June 7 – Ronald Reagan Presidential Museum

We (actually, I) decided to hitch up and take our motorhome with us to the Reagan Museum in Simi Valley,  which had advertised “RV Parking” on its website.  Enroute, we passed a really old RV.

Our GPS again led us a bit astray, resulting in another U-turn along a 4-lane highway.  We finally reached our destination.

Once thru the entrance, there was a long climb up to the Library and Museum complex, along which there were flags with the portraits of each of the 45 presidents on the lamp posts.

Reaching the parking areas and seeing no directions for RV parking we pulled into one for “cars”, taking up at least a half dozen spaces.  A friendly security officer knocked on our door advising that the RV parking was curbside along the entrance/exit road.

That was great, except when we opened our door the steps grounded out on the curb … and wouldn’t retract.  After some concern, frustration and expletives on my part … with a less than cheerful wife looking on in stone-faced silence, the steps took note and decided to behave, paving the way for us to enjoy the museum.  However, along the sidewalk there was a familiar warning sign.

However, we finally made it!

As with the other presidential library and museum complexes we’ve visited, our journey began with a short video about Ronald Reagan from his youth through his post-residency years.  We then began a self-guided tour …

Foundations of a Leader – Reagan’s youth and where he acquired his values

(Ronald Reagan in 1911)

Boyhood home in Dixon, IL

Ronald Reagan admired both of his parents, but took special inspiration from his mother, whose generosity and determination, fueled by her faith, had a profound influence on his character and life.

His early years as a sports broadcaster for collegiate football and eventually the Chicago Cubs, leading to his hosting the GE Theater


While the audio of my screen debut was not bad, my appearance would have scared off viewers!

He eventually appeared in many movies, the most famous being the Knute Rockne Story where his line, "Rock,, sometime, when the team is up against it — and the breaks are beating the boys — tell them to go out there with all they got and win just one for the Gipper

led to a nickname which stayed with him for the rest of his life.

After completing 14 home-study Army Extension Courses, Reagan enlisted in the Army Elnisted Reserve and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Officers' Reserve Corps of the Cavalry on May 25, 1937.  On April 18, 1942, Reagan was ordered to active duty for the first time. Due to his poor eyesight, he was classified for limited service only, which excluded him from serving overseas

He married actress Jane Wyman in 1942 but they were divorced six years later.

He then met Nancy Davis … whom he married in 1952 … and with whom a life long love story began.

1953 – Nancy with husband Ronald during her filming of 'Donovan's Brain"

1983 – Nancy and ROnald Reagan at Rancho del Cielo, near Santa Barbara, California

Reagan’s subsequent work with and later, successful presidency of the Screen Actors Guild gave him the visibility and credibility to catch the eye of California’s political machinery … which eventually led to his running for and winning the Governorship of the state.

Although losing his party’s nomination for president in 1976 to then president Gerald Ford, upon Ford’s loss to Jimmy Carter, he became the presumptive leader of the Republican Party.

In 1980, he asked the American people

and over whelmingly  won the presidency for himself.

One speech most people missed at the Inauguration 

Nancy and Ronald Regan’s inaugural clothes

Then came the events of March 30, 1981 outside a Washington DC hotel

  This .22 caliber Rohm RG-14 revolver is almost identical to the firearm John Hinkley purchased in October 1980 from a Texas pawnshop.  On March 30, 1981, the would be assassin fired six shots at President Regan from a distance of approximately fifteen feet.  As the president was pushed into his limousine by Secret Service agents, a bullet ricocheted off the vehicle and wounded the president on his left side.  The bullets are identical to those fired by Hinkley

While people may recall that Reagan's press secretary Jim Brady was paralyzed by one of Hinckley's bullets, Secret Service agent Tim McCarty and DC policeman Thomas Delahanty were also seriously wonded.

Next came a tour of a replica of the Oval Office of Ronald Reagan

followed by information on the diaries maintained by President Reagan.

During his eight years in office, Ronald Reagan kept a daily diary in which he recorded his thoughts on the extraordinary, the historic, and the routine day-to-day occurrences of the presidency.  They demonstrate his trademark humor, political acumen and human compassion as well as unique insights into his character

Next was a room dealing with Nancy Davis Reagan’s life before, during and after her years as First Lady. 

There was also an interactive device where one can design their own White House dinnerware.

 For anyone touring the Reagan Presidential Museum, a tour of Air Force One (Tail No. 27000) is clearly the highlight!

