Ohio Trip
June 2005

Before long, my father and I had turned our focus back to visiting graves 
and were plotting our next trip. We were going to head out to Ohio and get the 
four remaining presidents there, in addition to visiting President Fillmore's grave 
in Buffalo. Prior to landing in Cleveland, we decided that we should get the 
latter out of the way first. As we jumped in the car, we noticed a Hertz 
NeverLost® GPS system was installed in the vehicle. Though we were reluctant 
to use it at first (we feared we would be charged extra for using it), we 
eventually decided to use it and we punched in the address of our hotel in 
Buffalo. As we started down the road, we were surprised to hear that the 
contraption was actually talking to us. Doubting the helpfulness of the machine, 
we were also surprised when the GPS brought us to our destination with 
pinpoint accuracy. While we had arrived at our destination in a matter of hours, 
we still were not able to reach the cemetery before closing time, so we were 
forced to wait until the following day.

Upon grabbing breakfast the following morning, we drove over to Buffalo's
Forest lawn Cemetery, which was conveniently located on the same street. The 
two of us made a bee line to the 13th president's obelisk, which was soaked 
from that morning's rainstorm. Luckily, the gate surrounding the president's 
grave was unlocked, and we had no trouble getting right up next to the tall 
structure. After we took our pictures, we wandered around the cemetery and 
came upon a very unique marble monument. Upon taking some more photos, 
we departed and went to the Wilcox Mansion, also located on the same street 
as our hotel. In 1901, Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in at the mansion upon 
President McKinley's demise. After taking some photos there, we made a slight 
detour and headed to Canada. Our visit was short and sweet. Due to time 
constraints we stayed for only a few hours, but we were still able to see 
Niagara Falls in all of its glory. We both wanted to reach Canton, Ohio by that 
evening, so around sunset we returned to the good ol' USA and headed West 
alongside Lake Erie. It was past midnight when we reached Canton, and neither 
of us had eaten dinner. After grabbing some food, we decided to drive past 
President Mckinley's tomb. As we anticipated, the monument was closed, so we 
set off for our hotel so we could rest up for the morning.

When the morning came, we quickly headed over to President McKinley's 
grand tomb to take some pictures. As we strolled up the 108 steps leading to 
the structure, both of us noticed people were jogging down the same set of 
stairs. It appeared that McKinley's tomb had a practical use as well. Entering 
the tomb, we were not surprised to see that the burial chamber was very dark. 
The majority of the light inside was shining in through the glass doors, but the 
camera's flash enabled us to take clear photos. Once we paid our respects, we 
exited the building and went to the neighboring William McKinley Presidential 
Library and Museum, which seemed to me more of a museum about McKinley's 
time period than a museum about his presidency. Walking past more joggers, 
we left for the nearby Football Hall of Fame. We had a very good time there, 
and my father received a free mug because it was Father's Day. Also, we 
visited the National First Ladies Library, located several miles away. A few 
hours later we were on the road again, headed for the town of Fremont, 
located over 125 miles west.

It was late when we reached our hotel, but neither of us were tired. We 
decided to explore the grounds, and in doing so discovered a miniature golf 
course out back. Since it was there, we decided to make the most of our stay 
and use it. In the middle of our fun an employee came outside to collect the 
equipment, but allowed us to continue playing. After an hour or so, we went 
inside and fell asleep. The following morning, we found ourselves at 
President Hayes' presidential library, the first of its kind. While there, we were 
able to take a tour of the president's home and view hundreds of interesting 
artifacts. One such artifact, located inside the museum, was the jacket Hayes 
was wearing when his arm was shot in the Civil War. Eventually, we strode 
over to the gated area where President and Mrs. Hayes are interred. Their 
large granite marker was very impressive, having been taken by train all of 
the way from a quarry in Vermont. While taking some video footage, we were 
overrun by some crazy squirrels, but were still able to pay our respects. Shortly 
after we departed for Cleveland, where we were able to catch the Boston Red 
Sox defeat the Indians 10-9.

Up next on our itinerary was visiting Lake View Cemetery, which holds 
the remains of James A. Garfield. Garfield's tomb is hard to miss, being over 
one hundred feet tall and incredibly creepy. Slowly, we entered the tomb and 
were immediately hit with its gift shop, where a man was sitting in a chair. 
Passing that room by, we entered a grand rotunda decorated with stained glass 
windows and a giant marble statue of the 20th president. While walking around 
the statue, we came upon a staircase and decided to venture upstairs. Shortly 
after, we found ourselves on a giant balcony looking out at the city of 
Cleveland. There was another upward staircase as well, but it was blocked off 
and we decided to head back downstairs. Walking back toward the entrance, 
we discovered the set of steps leading down to the crypt. There, we saw the 
coffins of President and Mrs. Garfield. Their coffins had not been placed in a 
pair of sarcophagi, so their actual caskets were on display. Unfortunately, the 
caskets are surrounded on all sides by a cage, so we were not able to get up 
close with President Garfield. Pleased otherwise, we took some pictures and 
prepared to move onward.

Before we left however, we knew we had to stop in the gift shop. While 
in there, we came across the man who was in there twenty minutes prior. It 
turned out that he was a guide there, and it came across in conversation that 
he had the key to unlock the gate to Garfield's tomb. Stunned, we asked him 
if he could do so, to which he reluctantly agreed. As we made our descent back 
to the crypt, he told us that the crypt had not been open in decades, the 
exception being when C-Span founder Brian Lamb requested to do so several 
years prior for his book, which we had by then purchased. As we reached the 
enclosure, we were horrified to find that the guide had several dozen keys, and 
did not exactly know which unlocked the door. The man tried a few of them 
and was about to give up, but my father kept cajoling him and repeatedly 
asked him to keep trying. This process went on for at least ten minutes when 
finally, the gate made a click. Slowly, loudly, the door opened. As I walked in 
and smiled for the camera, I was thinking just how creepy yet cool it was to be 
standing next to a coffin. Once we thanked the man and exited the tomb, we 
headed back to the hotel to compose ourselves for the final grave visit of our 
vacation. Well, after that night's baseball game we did.

Our last grave destination of the trip was in Marion, the hometown of 
President Warren Harding. President Harding passed away while he was in 
office, hence he lies buried in a giant marble structure. As with so many 
presidential burial sites, Harding's burial location is blocked off by a gate. We 
were prepared this time however, as we had contacted the tomb's caretaker 
several weeks in advance. She was very kind and seemed thrilled that I had 
taken an interest in the presidents, as most adults did. Happily, she unlocked 
the gate that separated the outside world from Warren Harding and let us stroll 
in. After several minutes of recording video footage of the tomb, we took our 
still photos and thanked the woman for taking time out of her day to unlock the 
gate for us. With time to kill before the 7:00 baseball game, we drove over to 
President Harding's home, located a short distance away.

24 hours later, we were back at home uploading the photos to the 
computer, thinking about where this journey would take us next.
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