Daytripping Destinations

Archives: November 2020

Guess What Day It Is: Week 9

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Dear Daytrippers,

Morrilton, Arkansas

Today’s stop is personal – I am atop beautiful Petit Jean Mountain in central Arkansas at the Museum of Automobiles founded by Winthrop Rockefeller in 1964.

When I inherited my father’s mint-condition 1980 DeLorean following his death in 2017, I felt it belonged in a museum. My dad admired the late Governor, so I was elated when his beloved DeLorean found a home at Governor Rockefeller’s museum alongside Rockefeller’s 1967 Cadillac featuring a sterling-silver Santa Gertrudis bull hood ornament – like the ones he raised on his ranch.
Winthrop Rockefeller was a third generation of the Rockefeller family and 37th Governor of Arkansas. He moved to Arkansas in 1953, establishing “Winrock Farms” cattle ranch on Petit Jean Mountain. Among many other pursuits, Rockefeller collected antique and classic cars. So many that, in 1964, he decided to found the Museum of Automobiles. Today this museum houses over 50 gorgeous, vintage vehicles from 1904 to 1981. The museum is also home to the only known Climber vehicles in existence. The Climber Motor Corporation was Arkansas’ first automotive manufacturing company. The company founded in 1919 prided itself in making vehicles that would climb like a tractor. By 1923 the company was gone. Other standouts in the collection include Rockefellers’ 1914 popcorn wagon, a 1904 Oldsmobile French Front, a 1913 Metz Runabout, a 1929 Marmon Coupe and now my Dad’s 1980 DeLorean.
In November of 2018, a handful of Daytrippers on our Arkansas tour joined my family here for the DeLorean’s dedication – it is a memory that will stay will me always.

This is my first time back – it is a glorious fall day in an absolutely beautiful setting and I feel deeply feel the peace of this place. I thankful for this quiet commune with nature and the memory of my father – I expected to be overwhelmed by my feelings of loss but instead am filled with gratitude for his life.

Even with all the chaos and challenges of this year, there is still so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. I cannot be more grateful for you and the support you have shown Daytripping each and every step of the way. Happy Thanksgiving.

Missing you, stay safe

John

Guess What Day It Is: Week 8

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Dear Daytrippers,

The Queen City –

I can’t remember how many times I have driven through Cincinnati and formed my impression of the city by my view from the interchange. On a presidential library trip years ago our tour ventured off the freeway just long enough to visit the William Howard Taft House. After years of driving by at 65 miles an hour I decided it was time to see what I was missing. And now that I have toured the “Queen City”, I can say, without hesitation, that Cincinnati is very cool. First, this city boasts a 21C Museum Hotel – a sure badge of coolness – and the art collection is extensive as it is unique. I climbed to the top of Mount Adams to take a picture with Jim Dine’s 12 foot tall bronze sculpture of Pinocchio – the patron saint of tour guides – standing outside the Cincinnati Art Museum. Huge disappointment, access to the statue was blocked due to construction. It’s the first “to do” next time.

There is far too much to tell you about in this note but a few can’t-miss-must-see highlights:

The 1867 Roebling Suspension Bridge was the longest bridge of its kind in the world, until it was surpassed by Roebling’s more famous creation, New York’s Brooklyn Bridge – you will recognize it’s unmistakable resemblance – in 1976 to honor the Bicentennial the bridge was painted blue and it is striking. The Great American Ball Park – home of the Cincinnati Reds, perched on the riverfront in downtown, the Bengals impressive football stadium – forty amazing murals, whimsical outdoor art, stunning public water fountains and home to 5 US presidents: William Howard Taft, Rutherford B. Hayes, Ulysses S. Grant, William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Harrison AND George Clooney and … well you will see it all when we return on tour.

Today, my mission is to see the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center located right on the banks of the Ohio River where many crossed the mighty Ohio on their way to freedom. The river was the dividing line between slave states, Kentucky on the south, and free states, Ohio to the north. The museum is dedicated to celebrating the heroes who fight for freedom throughout the history of slavery. There are 3 floors of exhibits, a video narrated by Oprah Winfrey telling the story of what slaves went through to cross the Ohio, an authentic 1830 slave pen, abolitionist histories, a choose your path interactive escape experience and an eternal flame. It was compelling – not just the history of slavery but also a look at how slavery effects our world today. At the museum I learned the home of influential antislavery author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, is also located in Cincinnati. I headed straight there and found the house in the process of a much needed renovated. While it is obvious that they are hard at work it is in a very sad state. But the story is still as grand as the house once was – and no doubt will be again. Stowe came from a line of abolitionists; she and her siblings were greatly influenced by her Pastor father. When President Lincoln met Stowe he stated, “you are the lady that helped get the war started.” This was the Stowe family home for twenty years and Harriet lived here from 1833 – 1836. Not to be confused with the National Historic Landmark house in Hartford, CT which we have toured.

I am not sure why I never knew Cincinnati was such a cool place but I am convinced that Cincinnati is trying to keep it’s coolness a secret.

Missing you, stay safe

John

Guess What Day It Is: Week 7

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Dear Daytrippers,

I feel I should be behind the wheel of Model T as I drive to the historic Ford Estate in Dearborn, MI. Fair Lane was Henry and Clara Ford’s final home which they moved into in December 1915, after the booming success of the Model T, the assembly line and Ford’s $5 workday policy. This was coming home for them, both were born and raised in Dearborn. Most of the original structures still stand today. I am intrigued by the powerhouse – so that is what I am going to share with you. Henry Ford had long been interested in alternative energy. When he built Fair Lane, he harnessed the power of the Rouge River to run the estate entirely on hydroelectric power. The dam was important to him because it was non-polluting. Ford cared deeply about the natural world and made efforts throughout his life to conserve it. As for the grand home, I was only able to walk the grounds, However, I am told “it is one of the first historic sites to be designated a National Historic Landmark, has an eclectic mix of English castle and prairie style, mixing European grandeur and Midwestern charm”.

