Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, Calif.

On land previously owned by his family, the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace was dedicated on July 19, 1990.  Nixon’s resignation following the Watergate scandal led to complications about ownership of the president’s papers.  Therefore funding for the construction and operation of the Nixon Library came solely from private donations.  The facility was initially operated by the Richard Nixon Foundation, but on July 11, 2007, it became the twelfth federally-operated presidential library.  The museum was overhauled in 2016; my photos reflect the facility’s appearance in 2013.

A decorated U.S. Navy officer, Nixon was recruited by the Committee of 100 to run for a U.S. House seat in California in 1946.

The “Road to the Presidency” exhibit details Nixon’s road to the White House.

After serving as Vice-President for eight years, Nixon sought the presidency in 1960.  Following his defeat, Nixon would not run for the White House again until 1968.

Nixon’s role in global affairs is reflected through the “World Leaders” exhibit and other exhibits that feature prominent aspects of his foreign policy.

During his presidency, Nixon enjoyed respites far from the West Wing.

The White House’s Lincoln Sitting Room, which was a favorite hideout of the president.

One of the most controversial exhibits at the library is the “Watergate” exhibit, which details his eventual resignation from office.

The grounds of the library and museum cover nine acres, which allows for the inclusion of pieces that are too large for the building.

The VH-3A “Sea King” that Nixon used during his presidency, including when he resigned the office and departed the White House.

Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library was originally planned to be built at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., but plans were scrapped in 1987.  A year later construction began on the free-standing site in Simi Valley, which was not far from the home in Bel Air that Ronald and Nancy Reagan had purchased after his departure from the presidency.  On Nov. 4, 1991, the facility was dedicated with five U.S. presidents (Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Bush) attending the ceremony.  At the time of its completion the building was the largest presidential library in the country at 153,000 square-feet.  It was surpassed in size when the William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum opened in 2004, but reclaimed the title as largest presidential library when the Air Force One Pavilion opened in October 2005.

Prior to entering politics, Ronald Reagan worked as an actor.  He was perhaps best known as host of “General Electric Theater,” which ran from 1953 to 1962.

The “GE Theater” exhibits records Reagan’s career as an actor.

Following the cancellation of “General Electric Theater” in 1962, Reagan became active in Republican politics and gave a speech at the 1964 Republican National Convention in support of Barry Goldwater.  In 1966, he ran for governor of California and defeated two-term incumbent Democratic Governor Pat Brown.

The “Governor Years” exhibit records Reagan’s tenure as governor of California from 1967-75.

Reagan failed to secure the Republican presidential nomination in 1968 and 1976, but won handily in 1980 and defeated incumbent Democratic President Jimmy Carter in the general election.

First Lady Nancy Reagan had a noticeable impact on her husband and was very active in her own right.  She campaigned against drug use with the phrase, “Just Say No.”

A map displays the numerous places First Lady Nancy Reagan visited as part of the “First Lady” exhibit.

From a historical perspective, political scientists and historian debate the legacy of Reagan’s domestic policies.  However, most researchers applaud his foreign policy.

The most unique exhibit at the Reagan Library is the “Air Force One Pavilion,” which contains the Boeing 707 he used during his presidency.

The “Air Force One Pavilion” is the only full-scale exhibit at any presidential library to include the president’s plane.

Presidential Pathways: An Introduction

I have written about some of my sight collecting adventures, which so far have focused on visiting baseball stadiums, but I have not yet delved into sharing my pursuit of presidential sights.  In 2007, I started making an effort to visit presidential birthplaces, burial places, and libraries.  While searching through the Internet I stumbled upon a great resource, which has been instrumental to my travels: Rachel Kochmann‘s book, Presidents: Birthplaces, Homes, and Burial Sites.  She coordinated a summer trip with her husband and visited all the locations listed in her book.  She has updated the book numerous times, but I have stuck with the original book I purchased.

Here is my tally of presidential sights:

  • Birthplaces = 12
  • Burial Sites = 19
  • Libraries = 7
  • Completed Presidents = 8 (Van Buren, W. H. Harrison, Grant, Taft, Coolidge, F. D. Roosevelt, Truman, and Nixon)

Unlike Kochmann, I do not try and visit all houses associated with presidents unless it is convenient to visiting the three primary sights.  I have visited some presidential homes, but they can be difficult to visit because many are privately owned and there are often multiple locations with presidential ties.  I also make a distinction between visiting “unofficial” presidential libraries and those operated by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).  So far I have only counted NARA-operated libraries towards my goal of visiting all of a president’s key sights.

My night with the Los Angeles Angels – April 11, 2013

Last week, I attended a conference in Los Angeles, and I was very excited because I thought it might allow me to visit Dodger Stadium.  As it turned out, the Dodgers were out of town during my stay, but the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim opened their home schedule during the week.  So I made my first trek to Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

The game was slated for a 7:05 p.m. start, but my friend and I attended a taping of the Conan O’Brien Show that afternoon.  We also had to pick up two more people at a hotel in downtown and endured rush hour traffic, so we did not arrive at the stadium until almost eight o’clock with the game in the 3rd inning.  The pictures outside the stadium are a bit blurry, and I could not get a quality photograph of the “Big A” because the sun was almost down when we arrived at the stadium.

