Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day 37: Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site

Late this morning/early this afternoon we went to the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site. I thought it would be interesting to see the old house he was inaugurated inside of, but I was actually quite disappointed, especially since this is what they have after reopening last week from remodeling. It is not horrible, but I really expected to get more out of the experience.

The museum is part of the National Park service and we ended up all getting in free with Mik’s Golden Access Pass, which was an awesome deal since the normal price is $10 per adult and $5 for kids up to age 17. Usually at per person sites only Mik gets in free and others have to pay, but I am glad we saved the $20 here because it certainly was not worth that amount of money.

The tour starts with you being able to look around this small room of artifacts and info mostly about the Pan-American Exposition of 1901 in Buffalo, New York. When the guided tour part begins they show a movie in this room that puts you back in time as if you are actually at the Exposition. After this movie you go into the dining room area of the house where the guide gives a little scripted thing about how Vice President Theodore Roosevelt stayed here after President McKinley was shot and then when he came back after McKinley died.

After the dining room you go into this little room with a bench and watch an interesting presentation about the time period and the issues Theodore Roosevelt was probably thinking about before he took the oath to become President of the United States. It is actually a pretty cool presentation as different images are lit up as the talk goes on, but it is not all that informative about this particular site and basically leaves you feeling like you got all the general history of 1901, but practically nothing about why this is a historic site.

After the movie you go into the room where Theodore Roosevelt took the oath of office. A tape plays making it seem like you are actually at the swearing in, but it is rather odd with the room being empty besides the period décor. You then go on to the room he used as an office while at the Wilcox residence.

The tour ends with you going to the second floor, which is the self-guided part with an interactive desk in the recreation of Theodore Roosevelt’s office at the White House. This is kind of cool because you sign or veto bills he had to decide on, but is kind of a little far fetched in its relation to this historic house. However, not as far fetched as the art gallery that takes up two of the rooms and has nothing to do with the house or Theodore Roosevelt besides part of the profits of selling the art probably goes to the historic site.

Overall I left very disappointed besides actually getting my National Park Passport stamped. There must be some good history to this house and I am sure it is even known, but it is not told about at all on the tour. Dad said they had a little display in the first room, but it was easily overlooked by me when I was instead looking at the Pan-American exhibit. I have been on house tours like this in the D.C. area that really tell about the house’s history beyond just what it is most famous for and I really expected that from this site as well. Basically everything they said I had read about before and mostly in a book called Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell. Worst part was that even if I had wanted to ask about the house the tour guide knew nothing about the site except what was in the word for word tour script stuff he said. Also, sad is that only three of the rooms are restored to period look and the second floor is wasted with nothing restored to the period décor and the only plans for it is to add more unrelated interactive stuff.

Day 36: Niagara Falls at Night

Yesterday we got to the KOA in the Niagara Falls area around 5pm. Mik and I then tried to use the Internet while Dad set up camp, but we found it to be pretty slow. While eating dinner we looked at the pamphlets of things to do in the area to try to decide what to do today. We found out that they light the falls up from 9pm to midnight, so we decided to go to Niagara Falls last night, since the plan of using the Internet was just going to be frustrating.

Going at night turned out to be the best way to see the Falls or at least we assume. We got there around 8pm and it was still light, so we did at least get a day time view from the American side. Plus, parking at the falls was free on both the American and Canadian side at night, so we saved almost $30 on parking. Oh, and we saved $3 going to the Observation Deck by the American Falls since it was also after the hours they charge for you to go out on it. Lastly, the crowds were pretty low, especially by the time we went to Canada at 10pm.

We started at the Niagara Falls State Park and going out on the Observation Deck. There we took some day time photos and photos of us with the American Falls in the background. I also took some video of the falls, but I am not even going to try to upload that on the slow connection here, as it is hard enough getting my photos uploaded. Next time we have good Internet I will try to remember to upload a few of the videos of the falls.

After the Observation Deck we walked over to the island to see the Horseshoe Falls from the American side. The American side is kind of a cool up close and personal view of the falls. I kind of liked this experience better than the Canadian side, although so many say the Canadian side is the best. I did enjoy that side for taking photos of the falls, but just for viewing and experiencing it up close on the American side is better. It was a little crowded down at this area and a policeman tried to scratch his car against Mik’s wheelchair and was just plain rude as he rushed down when we were coming up, but overall it was a good place to walk out to.

By the time we done at the American side of Horseshoe Falls the falls were all lit up. It was hard to get photos there because of the low light conditions, so when we got over to the Canadian side next I took out my tripod to get some photos of the falls lit up at night. The view on the Canadian side ended up being great for taking photos of the falls lit up, especially since there were very few people there. I got some great photos of the falls lit up different colors and even used night portrait mode to get some of Dad and I with the falls in the background (Mik was asleep by this point, so none of him).

The night outing to the Falls ended up being a great way to do it and personally we got enough of the experience that we are not going to go again today. Dad kind of still wanted to do the boat ride, but instead we had a relaxing morning and are going to head towards Buffalo to see some other interesting things I found to do in the pamphlets. Besides the only interesting things left near Niagara Falls (a movies wax museum and Hershey Store) are on the Canadian side and it is not worth going over there again until we head to Toronto tomorrow.