PRINCETON, NJ – Leaving the hotel in Princeton behind schedule but a full night’s sleep will keep back bickering between road trippers. Our second dead president is Grover Cleveland who is most famous for serving two non-consecutive terms. Not sure how to translate that into the dis photo we opt to portray Cleveland’s top secret surgery to remove a malignant tumor on his jaw. A ship was chartered to keep the press on shore and in the dark about the risky surgery. Just across the path is Aaron Burr. A secondary politician in almost every way, Aaron Burr was an early Vice President who took former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton’s derision much too seriously and killed his opponent in an illegal duel. He was nearly charged with treason for making side deals with Spain against the wishes of President Jefferson and died disgraced in Princeton. On the way out of town we discover the site of the Battle of Princeton. Retreating west through New Jersey the Continentals lost the valuable General Hugh Mercer to British muskets.
In Philadelphia we check out Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed in July of 1776 and can sympathize with delegates enduring the summer heat. Ben Franklin is the colonial celebrity of Philadelphia and the remnants of his home and grave were visited. I was wary of taking a cheese steak in the heat so an Italian Hoagie would have to do for local cuisine.
Valley Forge was General Washington’s winter encampment for 1777. Close enough to keep an eye on British occupied Philadelphia but far enough to make a surprise attack impossible. Known for being brutally cold and undersupplied it actually allowed the Continental Army to recuperate and retrain after a year of retreat. We visit Washington’s comfortable headquarters and the more Spartan huts for the lower ranks. The sprawling grounds dotted with granite monuments remind Erin and me of last year’s trip to Gettysburg. Once again, another trip promised.
My elaborate plan to buy a supply of Yeungling Lager after reading about Pennsylvania’s complicated liquor laws was unnecessary as it was a simple matter to buy from a beer store outside of Lancaster.
The homeland of the Amish and Mennonites is obvious with horse-drawn buggies on the highways and hex signs on numerous barns. No need to turn off the car for a quick visit to James Buchanan’s grave. Erin reads that the 15th president was nearsighted in one eye and farsighted in the other which caused him to tilt his head almost constantly.
Multiple tunnels on I-76 are similar in design to the Eisenhower Tunnel but the mountains they bore through could only be considered adorable. Starting to believe that Pennsylvania’s western border is merely theoretical we finally reach Ohio just before midnight.