Following Fords’ iconic tire tracks takes me to Greenfield Village where you can time travel without a machine. The Village came about as Henry Ford’s wish to showcase his vast collection of Americana and show how Americans through the years worked and played. When opened in 1929 structures included in his collection were the birthplaces, homes or workplaces of Ford, Edison, Luther Burbank and Wilbur and Orville Wright – many of them men whom Ford admired and/or knew as personal friends. Today, the village showcases 300 years of American perseverance and serves as a reminder that anything is possible.

Half an hour away is Grosse Pointe, MI where on the shores of Lake St. Clair at a place locally known as Gaukler Point stands beautiful Ford House. The impressive but unpretentious home of Edsel and Eleanor Ford and their four children. The walk from the grand gatehouse seemed to be about a quarter mile through sprawling grounds, formal rose garden past a cascading swimming pool with a waterfall that flows into a lagoon. At the main house I see a bride and groom posing for wedding photos so I circled around the back of the property and spend far longer than intended roaming the shore, taking in the splendid lakefront setting where in the distance I see white sails of the one boat brave enough to still be on the water this late in the season. The curator tells me a new visitor center is under construction to be opened in 2021. She also described the estate as “an American treasure and a monument to wealth and good taste”… I agree.

A short trip along Lakeshore Drive with fabulous homes and water views the whole way I find the Grosse Pointe War Memorial, situated on the grounds of the historic Alger Estate – the Moorings – a spacious Italian Renaissance-style home built in 1910 for Russell Alger and his family. In 1949 it was dedicated to serve as a perpetual memorial to those served and died in World War II, It’s mission to promote the ideals of democracy – the ideals valued within a perfect Union. When you read this it will Veterans Day – a day dedicated to honor our nation’s patriots and be grateful. This will be the first Veteran’s Day in 30 years that I have not spent on the bus with Daytrippers.

Missing you, stay safe
John

PS. I learned Russell Alger helped the Wright Brothers by investing in the Wright Co. and even bringing a plane to Grosse Pointe to give rides to potential investors. He allowed his daughter Josephine – age 12 at the time – to fly in a Wright Brothers biplane. Josephine was the inspiration for the song “Come, Josephine, in My Flying Machine”

Guess What Day It Is: Week 6

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Dear Friends,
Today, in search of world famous Joseph Decuis Restaurant (I was just going to check out size, suitability and group accommodations – I wasn’t going to sample the Wagu ribeye without you – I promise) I took the wrong exit off the highway and stumbled upon …. Drum Roll … the Dan Quayle Museum! Located in Quayle’s hometown of Huntington, Indiana. Not at joke – a museum for Dan Quayle – that is what the sign read. Turns out, and I know this will shock you – it did me – seems as if not that many people were interested in a museum devoted to Dan Quayle so it evolved to become the Dan Quayle Learning Center and Museum of Vice Presidents. Presidents are celebrated with monuments, flaming tombs and Presidential Libraries, but much less celebrates the Vice President – no candy bars are named after their daughters. Yet, here in a northeast corner of Indiana lies a museum entirely devoted to the nation’s second-highest office; the only in the country – where on a ramble down vice president history lane you learn just how ignored the vice presidency has been for most of its history. The museum’s slogan “Second to One” sums it up far better than I ever could.
After this bumpy start the days drive took me through the heart of Ohio’s aviation roots – where I visited the Wright Brothers hometown of Dayton. I have been numerous times to Kitty Hawk, many of you have been with me and the Wright Brothers history there is awe inspiring and amazing – but today I touched the spot where the dream began – in the original Wright Brothers Cycle Company! Here, the brothers made a discovery that would forever change the history of the world. I had seen the old black and white photos – we all have – but I didn’t realize it still exists. Next door stands the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center, chronicling the lives of the Wright Brothers and another Dayton native, friend/business partner of the Wright Brothers, Paul Laurence Dunbar; the first influential Black poet in American literature. Across town, the Wright Brothers Museum at Carillion Historic Park houses the 1905 Wright Flyer lll! Orville died before Carillon Park was opened in 1950 but before his death, he had a hand in designing Wright Hall.
My day wraps up in Wapakoneta, Indiana, hometown of the first man to walk on the moon – Neil Armstrong and a visit to Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum, which celebrates the sights and sounds of man’s first steps on the moon. The F5D Sky Lancer and the Gemini VIII spacecraft are on display live here as well as a truly impressive exhibit – ‘Infinity Room full of stars’, a moon rock and other Apollo 11 artifacts. I learned Armstrong’s first step on the moon was with his left foot at exactly 10:46:15pm and the moon’s surface vibrated for 55 minutes after the Apollo impact. When Armstrong headed to the moon he carried with him remnants of fabric and a piece of wood from the propeller of the Wright Flyer.
In one single day, I drove from man’s first flight to the moon – my thought as I go to sleep is that today I gained a greater appreciation of the power of dreams – dreams that change the world.
In Dunbar’s words,
“What dreams we have and how they fly
Like rosy clouds across the sky;
The fame that for a moment gleams,
Then flies forever, — dreams, ah — dreams!”
-Paul Laurence Dunbar
Missing you, stay safe.
John