A few weeks ago a group of Valley High students, Kanab High students, and community members had the opportunity to go back east and visit New York and Massachusetts. It was a fun and learning experience for all.

We arrived in New York City at 7:30 Monday morning and started our tour by driving into Manhattan. We small-town southern Utah people were introduced to the big city with lunch at the Hard Rock Café in the middle of Times Square. Many students in our group were awestruck at the size, number of people, all there was to see, and how busy Times Square was.

Next, we headed to Rockefeller Center where we had an amazing and beautiful view of Manhattan. The skyscrapers and ocean provided quite a different view than what we are used to here at home.

To finish the day, we wandered the halls of the American Museum of Natural History seeing life size elephants, dinosaurs, birds, people and many other things that make up our history and natural world. Afterward, we headed to New Jersey and our hotel for the night. 

The next day we went back into the city with a wonderful guide who was very familiar with Manhattan We were impressed as we took in the amazing beauty of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  Our guide took us on a tour through Harlem, pointing out things most New Yorkers probably didn’t know, and a tour through the wealthy side of the city.

We had the privilege of walking through Central Park. It was amazing to escape from the busy city to the green and beautiful park New Yorkers hold as their pride and joy. We learned why wandering through the trees, over bridges, past lakes and statues, and around cascading fountains is a favorite pastime of many.

After our walk in the park, we drove past the financial district and saw the protestors camping out. That was something different to see. We had lunch in China Town and Little Italy. Some of us used our good bargaining skills with the street shopping, enjoyed some tasty lunch, and saw the different cultures of China and Italy.

After lunch, we headed to “Ground Zero,” the World Trade Center site. It was a touching experience to see where one of the biggest tragedies of our country took place.

That night we had Broadway tickets to Mary Poppins, but before the show we went ice-skating at the Rockefeller Center, shopped some more, admired Times Square at night, and really caught the feel of New York City. I think we all were in awe of Times Square at night, with all the lights and people. We sure don’t see anything like that here in Kane County. Mary Poppins was such a fun and wonderful show! It was a great way to end our busy day in the Big Apple.

First thing Wednesday morning we headed out to Circle Ferry Harbor. Mr. Drake knew how busy the New York side would be, so we took the New Jersey side to ferry out and visit the Statue of Liberty. We have seen pictures and have learned about the Statue of Liberty, so what a wonderful experience to actually go and see Lady Liberty herself. We were able to go inside the pedestal and do some exploring.

After we returned from the harbor tour, we loaded the bus and headed to Boston. It was such a beautiful drive. The fall leaves and all of the water made the drive one I will never forget.

Thursday was the beginning of my favorite part of the trip. We were able to visit old seaside towns of Gloucester and Rockport. The rocky beaches and New England houses were some of the most beautiful sights. We were able to see the Fisherman’s Statue, Fisherman Family Memorial, Stage Fort Park, Good Harbor Beach, and Bearskin Neck. For lunch, we enjoyed some tasty seafood.

The day was rainy and cold, but that didn’t stop us. We visited Old North Church, Trinity Church, USS Constitution, Bunker Hill, and Harvard. It was a great experience to see the places we have studied about in our history classes where part of the Revolutionary War occurred.

Friday we started off our day at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. Our guide entertained us with her heavy Bostonian accent and Boston pride. We then headed out to the Minuteman Visitors Center and the Concord Bridge, where the “shots heard round the world” were actually fired. It was hard to imagine the place where such a world-changing event took place was so beautiful and calm.

To finish up the day, we visited the home of the famous authors Louisa May Alcott and Nathaniel Hawthorne. We were also able to visit Walden’s Pond.

Our last day was spent at Old Sturbridge Village, a living museum located in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, which re-creates life in rural New England during the 1790s through 1830s. It was a very cold day, and seeing how the people in those days lived made me thankful for the modern conveniences we take for granted. It was a wonderful way to end our trip as we then headed back to the airport and home.

I would like to thank all who came on the trip and put up with us kids. It was a fun and educational experience for us! Also a big thanks to our advisors who helped put this trip together. We appreciate all of your hard work and time. We also want to thank those who supported our fundraisers.

Finally, a sincere and heartfelt thank you to Mr. Gene Drake for putting the trip together and making it a week we will never forget!