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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 50: The Last Roads Home

country fried steak!

We know it’s time to go home when we start craving good ol’ home cookin’ or corporate simulations of it,

The last day. The final hours. The way home.

Pittsburgh to Indianapolis is a six-hour drive. Two detours for Presidential burial sites in Ohio made six feel like twenty.

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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 49: The Last Dead President

Warren and Florence Harding!

President #29: Warren G. Harding, d. 8/2/1923, age 57.

Our Presidential body count so far on this vacation:

  1. Rutherford B. Hayes, in the verdant park behind his lavish museum in Fremont, OH
  2. Millard Fillmore, in the same well-kept Buffalo cemetery as several Famous Names in Black History
  3. Chester Arthur, in a dusty corner plot in Albany
  4. Martin Van Buren, in an ancient burial ground a mile from his Dutch home church in Kinderhook, NY
  5. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, on the grounds of Hyde Park
  6. Grover Cleveland, alongside his fellow presidents of Princeton University
  7. James Buchanan, alone on a hill in Lancaster, PA
  8. William McKinley, under a seven-story dome in Canton, OH

…and now, two hours from the William McKinley Memorial and 3½ hours from home, we wended our way through a maze of lazy country highways and one construction detour to reach the final American President on our week-long tour. We had not saved the best for last.

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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 48: One Last Museum Before Home

animatronic mckinleys!

No, animatronic William and Ida McKinley think YOU’RE the creepy one.

Seven days, nine museums. I’ve been counting Presidential burial sites from the beginning, but I hadn’t done the math on how many museums or museum-esque structures we visited on this trip till just now. In all that’s counting:

…and the subject of our next chapter. It wasn’t a primary objective, but it was next door to one, and we had a little money left in the budget for their ticket prices. We figured why not add one more to the roster.

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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 47: The Climb to McKinley

McKinleys with wreaths!

You can tell our next President has a bigger fan base than some of the others in this series — far more wreaths, and his final resting place is indoors.

I realize these chapters have been rather spaced apart and there’ve been so many of them, but we’re technically in the home stretch now. After a quick lunch stop in West Virginia, only one state stood between us and home. We’d already paid respects to one American President from Ohio, Rutherford B. Hayes, back on Day One. Two more Presidential gravesites lay ahead on the trail before we would cross the final state border.

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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 3: Mealtimes with Sara and Chud

ceiling neon!

Romantic dinner by candlelight? That is so 19th-century.

When it comes to our vacation planning, sometimes we’ll pinpoint potentially interesting restaurants in advance. Sometimes we’ll tire of micro-analyzing every town and play Google Maps roulette on the fly. We’ve enjoyed the comfort of mom-‘n’-pop diners. We’ve let kitschy holes-in-the-wall bemuse us. On select occasions we’ve overspent on places that were well above our pay grade but were right-place-right-time. The important thing is that if we ever have to set foot in my old nemesis Subway again, we will have failed miserably and should be grounded from traveling.

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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 2: Searching Through Hayes Stacks

Hayes bust!

Attorney. Courtroom defender for runaway slaves. Union Army veteran. Congressman. Social reformer. And, when time permitted, American President.

Not every U.S. President left an institution behind upon their passing. Some have multiple cities named after them. Many have a museum that tells their life story and/or celebrates their contributions to their homelands. Some states are prouder of their famous citizens than others.

A number of our former leaders have eponymous presidential libraries, though most were established in or after the 20th century, well after they and their immediate family died. You’d think the very first fully dedicated Presidential Library would have been in honor of one of the really cool Presidents — the ones who get movies made of their lives, who get to be played by upright actors like Sam Waterston or David Morse.

Nope. This guy’s was first.

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