Saturday, December 26, 2015

2015: Year in Review

     2015 was a year much like 2014 in regards to my hobby of visiting historical sites. In the few years before that starting around 2009 each year I took at least one week long trip devoted to visiting historical and/ or presidential sites. 
    But just like 2014 no such trip happened in 2015. But I was able to work in a lot of little stuff here and there that added up to a pretty decent year. 

    January and February were brutal. It was an incredibly cold winter, and my primary goal at that time was to get through to February 27. That's the day we left for a week long Disney trip in Florida. 

     It was a really nice trip and a lot of fun! My nephew went with us on the long journey to Orlando. Once in Orlando we picked up my parents at the airport. 

   But on the way down I got to indulge a little bit in this hobby. We went a little bit out-of-the-way and our first stop of the trip was the gravesite of Vice President William Rufus King in Selma, Alabama. 

    VP Kings gravesite

     Me at my 36th VP gravesite

    Next stop was in Montgomery, Alabama. The Bus in which Rosa Parks was sitting on when she was told to give up her seat is now at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. My family and I have been there several times. So I thought it would be neat to see the actual site where this happened. My nephew Chris, and kids Khloe and Nicky are in front the historical marker, marking this event. It is now also the site of the Rosa Parks Museum.

    Rosa Parks Library and Museum

     Before the Rosa Parks Library/ Museum was construction on the site. There used to sit the Empire theater here. The Empire theater is where Hank Williams launched his career by winning a contest here. 

   Next stop in Mountgomery was the old State Capitol building. This was the first capital building of the confederacy and the site of Jefferson Davis's inauguration as first and only president of the Confederate states of America. 

    This star marks the spot of Jeff Davis's inauguration

    Me at the Alabama old State Capitol building

    Across the street from the old State Capitol is the first White House of the confederacy. 

   Elsewhere and Montgomery we found the graveside of Hank Williams

    After Montgomery we headed to Tuskegee. This is the site of an African-American college. Among their several claims to fame, The Tuskegee airmen fighter pilots of World War II trained in this town. Booker T. Washington lived here in the house in the picture. And also George Washington Carver, the scientist who discovered many uses of peanuts lived here and researched here.

    To set the stage you'll need to understand that we just suffered through a really bad winter of pretty consistent subzero and single-digit temperatures when we had left on this trip. By the time we got to Tuskegee it was sunny and 60°. The feeling of walking around the campus in our T-shirts was absolutely amazing! Not to mention that it's an absolutely beautiful campus. 

   One of George Washington Carver's laboratories have been turned into a National Park's headquarters and Carver Museum. 

    Grave of George Washington Carver near the campus church

    Not far from Carver here's the grave of Booker T. Washington

    After we left to Tuskegee, we made a return trip to Plains, Georgia because my wife insisted on getting some of that wonderful peanut butter ice cream they have here. 

      Not a lot of historical or presidential stuff to note in our time at Disney with the exception of course of the Hall of Presidents at the Magic Kingdom

    George Washington's mug at the hall of presidents is just one of many presidential property they have on display. Other things include James Monroe's chess set,  Rutherford B. Hayes top hat and George W. Bush's boots. 

    2015 marked the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's assassination. In April, A few days after the anniversary of the assassination we stopped at the Henry Ford Museum and saw the chair in which Lincoln was shot. 

    With it being the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's death there was a lot of reenacting going on. In early May we went to the Ohio State house. Where a couple days earlier they had re-created Lincoln's coffin laying in the state as it did 150 years ago on its way to Springfield from Washington. The pillars are wrapped in black to symbolize the mourning if Lincoln

    Inside the Statehouse at the site where Lincoln once made a speech before he was President

   Where the re-created Lincoln casket sat a couple days before visit. In the exact same spot that it sat 150 years before

    My son Grant and I with the statue of General Grant

    I've always felt a little bad about how early on in this hobby my time in Springfield Illinois was cut so short. We were on our way back from Texas and we kind of just wanted to get home back in 2009. So we swung by the tomb and then made a brief stop at Lincoln's house before leaving town. 

   Ever sense I wanted to take a couple days and take in all the Lincoln sites properly. As the 150th anniversary was approaching I knew that there was going to be a re-created funeral train and reenactment of Lincoln's funeral on the first weekend of May. I wasn't able to make it that weekend but as Memorial Day Weekend approached I was able to make it work for the holiday weekend. 

