After checking out of the hotel we headed back to the theater district for one more acting workshop, this time from Lou Liberatore, a character actor. It was similar to the one the day before, but the kids still enjoyed being up on their feet and Lou did a much better job at keeping them engaged and moving.
Our final stop of the trip was the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Interestingly, most of my students said they wished we had gone there at the start of the trip, which was my opinion as well. Once we were checked in, I led a group to the cafeteria at the back of the museum. On the way one of my students and I were discussing some of the pieces we passed, since she had taken my Humanities class a few years ago and was surprised to see so much of what we had covered. One of the Nebraskans who was following us said, "You're so lucky you have a teacher who, like, knows about stuff and tells you about it." I was glad to hear that, since I had worried that my constant sharing of facts and stories was secretly driving my students nuts.
Once they found the cafeteria I turned the students loose and headed outside to get some lunch for myself from one of the street vendors. I had given them that option as a cheaper and faster alternative, but they were still a bit wary of venturing too far outside of their comfort zones. So I enjoyed a quiet lunch on one of the benches outside under the trees, then headed back into the museum to wander through some of the exhibits I had missed when I visited back in April.
At the appointed time my students and I met Tim and Bill outside to transfer our luggage to the shuttle that would take us to the airport. The kids bid the Nebraskans farewell, promising to stay in touch on Facebook, and my group and I headed out to LaGuardia with a very chatty and friendly new driver.
Checking in at the airport was a breeze, and we found the tiny gate area without issue. There were few seats available, so we claimed a spot on the floor instead and settled in to wait to board.
And wait, and wait, and wait. Due to weather between Denver and New York, the plane we were supposed to fly on was rerouted to Ohio. We wound up waiting for it for over five hours, becoming very familiar with that spot on the floor and the limited restaurant choices in our terminal. The Nebraskans arrived at the airport two hours into the wait, just after we should have departed. They were in a different terminal than us, but the students stayed in touch via texting and we heard of their travel woes as we waited for some conclusion of our own. Thankfully, our plane did eventually arrive and, even more thankfully, we got to board it and take off. The Nebraskans were not so lucky - their flight was cancelled shortly after they arrived at the airport. The last I had heard was that they were going to spend the night at the airport to catch a flight the next morning and maybe, if they were lucky, they would get to Omaha by the next evening. I had spoken with a gate agent after our sixth or seventh delay to see if we could make a plan for my large group, just in case. The agent said that due to all of the weather issues, if our flight was cancelled the earliest they would be able to get us back to Denver would be Thursday night. Needless to say, I was very, very happy when we finally boarded our plane.
The kids were getting slap happy by the time we were onboard, but they (and I) quickly fell sound asleep once the plane took off, despite Frontier's gift of free TV for the flight to make up for the delay.
We arrived in Denver at 1:30 AM and, after some exhausted antics by the boys on the train to the terminal (Ezra was dangling upside down by the handholds while Paul fell on his belly on the floor, reluctant to get up because "This feels like surfing, you guys!"), we met their parents at the baggage claim. One of the parents had gotten a hotel room at the place we had stayed the night before we left, and he offered me both a ride back there to retrieve my car as well as a rollaway in their hotel room for the night. I accepted the ride and declined the bed. He was very insistent, offering over and over again to let me share the room with him and his daughter. It was very sweet, but also pretty creepy to think about sharing a room with a student of mine and her parent, no matter how nice they are and how tired I was. I did inquire at the front desk of the hotel to see if they had any rooms available, but they were completely booked. So I loaded my suitcase in my car, put down the windows, cranked up the radio, put in some eyedrops, and drove myself home, arriving just after 3 AM.
Really, though, since the worst of the trip was the long delay at the end, I count myself lucky. The kids were excellent (I overheard one stranger commenting on what a "nice group of students" they were - yay!), we had a lot of fun, and everyone stayed healthy and safe. I don't know if I would go through Smithsonian again - there are a lot of pros and cons to weigh for that decision, but I would definitely like to take another group there again in the future.
Best of all, several of the students told me they wanted to go back with their families as soon as possible. That right there is exactly why I did the trip in the first place.
Also? Look at how cute they are: