Fort Vasquez Museum, Colorado

Fort Vasquez was an important center for the Rocky Mountain fur trade in the first half of the nineteenth century. Native Americans brought hides and pelts to the post to exchange for blankets, kettles, whiskey, and even such items as black silk handkerchiefs and ivory combs. The fort was built by traders Louis Vasquez and Andrew Sublette. It had living quarters, a barn, storage, and trade rooms. Competition from other fur trade posts in the region forts forced Vasquez and Sublette to sell out in 1841, and over the next century the adobe structure fell into ruins. By 1937 only portions of the original walls remained. The Works Progress Administration reconstructed the fort in the late 1930’s and archaeological excavations were conducted in the 1960’s. Museum exhibits describe the fur trade, display Native American artifacts, and discuss information on such unusual topics as mountain man etiquette.

Fort Vasquez Museum is located at 13412 U.S. Route 85, one mile south of the town of Platteville, Colorado. Platteville is north of Denver.

Washington Crossing State Park , New Jersey

At the end of 1776, the American cause in the Revolutionary War looked to be finished. George Washington’s Continental Army had suffered a series of disastrous defeats as the British drove them out of New York and across New Jersey. Many of Washington’s troops had drifted away as their enlistments ended, and few replacements were stepping forward after the disasters of the recent campaign. Washington reversed his poor fortunes and restored the morale of the cause with a series of small victories against British detachments at Trenton and Princeton, New Jersey. To do so, he had to execute his famous crossing of the Delaware (no, he probably was not standing up in the boat). Washington landed at Johnson’s Ferry on the New Jersey side of the river, at the site now preserved as Washington Crossing State Park. From Johnson’s Ferry, Washington marched to Trenton where he defeated Hessian troops in a surprise attack on Christmas Day. Washington followed up with victories in the Second Battle of Trenton on January 2, 1777, and the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777. As a bonus. Washington Crossing State Park is also well known for its trails and wildlife habitat. A wide variety of migrating birds use the stream and ravine as a resting place and for nesting. Many bird species also winter in the park.

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, California

A lot of us still don’t get what it was that gave Ronald Reagan such a broad appeal to the American electorate, to say nothing of the adulation accorded to him by one part of that electorate. (OK, I at least don’t get it.) Maybe that means we especially need a visit to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. The complex houses the usual collection of presidential and official records and exhibits of Reagan memorabilia. The Ronald Reagan Library is part of the presidential libraries system administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.

From Los Angeles and points south, take the 405 North to the 118 West. Exit at Madera Road South. Turn right on Madera. Proceed 3 miles to Presidential Drive. From Santa Barbara and points north, take the 101 South to the 23 North, Exit at Olsen Road. Turn right on Olsen. Proceed 2 miles to Presidential Drive. Follow Presidential Drive up the hill to the Library, follow signs for parking.