The Trifecta!

Trip Start Apr 05, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Michigan
Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I hit the trifecta today.  For those of you unfamiliar with that racing term, I hit three in a row.  I had only visited three Presidential grave sites totally so far on my quest (Lincoln, Benjamin Harrison and William Henry Harrison) and I doubled that number today...Harding, Garfield and Hayes.  

I was up early.  7:00 am.  Henry and I went to a place I had never been before...Tim Horton's. They are ubiquitous (look it up) at exits on Interstate Highways.  They are apparently a doughnut shop which was once owned by Wendy's until a few years ago when they were spun off.  Not unlike a Dunkin' Donuts.  I had a cinnamon roll and a diet.  Henry had his coffee and a donut.  Love the smell of coffee...never could stand the taste.  

I got Henry back to his house and headed on my way.  I can't thank him enough for his hospitality. It's definitely my turn to take him out to dinner next time he's in Bloomington...I told him we'd go to Jim's Steak House.  He asked, "Where's that?"  I said, "It's The Brittany."  He knew exactly where it was.  Henry is so cool.  Henry story:  If I've told you, I apologize...if not, you may like it.  Back in my ISU days, 10 of us were going out to dinner at the old Tien Sien (sp?).  And I say, the old, I mean the one that is now the site of State Farm's parking deck just south of Corporate.  Anyway, 10 of us headed to Tien Sien for dinner, and we asked Henry to order for all of us.  We're thinking we're going to hear some great Chinese words coming from the mouth of The Great Henry Lee.  When the waiter asked for our order, Henry said, in very plain English... "One #4, two #12, four #21, etc....!!!"  We laughed our butts off! 
 Henry told me how to get to my next destination, Marion, Ohio with minimal traffic...not an easy task at 8:00 am on a Tuesday. What a great route!   Forty-five minutes later I found myself at Warren G. Harding's home.  Unfortunately, I wanted Warren G. Harding's grave site.  Fortunately, the home was about to open and a young lady took pity on an obvious tourist and told me how to get to Harding's tomb...only a mile away.  And what a tomb it is.  It almost looks like a Classical Greek cathedral.    A massive raised circular structure made of marble surrounded by columns.  Just beautiful.  Harding (1865-1923) was the 29th President of the US, taking office in 1921 with his return to normalcy campaign until his death while still in office off a heart attack in San Francisco.  

I was the only one at Harding's grave at the time of my visit.  I'm sure they are busy at certain times of the year, but not today.  I started thinking about that fact and I remembered the only time I saw other people at any of the grave sites was at Lincoln's Tomb in Springfield.  In one way it's sad that not many people visit these graves, but for me, it was wonderful.  It lent itself to my paying respect to the deceased President on an individual to him.  From now on I'm probably going to be bothered if I have to share the experience with others...we'll see.  Anyway, if you get the chance to see this grave, I suggest you do so.  Off the beaten path, but well worth the drive.  Harding said he wanted to be buried under beneath a tree under the open sky. Sure enough within the open-topped rotunda of his circular monument a tree grows.  He got his wish.  Very cool.

I then headed to Cleveland...back in the day they used to call it (some may still) "The Mistake on the Lake."  It now has some pretty good things going for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  It was a 2+ hour drive, but I was up for the task.  It started out nice today, but it alternated between sprinkles, mist, drizzle, sunshine and clouds all day long.   

The grave site and memorial of James A. Garfield is about three miles east of downtown Cleveland.   You go by Cleveland State and Case Western Reserve Universities to Euclid Avenue, and you're there.  It's in Lake View Cemetery.  And it's very nicely done.  It's a large castle-type structure not un-like Cook Hall on the ISU campus, but darker stone built on the top of a hill.  It's made of limestone, not bright in color, but blackened by weathering over the years.  It gives it an almost "dark castle" effect.  A lone caretaker was sweeping out front when I approached.  Again, I was the only visitor at the time.  I wasn't unhappy. I asked if it was open, and he said, "Yes."  I went in and saw a 9 minute continuous video of Garfield's life and short Presidency.   James A. Garfield was our 20th President, serving a mere 200 days in office until a disgruntled appointment-seeker (Charles Guiteau) shot him...only the President I saw yesterday, William Henry Harrison served less time in office.  

The memorial is a wonderful tribute to the former President.  Inside the rotunda is a larger than life sculpture of Garfield which is beautiful.  The floor below holds the caskets of Garfield and his wife.  If you're in Cleveland, please stop by.  Very well done.

Then I was headed west to Fremont, Ohio.  I retraced my step out of Cleveland, passing by "The Jake" or Progressive Field as it's known now, where the Cleveland Indians play.  I was there about this time two years ago on my baseball park quest.  Beautiful ballpark.  Saw the White Sox play the Indians and saw the Indians pull a triple play (very rare) against the White Sox.  Passed by the Cleveland International Airport and headed west.  Went by Sandusky, Ohio...home of arguably the best amusement park in America, Cedar Point.  Couldn't go there now...too claustrophobic...can't handle that restraint over my chest...having trouble breathing just thinking about it!  Anyway, I was on my way to #3 of the day...Rutherford B. Hayes in Fremont, Ohio.  

I got there about 3:00 pm.  At first, I just saw the gravesite.          

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jr on

did you stop by my home town, Napoleon..??? lol

Brian Schaefer on

Thank you for another great blog entry Dave and for sharing your travels with us poor souls still stuck in Bloomington....:-)

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