Presidential Inauguration Trip: Day 1 (Ryan)
At 3:00am we left Huntsville for our first stop, Dallas, Texas. The site where President John F. Kennedy was shot is marked off with white X’s on the road. In the Sixth floor Museum (which I’ve been to but we didn’t visit on this trip because it was too early), the room from which Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK is sealed off with Plexiglas. Who would’ve guessed that the Museum wasn’t open at 6:15? The grassy knoll seemed to be under construction at the time, but it was still visible.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, also known as “Ike,” was born in the small Texas town of Denison. His family moved to Abilene, Kansas when he was only one. His house is not as I remembered it from a previous visit; it is a small two-story house.
There is a statue of Ike on the grounds and at another location along the highway, a huge bust by local Huntsville artist David Adickes.
Our next stop was Fayetteville, Arkansas, home of the University of Arkansas and the Razorbacks. The campus buildings were nice, even though some were under construction. Arkansas’ hilly scenery added to the effect of peacefulness on the campus.
We also stopped at Crystal Bridges art museum, designed by famous architect Moshe Safdie, not too far from the UA campus.
The museum, resembling in some manner the Sydney Opera House, has over 400 paintings and sculptures.
One exhibit was on colonial period paintings with George Washington, and Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury. Other exhibits include an update of Grant Woods’ “American Gothic” and an intriguing and realistic “Self Portrait” by Evan Penny.
Our eventful first day came to a close with dinner at a bistro in Springfield, Missouri.
Presidential Inauguration Trip: Day 2 (Ryan)
Today might have been the longest day on the trip. After leaving the hotel, we toured a Usonian home, the Frank Lloyd Wright House at Ebsworth Park. We met up with two former Junior Fellows presidents, Dana Angello and Daniel North. Usonian homes, designed by the well-known architect Frank Lloyd Wright, were smaller houses that would be cheaper for middle class families to afford. They were called United States of North America homes (he added the ”I” and ”N” so that the name would flow). The house was designed for Mr. and Mrs. Krauss, and is designed as a series of overlapping parallelograms.
The St. Louis Gateway Arch was our next stop on the agenda. The Arch is the tallest man-made national monument in the U.S and is very impressive.
The space at the top was about the size of a wide hallway. The view out of the tiny 12×6 window was phenomenal, for those who had the guts to look out of one (not all of us did!).
Abraham Lincoln, or Honest Abe, is one of the most famous presidents, especially known for freeing the slaves through the Emancipation Proclamation. Although he was born in small log cabin in Kentucky, his tomb and memorial are located in Springfield, Illinois. The Junior Fellows and I had the opportunity to end our second day of the inauguration trip by visiting a “collage” of Lincoln sites including Lincoln’s Tomb…
The Lincoln Presidential Library…
and the home he lived in for most of his life.
Interestingly, we also got to see another Frank Lloyd Wright Home, the Dana-Thomas House in Springfield. It was definitely not a USONIAN Home.
Presidential Inauguration Trip: Day 3 (Ryan)
The City of Cincinnati, interestingly known as The Queen City, is named after Cincinnatus, a Roman general who won several major battles in his time. Since he was such a good leader, the people wanted to make him their king. He refused and went back to his life of farming, for he had no desire to be in power. We never found the statue, but we did drive by a mural picturing Cincinnatus. The mural was impressive enough, covering the complete backside of a three-story building.
In Cincinnati, we started off a day of tours of many different historical houses and other sites. We drove over the Roebling Suspension Bridge – the oldest bridge still standing that crosses the Ohio River. In fact, we drove over the Ohio River a number of times during the day.
There are seven United States presidents who are Ohio-born, and the 18th and the 27th happen to be from Cincinnati. Ulysses S. Grant, our 18th President, was born in a one room house no larger than a current-day, normal-sized hotel room.
