Sunday, June 01, 2008

Whirlwind Trip

At 3:30 a.m. Saturday morning 150+ 10-16 year old kids from neighborhoods throughout Dallas (17 with our group) boarded five Dallas County Schools buses to depart for our whirlwind trip to Houston and Galveston arranged by Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway and many other city staff.

Around 10:30 a.m. we arrived at our first stop, the NASA Space Center Houston. Each child was given a disposable camera to capture their memories. With no time to spare, we headed straight to the tram to make the 11:00 tour. After touring the grounds where the astronauts train, seeing a real live control center, and observing the gravity simulation center, we made our way back to the food court.

Though we had a few organization glitches, the 22 kids on our bus were absolutely wonderful and patient. After eating a great lunch in the food court, we boarded the buses again and headed on to Galveston.

Stop #2 was Moody Gardens in Galveston. The kids thoroughly enjoyed seeing the sharks, sting rays, seals, and so much more! They were fascinated by touching starfish and watching the penguins swim at lightning speed through the water, popping every once in a while to show off their skills.

After making our way through the aquarium, we crossed to the next building to walk through the simulated rain forest where we saw birds overhead, posed for pictures in front of the flamingoes, and took pictures of the tree frogs.

Without any time to spare, we were directed back to the buses so we could get back to Houston.

Unfortunately, the over-ambitious plans of taking college tours of the University of Houston and Texas Southern University turned into viewing the colleges from the windows of the bus. I must admit I was happy to hear 13-year old DaQwalon express disappointment that he was missing out on a college tour. I ensured him we would make some more college trips.

We picked up chicken from the TSU hangout, Frenchie's, took a very needed bathroom break, and were on our way back to Dallas.

At 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning we were pulling back into City Hall. After waiting for parents, dropping off kids, and taking a few home with me, 24 hours from the time I started, I was back at home.

A BIG, HUGE thanks to Mike and Venita Davis, Shonda, and Sylvia for such an amazing job sticking with the kids, ensuring we all got bathroom breaks when needed, and keeping the kids engaged during down time. Of course, thanks to Dwaine Caraway, Stephanie Pegues, and the numerous city staff who spent many hours planning and organizing the trip.

Below, have a look at Vanessa's compilation of our 24-hour trip:

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