Note: The following pre-blog event took place one year ago toay: June 8, 2004. It was the day we tried to file past Ronald Reagan's casket. Since we don't really do anything blogworthy during the weekdays, I thought it would be a good time to re-visit our adventure. — James
The flower drop-off at the entrance to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Only buses could enter. (06/08/04)
I was never able to resist a big event. And the passing of Ronald Reagan certainly qualifies as big.
Whether you agreed with Ronald Reagan's politics or disagreed with them (I've done both at one time or another), no one can deny that Reagan was an iconic figure. Like Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Regan truly defined an era. He was the 1980s.
I was only 11 when he was elected. Ronald Reagan is the first president I really remember. He was also the first president to whom I've written a letter (It was about the space station he proposed in 1984; I still have the response letter). During my high school years, I remember the Libya bombings, the summits with Gorbachev, and his speech about the space shuttle Challenger disaster.
So when I heard that the public could visit the casket of the former president at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley (about an hour north of LA, for you out of towners), I knew I had to make the trip. I pictured it being just like that scene in Evita, with thousands of mourners passing by weeping.
Traffic on the Ronald Reagan Freeway (I-118) at 2:30 in the morning, from an overpass. (06/08/04)
I heard about the traffic, the lines, the 8-hour waits. So my plan was to avoid the crowds by going at 1:30 a.m. when most sensible people would be asleep. I knew Tim wouldn't be up for it (anything less than 8 hours of sleep for him, and look out!). :)
Fortunately my buddies Tom (best friend from college) and Laura (Tom's brother's wife) were up for the challenge. So we popped the Evita soundtrack into the car CD player, picked up a bag of Jelly Bellies (Reagan's favorite candy, for those of you age 25 and under), and we were off to Simi Valley!
There's James signing one of the tribute placards. (06/08/04)
You know my idea about showing up at 1:30 in the morning when most sensible people are asleep? Seemingly everyone else in Los Angeles had that same idea!
When the freeway traffic came to a complete halt more than 4 miles from the freeway exit (a 3-hour wait just to park, according to a scrolling traffic sign), we knew we were in trouble.
Tom and Laura ... laughing because ours was the only bag of Jelly Bellies that was opened. (06/08/04)
So we decided to cut our losses and simply pay our respects at the flower drop-off, which had no line. That's where we left our jelly beans (well, the ones that were left over after we ate some in the car, anyway). :)
Our Jelly Bellies. (06/08/04)