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A VISIT TO THE GERALD R. FORD PRESIDENTIAL MUSEUM

A beautiful location on the banks of the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids, MI

sunny 81 °F

(Tuesday) Bidding Lansing adieu about 0900 I traveled west for 1 1/2 hrs. in the direction of Grand Rapids to visit the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum. Along the way I noticed the agricultural side of Michigan with its vast fields of grain, corn and soybean crops along with orchards and vineyards. The temperate climate influenced by the Great Lakes make this a prime growing region of the state. Battle Creek of Kellogg's and Post fame, the giant cereal producers are located in this region and utilize the crop harvests here.

Of the presidential museums I have visited so far; Washington's Mt. Vernon, Jefferson's Monticello, McKinley, Johnson, Kennedy, FDR, John Quincy Adams, Harrison, Truman's Key West Winter White House, Eisenhower's Gettysburg Farm, and Gerald Ford, it has been interesting to learn more about each man and the time in which he served, the challenges he faced, and how it all fits into the mosaic of our country's history. Gerald Ford, as Vice-President, was elevated to the Presidency with the resignation of Richard Nixon amid the Watergate scandal. He was the right man at the right time to take Nixon's place. A common man of integrity and openness, he brought healing to our battered nation during that time. However, his unpopular decision to pardon Nixon for his conduct in office left a bad taste in voters' mouths and he was narrowly defeated by Jimmy Carter in the next Presidential election. His post-presidential years were filled with service to the public. He lived to the ripe age of 93.

The Presidential memorial building is triangular shaped with a beautiful reflection pool and fountain at the entrance. The Betty Ford Memorial Flower Garden is part of the area, and just beyond in a fenced-off area is the serene burial site for both President and Mrs. Ford.
The park-like area sits along the Grand River and adjacent are 3 ancient Native American burial mounds, all overlooking the river and bridge leading to beautiful downtown Grand Rapids. This week, on July 22nd, the Commissioning of the 1,079 ft. USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) US Navy's aircraft carrier, will take place in Norfolk, VA. It is the first of a new class of carriers for the navy. The commissioning will be screened to the museum where the staff is currently planning activities to celebrate the event.

Just across the street is the Grand Rapids Public Museum and next to it a hotel with a restaurant. It was then 1:30 pm so I had lunch at the hotel and decided to visit the local museum. Covering local history, Native American habitats, it displayed a 76' finback whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling along with numerous items of archaeological finds of ancient mammal bones, etc. from the area. It also had an operational 1928 Spillman carousel. The 3 story building featured animals and fresh water fish of the region with educational exhibits geared toward teaching children about the cycle of nature and the importance of respecting and preserving natural resources. A re-creation of downtown Grand Rapids at the turn of the 19th & 20th centuries enabled visitors to view the various shops and cottage industries of that period. All very well done and worth the $7.00 price of admission. When I finished it was approaching 3:00 pm so I decided to drive on to South Haven, MI ( an hour away) to the small community (pop. 4K) located on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Its claim to fame is the Michigan Maritime Museum which chronicles its role in maritime history of the Great Lakes fishing industry, and the US Coast Guard. I spent the night in the parking lot at 'Wally World' after grocery shopping at the Wal-Mart store.

My plans for tomorrow are to drive the 2 hours to Elkhart, IN to the NeXus MH factory to discuss some design flaws that I have discovered while living aboard (now 9 months) this 'home away from home' over two summers and continuing. Elkhart is on my way to Joliet, IL then I'll head north to Madison, WI, the capitol. Until next time.............

Posted by dixter 04:29 Archived in USA Tagged museum visits

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