Main entrance to the ballpark.

While I could not get a good photo of the “Big A,” I did at least get a picture of the oversized hats outside the entrance.

Main entrance with one of the oversized hats.

With seats along the third base line, I had a great view of the scoreboard in right field and the California Spectacular batter’s eye in center field.

Due to my late arrival I did not get to explore the stadium as I usually would during a game, but I did manage to capture a few photos of the game.

Although I clearly missed the first pitch of the game, I walked around to an opening behind home plate and captured an overview of the stadium.

Overview of the field from behind home plate in the upper deck.

Due to arriving late for the game and the sellout crowd, I did not get to explore the stadium in search of unique food items.  Instead I opted for the banal Angel Dog, and waited almost 10 minutes for the hot dog.  The service was amongst some of the slowest I have ever endured at a ballpark, but fans in front of me in the line assured that they had received much quicker service during sold-out games.  So I’m not sure what caused the delays during the third game of the season, but I was certainly frustrated by the inferior service.

The drove of fans waiting in line to order food in the upper deck.

The food was OK, but not spectacular.  The most entertaining part of the experience was listening to Angel fans complaining about the team’s poor performance and watching many of them leave in the 7th inning.  It made me laugh because slugger Josh Hamilton, who signed with the team during the offseason, complained about fans in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex as not being true baseball fans.  So I wonder how he’d feel about the crowd flooding out of the stadium barely a week into the season.  I hoped for a better experience at the ballpark, but left unimpressed and hoping for something more.

Maybe when I visit Southern California again I can arrive before the 3rd inning and explore more of the stadium, and hopefully leave the ballpark with a better feeling than I did last week.

Final: Oakland 8, L.A. Angels 1
Box Score

My night with the Lake Elsinore Storm – April 13, 2013

When you have a friend whose last name is Storm and you have the chance to watch a team called Lake Elsinore Storm, it’s a requirement to attend a game with him.  Lake Elsinore is about 90 minutes south of downtown Los Angeles, where we were staying for our conference.  So on Saturday afternoon we headed out to help my friend accomplish the goal of seeing the Storm play.

After exploring a bit of the town, we arrived at the ballpark a bit before games opened.

Sign welcoming fans to the Lake Elsinore Diamond.

So after parking the car and heading toward the main gate, we had to wait in line as a crowd was already waiting in line.  It was especially surprising because there was no promotional giveaway item at the ballpark, so the line was just fans anxious to catch an early season game on a Saturday evening.

A throng of people waiting to enter Pete Lehr Field at the Lake Elsinore Diamond.

One advantage of entering a ballpark before first pitch is the opportunity to explore, check out the cool gear in the team store, decide on food and drink options, and watch all the pre-game festivities.  In this instance I got to see both mascots on the field during warmups.

Prior to the game, Jackpot greets fans on the field. Jackpot, who is the score keeping rabbit, also operates the manual scoreboard in right field and comes out to celebrate Storm homeruns during the game.

More on the team’s primary mascot, Thunder, later on.

As player introductions concluded, my friend Storm and I settled in to watch the first pitch and a little bit of the game.

Lake Elsinore Storm right-handed pitcher James Needy delivers the first pitch to Inland Empire 66ers shortstop Eric Stamets.

With our seats just rows behind home plate, I felt like my photo didn’t show off the stadium and the fan’s view.  So later during the game I took a photo from farther up in the seating bowl, which I think does a better job of capturing the mountains that surround the city of Lake Elsinore.

An overview of the field during the second inning.

While capturing an overview of the field, I also got photos of the views down the left field line and right field.

The Storm is known for its distinctive logo that features a pair of eyes.  Depending upon personal taste, the eyes are either really cool or really creepy.  The eyes are just about everywhere in and around the stadium.  Even when you don’t think the eyes are nearby, they are!

The concession stands have a few unexpected items, but the most unique are served in The Diamond Club.  Traditionally, I try to enjoy an encased meat.  The Storm serve a variety of meats made by Masterlink, which is a local sausage company.  I opted for the Portuguese Hawaiian Sausage over the Habanero Hot Link.

The Portuguese Hawaiian Sausage, which is topped with grilled peppers.

The Storm feature craft brews from Hangar 24, and I selected the Baseball Beer.  The Diamond Club features many other selections from Hangar 24, but I felt that I had to sample the Baseball Beer.  What else would have been appropriate on a Saturday night watching America’s pasttime?

After finishing my delicious beer and sausage, I was walking around the ballpark and ran into the team’s primary mascot, Thunder.  I attempted to take a selfie with my camera, and failed miserably, so I was thrilled when another fan offered to take my photo with man’s best friend.

Me with Lake Elsinore Storm mascot Thunder.

