Thursday, August 15, 2013

Halls of Fame and Presidents—A Summer Road Trip to Ohio


A few years ago, after a visit to Jefferson’s home at Monticello and Madison’s at Montpelier, the kids developed an appreciation for history and excitement for the Presidents.

Somehow, we came up with the idea that a worthwhile goal would be to visit the home (or some place) associated with each President (and, no, the White House doesn’t count.)

So, when we were thinking about summer vacations, we were using this as a criteria and we discovered that Ohio has connection to 8 Presidents (albeit, some looser than others).

Still, it seemed like a good idea and when we combined our love of football (a visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame) and Music (the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), it seemed like a manageable trip.IMG_20130812_091919

Day 1 took us from DC to Canton and with summer hours going to 8, we were able to explore the Football HOF with plenty of time to spare. The kids-all of them-loved the history and the interactive exhibits. Even the NFO got into the swing of things.  Any time you have tablet computers and videos, you’re going to do well…which is exactly what happened.

I stopped to pay homage to Joe Gibbs and explain some of the great moments of the game. I am proud to say that it seems to have worked.

Once we were in Canton, OH, it was a very short hop to the William McKinley Memorial and Library. The 25th President was assassinated in 1901 and it’s interesting to think what would have happened if that hadn’t happened…his VP was Teddy Roosevelt.

The Memorial is built on a hill with a significant number of steps leading up to it. Entombed with him are his wife and 2 daughters who, sadly, died when before reaching age 4. It included an impressive biography of his life as well. Adjacent to the Memorial is the Presidential Center which had a mock “street” demonstrating what life looked like in the early 1900s…printing press, saloon, and all.FB_IMG_13762584554657872

There was a also a great Science Center which the kids loved.

Afterwards, we headed to the First Ladies’ Historical Site, situated in the family home of Ida McKinley. Alas, it was closed on Monday, but we did get a chance to visit the gift shop, so all was not lost.

Moving at rapid pace, we then visited the Harry London chocolate factory, part of the Fannie Mae family (and now owned by where we not only got to sample some great chocolate (of course), we had the chance to see it being made.  The kids LOVED this in all facets.

They’ve been great travelers, minimal complaints, and enjoying most visits. Of course, family trips with iPads and GPS aren’t what they used to be.

Since the point of this trip (and really all travel) is to widen horizons and instill curiosity, we figured a trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland would fit the bill (and, let’s be honest, I wanted to go there).

While the kids only really knew The Beatles and Elvis Presley (they were surprised that Carly Rae Jepsen and Beyonce weren’t in the HOF yet), they still had a great time. Even Paco (the erstwhile sports fan) said he had more fun at the R&R than at the Football HOF. Go figure.

The most fun part, if you ask me, of any visit is asking the kids what their favorite part was and hPANO_20130812_153011earing the unexpected answers, but walking through the big mouth/tongue to the Rolling Stones exhibit did make the cut.

We did have to navigate the museum with some care as (to be expected) there were a few exhibits/comments that weren’t, shall we say, family friendly… Winking smile

I don’t think the guys picked up on it and we were no worse for the wear. At least now they know who the Rolling Stones are and I think they also know names like The Kinks, Supremes, Stevie Wonder, the Who, the Doors, and ZZ Top, so I would consider it successful.

Tomorrow is our next big Presidential day when we try to get James Garfield in Mentor, OH (interestingly enough, he was also assassinated) and Warren Harding in Merion.

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