Los Angeles, Simi Valley: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

3/15/16 (Tuesday) in Acton, CA (Soledad RV Park-TT)

We’ve only been to about 3 Presidential Libraries (maintained by the NARA, National Archives and Records Administration). My favorite is still FDR’s, but this one was very nice too. Way up high on a hill. We were fortunate to come just a few days after Nancy Reagan’s funeral and while the Vatican Splendor exhibit was up. That was a special draw for us.

Some highlights: we got to stand at a podium outfitted with teleprompters, so we could see how that worked. Nifty, how a piece of plastic would display the words from a TV monitor below it. It would even stop when you paused in your talking!


We enjoyed their full scale replica of the Oval Office. There was lots of evidence of Nancy’s love for red.


We got to go on the Air Force One plane that carried Reagan. They had a tiny galley up front for the big wigs and another tiny one at the back to serve the rest of the passengers. I was surprised that the chairs didn’t lean back all that much-no beds. About 40 people were on these flights: staff (presidential and air flight), Secret Service, US Air Force, Press.


Reagan’s Cadillac limousine, super bullet proof and all. Notice the “Gipper” license plate.

library 9

The helicopter that took the President and First Lady to Air Force One. John is 5’8”; notice where his head is.


There was naturally a lot about Reagan’s life, his ancestors, his presidential years and when John Hinckley shot him in 1981. He served 2 terms, then after only 5 years of retirement, made the sad announcement that he had Alzheimer’s in 1994. He died just 10 years later on June 5th, 2004. Nancy died almost 12 years later, on March 6, 2016. The quote inscribed on the wall behind the flowers is “I know in my heart that man is good. That what is right will always eventually triumph. There is purpose and worth to each and every life.” I’ll include another quote that I find especially meaningful in these times (photo): “Whatever else history may say about me….I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts.” You can click on a photo to see it enlarged.


In the midst of that tour we had a nice lunch at the Reagan Country Cafe (in the same complex). Next we walked through the special exhibit (only here March through August 2016) of “Vatican Splendors”.

vatican 1

Some of my favorites were the Chi-Rho, a reproduction of a unique 4th Century gold pin showing a monogram of Christ (Chi-Rho), Greek letters for the word I believe. Also a reproduction of a 6-7th Century gold votive plaque of St. Peter, from St. Peter’s tomb.


Different language type sets from the 18th century. A blue cloth drape with Tokugowa Shogun heraldry.


Letter in Arabic, Chinese hanging scroll and Tibetan Privilege of the Freedom of Conscience (1741), with the Great Lama’s Seal. It grants freedom of belief to the Capuchin missionaries. Four years later that zeal felt threatening, so they were expelled.


Christian Woman Standing With Child (1930’s), Virgin Mary with Child Jesus, a Madonna, then a votive lamp permanently lit in front of an icon of Mary. This lamp was given to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major for this purpose, by Pope/Saint John Paul II. Pope Francis also venerates this large and precious icon, visiting it each time he leaves or returns to Rome. Sorry, but the icon was very difficult to photograph. Since 1797 the US has had consular relations with the Papal State, but full diplomatic relations didn’t begin until January 10th, 1984, when President Reagan was in office.


So there was our very big day in Simi Valley, which is just north of Los Angeles, so we did get to travel through some of that heavy duty congestion. Timing went pretty well, though, plus we got lots of errands accomplished on our way back: fueled the car, Post Office to mail a book and then to pick up groceries.

About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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