Reagan traveled more than 661,708 miles aboard Air Force One, visiting 26 countries

and more than 150 U.S. cities

Some Facts about 27000

Boeing 707

Accepted by the Air Force on August 4, 1972 after 200 hours of testing

First used by then President Nixon in February 1973 on a flight from Andrews AFB to Chicago

Seven U.S. presidents flew aboard: Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton and Bush 43

Its replacement, 28000 was ordered by President Reagan but not  received until 1990

Wingspan:  145 feet – 9 inches

Length:  152 feet – 11 inches

Seats 52 passengers plus the Air Force crew

Cruising Speed:  540 nautical miles per hour

Range:  6,650 Nautical miles

Service Ceiling:  42,000 feet

The pavilion which now houses 27000 was built around the plane after it was in place


Communications Center

Note the briefcase between the seats.  It was where the “football” was kept while the president was aboard

President's Office

Portside Hallway

President' Stateroom

Lounge and Chief-of-Staff’s office and airborne Cabinet Room

Staff Room and President's Doctor's Quaters

State-of-the-Art secure teletype (a modified IBM Selectric)

Guest Seating

Media Section (they paid their own way … and still do)

Reagan always had a cake aboard in case it was someone’s birthday.

Appearenty sleeping during long flights was allowable; but the president would take pictures of those who had nodded off and provide prints to the parties in question when he could poke fun at them

Nearby are vehicles from President Reagan’s presidential motorcades

President Reagan’s Limousine

A 1984 Cadillac was state-of-the art when the Secret Service has it built exclusively for the president

Engine:  500 Cubic Inch

Transmission: Turbo-HydroMatic 400 (3-speed)

Length:  21 feet – 8 inches

Wheelbase:  163 inches

Width:  6 feet – 7 inches

Ground Clearance:  7.5 inches

Presidential Car and Secret Service Vehicle

Special armor and body modifications

Three-inch raised roof

Telephone and public address system with exterior speakers

Rear bumper platform for agents with mechanically-operated hand rails

2 fender spotlights to illuminate flags

Los Angeles Police Department Vehilces which accompanies presidential motorcades

Marine One

In 1957, the Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) transported President Eisenhower from Newport, RI to Naval Air Station Quonset Point, beginning presidential helicopter travel.  In 1962, President Kennedy requested that the aircraft have distinctive markings, the same green and “white-top” paint scheme still used today  In March 1986, this Sikorsky VH-3A helicopter joined the Johnson Administration HMX-2 fleet, remaining active through the Nixon and Ford Administrations.  In 1975, the VH-3A was replaced by the VH-3D, a twin=engine, all-weather model with state-of-the-art avionics for communication and navigation.  As these aircraft remain in service for up to 40 years, retirement of Regan Administration Marine One helicopters began after 2010.

There was also a very creative portrait of Reagan … done completely with his favorite candy, jelly beans!

Back inside the museum, there was a section on the Berlin Wall

with a video clip of his famous remark as he stood beside the wall, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

There were descriptions world leaders who posed major and minor threats to America, American interests and democracies around the globe

his hope for and faith in the future,

and his summits with other world leaders, including Mikhail Gorbachev with whom he developed a real raport, to alleviate such tensions and make the world a safer place.

The Berlin Wall fell on Novemb er 9, 1989

There was a room dedicated to many American Heroes, including one I’d never heard of, Clyde East

A docent at the Reagan Libaray, Lt. Clyde East downed one of only four NAZi aircraft destroyed on Day, June 6, 1944, in his P-51.  During his illustrious military career, he flew hundreds of combat missions in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, and was recognized as only the second Air Ace of the 9th Air Force.  He is one of the most highly decorated pilots ever.

His post-presidency was mostly focused around his private life with Nancy and the period after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Reagan died on June 5, 2004 and was honored by lying in State at the U.S. Capitol

The grounds of the complex are situated on a high hill top and reflect who Ronald Reagan was.

Final resting place of President Ronald and his wife Nancy Reagan

We left Simi Valley and headed for Norco, ninety-plus miles away in near 100o heat … only to discover our dash air conditioning system was not working! 


Traveling along CA-118, I-5, I-10 and I-15 was miserable!  Although a Saturday afternoon, the traffic was a nightmare … possibly as it was the end of the July 4th week.

We did see the smoke

and then even the flames

\ from one of the fires burning in the San Gabriel Mountains.

With little else to do other than swelter and watch six lanes of traffic ahead, Debbie took aim at her new passion, highway retaining and sound barrier walls.

We noticed that many overhead signs were protected by razor wire … apparently to thwart the spray paint “artists”

We eventually made it to Russ and Georgina Johnson’s home where we will be leaving our motorhome for the next week during our Hawaii side trip. 


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