When I found out about the trip I was a little dubious, like there has got to be a catch. A FREE trip to dozens of famous landmarks and a bunch of states? I had never been anywhere on the list of places before and was definitely excited to explore America with interesting people. The application process was easy compared to the work I do at school and I wasn’t even aware that I needed a teacher representative because I missed the meeting at my school where they talked in depth about the details of the trip. So I received the application forms late, I had no known representative and I ended up returning the forms late, so I thought. There was no possible way I expected the letter in the mail telling me I had made it.
Yes, I am an A student and I think of myself as a good person but I could not believe out of the 25 plus students to sign up I deserved the honor. Anyway, a few weeks later (on our way home from church) I was sleeping in the backseat of the car when my mom got a phone call. She called my name half way into my sleep. “Ugh, yes?” I fussed. “Trip of A Lifetime wants to interview you.” my mother whispered; her hand over the mouthpiece. My eyes popped open and I perked up, “Hello!” After babbling from nerves for a few moments, my mom trying to help me with the answers even though they were all opinion questions, I hung the phone and let out a deep breath. After that conversation I thought, ‘these people are sure to reconsider inviting me into their program. Little did I know, I was in for the “TRIP OF A LIFETIME”.
As soon as I arrived at the airport I was majorly nervous. I thought my friend Yusef was going to be on the same trip as me so I was looking forward to seeing a familiar face but I couldn’t even find a familiar colored face. I was the only African America in the group which is not a first for me but I thought it might cause me a lack of a fun summer. Man was I Wrong! Everyone introduced themselves to me and by the end of the first two days I had made my first through eighteen Caucasian friends and we couldn’t be more alike. One of my closest friends in the group, Marissa immediately invited me into her group of friends and still today Marissa and I are planning to meet up again.
This trip has taught me so much and I have seen the best of Seattle, WA; Whistler and Vancouver, Canada; Portland, OR; Lake Tahoe and one of my favorites, San Francisco, CA. In Seattle we visited the Space Needle, EMP (a rock music museum) and I learned my new favorite sport; Whirly Ball. In Whistler, Canada I was really excited about trying skiing for the first time but because of all the ice there was a No Beginners Policy in the summer. A bit disappointing but it turned out ok because I was able to go mountain biking where my clumsy self, ran into a bridge and got some gnarly scars which I laughed about as blood dripped down my leg. The counselors were freaking out while I hysterically laughed at my stupid mistake. Also, in Whistler at the Old Spaghetti Factory, I decided to try picking my food from the menu with my eyes closed. That I night I picked the ‘Factory Burrito Grande’ which was actually pretty horrible, but it started an inside joke among my peers as we laughed through the entire dinner. Almost every restaurant diner we had after was ‘Enie Menie Minie Moe’ for me from different people in the group. I was able to try a bunch of new foods and surprisingly, most were great!
Lake Tahoe was one of my favorite places. We had a lot of beach time, a campfire, and girls versus boys cooking competition (FYI: the boys only won because they cheated….just kidding. We were only mad because we had to clean the boys’ kitchen.) I learned that I was a really bad water skier and water boarder. I won ‘Best Camper Award’ for trying new foods, sports; including mini-golf, tennis and Canadian bowling.
In San Francisco we went to a teen club which was really fun, Alcatraz (not as scary as you would think), we walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, Ghirardelli Square (best Ice Cream ever) and then visited the Hard Rock Café where I and two of my friends bought matching outfits that we wore on the plane together.
I couldn’t possible have imagined for a better summer. I learned so much about friendship, exploration and in Vancouver we even took a detour from our schedule to learn about life from two traveling, rock balancing, temporary art hippies named Joel and Dana. This summer was unforgettable and I will tell all who would listen about the founder Stan Rosenbergs’ amazing opportunity for me to go on this Trip of A Lifetime.
** Try Anything and Everything, don’t discourage any new things.
** If you are visiting Canada bring enough cash to last you the four days because they don’t take American Express.
by Emani McDowell