Mission Accomplished

Trip Start Apr 05, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , California
Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A brief post script from yesterday.  Forgot to tell you.  We are very pleased that in Illinois we will soon be able to drive 70 mph legally.  At times in Texas, the speed limit was 85 mph!!!  Wow!  On to California.

With any luck at all, I would be able to finish my quest today.  The last two were in my sights. It's sort of like the marathon racer (or so I'm told by my friend Curtis Simpson, or cousins Cathy and Christine who do those crazy things!) who has finished mile number 22 and only has 4.2 miles to go...they're a tough last four miles, but at that point you are determined to finish! 

I was up early.  Had free breakfast in the Club Room and at 7:30 psyched myself up to attack the LA traffic.  They don't tend to measure things in terms of miles, rather they use time.  And the 50 miles from LAX to Yorba Linda (The Richard Nixon gravesite) should only take an hour or so.  Not with this traffic.  My Garmin took me what I thought was a round about way to get there, but the NeverLost system in the Hertz Car agreed, so I fought the traffic for 90 minutes, finally reaching the pretty town of Yorba Linda, CA.  A few miles off the freeway is the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace.  He's buried very near where he was born.  

 As I rolled into the almost empty parking lot, my worst fears were realized.  It was going to be closed.  There was a maintenance man hosing off the front steps.  I asked and he confirmed due to the government shutdown, the entire site was closed.  Sign on the door said the same. It's a pretty site.  Beautiful fountain in front.  What appeared to be a mock up of part of the White House as part of the building...my guess, the library.  Having it closed didn't prevent me from nosing around and seeing if I could at least get some pictures of the gravesite.  I got a picture through the window of the garden in the back where Nixon is buried.  It's very near the house where he was born, also within the site.  Couldn't get in there either.  They even have an old Marine One helicopter at the site.  Well, I got to within 100 yards of Nixon's grave.

Perhaps it's fitting that I couldn't see Nixon's grave.  He and I were not on the same page politically in the late 60's and early 70's.  I remember coming back from Europe after our honeymoon in 1974 and it was quite the thing to have a party in August of that year to watch Nixon resign.  No one likes to lose, but Nixon took it to an extreme.  He was willing to do anything to win and that included breaking the law to get it done.  Nixon was a career politician.  He was VP for Eisenhower in the 1950s and lost to Kennedy in the 1960 election.  People thought he was done.  But in 1968 he ran and won to become our 37th President.  I should be grateful that he ended the draft, otherwise I may have wound up in Viet Nam like many of my high school friends. I respect them and honor them for serving our country, and feel they got a raw deal by the way they were treated after the war.  Nixon was the first President in history to resign.  He was facing impeachment because of the Watergate break-in.  Interesting living through that time in our history. I wasn't sad to see him resign.  But I was sad not to see his and Pat's (his wife) grave.  It was a "downer."  I was afraid I was going to end this quest on a double downer because I didn't have much faith that Ronald Reagan's gravesite would be much different.  

Once again 60 miles...this time only a little more than an hour.  Better traffic.  Ronald Reagan is buried at his ranch on Presidential Drive in Simi Valley, CA.

As I turned off the street and up the mountain toward Reagan's gravesite, I realized why they called it Presidential Drive.  I thought it was just for Reagan.  Nope.  There are pictures of every US President in order on the lamp posts heading up the hill.  Very cool.  As I saw them, I called them out, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, John Quincy Adams, etc.
All the way up to Reagan at the top.  I thought, what a perfect ending to a quest where I had visited every one of the Presidential gravesites pictured going up the mountain.  It ended with Ronald Reagan, which I thought was a bit odd, but thinking, maybe that's was there intent...more on that later.  A good sign, there were cars in the parking lot and people milling around.  

I got out and saw some beautiful views of the valley below...I know why Reagan liked it here.  I walked on a sidewalk toward the cliffs and saw what I thought was a fitting monument to Reagan.  And sure enough, there it was, Ronald Reagan's grave.  A nicely dressed tour guide was standing in front of it and told me about it.  The words inscribed on the monument are classic Reagan:  "I know in my heart that man is good.  That what is right will always eventually triumph.  And there's purpose and worth to each and every life."  Well said.  The nice lady was kind enough to take my picture in front of it.  She said some of the exhibit is closed, but much is still open (run independently).  She said the Air Force One Exhibit was particularly good and should be viewed.   

Once again, I miss the historical film that almost always accompanies the museum exhibit.  But there is a beautiful plaque of the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence and one of the Preamble of the Constitution at the entrance to the museum.  Very well done.  There are several statues and busts of Reagan as well as a large chunk of the Berlin Wall that Reagan helped to bring down.  And there is a picture of him turned into a mural which appears he is walking down the hallway of the White House...very nice.

Reagan may have been the President that turned me from a Democrat to a Republican.  I felt he communicated so well with the American people.  Second only to Bill Clinton in my opinion.  But I love the way Reagan attacked problems straight on.  You never felt like he was feeding you a line of BS.  He took over the country when we were at a very low point.  Not much self-esteem and not well regarded world wide.  I think he helped change that perception, and his "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" speech in Berlin in 1987 was truly historic and rivaled Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" (I am a Berliner) speech in 1963.  Reagan was a good one!   

And then on to the Air Force One Museum.  They actually have a full Air Force One (Boeing 707) inside the museum.  They dismantled it piece by piece and the reassembled it in the museum.  You can walk through and it almost seems like Reagan is there.  Beautiful exhibit. They take your picture in front (with you waiving of course) and I bought one!  They even have a Marine One Helicopter in the museum.  But the most fun was the Ronald Reagan Pub based on the trip he took to Ireland in 1984.  Had to have a Smithwicks there!

And I headed back toward LA, but as I did I went down the mountain on Presidential Drive and there were the rest of the Presidents after Reagan on the lamp posts...Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama.  

Lunch was next on my agenda.  And right on the way back to my hotel was a Japanese restaurant I went to on my baseball quest.  It's called Orochon Rammen.  Saw it on MVF.  But don't think of your normal rammen noodles.  It's delicious and the portions are gigantic.  Adam Richman from MVF did a challenge for hot stuff...1 - mile 7 - crazy hot.  I chose 4.  Delicious. Couldn't finish it all.  Got out of the area quickly as the Dodger - Cardinal game was about to start and the traffic was building.

Headed back to the hotel and blogged for a while.  And when it came time for dinner, I knew what I wanted...A California specialty - In-N-Out Burger.  Delicious.  Fresh cut fries and a shake.  Had to head home for some sleep.  And on my way home tomorrow.

It was a quest which actually began as an idea formulated on my baseball quest in Boston viewing John and John Quincy Adams' grave.  I'm glad I did it.  The history lover in me loved it, and the travel lover did as well. I was struck mainly by the difference in gravesites of our Presidents.  From the small, 20 foot tall obelisk of Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis or the James Madison in Virginia to the ornate gravesites of Presidents like Lincoln, Washington and Grant.  All different, but all deserving of our respect.  I got to pay my respects to every one of them.  Left me with a good feeling inside.  

Next morning I was up early, returned my rental car and headed to the Frontier terminal.  I had an hour or so, so I worked on the blog a little more and as I walked on the plane (a nice Airbus 319), I noticed they had a computer screen on the back of the seat in front of me.  It was on the airplane date page...and said we were already 5 feet off the ground....hmmmm?  

Anyway, on to Denver and one hour later, on to Bloomington.  Quest complete, and back home again.

Take care my friends and family!


P.S.  I have downloaded pics for my last three visits...LBJ, Nixon and Reagan!


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