    Our first Lincoln site of the weekend was Lincolns New Salem. My Mom and my niece Johanna came along on the weekend adventure

   New Salem was pretty cool! The villages is reconstructed as it would've looked when Lincoln lived there as a young adult. The building I am standing in front of in this picture is the only building here that was original and standing at the time Lincoln was here. 

    At the gravesite of Anne Rutledge, Lincolns first love who died young

    Lincoln's tomb

     What's my kids inside Lincolns tomb

   Oak ridge cemetery receiving vault, where Lincoln's body was held during the construction of the tomb

     A reconstruction of Lincolns funeral coach was still hanging around from the reenactment a few weeks before

    The old Illinois State Capitol building where Lincoln worked as a state representative. His body had also laid in state here for a while before his funeral

   Lincolns home still draped in mourning 

   Inside Lincolns home

    The Abraham Lincoln Presidebtial library / museum was a great final stop for the weekend

   My family with Lincoln family

    A seen depicting Lincoln's early life in Indiana

    Lincoln Douglas debate's

    Lincoln's assassination at Ford's theater

    The actual deathbed of Abraham Lincoln

       In July my wife and I both had vacation. We were leaving that week open considering different possibilities. As the week approach we were really busy at work and we hadnt made any definite plans so I went ahead and worked Monday and Tuesday of that week. We decided to make a day trip to Put in Bay on Lake Erie, just my wife and I. Then we decided to go visit my sister-in-law in southern Ohio towards the weekend. While down there taking in the outdoor drama Tecumseh

   A nice little day trip to Put in Bay with Perry's Monument in the background. Put in Bay is on South Bass Island in Lake Erie. It is near the naval battle site of the battle of Lake Erie during the war of 1812. 

   It had been about 10 years since I've been to Chillicothe to see Tecumseh. it was a really great show!

     In September after one of Khloe's  soccer games we snuck up to the Toledo area where we grabbed some lunch and headed over to Fort Meigs. This was a War of 1812 fort that was built by future President William Henry Harrison. I hadn't been here since I was a kid and had been meaning to stop by many times since. This seems like a good opportunity to see it again. 

     Inside the fort

     None of the options on the wheel of fate look very promising

    Heading out of the fort

     In early October one Sunday afternoon I took the kids over to Fremont to President Hayes home. They were having a Civil War battle reenactment. And then a birthday wreath laying ceremony at Hayes Tomb. The kids and I both had a lot of fun!

    Birthday Wreath Laying Ceremony at Hayes Tomb

     In November I attended another birthday wreath laying ceremony. This time at Garfield Tomb. This was a pretty special day because I got to meet up with friends I've met on line who share this interest. 

    Earlier that day I met up with Pat (who is in the picture to the left) at Garfields home as we took the first tour of the day. This was the second time I met up with Pat, the first time was when I was swinging through Buffalo back in 2012 on my way home from the East Coast. We met up and talked for a little bit at Millard Fillmore's gravesite. 

   After the house tour we met up again at the tomb for the ceremony. At the tomb we were accompanied by 2 other members of a Facebook group devoted to presidential sites: Mark and Amy. 

   Mark has the goal of visiting every Presidents gravesite. I've talked with him online many times the last couple of years and so it was nice to finally meet him in person.

    I met Amy through the Facebook group four or five years ago. Finally meeting her was a long time coming. We all hung out during the ceremony and talked for a little while after. At which point Mark headed home. 

    The other three of us on our way out got this picture taken. Years ago when we first met Amy she didn't have a lot of pictures of her at various presidential sites so a lot of us would take an "Amy was here " sign with us when we visited different sites, and take pictures with the sign at the sites. So when the time finally came to meet her in person I decided to bring an "Amy is here "sign. Which explains why she's holding the sign. 

    After we took the picture, the three of us along with my wife and Amy's boyfriend went out to eat. So we all met up at a German place and had a pretty nice meal, chatting about our trip stories throughout. It was a much needed time away. 

    As far as this hobby goes that's about it for 2015.

   I have a lot of optimism for 2016. Not sure if I'll be able to do any big trips. But I just took a new job that I hope will create more opportunities for the future.  Anyways I am excited to see how the next few months unfold. Until next time........