Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. My son tagged along from 2003 until 2013 when he ventured off to college. We’ve taken two trips by airplane, but are much happier when we’re the ones behind the wheel — charting our own course, making unplanned stops anytime we want, availing ourselves of slightly better meal options, and keeping or ruining our own schedule as dictated by circumstances or whims. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.
Normally we’ll choose one major locale as our primary objective, drive that-a-way, and concentrate on exploring the vicinity for a few days before retreating. We crafted this year’s itinerary with a different approach. Instead of choosing one city as a hub, we focused on one of the motifs that’s recurred through several of our trips: grave sites of Presidents of the United States of America.
Since 2003 we’ve seen the final resting places of thirteen American Presidents. Anne is a major history buff whose vacation research leans heavily to famous American people, places, events, and artifacts. In the early days, a few Presidents just so happened to be located near sites we were seeing for other reasons, or on the way there. As we diversified our directions over time and expanded the scope of what we considered a “point of interest”, the late leaders of our nation kept ranking on our to-do lists. Earlier this year I whipped up a crude map of the ones we’d seen so far and the ones we’ve yet to.
After much staring and staring and staring, a pattern began to emerge: a surprising number of unseen gravesites were in upstate New York. We played a mental game of connect-the-dots with them, added a handful of Presidents from contiguous states, and presto: we had ourselves a vaguely circular route to different cemeteries and crypts of various sizes, ages, and erosion damage levels. Much as we spent my birthday weekend this year following the Garfield Trail to view eleven statues, our 2018 road trip would effectively have the format and feel of a video game side quest — collecting nine American Presidents across ten presidencies, four states, seven days, and 2000 miles. That last number didn’t weigh on us till we got home late in the evening of the final day and I did the odometer math while half-asleep.
Before we launch our next big MCC road trip series, here’s a visual rundown of the sites we’ve seen so far, in order chronologically by presidency, starting with John Adams in our lead photo and moving onward through the centuries…
We’ve missed a few Presidents over the years that we’ll have to backtrack to catch eventually. We had no idea William Howard Taft was also in Arlington National Cemetery till years after the fact. George Washington and other Virginians were deemed out-of-scope for our 2008 trip. Woodrow Wilson was cut from our 2017 trip at the last minute due to driving delays. Most inconveniently of all, when we visited his museum on our 2002 road trip, Gerald Ford was still alive. Call it a timing issue.
We’ll see about living and writing those stories when the times come to plan future vacation. In the meantime, join us for nine new gents just added to our list, as well as other tales along the way, won’t you?
Call it the Dead Presidents Tour. To be continued!
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