The great American road trip: Montana here we come

With gas prices fluctuating between $3.95 and $4.09 in Columbus, Ohio, we’ve embarked on a road trip to Montana, cruise control set at 65 mph.

Right now we’re driving into the sunset on I-80 near Fremont, Ohio, home of Rutherford B. Hayes. My laptop is resting across my lap. We’re passing yet another white farmhouse with a barn silo. Our goal is to make it to La Quinta Inn in Madison, Wisconsin. It has a pool, WiFi and free breakfast. Wheee!

If we don’t make it, we’re out $100. It’s 8:52 p.m. If you do the math, you’ll notice that we won’t roll into the parking lot until at least 2:00.

The relatives we just left in Brunswick at a high school graduation party for one of our ten nephews gave us hugs and waved us off. “Of course, you’re driving to Madison tonight,” was the general response.

The graduation party stop, two hours after I shoved our last belonging in the car in Columbus, was a quick one-just enough time to say our congrats, have a swim in a backyard pool, eat our fill and head out.

The stop was a chance to regroup. Leaving Columbus was not the smoothest. We left pillows and umbrellas behind. By the time we made it to the entrance ramp of I-71 north, I was ready to call it quits. This was not even a mile from our house.

My mom just called to tell me the things she did that we forgot to do. Things like emptying the coffee grounds, turning on an inside light, changing the bulb of our porch light and turning that on, and watering our flowers. The neighbor kids will be by in a couple of days, but the flowers looked limp as we pulled away.

But, we are off in our Ford Taurus station wagon with a new set of rear brakes and an oil change. This car has made the trip two other times, the first time all the way to California and onto New York when our son was a year and a half and our daughter was ten.

This time we have broken our no DVD player stance. Our son is watching Chicken Little, but he had to wait to be plugged in until we left Brunswick and turned onto the highway. The idea is to parcel it out so he’ll notice the scenery and we can visit which is part of the purpose of a road trip.

Tomorrow, we’ll be in Minneapolis, the city filled with outdoor art, visiting two sets of friends. One set who used to live on our street before we moved to Taiwan. Their son was our daughter’s best friend when they were five.

The other set was friends of ours in Singapore. Back when we hung out together, they were kid-less and so were we. We spent one Christmas together hiking between Jomsom and Pokhara, Nepal.

Catching up with friends we haven’t seen for awhile is another road trip purpose. As a person who has had a life of travel and moving, these visits offer me some sense of continuity.

But, for now we’re floating on the highway, the sun is gone and the moon is up, a crescent in front of us—good company for a night of driving. [The photo is what Chicago looks like at 1:00 a.m. I would have taken the photo myself but I was in a road-hashed stupor. This shot is of evanembee’s view from his condo.]

Rutherford B. Hayes and the Easter Egg Roll connection

When Rutherford B. Hayes was the 19th president,of the U.S. he started the tradition of the Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn. The tradition has since carried over to Hayes’ estate in Fremont, Ohio. Every year, kids show up at Spiegel Grove with hardboiled, colored eggs in hand to participate in egg related contests and scarf down Easter goodies. This year, it’s March 22. So, that’s one afternoon. What about the rest of the year?

The estate, part of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, has the original gates from the White House and is where Hayes and his wife Lucy are buried. Other points of interest are the presidential library— the first ever presidential library, in fact. Also, there are Hayes’ and his wife’s 31-room mansion, and a museum that chronicles Hayes’ life, presidency and Ohio history to add to a trip here.

For some reason, unknown even to me, (and I’ve written about this place before), I left the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center out of my U.S. presidents with Ohio connections round-up post. So, if you’re going to head to the spots where U.S. presidents lived, head here. It’s part of the Ohio Historical Society’s several landmark holdings, and one of the state’s signature places.

Ohio’s got you covered when it comes to presidents’ houses

Ohio has the nickname “Mother of Presidents” because eight U.S. presidents were elected from here. Seven of the eight were born in this state.

Although the site of Rutherford B. Hayes’ birthplace in Delaware (about 30 minutes from Columbus) is no longer there (I think there’s a gas station on the site), there are other presidents’ houses and landmarks still standing. A tour of all of them covers a lot of ground.

Ulysses S. Grant’s birthplace in Mt. Pleasant is now a museum run by the Ohio Historical Society. Although it’s open only certain times of the year, this is a lovely place on the Ohio River west of Cincinnati. You can also see the school house where Grant attended in a nearby town.

James A. Garfield’s house in Mentor in the northern part of Ohio is a National Historic Site. Although it is open year-round, there are seasonal hours.

Benjamin Harrison was born on a farm near Cincinnati, although, there is not a landmark. To visit his house, head to Indianapolis. He may of been born in Ohio, but Indiana became home.

William McKinley has a mega tribute in Niles, his birthplace. Along with the site where he was born there is a memorial, a museum, a research center and a library. McKinley’s honor comes partly because he was a respected governor of the state as well.

William H. Taft’s elegant home is in Cincinnati. This house, now an National Historic Site, also has an education research center.

Warren G. Harding’s former home in Marion is part of the Ohio Historical Society. Most of the furnishings belonged to Harding and his wife. The hours are seasonal. Harding is also buried in Marion about one hour from Columbus heading north.

William Henry Harrison wasn’t born in Ohio. Even though he was born in Virginia, he moved to Ohio and was elected president from his home in North Bend not far from Cincinnati. The house isn’t there, but Harrison is buried in North Bend. His tomb is part of the Ohio Historical Society’s properties.

(see Ohio Presidents)