I began this post back in October, when I actually went on this trip, but never finished it. I think I was still too stuck in the wonder of my experience to write about it (coherently). But now it is time to pluck it from it’s floating world of “could have been” & “should have been” draftiness. Now, this story will be. It is time to remember the wonder & magic of my trip to San Antonio with my story-telling family.
If there were words to describe my most recent trip, those would be only a few of them.
If you know me at all then you know how structured I am. I’m a very rules oriented, A-type person when it comes to unfamiliar places. Or really, any place. But for some reason, this foreign city didn’t have that effect on me.
Maybe it was the people I was with.
Maybe it was why I was there.
Or maybe, I decided to be a little wild & not plan, but instead, just lived in the moment.
I don’t know what caused it, all I know is the effect it had on my heart. This was my very first trip to a city alone. Without my family.
I was surrounded by a couple of kids who love to story-tell a little too much & who made the most of the rare, unexpected freedom we were given on this trip.
Yes, this was a high school field trip.
Yes, it was amazing.
The first day was totally crazy and spontaneous. The day started and ended in a whirlwind of excitement. We had to wake up and be on a bus by 6 A.M. on a Saturday morning in order to reach San Antonio in time for our first competitions. Oh. Let me explain why I was going on this trip in the first place…I’m a writer for my high school yearbook and this was a “journalism field trip”. All four journalism staffs from my school- newspaper, news broadcasting, yearbook and the literary magazine- were able to go to San Antonio so it was one big melting pot of journalists. I went into this trip not knowing much, like where we were staying or what we were doing there, but I believe that made the experience even more refreshing.
The bus ride there was as painless as a bus ride with fifty students can be. I distinctly remember buying a neckpillow at one of the stops. I have no regrets.
Once we arrived at our beautiful hotel, (that was only a few steps away from the San Antonio Riverwalk!) we began competing in our competitions right away. As I mentioned earlier, I’m a writer. The only thing I knew about my competition was it’s name: Photo Scavenger Hunt. And based off of that, I gathered that I wouldn’t be writing much. At first I was a bit confused and upset about that, I mean, I really wanted to write! But I wouldn’t change one single thing about my experience in San An, especially the Photo Scavenger Hunt! It was such a blast. Me and three other girls from my school got to run around San Antonio for hours with a beautiful camera & a scavenger hunt list of photos to capture. Some of the items were historic landmarks around the city, others were fun & random things like taking a “selfie” with a police officer or finding someone dressed up in a costume. (We achieved both of those.) That competition made me so familiar & comfortable with the streets of San Antonio. It was the coolest and most tiring challenge I’ve ever conquered.
We all competed in our competitions that evening, afterwards we all got to go to dinner wherever and with whoever we wanted. Some people had already made reservations in advance, but me & my group just decided to “go with the flow”.
And let me just go on the record by saying that if there was one thing this trip taught me, it was that going with the flow & doing what you really want to do (instead of what everyone else is doing) is where you’re going to find the most joyful and memorable moments.
Our night was so cool. What “going with the flow” meant for us was eating on the Riverwalk at an amazing, authentic Mexican restaurant called Casa Rio.
Although the food was pure greatness, the best part of the night was being entertained by the cutest Mariachi band I’ve ever seen. I was eating dinner with most of seniors who are also on the yearbook staff. When we saw the band we all decided to pitch in to pay for one song. They were so playful & energetic- it was totally worth it!
Since I was on this trip with other awesome journalists there were tons of photographers snapping pictures. My absolute favorite moment that was captured on the trip (by the wonderful Erin Brown) was when one of the Mariachi band members, who was closest to me, started dancing with his little guitar to try to get me to laugh.
He succeeded. It was greatness.
Even though it’s been a few months since that moment, I can still remember it so clearly. I love those moments. They just fall in place perfectly without expectations or preparation- they are effortless and, therefore, they are beautiful.
Afterwards, a couple of my friends and I went adventuring around the city for a little while.
That didn’t last for long though because of how exhausted we all were (and also because I don’t like walking around big cities at night…) so we all went back to the hotel. It didn’t take long for me & my roommates to crash (thanks, melatonin!) after such a long, unforgettable day.
When I think about the second day it seems like it was multiple different days combined into one because of how many amazing things happened. I started the day off early. This was our “Day O’ Seminars” (that’s what I’ve decided to call it) where we got the opportunity to learn from amazing journalists about anything and everything we could think of. It was Heaven on Earth for a nerd like me. While I loved all of the cool mini adventures me and my friends went on during the trip, there is a part of me that enjoyed the “Day O’ Seminars” the most. I thrive when I get to learn about the things I am passionate about. Writing is most definitely one of those things. I went to four writing seminars that day. I picked up new writing techniques, met journalists from all over the state and, most importantly, experienced an ignition of passion for story-telling that has stayed with me throughout the year. And that is something I had never experienced before and will never forget.