Though a humble birthplace, the house has cool features like the Nanny rocker, which is a two person rocking chair. It has a detachable crib side so that the mother can sit and have her baby next to her while she tends to chores like sewing, but the baby won’t fall out.
President William H. Taft was the other President born in Cincinnati; Taft’s childhood home is a two-story house that he shared with his other five siblings. He was the only President who also served as Chief Justice on the Supreme Court.
From Ohio, we continued our multi-state trip by moving on to the next state on our agenda, Kentucky.
President Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, was born in Kentucky near Honest Abe’s birthplace.
Her house is an impressive three-story, fourteen room mansion in Lexington, KY. Mrs. Lincoln had 16 siblings growing up altogether. Her father remarried after her mother died, and Mrs. Lincoln did not have a good relationship with her stepmother. But her relationship with her step-grandma was another story. Mary said as a young girl that she wanted to grow up and be just as her step-grandmother.
We also had the chance to see another of Kentucky’s politicians’ homes. Henry Clay lived in the Ashland Estate, a sprawling and very cool home, with a root cellar, carriage house, well, and other cool amenities.
Today was another long day on the road. From Ohio and Kentucky, we moved on to West Virginia, where we stopped in Charleston to see the capitol and have a late dinner. We ate a diner-type dinner at a diner named, appropriately, “Diner.” We then piled back in the car for another long night of driving, and ended up spending the night in Staunton, Virginia.
Presidential Inauguration Trip: Day 4 (Ryan)
Woodrow Wilson served as President through the First World War, first known as the Great War. His house is in Staunton, VA which is where we spent the night. Although it wasn’t open, we were able to look about the grounds and in windows on the ground floor.
We arrived in Washington, D.C. this afternoon. We walked the mall area, seeing first the Washington Monument…
and the Lincoln Memorial.
Although it was crowded, the mall was a spectacular site to see.
Perhaps the most crowded memorials were the Lincoln and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorials. We didn’t get to see the Vietnam or the FDR Memorial, but we were able to visit the Jefferson…
…as well as the World War II, and District of Columbia War Memorials.
Our party moved along Independence St., picking up souvenirs, where we met Junior Fellow Alumni Justin Veillon. We traced the path we would take in the morning and found where we would be standing during the Inauguration, which was surprisingly close to the Capitol.
Justin ate dinner with us at a BBQ restaurant called Smokin’ Bones. The hotel was extremely close to the hotel; it was actually in the same parking lot. We went to bed as early as we could, because we wanted to get as much sleep as possible before Inauguration Day.
Presidential Inauguration Trip: Day 5 (Ryan)
Never mind day two of the trip – today was the longest day of the trip.
We started with an early 4:00am wake-up call followed by putting on layers upon layers of warm clothing so that the hours of standing outside would not leave us chilly. The Metro was not as crowded…
…as I thought it would be and the ride was pleasant enough.
After the short ride, we were herded into a line about the size of five city blocks. When we got close enough to the front of the line, we passed through a security tent where they checked everyone and all bags. Will and Jessica had to get “wanded” several times and had to test out their electronic devices to make sure they were not intended for another purpose.
When we found a good spot where we could see the podium, we broke out the toe warmers and hand warmers. They kept us warm through the whole ceremony. About thirty minutes after finding a spot, a man started climbing a tree about forty feet away. People started cheering him on because they thought he was just getting a better view, but that all stopped when he pulled out a sign, which were not allowed, protesting abortion. Little did we know, he yelled about abortion and his views on the President (he was very anti-Obama) through the whole ceremony.
The police brought in a ladder to get him down, but he just climbed higher and higher.
The ceremony was good, though, as well as the singing performances from the many artists. The Inauguration ceremony for the President and Vice-President was a sight to see. I will never forget it.
The ride back to the hotel from the parking garage was worse than the entire trip to the Inauguration. Traffic was terrible. We sat in the same spot in the parking garage for almost an hour. We stayed at the hotel for what was left of the day. The Junior Fellows and I ordered pizza. We got extra sleep that night, because we didn’t have any other stops or plans for the rest of the night.
