Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Reagan Years - A Visit to the Presidential Library and Museum

Ronald Reagan’s first career of choice was in the entertainment field and some of his most memorable quotes are from movies and the political platform.  Well, except for that little speech he made where he said, “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall.”  He started out as a liberal democrat but flipped sides and ran for the U.S. Presidency and served two terms as a conservative republican.  Being two people that really like presidential libraries, we set our sights for Simi Valley and headed the motorhome in that direction.



Reagan’s desire to become president stemmed from the belief that “America had lost faith in itself.”  Domestically, the country was in a recession and internationally the threat of communism was lurking.  American hostages had been held captive for well over a year.  The American military might was old and inadequate – according to Reagan the country was heading in the wrong direction.  


Reagan set out to boost the American spirit and tackle the tough issues by implementing sweeping economic changes by reducing tax rates, controlling the money supply to reduce inflation, and reducing government spending.   After just two years in office, the nation's economy had begun to recover and (according to some) entered a seven-year period of prosperity.  However, critics felt that his policies had actually increased the deficit and hurt the middle class and poor.

Reagan believed that the country needed to strengthen its military might and achieve "peace through strength.”  One of his crowning achievements was the relationship he formed with Gorbachev in his second term that led to the signing of a historic agreement to eliminate intermediate-range nuclear missiles and the destruction of the Berlin Wall.  In 1990 (after leaving the White House) Reagan returned to Germany - just weeks before Germany was officially reunified - and took a few swings with a hammer at the Berlin Wall.  Gorbachev and Reagan remained personal friends well after both men left office.



The highlight (I think) of the museum is the pavilion with Air Force One.  The plane is perched three stories in the air and looks out over Simi Valley.  While visitors are allowed inside the plane, photographs are not...so you will have to visit the museum if you want to see inside (or just Google it like the rest of the world).




The museum is a mix of static exhibits, video screens, and interactive kiosks which seemed to keep people of all ages engaged.  While you may not agree with Reagan's political views and actions, he certainly was influential and his promises of change were desirable to the country and evident by his sweeping elections.  He beat Jimmy Carter by a landslide and in his re-election bid, he only lost one state (Minnesota) to the democratic challenger (Walter Mondale).

I love going to the Presidential Library's to brush up on the parts of history that I forgot or have just gotten lost in current affairs.  Reagan's presidency was during my teenage years, so needless to say, I was not very concerned with politics.  But since I lived in Europe during the mid to late 80's, I remember the unification of Germany and destruction of the Berlin Wall.  There is a large piece of the wall to celebrate Reagan's tireless diplomatic achievement.  Betsy and I both agreed that the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum was well worth the visit and left knowing a lot more about the 40th president.  By the way, the president was born on this day in 1911.  Happy birthday, Mr. President (as I type that in my Marilyn Monroe voice).


More photos for your viewing pleasure...

Of course, there had to be an oval office.
While in office, the Reagan's visited 22 different countries.  Boy does Hillary have them beat.
And who could not forget the assassination attempt.  A bullet ricocheted off the presidential limo and found its way to Reagan's lung.   He told Nancy, "I forgot to duck."
Marine One

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