Stan and Ann in the Fifth Wheel travel blog


Stan outside the library

Ronald Reagan

The Oval Office with Southwest flair

Air Force One

Presidential Limo

A Piece of the Berlin Wall

View from the Balcony

Reagan's Grave Site

Lincoln's Hat

We moved to Northridge, CA on Monday. We chose this area because it's closer to Burbank, Simi Valley, Pasadena, etc.

The first thing we wanted to see was the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library so we drove to Simi Valley (about 30 minutes west) this morning. We expected an entertaining venture, but this really went way beyond our expectations. First of all the building sits on top of a hill and not only the building is beautiful, but the view is breathtaking. The entrance is a large open courtyard that looks like a California Hacienda. A large fountain graces the center of the courtyard.

Once we entered we were met by a very gregarious volunteer who handed us a small package of jelly beans and explained the tickets and guidecam. Stan loved the idea of the jelly beans. what a great way to honor Ronald Reagan. The volunteer talked to us about getting a membership to the foundation which normally we would not buy, but after hearing that the tickets for today would be included in the fee and we would have free admission to all the other presidential libraries including the Bush Library in Dallas as many times as we want to go until July 2014, it sounded like a deal. As part of the membership we got 10% off the cafe, museum store, everything but the pictures which we didn't buy. We also got a guidecam for free. This is basically an IPod they have programmed with 50 stops on a guided tour of the museum. I enjoyed listening not only to the narration, but especially to the President and First Lady give their impressions of what was going on. In addition to the tour, you were allowed to take pictures and/or video with the IPod. When you turn your IPod in at the end of the tour, they email you a link to your pictures/video. Stan also took pictures so we should have quite a variety to choose from.

Going thru this museum really brought back a lot of the issues that were going on in this country and around the world 30 years ago. It also pointed out how talented President Reagan was at dealing with those issues...turning around an economy that was struggling out of recession, ending the Cold War, bringing down the Berlin Wall. It's amazing how quickly we forget.

I don't want you to think this is just some boring museum where you stand in front of a display and read info about it. This place had something for everyone. At one stop you could sit in front of a green screen and read from a TelePrompTer playing opposite Ronald Reagan in a movie or calling a Chicago Cubs baseball game. Then watch it played back on a monitor. You could stand on a podium and read a speech on the glass as though you were at a political convention. In another room you could answer questions on a light table which tested your knowledge of etiquette for attending a state dinner. Still another interactive light table tested your ability to survive the economics of the 1980s. There is an Oval Office decorated in southwest colors and western sculptures.

About halfway through, you are directed down the hall to Air Force One. The actual plane once it was retired was carefully moved to the library and re-assembled as though it had landed on three pillars. They take pictures of your group waving as you enter the plane. (Those are the ones we didn't buy). Then you can walk through the plane where volunteers tell you stories about the Reagans on board. In this area on the floor of this building are Marine One (the helicopter), his limo along with the accompanying police car, secret service car, motorcycle. Under the wing is a replica of the Ronald Reagan Pub from Ireland. They sell homemade fudge, cookies, sandwiches, drinks, wine, and beer. I tried the fruit and cheese tray with bottled water and it was really good.

There is also an F-14 you are supposed to be able to see through a window on the way to Air Force One, but the trees have grown up so much you can't see it where the story is posted. This plane was involved in a confrontation with the Libyans in the 80s. We had to walk around to the back side of the museum store after we finished the tour to see the plane. Let me say the views from the outside of the building are spectacular. The gardens are gorgeous.

I almost forgot. As an added bonus they had an exhibit on Lincoln. There were tons of memorabilia as well as furniture, costumes, and props used in Spielberg's movie 'Lincoln'. They had scenes from the movie playing in TVs. There was also a DVD playing called The Civil War in 4 minutes. It had dates scrolling at the bottom and showed how land changed hands as the days rolled by. It was fascinating.

We spent almost 6 hours at this museum. If it hadn't been that I was really tired and they were about to close, I would've spent a lot more time there. I felt I skipped over some things in the interest of time and if we find the time, I wouldn't mind going back on this trip. After all we're foundation members so we can go for free.

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