Presidential Inauguration Trip: Day 6 (Ryan)
Today we visited many historical homes and sites, such as: Mt. VernonPresident George Washington)…
Mt. Vernon is the most visited house in the nation, with over 600,000 visitors per year. George Washington’s father built the original house, but Washington later added on to it twice. Despite all of its additions, the nicest part of the home is the view…
We also got to see the Barbourville Ruins…
…which were particularly cool.
Designed by Thomas Jefferson, the home burned in 1884, leaving this ghostly shell…
We also saw the Ashlawn-Highland house grounds (President James Madison), Andrew Johsnson’s Home, and Sam Houston’s Birthplace, but my favorite place visited today was Monticello (President Thomas Jefferson). The house, designed and constructed by Thomas Jefferson, was home to the third President.
When you first walk in, there is a giant clock on the wall with five balls hanging from either side of the clock that keep the clock working and tell you the day of the week. The room ended up being a “six day room,” so Jefferson cut a hole in the floor so that the clock would continue until Saturday. Jefferson’s book collection totaled to over 6,000, but he was only able to keep about a sixth of them in his house. Many his other inventions are in the house, too, such as the copy machine on his desk, and a dumbwaiter for bottles of wine that could be sent up from the cellar when necessary.
We got to Tennessee late at night, and rested up for the next day.
Presidential Inauguration Trip: Day 7 (Ryan)
We kick-started our day at the Sam Houston Schoolhouse in Maryville, Tennessee, where he taught school for a couple of years. Although the place was closed for the season, we had called ahead for an appointment, and the caretakers (the Bells) were nice enough to open it so that we could take a look around. The grounds aren’t elaborate, but there is some great history in the one-room building.
To keep alive the Greek culture in Nashville, we stopped at a gyros stand on our way to the Parthenon, named after Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom and war.
A giant statue of Athena is erected on the ground floor, complete with a serpent and shield.
Surrounding her are parts of statues of humans and horses. Below, there is a museum from the excavation of the original structure in Greece. We stopped by the Grand Ole Opry for a photo-op, and drove by Nashville’s Capitol. Perhaps most interesting, however, was a stop we made about 45 miles south of Nashville in Columbia, where James Polk, our 11th President, lived. His home was nice and interesting–as was the special exhibit of Sarah Polk artifacts–and the tour guide was especially impressive. The guide was actually the director of the museum, John Holtzapple, and you can learn more from Holtzapple about Polk on C-Span.
It was a long day, but we had another stop. The Junior Fellows and I visited Beale St. in Memphis, Tennessee, for dinner.
We tried to find a less noisy restaurant (which is hard to find), and after we continued on our way to Little Rock, Arkansas.
Presidential Inauguration Trip: Day 8 (Ryan)
Today, the last day of the trip, began in the capital of Arkansas, Little Rock. The Junior Fellows and I started off the day with a photo-op at the first school in the nation to become integrated, Little Rock Central High. This is the site of one of the great Civil Rights showdowns in American history, and it’s always an inspiration to see.
While the JFs visited the Clinton Presidential Library…
…and to the River Walk….
…I went a few blocks west to the Old Statehouse Museum. The Old Statehouse Museum used to be the Capitol. Interestingly, when it was the Capitol, a legislator was killed in one of the upstairs rooms in a knife duel.
We picked up the students and drove over to Whole Hog Café. Whole Hog has the best BBQ in the state of Arkansas, and maybe even in the whole South. We enjoyed a hearty meal and took home two cases of their famous barbeque sauces.
Our last stop before home was in Nacogdoches, Texas, at ZipNac. Although we have been ziplining there before, it was more exciting this time because it was night. The stops along through the zip lining course were lit up, and you couldn’t see the ground from up high. Taylor and I raced on the last zipline, and he won. (I think he jumped first.) That was a fun end to our trip.