California Trip

August 2008



In 2004, my dad and I traveled all of the way to Washington, D.C. to see 
President Reagan lie in state in the Capitol rotunda. Over four years later, we 
were on our way to pay our respects once more. Both he and President Nixon 
are buried in the "Golden State", which took us a while to get to. Our local 
airport is evidently not worthy of the honor of having a direct flight out West, 
so we had to fly to North Carolina first. From there, we flew to California in the 
midst of coughing children, "snoring guy", and odiferous infants. Miraculously, 
we made it through the flight alive and arrived at LAX safe and sound. Later 
that day, we met up with my dad's friend Jay and went out to dinner. A very 
nice guy, he took us to the location of the cave used in the 1960's Batman 
television show. After a great night, we went our separate ways and agreed to 
see each other again prior to our departure. Before we could get to any graves,
however, we had to focus on the main purpose of the trip. My dad had come 
up with a revolutionary sports novelty product, and we were in town to 
present it to Mattel, Inc. The presentation went very well, and the Mattel 
representatives at the meeting seemed very enthused about the idea. 
Unfortunately, a deal with the company never came to fruition, but we sure had 
fun at the time. Now with the meeting out of the way and two full vacation 
days left, we could turn our focus to grave hunting.

The next day, we went to our first presidential stop, having chosen to 
visit Ronald Reagan's library first. Accompanying us was my dad's friend Jay, 
who thought that he would enjoy the experience. We found President Reagan's 
library to be quite amazing. The largest of its kind, it contains artifacts from 
Reagan's political career as well as his film career, and includes a pavilion for 
Air Force One. After a few hours in the museum, we stopped to grab a bite to 
eat. The three of us ate outside, and were able to look out at a breathtaking 
view of Simi Valley. Once we finished our meal, we walked past a portion of the 
Berlin Wall to the president's final resting place.

Positioned so it looks out toward the valley, the gravesite was actually 
quite inviting. Unfortunately, there was a fence positioned around the tomb and 
there was a fairly decent crowd. I was beyond the age where people would 
excuse the cute child and let him jump over the fence, so that was out. Looking 
around, we also noticed what appeared to be either security cameras or motion 
censors inside the gate's perimeter, so it was decided that it was not a good 
idea to jump this fence. Not feeling disappointed though, I stood next to the 
fence and posed for some pictures. Satisfied, we left the grounds and headed 
back toward LA. On our way, we stopped to see my dad's friend Andy, who was
out in California visiting friends. After a fun afternoon watching the Olympics and eating pizza, we left to get some rest and prepare for a great time the 
following day.

The next morning we discovered that we had not made it through our 
plane trip unscathed. Both my dad and I were coughing like crazy, undoubtedly 
gifts from our neighbors on the plane. Despite feeling extremely fatigued, we 
were able to muster enough strength to get us to the Nixon library, situated 
about forty miles East of our El Segundo hotel. I found the library to be quite 
impressive, as it contains an exact replica of the East Room of the White House 
and some very interesting artifacts. Amongst the treasures of the museum are 
the gazebo the president's daughter Tricia, was married under, Nixon 
campaign memorabilia, and the infamous gun given to the president by singer 
Elvis Presley. Earlier in the trip, my dad had commented that it would be funny 
if the museum omitted anything and everything to do with the Watergate 
Scandal. Ironically enough, the museum had nothing concerning the scandal, 
but only because the exhibits were being renovated at the time.

After visiting Nixon's birthplace, the two of us roamed over to Nixon's 
gravesite. There was a small hedge separating us from the president's marker, 
but we knew that it wouldn't deter us from crossing over and getting closer for 
better pictures. What did deter us was the security guards that frequently 
passed by and watched the grave. Figuring that it couldn't hurt to ask, we 
walked back over to the birthplace, where two female tour guides were 
chatting. After we explained our situation, one said that she would stand guard 
for us, but we would have to hurry. With all of our fence hopping experience at 
graves, it was no hard task for us to go quickly. The photographs came out 
terrific, and we thanked the tour guide for helping us. Once we made some 
purchases in the gift shop, we were able to go on our way.

The next day, still feeling fairly ill, we flew back East and returned home. 
Before we could do so though, we still had to visit the graves of two great 
Americans, Curly and Shemp. After all, how could we pass up an opportunity 
like that?
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