Day 1 – February 14, 2014
Team Panther’s expedition kicked off after a slight delay from the big winter storm, but it couldn’t hold us back from the epic adventure ahead of us! After some quick photos and goodbyes, we boarded Lucy and hit the road. First stop Ridgefield, CT! Misty and Emily thoughtfully put together a Valentine’s Day treat on everyone’s seats which were all quickly devoured. Energy was high and the ride was full of card games and a good round of Apples to Apples!
It was a long day of driving, but we all rejoiced when we pulled into the church parking lot and our pizza man was there awaiting us. The pizza wasn’t the best… tasting a lot like cardboard actually, but we were all too hungry and exhausted to care. Everyone rolled out their sleeping bags and hit the sack, ready for our adventures in Philly tomorrow!
Day 2 – February 15, 2014
We had a few hours of driving in the morning, but once arriving in Camden we dropped our gear at the church, ate a quick lunch, and then headed off to the city. Woooo PHILLY!!! Freezing temps and snow again couldn’t stop us as we bundled up for a long day of walking and exploring. Our first stop of the day was the National Constitution Center in the old town district where we watched a live performance of Freedom Rising. It took us through many pivotal years of American history, highlighting the American Revolution, the Civil Rights movement and many other key milestones. Afterwards, we had a few minutes to look around the exhibits and took lots of photos in Signer’s Hall with all the statues. We even caught Benjamin Franklin taking a selfie! Oh Ben…
Next stop was off to the historic Liberty Bell where we snapped a few photos, but we couldn’t linger very long. Misty led us on an unintentional short tour of the city afterwards, where we worked up a big appetite and eventually landed at Jim’s for some philly cheese steaks! It was the perfect thing to hit the spot and warmed us all right up.
After heading back to the church, we unpacked a bit and finally got to play a few games. We wrapping the night up with some journaling thoughts and were off bed, resting for another big day tomorrow.
Day 3 – February 16, 2014
Our first mystery activity of the trip was announced — the Reading Terminal Market! The oldest farmers market in the whole USA! Apparently to this day, there are vendors whose families trace back to the original few that started up the market. With rumors of Amish pretzels in our near future, Dori could barely contain her excitement, but when we got there and realized it was a Sunday we were all a little disappointed.. Everyone had a bit of free time to explore and eat some delicious market food, but then we had to roll on to our next activity.
DUN.. DUN DUN DUN!! Time to run the Rocky Steps!!! Captain Carver illegally parked the bus at the bottom drop off zone while the rest of us (minus Elise 🙁 since she recently had a concussion) made a mad dash for the top of the stairs. Enough time to take in the views for all of a few seconds, then we had to run down and jump back on Lucy. Way to go for all those who did their homework and watched the Rocky montage!
Energy levels were high and DJ Evans kicked off our first dance party of the trip. Can anyone say Timber?? Well, after a few days without showers we decided it might be a good idea to clean up a bit before hanging out with our friends at Urban Trekkers. Showing up at a YMCA in New Jersey not knowing if they would let us in or not yet, we had to sacrifice one of our own (me!), but eventually the staff graciously allowed us to stop in and use their facilities.
The rest of the afternoon we spent hanging out with Julia, Mark and a few other awesome Urban Trekkers who took us on a bus tour of Camden, NJ – pointing out different districts like Little Mexico, historic buildings or sites where they once stood before being burned down. They also took us to their boat building work shop where students make their own kayaks, canoes, and paddle boats. Every boat was so beautiful and it was clear to see how much time and hard work had been put in to them all.
We wrapped up our time together at one of the local bowling alleys for a few rounds and ate some delicious, non-cardboardy pizza! All of us are looking forward to our reunion this summer when we get to hang out with all the Urban Trekkers again at Hood to Woods.
