Saturday, October 29, 2011

Trip #4 Down to Texas and Back

Lincoln's headstone in Lincoln's Tomb Springfield, IL

Presidential Gravesites seen on this trip: #11 James K. Polk Nashville, Tennessee 8 of 38                        
#7 Andrew Jackson Nashville, Tennessee 9 of 38
#36 Lyndon B. Johnson Stonewall, Texas 10 of 38
#16 Abraham Lincoln Springfield, Illinios 11 of 38

June 20, 2009 James K. Polk

The trip that started all of this had finally come. We left home around midnight. My plan was to drive through the night and arrive at Andrew Jackson's Hermitage right when they open. This all worked out ok. We arrived at The Hermitage at 8:45 and they were to open at 9:00. As we sat waiting the last few minutes before they opened the security guard drove up behind us and started looking at us funny as he circled our van a couple times. He eventually stopped behind us. I got out to see if there was a problem. He said, "you know that we don't open until 9 right?" I said "Yeah". He said, " ok, you are welcomed to sit here, but I just wanted you to know." I said, "ok" thinking that it was strange. Then it occurred to me. The time change. Somehow in all of my planning I had never considered that Nashville is just on the other side into the Central Time Zone. Which meant that it was actually pushing 8:00 not 9. Which explains the security guards confusion. So I decided to go see the other President buried in Nashville, James K. Polk, while The Hermitage was still closed.

So we drove into the heart of Nashville and found the Tennessee State Capital Building pretty easy. Polk's Tomb is located on the State Capital lawn. But the problem was, where to park? We drove a couple blocks down the hill from the Capital and found a parking spot. We then proceded to walk the stroller up the hill over what seemed like a thousand steps. We got to the street next to the Capital Building and found more steps. We started to walk around the property hoping to find a ramp or something other than steps. I looked up the hill and saw it. Polk's Tomb was hard to miss after seeing pictures of it. It was just up the hill. I guess that I figured the quickest way between 2 points is a straight line. So I proceded to drag the stroller up the hill as my wife pushed. The hill proved to be steeper than expected and by the time we got up the hill my wife was a little peeved and not speaking to me. Polk's Tomb is a nice and respectable memorial to one of our greatest Presdents. He was originally buried at his house Polk Place. But when the house was torn down the Tomb was moved to the Capital. We found an easier way down the hill and we were on our way back to The Hermitage.

James K. Polk's Tomb Tennessee State Capital Building Nasville, Tennessee

June 20, 2009 Andrew Jackson

By the time we made it back to The Hermitage, they were very much open. There are a few sites that are absolute must sees for Presidential site enthusiast. Among them are Mt. Vernon and Monticello. The Hermitage is also one of them. It was a very hot day. We looked through all of their indoor exhibits and then headed outside to the house. We toured the house which was a great tour. We then went to the garden next to the house, where President and Mrs. Jackson are buried. We spent a little time there but it was getting very hot and Khloe was only 5 and a half months old. So we continued on our way down to Texas. I do plan to return to Nashville sometime just the wife and I to see The Hermitage more closely and explore other things.

Andrew Jackson's Tomb at The Hermitage

June 24, 2009 Lyndon B. Johnson

Fast forward a few days to Wednesday. I planned out the way down and the way back to Texas. I left the rest of the week open to whatever, except for Wednesday. Not knowing if I would ever make it back down to Texas, I was determined to go to the LBJ Ranch while I was down there. It would be a 4 hour drive from where we were staying in the Houston area to the LBJ Ranch. So I wanted to get an early start. I figured that we should leave around 5am so that we could be at the Ranch around 9. My wives 2 cousins decided to come along and they weren't happy about the early rise. Although one of them mentioned recently that looking back, they were glad that they got to see it. I hadn't planned on hitting Austin around rush hour that morning, which set us back alittle. We arrived in Johnson City, Texas around 10. LBJ spent part of his childhood here and there is one of his boyhood homes there to see. We looked around a bit but weren't allowed inside because they were moving furniture that day. I talked with the man at the visitors center and he gave us directions to the LBJ Ranch which was another 15 minutes or so down the road.  

Now to this day it remains one of my favorate sites. The experience of driving out to the Ranch with the scenery really sets the mood. I have heard to refered to as the 'LBJ experience' . And I definatly found it to be that. Whatever LBJ was, growing up in this area of Texas made him that way. And it is a great experience to see it first hand.

It was around 11 when we finally made it to the Ranch. We stopped at the visitors center and they gave us a cd to put in the car as a sort of self guided tour. Others were taking the bus though. We drove out of the visitors center and turned to drive along a river. We eventually came to the bridge that took us over to the main LBJ sites. In a very small stretch of road is LBJ's school house, his reconstructed birthplace, his grandparents home, the family cemetery where he is buried, and the main LBJ Ranch house. I got out to see the birthplace home. And then we headed over to the cemetery. You aren't allowed to step across the stone wall that surrounds the Johnson family cemetery. But you can see LBJ's tombstone very well from the outside. We continued on to the ranch house where just months before they started to let people in to tour. LBJ's widow Lady Bird Johnson lived until 2007. At that point the house was given to the National Park Service. 2008 was the 100th birthyear of LBJ. So around his 100th birthday they opened the house to the public. At the time only a few rooms where available to tour. But it was still pretty cool to be inside.

LBJ's Tombstone in the Johnson family cemetery at the LBJ Ranch Stonewall, Texas.

June 27th 2009 Abraham Lincoln

We started the trip back home from Texas on the late afternoon of Friday June 26th. We left around 4pm and arrived in Dallas around 8. We stopped by Dealey Plaza in Dallas. The site of John F. Kennedy's assassination. We continued on our way driving through the night and hoping to arrive in Springfield, IL in the morning. We arrived in Springfield around 10:30 am. We headed straight for Lincoln's Tomb. I would have to say that Lincoln's Tomb was one of my favorites. It's like a sort of mecca that all Americans should experience at least once.  Before we left Springfield we stopped by Lincoln's Home. There is so much Lincoln stuff to see in Springfield that it was ashame to see it as a drive by stop. I hope to someday go out there are spend a couple days to soak up all of the Lincoln sites. We then drove the last 6 hours or so home. It was a great trip. Once things settled down from it I started gathering information for my next big trip to come the following September.

Abraham Lincoln's Tomb Oak Ridge Cemetery Springfield, Illinois

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