-- Exhausted and euphoric. Those are the words to describe me right now. Six days after boarding the "Good Morning America" Whistle-Stop '08 Tour train, and beginning the adventure of a lifetime, it's over.
We just wrapped the last show of our little Odyssey from the Newseum in the nation's capitol, Washington D.C., and for me, it was an appropriate but bittersweet ending to our tale.
Appropriate because the point of our tour was to go out and ask real people what was on their minds, to hear straight from them their concerns about our nation. By ending in Washington, D.C., we brought their thoughts, problems and hopes to the doorstep of the government -- to the people that can do something about them.
But it was also bittersweet because I honestly didn't want the trip to end.
I'm not going to lie to you and say that I loved everything about it (3:00 AM wake up calls being the main offender), but I was consistently surprised to find that even in the tougher times, when we had been blearily working for 18 hours straight, something or someone would come along to pick everyone up.
From the absolute chaos of pre-show preparations, to the fleeting sparkle of pride in the production team's eyes when a show went just as planned, life on the train was crazy, grueling and complicated, but most of all, fun.
Some moments I'll never forget.
Like the celebration in Massachusetts after we pulled off what had never been done before -- the first live network television broadcast from a moving train.
Or when Diane, Robin and Chris teamed up -- using Rick Klein and me as props -- to convince Sam that he was supposed to share his tiny room on the train with two roomates.
Or when Chris put his life on a very secure line at Niagara Falls to dramatically bring the news from the brink of watery doom.
Or, my personal favorite moment, when Sam, Chris and two producers played the most ridiculous game of Monopoly I've ever seen for four hours and a few of us, Sam included, cried from laughing so hard.
But far more moving than the obvious and endearing camaraderie between the anchors was their care for the American people to whom they bring the news every morning.
Never was this more obvious than yesterday, when I accidentally stumbled into an anchors' meeting where they discuss the content of the next day's show and, for some reason, I was allowed to stay.
As an aspiring journalist myself, I can't express how inspiring it was to listen in on this discussion and know firsthand that whatever goes on the air, it's the fairest, most accurate and most informative report possible. Though they have their fun, when it comes to the news Diane, Robin, Chris and Sam are professionals in every sense of the word.
But now I have to go -- have to return to "normal" life, and I don't want to.
I have to shave my rail-beard, the result of a production-wide pact to not shave for the duration of the trip. I have to wash some extremely smelly clothes. I also have a feeling that the spontaneous dance parties that erupted on the train will be for some reason looked down upon in the office.
These are all reasons to miss dragging myself aboard that cramped studio on rails well before the sun comes up. But maybe we'll be able to do it again sometime.
We were told to get back to New York however we wanted.
I think I'll take a train.