Please enjoy the original writing, Christian travel journal, and photography by a hapa haole named Gail Rhea.

Original Writing & Photography

by Gail Rhea

 

 

 

From: "The Hapa Haole Journal"

 

Sent: Wednesday, July 11, 2007 5:22 AM

 

Subject: The HHJ: Air Force One



 

It's a beautiful day for a drive through the country. Passing by greenhouses and acres of fields of unidentifiable crops and orange groves, I'm headed to see Air Force One at the Ronald Reagan Museum in Simi Valley.

Except for the cultivation, the land growth is brown, parched from the lack of rain and temperatures in the 90s. Still, the hills are beautiful in that wild manner ungroomed territory has. When I reach Simi Valley, the tall trees, grass, and flowers lining the road are a shock in verdant contrast.

The car climbs the hill to the museum and I grab the first available parking stall. Walking to the entrance, I'm lured by the three-quarter replication of the White House rose garden and resist, pausing by the fountain in the center courtyard, instead. Entering an open corridor, I face the Information Desk before turning to the right and proceeding to the admission counter where I pay for my admission and an audio tour guide. Looking about, it seems like a maze; I ask a docent for the quickest way to Air Force One.

"Is it okay to skip all this stuff and come back to it later? I really came for the plane."

"Oh, sure. Lots of people do. Here, follow me." She leads me through to the passage going to the jet's pavilion.

I open the door and walk down the aisle. There it is, a shining wing from the retired Boeing 707 stretching so close to the second floor balcony that I could reach out and touch it but for the signs warning me not to.

The entire jet shines like a new car, washed and waxed. Angled slightly upwards to appear as though ascending in flight, it faces a glass wall  beyond which is nothing but countryside. The people that work there are lucky for such a beautiful view of the mountains.

Passing by the displays commemorating Reagan's travels, I walk around to the opposite side where the line has formed to enter the plane. A professional photographer waits to photograph each party just before they enter. I decline, having no desire for "Look, I was here," types of photographs.

For such a large vehicle, the interior seems nearly as close as that of a 36-foot ketch. The cockpit is cramped and I discover that what I thought were knobs lining the ceiling are fuses.

Behind the cockpit is a closet and a small galley. On the other side is the communication center.

Behind the galley is the first stateroom where the President conducted business while en route. The second stateroom belonging to the First Lady, follows. Surprisingly, the couch is smaller in person than the photo on the wall with Nancy Reagan sitting on it depicts it to be.

After that is seating for Air Force journalists, the main galley, and more seating for members of the press who are selected by lottery.

After that, you're walking out the back door. Like I said, a small interior for such a large plane.

I lingered, admiring the exterior and it's view for a while before ascending to look over his motorcade and Marine One, the Presidential helicopter.

Next, I cruised the small gift store before returning upstairs to go through the exhibits. Starting my audio tour at 30-something to match my location, I heard mostly excerpts of Reagan's speeches at his various destinations.

Then, I backtracked through the time-line exhibits starting with the Oval Office, a beautiful full-scale replica of it during Reagan's tenure, to gifts the President and First Lady received, her gowns, to his and Nancy's movie careers, and all the way back to a replica of the kitchen of his boyhood home.

Outside, beyond the Information Desk, is a section of the Berlin Wall, a replica of the White House South Lawn, donated by Merv Griffin, and the President's Memorial.

All in all, I spent over five hours there. It was fascinating and totally worth it.



 

 

 

 

 

Read the first poem

 

 

 

 

 

Main Entrance Projection Room Reading Room Information Desk

Janitor's Closet

 

 

Copyright 1993- Gail Rhea.

All rights reserved.