|Khloe and I at LBJ's gravesite in Stonewall, Texas. June 2009|
Since 2019 began I have had cause for reflection. It has been a full 10 years since something awoke in me that had caused me to set out to visit the gravesite of every US President. From there the travel bug took root and expanded into visiting historical sites of every sort. I can honestly say that since then the thought of the next possible trip has never been far from my mind. Of 38 Presidential gravesites at that time, I visited 20 in 2009, 9 in 2010, 5 in 2011, and the final 4 in 2012. And it all started with the birth of a little girl.
My daughter Khloe was born in early January 2009. As I look back at the few years leading up to Khloe's arrival, they seem less enjoyable then the decade since. The day before getting married in June 2004 my best friend growing up, and would be best man Nick suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. Heartbreak also hit us hard in the coming years in other forms. This all made Khloe's arrival that much more of a special blessing after some difficult years.
Since work caused me to travel all around, including nearby states during the week, the thought of traveling in my free time didn't really occur to me. In those years after marriage and before parent hood, my wife and I would make little trips to Lake Erie sometimes, but mostly stuck close to home. Looking back, I guess that being away from home so much just caused me to naturally enjoy being around home whenever I could.
Shortly after Khloe was born, my wife came up with the idea of visiting her family in Texas that summer. The idea got me thinking about what kind of things we might be able to see along the way. Nashville was along the way and I thought about Andrew Jackson's Hermitage. Growing up I had visited the Presidential gravesites in my home state of Ohio as well as the ones in the Virginia / DC area, which put my tally at 13. The thought of visiting the other ones hadn't really occurred to me until now. Plus I had little to no pictures of any of my previous trips. After researching online I saw other people with the idea of visiting all of the Presidents gravesites. This led me to starting my own quest at the beginning, so that I could get pictures of myself at all of these sites. This was the original spark that lit the fire. Since then, more goals occurred to me along the way - Presidential birthplaces, Libraries, homes, VP graves and gravesites of Governors of Ohio, among many others.
If your interested in the details of my early trips check out my trip blog posts in 2011 and 2012. And since then I have documented most of my other trips in "Year in Review" posts.
I started emailing back and forth to some of the people whose websites documented their own quest to visit Presidential sites. One of them, Pat Weissend ( patspresidentialplaces.com ) from Buffalo, introduced me to the Facebook group: I Purposely Visit All Presidential Graves, Birthplaces and Libraries. In that group I met a lot of great people who share the hobby of visiting Presidential sites. Many of them have become friends over the years and I've even had the pleasure of meeting several of them in person. In my free time it's always fun to message back and forth with them whenever I may be seeking advice on an upcoming trip to a site they have visited, or to offer advice to others who may be visiting a place that I have been to.
By 2011, we had covered a lot of ground and seen a lot of sites. I really wanted an outlet to document my travels. So I decided to start a website/ blog of my own, which you are reading right now. In 2014, I made a facebook page for this blog. Sharing it in various history themed facebook groups attracted more attention and more followers.
Khloe wouldn't be an only child for long. Nicky was born in November 2010, and Grant followed in January 2013. Watching them grow and see how there interests have grown has been a great experience. All my kids have shown an interest in history, especially my older 2. After a recent trip to Fallen Timbers Battlefield, Khloe told her teacher that we had visited the site, since they were studying it around that time. Khloe requested that I send pictures of the site to her teacher, at which point, Khloe conducted a slide slow explanation of the Battle to her class. While touring historic homes, Nick has been known to keep the tour guides on their toes with surprisingly complicated questions for a child. On a recent trip to President Grant's boyhood home in Georgetown, Ohio, Nick kept taking notes in his notebook of anything that he found interesting. They are so used to road trips that Grant will often ask "What cemetery are we going to?"
|Khloe and I at Chester Arthur's gravesite in September 2009|
|Khloe and I at Berkeley Plantation in June 2010. Birthplace of William Henry Harrison|
|Khloe and I at Millard Fillmore's gravesite in 2009 and 2017|
I have really come to enjoy these sort of pictures, above and below. We have been visiting these sites regularly, and often covering the same ground to catch stuff that we missed the first time, which makes these fun comparison pictures possible.
|My son Nick and I at Fillmore's grave in 2012 and 2017.|
|My kids and I at Marblehead lighthouse on Lake Erie. When the weather is nice. One of my favorite things to do it throw the kids in the car and just start driving to various places for day trips.|
|Khloe and I at WH Harrison' Tomb in 2009 and 2018.|
|My wife Danielle.|
My wife has also gotten the travel bug along the way. Although during a lot of our trips, she is a very good sport as I geek out on history stuff, it is not uncommon for her to instigate a last minute weekend trip to Niagara Falls or other places. I do my best to incorporate stuff that she likes into out trips. Since she likes Lighthouses, the east coast is always an easy sell. Which is why I still have quite a bit that I need to see out west. Not to many lighthouses in Kansas. She is also a great person to have around when locating a difficult grave. She will look at the pictures from Findagrave.com and pick out details that I overlook. For example, last summer we were in Grand Rapids, Michigan, trying to locate the final resting places of President Ford's Mother and step Dad. I was there, just the kids and I back in 2014 and couldn't find them. They were flat on the ground markers, so the pictures didn't show much back ground to reference. But something about the grass in the picture led her to search under a few trees where she found them.
|My travel buddies|
I hope you found this interesting. As I see more sites, I always update each Presidents individual page. But I am always trying to find a reason to come up with a new post. And I thought that this would be good cause for a new one. Thanks everyone!