“Where are we now?” Simon asks, pulling a leaf out of his hair. “At least it’s warm!”
Another Imagination Tree sits in the center of a medium-sized park, with a fountain, a hot dog stand, and a paved path full of people of all ages, some of whom are on roller blades. Long tables with old books and crafts for sale line one end of the park. A few old men play chess on the other side, and a group of tourists surround a small folding table watching a short, stocky man behind it do something with playing cards. A group of college kids are lying on a blanket playing pop music. At the far end of the park a stage has been set up with a sign that says, “Meet the mayor, 5 pm.”
“On your left!” a middle-aged skater shouts as Cooper almost backs up into him.
“Sorry!” Cooper calls out to him.
They look down at their clothes. They’re all wearing jeans and matching white I Heart New York t-shirts! They also have stickers on their chests that say: SCHOOL FIELD TRIP, BUS ONE.
“Hey, we actually are on a field trip,” Cooper says. “Sort of!”
“Yeah,” Gabby says, “the world’s weirdest field trip!”
“And I still have no idea why why’ve been doing it,” Simon says grumpily.
“I’m sure we’ll find out sooner or later,” Gabby tells him.
“I sure hope so.”
“Hey, we’re home guys!” Jamal shouts, pumping his fist in the air. “We’re finally home!”
“New York City isn’t exactly home,” Cooper points out, then he gives a big grin. “But it’s close enough!” They all whoop and shout with glee.
Chelsea looks around at the buildings excitedly. “Hey, my parents met right near here! That’s how I got my name. Chelsea is a neighborhood in New York City.”
“That’s so cool,” Maya says. “The city must be an amazing place to live. So much art and culture.” She walks a few feet away to watch an artist paint a self-portrait on the pavement with colored chalk.
Simon turns to Mr. C. “I know we still need to figure out why our Imagination Tree at Rutgers has sent us to all these places, but we could take a bus back to New Jersey from here, right?”
Mr. C nods, but he seems distracted, with a slightly puzzled expression on his face.