Half-way through the “Day O’ Seminars” all of the yearbook seniors & I went to lunch at a really bizarre burger place. It had a hidden entrance door. It was one of those really cool (but borderline terrifying) moments. Once we figured out how to actually get into the restaurant we sat down and ate lunch there. It wasn’t the best food (they had fake ketchup…what?!) but I was with good friends and they made it a good time. What more can a girl ask for?
After lunch I had the difficult choice of choosing between a power nap or another unknown and mini-adventure. I chose the adventure, but at the time, it was not an easy choice. I joined a group of yearbook girls from my school who were walking to the historic Mexican Market. Once I stepped inside the Market I knew I made the right choice.
It was such a cool atmosphere full of the authentic Mexican culture that is embedded in San Antonio. There was vibrant color everywhere and cute, homemade antique shops at each corner. This was where I bought all of the souveiners for myself and my family. It was a lovely experience and was so much better than any power nap I could have taken. And for me, that is saying a lot.
As soon as we got back to the hotel we all joined everyone to eat dinner together as a school. Once again, I chose to “go with the flow” and could not have ended up with a better night. All four staffs walked together to the restauraunt so I took this as an opportunity to catch up with some of my newspaper friends, something I don’t do every often. Even though the newspaper kids are considered the “rivals” of the yearbook kids, I consider them some of my dearest friends. Actually, I really took the whole idea of our “group dinner” to heart and ended up sitting at the newspaper table. I didn’t plan on doing this, but I became a newspaper kid for a couple of hours and it was so much fun. I got to laugh with new friends and joke with old ones. I remember this dinner so distinctly because while I may not have been seated with “my people”, I still had an absolutely fantastic night with new people who ultimately share my passion for story-telling. It was a very refreshing evening, to say the least.
After dinner we all went back into the heart of San Antonio to do a fun activity of our choice. I decided to join the group that was going on the boat tour of the Riverwalk because I really wanted to see it at night (and also, I was really tired of walking). So, we began making our way to the Riverwalk along with hundreds of zombies.
Yes, I said zombies.
On this same night there was a Zombie Walk happening in the streets of San Antonio (because we were in the season of Halloween) so our journey back to the Riverwalk was anything but boring. The people who were participating in the spooky event were really into it, they wore extremely realistic zombie make-up & costumes. The freakiest part was when they would jump up in our faces and try to scare us as we walked by them. While it was an extremely frightening experience, it was really cool to witness the whole city joining together to participate in such a silly celebration.
We all miraculously survived the zombie-filled streets and my group made it onto the relaxing boat tour of the Riverwalk. I was right, it is so beautiful at night. After the crazy past 48 hours we had all experienced, humming along on the waters of the Riverwalk while learning about the history of San Antonio was a nice change of pace. I really enjoyed the ride.
Since the boat tour ended so early, our group decided to adventure around San An a little while longer. On the boat, the tour guide had pointed out the San Fernando Cathedral which played a “History of San Antonio” laser light show in the evening. As soon as he told us about it I knew I wanted to check it out. I had no idea how cool it actually was. A couple of my friends and I left the big group from the boat to go do our own thing- check out the cathedral. We went with “the flow” and again, it was the right choice. There were only four of us who went, we had no idea what to expect at all. I mean, what even is a “laser light show”?
Long story short- it was the coolest, most mesmerizing thing I’ve ever seen. I had passed the cathedral multiple times on the scavenger hunt but the way the light show lit it up made me look at in a whole new way. Colors and shapes danced around the face of the cathedral and told a story about the city we had been exploring. It was beautiful.
I think out of all of the “going with the flow moments” on the trip, that one was my ultimate favorite. We didn’t have to go and watch it, we could have followed the group. Except, we did go watch the show and we got to create our own memory that no one else on that trip experienced. Sometimes, there is joy that is found in breaking off from the group.
We walked back to the hotel after watching the crazy cool cathedral light up and I went to sleep content & joyful.
Compared to the other days, day three was not very significant. The most important part of that day was going home. And, coincidentally, that was also the same day that Taylor Swift’s new album, 1989, came out. It was perfect roadtrip material & now I will always think of San Antonio when I hear those songs. And that’s a really good thing because I love those songs & I loved that trip.
This trip holds so much meaning for me.
I learned that I wanted to become a journalist on this trip.
I met some of my greatest friends on this trip.
I got to freely explore one of the coolest cities on this trip.
But most importantly, this trip taught me that some of the best moments that truly stand out
are the ones
where we aren’t trying to
Special thanks to Erin Brown for her brilliant photography skills.