March 11, 2019

An Unforgettable Day at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

It’s always a good day at the Reagan Library and Museum with DayTripper Tours. Even though I have lead this tour many times over the last fifteen years, I never grow tired of walking through the permanent exhibitions, taking in the fabulous views outside (on a clear day you can see all the way to the Channel Islands), paying my respect to our 40th President and the First lady Nancy — the love of his life and so much more I never grow tired of visiting or leading tours there.

The Reagan library is in Simi Valley, which is in Ventura County. A beautiful area so I can understand why Reagan chose this location for his library. Many people think he had a home there. He actually had friends who lived in the area and he just fell in love with the area. The original plan for the Library was to be on the campus of Stanford University but the plans were canceled in 1987. And the original plan for their final resting place was in the Santa Barbara cemetery.

Simi Valley is the third largest city in Ventura County with a population of around 126,000 and the seventh-safest city in the U.S. with a population of 100,000 or more according to the FBI crime statistics. They have the biggest population of retired police officers in California so that kind of makes sense.

In pop-culture there have been several movies and T.V. shows filmed in and around Simi Valley. Movies like “The Doberman Gang” which was filmed entirely in Simi Valley, “Poltergeist”, “Bachelor Part” with Tom Hanks, and “Honey, I Blew Up the Kids”. TV shows like “MASH” and “Gunsmoke” were filmed in the surrounding hills. The popular 70’s show “Little House on the Prairie” was also filmed in the hills of Simi Valley. After the series was finished filming Michael Landon blew up the town which became part of the final movie. Only the Little house was left intact but was destroyed by the 2004 fire.  Many people are not aware that it was also the location of the worst nuclear disaster in U.S. history in 1959. The Santa Susanna Field Laboratory had a meltdown on July 13th that year.

The library sits on 100 acres and is surrounded by incredible views of the valley. It took three years to build and it opened in 1991. As the bus pulls up the hill the Air Force One pavilion has a commanding presence. The pavilion opened in 2005 and added enough square footage that the Reagan Library became the biggest of all presidential libraries as far as physical size. President Clinton’s library is the largest as far as materials.

There are eighteen galleries that follow the life of Reagan from his time as California’s governor, his childhood, footage from his 1981 attempted assassination, a full-scale replica of the Oval Office, a gallery dedicated to the first lady, a piece of the Berlin wall, an F-14 Tomcat and a lot of interactive exhibits too. This is just some of what you will see when you visit.

Our tour included lunch inside the Air Force One Pavilion and we literally sat right under the wings of the airplane. The plane sits on 25-foot pedestals so it is quite the sight to see. Once we were finished enjoying our delicious lunch, which includes jelly bellies (a favorite of the 40th resident) everybody was free to explore the museum, walk through Air Force One and visit the temporary exhibit, which is always changing.

The current temporary exhibit is Pompeii. This exhibition was created by the same company that created the King Tut exhibit at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. It’s very well done with over 150 authentic artifacts from the explosion of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. There are mosaics, frescoes, weapons, a ship’s anchor, ceramics, furniture jewelry and medical instruments. There is also a simulated 4-D Eruption Theater that let’s you experience the devastating impact Mount Vesuvius had on Pompeii. It ends with the reveal of full body casts from some of the human remains that were found. It is a fascinating exhibit and it’s only there until April 19, 2019 so if you want to see it sign up today!

All the items are on loan from the Naples National Archaeological Museum in Italy. One of the most important archaeological museums in the world, if not the most important with regards to Pompeii’s history. And they are still discovering new things today that tell the tragic story of that day in history. Something else new at the museum is a first of its kind hologram of our 40th president created by award winning Hollywood special effects master and the leader in hologram celebrity recreations.

I had 47 passengers on my tour and most of them were going to the library for the very first time. Some of them told me they would definitely be signing up for this tour again in the future. Not because they didn’t have time to see everything but it’s just a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Well, all tours must eventually come to end and before we knew it, it was time to board the coach, and make our way back to San Diego where our wonderful driver Carolyn would get us all back safely.

I will close with one of Ronald Reagans many quotes….

“Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears; to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty’s lamp guiding your steps and opportunities arm steadying your way.”    – August 17, 1992.

Until we meet again. Happy Daytripping.

~ Donna D’Alia
DayTripper Tour Manager

Tour: Reagan Presidential Library & Museum
Date: March 9, 2019


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