored to be in their presence. I was just speechless. Going out to eat once again with my crazy yet hilarious peers, and having long lasting discussions and conversations, we all just couldn’t grasp enough of one another. It was fabulous. Reaching to many places in South Dakota I have discovered and saw bison’s all over. I saw a 700 pound bison in the streets and on the grass by people. We went to rodeos and saw so much bull animals and horses.
It was violent but very cool at the same time. There were cowboys and cowgirls that have been giving us tours and have spoken to us about their experience. I remember one of the places that we have visited was Jackson Hole, Wyoming and I ate a delicious bison burger with trout, truffle fries with a side order of steamed spinach. The food in Jackson was unbelievably juicy and good. I have seen on the menu, food that I have never even seen or heard of. The crazy part about this trip is that I felt like I was living in a fantasy. Most of my trip experience was overjoyed. The weather in some places we visited was freezing cold but it was worth it all because this is only a once in a lifetime experience. Thankfully I have been honored to be sharing this experience also with two amazing friends who also won this scholarship trip that I met named Peaches and Selina. These two ladies are just such great people. We all felt like sisters around each other. We always knew how to cheer each other up when one was down. We shared such an experience with them that I will cherish forever. Even being on the bus for 9 hours at one point which was very exhausting, I would say that I was never bored. I enjoyed myself with different activities such as singing, listening to music, role play, charades, watching great movies, and playing board and card games. We all had a blast. This experience has been fun and I am certainly grateful that I had the opportunity to share it with others.
Moreover, throughout the trip I have been to the National Park in Wyoming which is known as Yellowstone. During the ride I have been taking incredible pictures of my trip family above the amazing siting views that look like giants. Rocks that were shaped in different sizes and colors that looked like the sunset. They were all colorful looking like a map. Discovering and learning about bones and how they were form and what you can find about them. Visiting beaver rivers was so incredible. I didn’t want to leave. Seeing elks and deer’s and baby animals that were running away and hiding. Seeing huge mountains that had snow on them even though it was hot outside. It was just unreal. We saw steaming smoke that water was coming out of and exploded all the way up to the clouds like a hot volcano. It was surreal and gorgeous. I have been to Utah and passed Idaho where there were flatlands and grassy lands that had beautiful houses and barns everywhere. I went mountain biking and I couldn’t believe that I survived it. I have not ridden a bike since I was little but I eventually got the hang of it and it was so much fun. Riding the bikes with our tour guides that were so patient and generous made it even more of a fun experience. Some people were falling and laughing but we all got back up and kept on riding. We had so much fun. Not to mention staying in a four Suite Resort that had a water park in the hotel and I could not believe my eyes, it looked like a carnival. The best part about this trip for me would be the places I stayed in. I stayed in the most beautiful and caressing cabin ever. I was staying in a cabin which I never experienced before. I stayed in a condo that I just simply was just speechless. I felt so alive and free. All the places that I stayed in just left me without words that I could not express. My group and I then went water raffling, water-skinning, water-tubing, and I was so nervous and scared. I fell in the water and was very scared but when I got out of the water and went on shore for a break I just started laughing because the whole experience was to have fun and I did that. I started paddling again watching out for those waves but when I looked down in the river I saw little fishes and sea animals that were very creative. My final destination we have gone to was the great San Francisco and there I won a food competition and visited the Golden Gate Bridge. I went to the Alcatraz Island and collected so many amazing souvenirs. I visited and talked with one of the former inmates whose name was William G. Baker who was a wonderful old man. This man made a book and one of the things he said that really spoke to my heart was to never give up on you. That is key to life and the key to surviving in this cruel and crazy world that we all know and live in. By the time we reached back to New York and when everyone said their good-byes, it was bittersweet, but we were all going back to our families but our Trip of a Lifetime Experience was over. It was not a good bye for me however, it was a see you soon because I believe that I was destined to change someone’s life and how all those people from the trip helped me do that. This was such my trip of a lifetime and I do not know where I would be if I didn't take the opportunity and go on this trip. My trip experience was incredibly fun, nerve-wrecking, and scary in the beginning not knowing what was going to happen but it turned into a fun, exciting, and adventurous trip. This is my trip of a lifetime summer 2014 that I would never forget. My destinations were Denver, Colorado, Utah, San Francisco, Wyoming, the five star resorts, fine dining, and all activities we experienced. Not to mention the great staff Kelsie, Brianna, Danna, and Rob, the amazing trip director, Kevin, bus driver James, and my trip of a lifetime friends. This has been an experience I will always remember. Thank you Stan and the entire staff ATW for changing my life and letting me see more than New York.