Spring Break on the East Coast

~By Abby DeKoekkoek, Grade 12

Freedom Tower World Trade Center

This spring break, I was one of the 18 students who went on the East Coast trip with Mrs. Bullock and Miss Huston. This trip was definitely one of the most packed, yet one of the most enriching trips I have been on.

The first two days we spent in Boston and Salem. It was really interesting to visit these two cities because they have so much history in them. It was kind of overwhelming to be in places with so much history in them because being from the West Coast, we have half the history that the East Coast has. We went to sites like Paul Revere's house, Old North Church, and Old State House (the building where the Boston Massacre took place and the Declaration of Independence was first read from). I really enjoyed Boston and 

Salem because of all the history and they were both really pretty cities. The one thing that was annoying about Boston is how busy they were all of the time, but it wasn't as bad as New York City.

The next two days we spent in the Big Apple, New York City. When we arrived, we had two hours to explore the city in small groups rather than with our tour guide. My first impression of NYC was how pretty it was, considering the first part of the city we saw was 

5th Avenue and Central Park. We then did a walking tour of midtown, where Times Square is, which was really busy, but I would later learn that New York City is always busy. It's no lie when they say it's the city that never sleeps.

The next day, we started out bright and early to go to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. The night before, I had gotten sick so this day wasn't as enjoyable to me as it was for some other people. I really enjoyed Ellis Island because we got there early enough so there wasn't a lot of people there yet. Ellis Island was cool because you can look up people to see if they went through the Island. I looked up family members and found that my great grandfather, Paulus de Koekkoek, came through in 1908, and some of my great aunts and uncles later on. I think that Ellis Island was one of my favorite parts of the trip because I related to it. I love history and learning about it, but once you can see that real people that are related to you actually went through something, it makes it way more real. 

9/11 Memorial SiteWe then made our way to Ground Zero, the site of 9/11. Though it is not finished yet, the pools at Ground Zero and the buildings that are going up around it are absolutely beautiful. It was crazy to be at Ground Zero because it was the first place that we went to that didn't have history that was 100+ years old, 9/11 happened 13 years ago and though I was only 5 when it happened, it is one of the clearest memories from my childhood. It was heartbreaking to see all of the victim's names around the two pools that are placed where the two buildings were. After the 9/11 memorial, we met up with a local tour guide and she showed us around Soho, Chinatown, and Greenwich Village. I really liked this tour because, other than Chinatown, it was in less populated areas of the city, so we didn't have people elbowing us/we weren't getting in people's way every two seconds. After dinner, we went to a broadway showing of Phantom of the Opera. I would love to say this was a great experience , but to honest I felt sick so once the lights turned off for the play to begin, I was out until the end of act 1, woke up, then fell back asleep until the final number. 

On Thursday, we left New Jersey to go to Washington D.C, stopping in Philadelphia on the way. We were only supposed to be in Philadelphia for an hour or two, but our bus broke down, so we got to spend about 7 hours there. Nothing really exciting happened, some people went to the Rocky Steps, but I have never seen the Rocky movies so I didn’t feel the need to go there. I really liked being able to explore Philadelphia, it is a really relaxed, laid back city compared to New York City and Boston. I felt it was the most similar to Seattle in that sense. Everybody was really friendly and it was easy to navigate, which is saying a lot because I am directionally challenged.

Once our bus was up and running, we made our way to Washington D.C. That morning, I got sick again, so Mrs. Bullock and I stayed back at our hotel in Virginia and played Dutch Blitz/slept all day. Saturday, which was our last day, was also spent in D.C. We went to the Capitol building, which I thought was interesting to see,but we weren’t able to see very much of it because the Rotunda was being renovated. We got to see the first Supreme Court room and statues of the leaders of the original 13 states. While everybody went to the Air and Space Museum, Mrs. Bullock, our tour guide, bus driver and I ventured to the Lincoln Memorial since I missed out on all the memorials the day before. It was very busy there, but the statue of Lincoln was way bigger than I expected it to be. I thought it was a really pretty view from the top of the steps at the memorial, because you could see the reflection pool, Washington Monument, and the Capitol building in the way back.

All in all, I really enjoyed this trip. It was really cool to actually see a ton of places you always hear about in history books, and to see how and where our country came to be. It was also cool to see the differences the East Coast is from the West Coast. People on the East Coast, specifically New York, always seem to be in a hurry and there’s always cars honking and traffic. I loved visiting the East Coast and would definitely love to go back and explore even more places there.