Day 4 – February 17, 2014
We geared up for another big day of driving today, but first thing we needed to fill up our tank and that meant… our first stop to a Wawas!! Mixed emotions on the bus, as we had some die hard Sheets fans among us so it was a heated way to start the morning. Captain Carver with help of our co-pilot, Sarah, located our first Wawa but come to find they didn’t even sell gas!!! But there had to be another Wawas around so we kept looking.. As we approached our second Wawas we soon came to discover they didn’t have gas pumps either! Such an epic journey for one fill up. Some attributed it to Wawas being extra “environmentally friendly”, but our Sheets fans weren’t having any of it. Third times a charm though, right? We decided to give Wawas one last shot, but as we pulled up we found out they didn’t even have diesel! WaaaaaaaWaaaaaaaa… Sheets won this round! Sick of driving around, we had breakfast in the Wawa’s parking lot and many ran in to get their F’real fix they had been dying for. Now time to hit the road for D.C.!
We arrived at Saint Albans Episcopal Church where we stayed for the next three nights and it was right next to the gorgeous Washington National Cathedral – the sixth largest cathedral in the world! After setting our stuff down, we all bundled up for our walk to the National Zoo. Lions, tigers and bears OH wait. It’s the middle of winter and the zoo is about to close… We all split up into small groups and some saw quite a few animals, but other’s spent their time hanging out in the giant panda gift shop trying to keep warm. It didn’t pan out exactly how we hoped, but like always we made the best of the situation!
Back at the church, Misty’s cook crew whipped up a delicious batch of Trekkers mac n’ cheese which warmed us all right up. Leila and Haley entertained some of us with a silly skit while we were waiting for dinner and the rest of the evening we had time just to relax and play games.
Day 5 – February 18, 2014
Our first stop of the day was Arlington Cemetery. After getting a bit lost, doing a few circles round the round abouts, and taking a detour to see embassy row, we finally we arrived. We walked around for a bit, checking out some of the different memorials planted among thousands of white headstones including the U.S.S. Maine and President Kennedy’s grave site. We also visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier which was where the changing of the guards ceremony took place. It was a very powerful experience being here, thinking about all the men and women who have served and died for our country.
Next, we were on to the Holocaust museum. We walked in and before stepping on to the elevator taking us to the start of the exhibit, everyone picked up an identity card of someone who had been persecuted during the Holocaust. It told a bit of their family history, how they fared during WWII, and whether or not they survived. We split into small groups and the museum led us all on a journey starting with the events leading up to the war and Hitler’s reign. As we progressed through the museum and through this tragic time in history, there were many graphic stories and images throughout many of which were hard to hear and see. Among all the darkness though, inspiring stories of strong will and bravery stood out such as the Danish and many individuals who took it upon themselves to stand up and do the right thing when everyone around them turned a blind eye.
To say the least, it was an extremely heavy day, although it was a good reminder for us all to be thankful for what we have and not take our freedoms and basic rights for granted.
After leaving the museum, the time had finally arrived to pick our bus driver, Bill, up from Union Station! HOOORAY!!! Everyone was really happy to see him and gave him an unexpected round of applause. I don’t think Bill had any idea what he was getting himself into, but he immediately fit in with everyone. Once a Trekker, always a Trekker! And even to Emily’s surprise, he hopped right into the driver’s seat and got us through all the D.C. rush hour traffic.
Time for a grocery run! Bill’s first stop. We got a little lost again, but eventually made it. After stocking up we headed back to the church again for some spaghetti! It was pretty late by the time we were done with dinner so we had a few shout outs and quotes of the day, but then hit the sack.
Day 6 – February 19, 2014
Since we were all too tired for a group discussion last night, after breakfast we all circled up and talked about our experience yesterday at the Holocaust Museum.
It started out grey and rainy as we made our way to the National Archives. There we got to see the original Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence! Good stuff. Some of them were so old and faded you could barely read them, but sure enough you could still see good ol’ John Hancock’s signature!
Bill picked us up and took us over to Union Station where we used as home base for the rest of the day. By then the sun was out and we walked down near the front of the capitol building, ate some lunch, took some photos and did a few headstands. Dinosaurs, mummies and strange insects awaited us at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum which is where we spent most of the afternoon exploring, then we hopped over the Air and Space Museum to see all the incredible aircrafts.
We had dinner and a bit of free time in Union Station before heading off for our night walking tour of the memorials. First stop was the Lincoln Memorial! We all got to stand in the spot where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his I Have a Dream speech on the steps leading down to the reflecting pools which was pretty awesome. Other memorials we stopped to look at included the Vietnam Memorial, Korean Memorial, WWII and we wrapped up our evening at the new MLK Memorial.
