Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nixon Presidential Library

From the National Archives website:

"Presidential Libraries are not libraries in the usual sense. They are archives and museums, bringing together in one place the documents and artifacts of a President and his administration and presenting them to the public for study and discussion without regard for political considerations or affiliations."

The Nixon Library is on the property that once belonged to the Nixons and the house where Richard Nixon was born, built by his father from a Sears Kit, is still on the property.

We went inside the house with a docent who told us about it. The furniture and contents of the house are mostly what was originally owned by the Nixons.

Near the house is the presidential helicopter that Nixon flew home on when he resigned from the presidency. We did go inside the helicopter, but no pictures allowed.

Inside the museum are replicas of two rooms in the White House. One is the East Room, which is the largest room in the White house used for ceremonies, banquets, receptions, etc.

The other is the Lincoln Sitting Room as it was decorated during President Nixon's time in office.

There are life-sized sculptures of major world figures that President Nixon dealt with during his career.

This is one of the limousines used by President Nixon. After the assassination of President Kennedy, convertible cars were no longer used.

There are exhibits of various gifts given to the president and first lady. The gifts can be used while the president is in office, but upon the president's departure, the gifts are left to the museums as they are the property of the citizens of the U.S. Sorry, I didn't get any pictures of the bling. There are also exhibits of gowns worn by the women of the white house. This is the gown Pat Nixon wore to the president's second inauguration.

And here was a surprise to me. Another piece of the Berlin Wall. This was provided to the museum by Carl N. Karcher, founder of the Carl's, Jr. hamburger chain.

There are many, many more exhibits in this museum. Not only did I learn a lot about our 37th president and the times that he served in public office, but I was inspired to learn more about these times in our history.

Definitely worth a visit if you're ever in the area.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Reagan Presidential Library

Since friends Don and Dorothy told me about visiting presidential libraries in their travels, I decided I'd do the same. There are two in California, so this is where I'll start my tour of these museums.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum is in Simi Valley, California. The view from the patio out back is beautiful. We were fortunate to have a clear day.

Inside, there's a replica of the Oval Office as it appeared when Reagan was president. Somehow, it seemed smaller than I expected.

In the Air Force One Pavillion there are various transportation vehicles like this Secret Service Suburban. There was a small exhibit about the Secret Service too.

Here's the big exhibit, a Boeing 707 that was Air Force One for seven presidents. It's smaller than the Boeing 747 that's now used for presidential transport. We did get to go inside this aircraft, but taking pictures isn't allowed.

Here's a helicopter that was used as Marine One with the 707 in the background. We were allowed to go in the helicopter too.

There was a special exhibit called "Spy: The Secret World of Espionage." There were documents and gadgets on display, like this cipher machine, called Enigma, from Germany which was used during WWII.

There were also various concealment gadgets like this shoe and a tooth used to carry information by spies.

There was this nice display of lock-picking tools. I've always been fascinated by lock-picking and safe-cracking.

Outside is an actual piece of the Berlin Wall. I snagged this picture from the presidential library website. The lighting wasn't good for my own picture.

Personal note: While in the Air Force, I was most fortunate in having the opportunity to tour the Berlin Wall as few others have done - in an Army helicopter all the way around the whole wall. It was both scary and fascinating and one of my most memorable experiences.

Of course, there was much more in this museum, including many documents, videos, movies, sculptures, paintings, gifts from foreign nations, etc., presenting much opportunity to learn some history. Had I thought of this before last summer, I could have visited a few more presidential libraries during my trek back east. I may need to return so that I can check them out in future travels. Click here to read more about presidential libraries and see where they are located.

Friday, October 4, 2013

USS Midway

Spent a day in San Diego this week to tour the USS Midway.

What a great museum. You can get a headset for an audio tour (included in the entrance price) and learn all about the ship and the planes on the deck of this aircraft carrier. You can also get a guided tour of the bridge (also included in the entrance price), which we did.

Here's a view of the runway from the control tower.

What I found most interesting was the whole "city on the ocean" aspect of it. Having never been in the Navy or gone to sea on a ship, I was intrigued by the logistics of 4500 crew members living here for months at a time. It really is a self-contained city.

Enlisted personnel berthing.



Operating room

Dentist chair

Big mixing bowls in the kitchen

Some of the ovens in the kitchen

The brig

There's so much more to see and learn on this ship/museum: the ship's engines, radio equipment, officer's quarters, laundry, communications and radar, the catapult that launches the aircraft, the different jobs and missions of crew members, the airplanes on the flight deck, etc. One could easily spend a couple days here listening to all the audio tour recordings and the information imparted by volunteers who work on the ship and all the written information on signs and posters all around the ship. It's all very well presented and an excellent museum.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Canyon de Chelly

Posting a few pictures of this beautiful canyon. Not many words needed.

The south side

The north side

There were several old cliff dwellings of the Anasazi on both the south and north sides, but my little camera was insufficient in capturing them. This one was close enough and big enough to get.

This is it zoomed in. Of course, you can click on the pictures for a bigger view.

And there were wild horses along the roads.

Monday, September 16, 2013

More from New Mexico

While at El Malpais and Bluewater Lake State Park, I met up with fellow blogger, Barbara and her best travel buddy, Katie. You can see her blog here. You know, it seemed like we'd known each other longer than just a few months of reading each other's blogs.

Barbara took pictures of these two horses that were roaming around the park for a few days. I didn't even see them outside my rig when these were taken. Thanks for the pictures, Barbara!

Hey, I recognize this RV. Skylark!!

I read Andy's website when I was researching RVs and it resulted in my buying a Lazy Daze motorhome, so I was very happy to finally meet Andy! We had a great couple visits and, not a surprise, I learned a lot while talking to him.

At the El Malpais campground, I met Sandra and Mickey who I went out to the La Ventana Arch with while there.

We also met at Bluewater Lake one day and then I met up with them at a forest service campground near Gallup for a couple nights. It was great traveling with these gals.

I also met RVJohn and Hazel and her beautiful greyhounds. Sorry I didn't get pictures, but you can see them on their blogs.

I hope to meet up with all these folks again. The visits all seemed too short.

It's been crazy weather here. Lots of lightning (some too close for comfort), thunder and rain. Glad that there aren't any more storms in the forecast for the next week.

Monday, September 9, 2013

El Malpais and Bluewater Lake

El Malpais is an interesting place. The brochure says, "Where Sharp Lava Meets Smooth Sandstone." You can see it here from Sandstone Bluffs Overlook. The black patches in the middle of the picture are lava.

The BLM campground is small with only 10 sites, most of which are not level, and there are no hookups, but it's a pretty place and free. I drove with some of my neighbors to La Ventana Natural Arch. It's a lovely drive though the park.

Bluewater Lake State Park is one of many New Mexico parks with RV campsites. At this time of year, there aren't many campers and it's extremely quiet. I got a great site, as you can see here.

And here's a view from the roof, where I enjoyed sitting for a while this afternoon until a brief rain drove me indoors.

I'll post more from Bluewater later this week. Just wanted to post a quick update for now so you'll know I'm on the move again.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


This is Indie. She's Debbie's dog. While Debbie and Evan were in California, I got to dogsit for a while. She's obsessed with toys and she likes playing catch with these little plush balls that I got her (there's one between her paws here).

This is Indie after playing catch and fetch. She's worn out.

This is Indie during a thunderstorm. She's terrified of the thunder. She's wearing a Thundershirt. It seems to help a little. There were thunderstorms nearly every afternoon.

Here's a closeup of her sitting on my lap. She's smiling, right?

I've considered getting a dog. They're good company, for sure, but I think I'll just hold that thought for now. Maybe next year.