Monday, August 29, 2011

Teddy & Ulysses

Here was my plan: land at LaGuardia at 10:20, get my luggage, take the shuttle to Budget Car Rental, get my car, drive the forty-five minutes out the Long Island Expressway to Teddy Roosevelt's Sagamore Hill, visit the house, visit the museum, visit the grave, drive back to LaGuardia, return the rental car, get a cab to the Crown Plaze Time Square, check-in, drop off my luggage in the room, jump the subway to Grant's Tomb and visit was the kicker though I had to do it all before 5pm. So as you can imagine this left very little time for error or delay and the rain certainly never came into my planning.

So, of course, when I land it is absolutely pouring down. I'm talking monsoon like rains. Roads closed, trains not running, subway systems delayed. Determined as I was though I made my way to the car rental place got my car and headed out onto the Long Island Expressway, which was completely gridlocked....turning my quick forty-five minute drive into almost an hour and half.

Sagamore Hill
This delay effectively cut out the tour of the Museum but luckily being there alone they were able to squeeze me into a larger group so I did get to tour the house. Now, I've spoken many times about my love for James K. Polk, but TR is easily one of my favorites, so visiting his house was a truly amazing experience. After a quick stop off at the gift shop to purchase a bust (I now have about fifteen historical busts, which I will have to post at some point) and to get Major a TR Teddy Bear I was off to the grave.  TR's grave is very understated and sits at the top of a hill in Young's Cemetery. The rain was still beating down making the visit especially moving. Of all of the President's graves I have visited, I would have to say that this was my favorite (so far...).

Having seen both the house and grave, I decide that I bad better head back if I want to have any chance of seeing Grant's National Memorial (aka Tomb). By this time it was 2:15, so I hit the highway and of course it takes another hour and a half to get back to LaGuardia and about twenty minutes to get a taxi to the city. During the ride I become convinced that there is no way I am going to make it to Grant's and that I will have to try and  visit it the next time I visit the city...but...

Grant's Tomb
Amazingly, with the help of two crazy New York cabbies and a quick check-in at the hotel I make it with twenty-minutes to spare. Now, as I mentioned, this whole grave visit thing started becuase I was trying to see Civil War sites/graves, so visiting Grant's Tomb is a sort of completion for me...having seen President Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson on the Confederate side and President Abraham Lincoln and William T. Sherman on the Union side Grant was the last HUGE player in the War that  I needed to see. I have to say that his tomb, of the Civil War Graves, was easily the most impressive. Standing tall enough to hold the Statue of Liberty inside of it you truly appreciate just how loved U.S. Grant was at the time of his death. So, to answer the famous question, just who IS buried at Grant's Tomb? The answer is no-one--Both Grant and his wife, Julia, are entombed in sarcophagi, which sit at the center of the mausoleum (which is the largest in North America). 

The rain having stopped and with a complete and total feeling of accomplishment, I proceeded to get completely turned around on my trip back to my hotel. You gotta love New York!

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