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Four states in a day

Up at six, out the door before eight, seven hours plus of driving to go. We have a habit of pushing through on our first day of vacation so that we can enjoy the rest of the days that much more. We made it out of Michigan, through Ohio, through Pennsylvania, and into New York today before checking in and hitting the pool in Buffalo. Calvin thinks it's pretty fun that we're staying in Buffalo. I think they need to rename the town American Bison.

First stop, Cleveland, OH, to tour the house from A Christmas Story. I've seen the movie so many times, and yet there was so much to learn. Did you know they really did stick Flick's tongue to the pole? Eek. And that Randy really was terrified to go down the Santa slide? He did not know he was being filmed when he let loose with all that screaming. Kitsch abound, it was a fun stop.

Calvin has not seen the movie yet, but he was a good sport about posing for some iconic shots.

The lighting was so bad you can't even see the elecric sex gleaming in the window!

Our second stop, far more somber, was in Mentor, OH, at the James A. Garfield NHS, the family home that he refurbished with his wife a few years before his election and assassination. This stop moved me—so sad, such a waste, so heartbreaking. A young family left behind. I think this was my first mournful historic site visit.

Less mournful was Calvin's junior ranger involvement. The national park rangers are pretty darn cool, most of them. Calvin completed three required projects while we were there (a scavenger hunt for artifacts, an interview with a ranger, and decoding a Morse Code message), and was sworn in as official junior ranger. He received a badge and a certificate, which made him that much more excited for the park we will visit tomorrow.

In addition to the ranger program, Calvin read the James A. Garfield volume of the Getting to Know the U.S. Presidents series before we left. It's a good series, and helped him prepare for some of the things he would hear and see on the tour.

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