Day 7 – February 20, 2014
Today was the start of our journey back north, but still many more adventures to come over the next four days. We were headed back to up to Ridgefield, CT for the night so it was another long day of driving. There were many battles of hearts, Egyptian Rat Screw and America! along the way and a good game of Scattergories. Many were tired from the long day of walking yesterday and decided to catch up on some sleep..
Once arrived at the church again, Shane’s cook crew braved it in the rainy weather to prepare us all some grilled cheeeeeeeeese!! Nate dog was pretty excited. The rest of us started up an intense game of Big Booty while we waited. Misty almost had her chance to be Big Booty but it was time for dinner..
Our second mystery activity of the trip was revealed finally.. the Ridgefield Rec Center for swimming and showers!!! After sitting on the bus all day, but was good to relax and end the evening with a hot shower.
Day 8 – February 21, 2014
Boston bound today!
After being on the road for a bit, we pulled into the closest store to do our second shop of the trip. About to grab her wallet and join the group, Misty realized she thought she left her wallet at the last rest stop we had been at, over an hours drive behind us. I also reached for my wallet and in a panic, saw my debit card was missing too! Later they were both recovered in random places thankfully.
Getting to the church in Boston around 2pm, we had the rest of the day for games and free time! We played a couple hilarious rounds of Birdie on a Perch and a giant game of King Frog where Misty came up with “The Snookie” (Wahhhhhh!) that had everyone laughing.
We had a bit of free time to relax and then Emily announced she had a surprise guest and mystery activity for the afternoon! Britta, one of our very own Trekker Alums, came to visit us and she brought us all popcorn while we got to watch Monsters INC!! It was storming pretty hard outside so it was great to just relax and hang out inside for the afternoon.
Most of us played some spontaneous keep away while we were waiting for the mac n’ cheese to be ready, then after dinner we got to enjoy ice cream that Britta had also brought us! Was it possible for this day to get any better?! YES. Before wrapping up the night with our journal pass, we had more free time to go use the game room downstairs where some epic battles of ping pong, shuffleboard, and Foosball were played. Such an awesome day!
Day 9 – February 22, 2014
The day has finally come to meet the infamous Jeremiah Poope!!! Our tour kicked off in the Boston Commons and Jeremiah led us through the Granary burial grounds, over to the Boston Massacre site and showed us many other historical buildings. We even got a few ghost stories along the way!
We had lunch at Quincy Market, then we were off to go see the U.S.S. Constitution. Matt, the Navy Seal, who gave our tour captured our attention and many hearts of the panther ladies. He took everyone on the tour below deck to see the sleeping quarters (rows of hammocks) and all of the large canons. Incredible to think it took over 400 men crew this vessel!
Our last stop of the day was Bunker Hill Monument where we climbed the 294 stairs up to the top. Whew! It was quite the hike and lots of people at the top, but the view was well worth it. After a few quick photos, back down we went and it was time to head over to the shipyard to meet Bill and Nate dog’s parents. Nate’s hockey team was a man down for their game the next day so he took one for the team which meant leaving a day early from our expedition. We were all so sad to see him go, but made sure to wish him good luck before he went!
Back at the church we had a bit of free time again, then got to chow down on pizza tortillas for dinner. Couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend our last night together!
Day 10 – February 23, 2014
Our final day together! Hard to think this trip has come and gone in such a whirlwind. We packed up our bags and did a final sweep at the church, and then we were on our way back to Maine. A few last rounds of Egyptian Rat Screw were played and one last dance party broke out! Thanks to Kyle and his remix of Timber.. “It’s goin’ down, I’m yellin’ Trekkers!” I will always think of this trip whenever I hear that song now.
Many parents and loved ones were there eagerly awaiting our arrival as the Rocky theme song carried us in, windows down, music blasting. Lots of hugs and goodbyes were exchanged before heading home for hot showers and sleep. Thank you to all the Team Panther students who brought such incredible energy and good spirits throughout this expedition. See you all at the reunion!! HUZZAHHHH!!