Monday, June 22, 2009

History and waymarks

This past Saturday, I took the Tadpole out to the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. We cached a little bit before heading over there around 10:30 in the morning. One of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta was on display there and when we got there, we both realized that the day we were there, would be the last day for that particular exhibit, so needless to say, the library was probably more crowded than usual.

After paying the admission price, we walked in and toured the first half of the library. The first part of the library is dedicated to the early years of Ronald Reagan, up to his becoming governor of the state of California. There were displays about his loyal following of Franklin Roosevelt during the depression ear. His governor's desk was on display as well as many other pieces of memorabilia from his movie and governorship days.

We then got a little waylaid by a movie about Air Force One. After watching the movie, we were directed out of the library an into a three story building where we were confronted by Air Force One. Not just the fuselage, but the entire plane from wing tip to wing tip in all its shining glory. This plane, which serviced Presidents Nixon to Bush 2 was a Boeing 707. During the Reagan administration, the current 747 was ordered and it was delivered during Bush 2's term in office. The entire plane was disassembled, shipped out to California, then reassembled back inside the building. We were able to tour the inside of the plane and see how the President traveled. Unfortunately, they wouldn't allow photography of the inside of the plane, so I can't show any of those details. Suffice to say, it's not your ordinary plane. After getting home, I ended up "visiting" a current waymark in the Static Aircraft Displays category.

We decided to eat lunch under Air Force One right next to Marine One, the helicopter that ends up taking the President from the White House lawn to the nearby airport where he'll board Air Force One. Marine One wasn't open for any kind of tour, but I've actually been on Marine One at the Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda. The helicopter at the Nixon Library is open for tours and although not nearly as impressive as Air Force One, it still was very interesting.

After lunch, we toured the rest of the library, learning about Reagan's career as President and after leaving office. We then got in line for the Magna Carta. We spent about an hour in line queueing through the hall of Presidents and then into a small gallery, where the history of the Magna Carta was presented. At the end of this gallery was a document, probably not much larger than the Declaration of Independence, inside a glass climate controlled case. This particular copy usually resides at the Lincoln Cathedral in London, but is also designated the "traveling" copy. It's been in the United States before, most notably in late 1939. That stay lasted a little longer than anticipated due to the outbreak of World War II. The US government kept it for the duration of the war, storing in at Fort Knox next to the original Constitution.

There were several things that struck me as I looked upon this document. I noted to my son that we were looking at a document that was close to 800 years old. The writing, written with quill pen looked to be about 8 or 9 point font size maximum. It was incredibly tiny, yet there were no smears from the ink, so whoever had written and copied it down (in Latin) did a very good job. However, what I found the most intriguing about this noble document, was that sometime in the last 800 years, someone had taken this particular document and folded it up as if they had intended on putting it in their shirt pocket. Perhaps someone did do this way back when, but it was amazing to see this documents with crease folds throughout it. Unbelievable. I can't imagine anyone ever doing that to the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence, but yet it had been done to an old copy of the Magna Carta.

After viewing the Magna Carta, we went out on to the back lawn of the library. The back lawn is a full scale replica of the south lawn of the White House. At the edge of the lawn is a full segment of the Berlin Wall that was presented to President Reagan by the Berlin Wall Commemorative Group in 1990. We took pictures there and then headed over to the east side of the lawn to pay our respects to the President at his grave site. After getting home, I also "visited" the waymark for his grave in the Grave of a Famous Person category.

When searching through the waymarking database, I was surprised to find that these were the only two waymarks at the library. I thought for sure that some other waymarker or geocacher would have already created a waymark for the segment of the Berlin Wall. It was not the case, so I decided to create one for the wall segment. I did have one problem in that I hadn't gotten coordinates for the wall when I was there. Fortunately, I was able to use the USGS map locator to pinpoint the coordinates for the Berlin Wall segment. Using the satellite view, I zoomed in on the wall at the library. By putting the cursor over any point on the map, the map locator gives a coordinate reading for that point. By zooming in to its closest point, I was able to get very accurate coordinates and now have an approved waymark in the Preserved Architectural Remnants and Ruins waymarking category. Next time you're in the Simi Valley area, stop in at the Reagan Library and visit my waymark.

Our visit complete, I asked the Tadpole whether there was anything he wanted to look at again. His answer was negative, so we took our leave, found a cache down the road from the library, and then headed home. Researching this blog, I discovered that the largest American Flag flag built out of Lego bricks is now on display at the Nixon Library. Guess where the Tadpole wants to go next?

Pictures were taken near the following geocache:

1 comment:

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