Overall, the experience at the Lake Elsinore Diamond was outstanding.  Despite waiting in a long line to enter the stadium, the service at the stadium did not suffer because of the large crowd.  The staff in the team store was friendly and helpful, even offering my friend a small discount because his last name is Storm.

The on-field entertainment was unique and delighted the crowd, young and old.  The food choices covered the staples, but offered special selections for fans who want to experiment when they visit the ballpark.  The seats, which were right behind home plate, were outstanding.  Overall, the Storm provide the epitome of the Minor League Baseball experience.  Every baseball fan should attend at game at Lake Elsinore Diamond.

Final: Inland Empire 1, Lake Elsinore 10
Box Score

My night with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes – April 9, 2013

It’s spring time, which means two things in my life: the start of baseball season and the Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting. This year I got to combine the two for my trip to Los Angeles, Calif.

After booking my flight to arrive the day before the conference so I could visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, I decided to attend a Rancho Cucamonga Quakes game.

Three recreational softball fields flank LoanMart Field, which had been The Epicenter until just a few days before the Quakes’ season opener.  With the stadium changing names just before the start of the season there was not a lot of signage celebrating the new name, but I did not find any signage for the old stadium name either.  Palm trees flank the main entrance, but nothing screams for the spectator’s attention.

Main entrance to the recently renamed LoanMart Field.

A week before my trip, I saw that the Quakes were running a promotion on their Facebook fan page that would allow the winner to throw out a ceremonial first pitch as the Social Media Monday winner. I posted many times, but I think that my last post probably clinched the win.

“I’ve got tickets for April 9, but I’ve never seen a California League game before. My students at Oklahoma State University want to see me get a photo with Tremor, but I’d like to one-up them by getting a picture of me throwing out the first pitch!” – the winning entry

Due to stereotypical traffic in greater Los Angeles, my friend and I arrived a bit later than we hoped.  However, we made it to the ballpark just in time for me to scurry into the stadium and deliver my ceremonial first pitch.

I didn’t deliver a strike, but my first pitch was around home plate.

I also got a photo with Quakes outfielder Robbie Garvey, who was responsible for catching all of the day’s ceremonial first pitches.

Me with Robbie Garvey and the ball he dug out of the dirt from my ceremonial first pitch.

I never planned to make it a habit of getting my photograph with team mascots, but I feel like it’s become expected of me considering that my students asked if I was going to get a photo with the mascot before going on my trip to California.  So here’s my obligatory photo with Tremor, the mascot for the Quakes.  Tremor was on the field as people were throwing their ceremonial first pitches, so I was easily able to grab my photo with him.

Me with Rancho Cucamonga Quakes mascot Tremor after delivering my ceremonial first pitch.

Shortly after getting my photo with Tremor we were escorted off the field so the real athletes could play.  So my friend and I settled into our seats and I captured the game’s first pitch.

Rancho Cucamonga Quakes right-handed pitcher Duke von Schaman delivering the first pitch to Modesto Nuts left fielder Brian Humphries.

As we watched some of the game, I quickly took a few photos of the two scoreboards.

After enjoying the game for a bit, my friend and I started to contemplate our dinner options.  It was not easy selecting a unique food item to enjoy at the stadium because the only unique encased meat was a Dodger Dog. While talking with a concessions worker I stumbled upon a uniquely California item: a tri-tip sandwich.

Tri-tip is a cut of beef from the bottom sirloin that is typically served as a roast, but in my case was shredded onto a bun and served with barbecue sauce. It was delicious, although somewhat fatty. I washed the sandwich down with a local craft brew from Hangar 24. The only choice at the stadium was the Orange Wheat, which blended perfectly with the tri-tip and had a fantastic zest of its own.

A shredded tri-tip sandwich with barbecue sauce.

Maybe it’s the geographer in me, but it was really awesome to see the fault lines in the jersey numbers of the Quakes players and staff. I know the team tries to push the boundaries with its logo choices and I appreciate that the club plays up its name in almost every way possible.

Rancho Cucamonga Quakes batting coach Jay Washington (#15) with first baseman Angelo Songco (#22).

Traffic leaving downtown Los Angeles to reach Rancho Cucamonga was worse than I expected, even as someone who grew up driving in Atlanta.  However, dealing with traffic and the frantic dash to the stadium was worthwhile considering the memory of throwing out a first pitch and getting to see the scoreboard proclaim: “Quakes Win!”

The LoanMart Field scoreboard lit up after a Quakes win.

Overall, I had a great time at LoanMart Field with the Quakes. The customer service was excellent from purchasing tickets over the phone to winning Social Media Monday to throwing out a ceremonial first pitch to receiving some Quakes cash to eating a delicious sandwich and drinking a thirst-quenching beer to watching an entertaining mascot dance on top of the dugout to leaving the stadium following a 1-0 win for the home team over the Modesto Nuts.  There really is nothing like Minor League baseball.

Final: Modesto 0, Rancho Cucamonga 1
Box Score