My life is a journey...I never know who or what I will meet just around the next bend that will give my life experience!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Two Unbelievable Days Visiting Ronald Reagan's Past...

Ronald and Nancy Reagan's Ranch Address

On the morning of Monday, September 19th, Dean and I drove into Santa Barbara where we picked up our friend Peter.  He had arranged a private tour of the Reagan Ranch, high up in the Santa Ynez mountains.  It was a bit of a drive, up a winding canyon road (that Reagan used sparingly!). 

We were met at the main gate by the Ranch Caretaker, George Thompson.  He was such a kind man who took his time to show us nearly every inch of the 680 acres.  As soon as we left the main road, we were on "Pennsylvaia Avenue," and the Reagan's address (as it ws in Washinton DC) was "1600."

We loved the ranch, "Rancho Del Cielo," immediately.  The Reagan's chose to keep the original adobe house and just add to it.  It is so quaint and unpretentious.  The pig-skin chair Dean is sitting in and the table is where President signed into law his Tax-Cut Bill.  Everything is as he left it.

An interesting anecdote, was told by his personal body guard on the ranch, John Barletta.  Sam Donaldson was at the Tax Bill signing and asked President Reagan if he was going to sell the ranch any time soon.  The President replied, "You can't sell heaven!"  He loved his ranch.

Inside, the decor and furnishings spoke so much about who the man and his lady were.  Reagan loved the west and he loved his horses.  And the western style of his ranch told the story.  I loved it.
There was such a calm inside the house  as we walked from room to room.  Every nook and crany said, This is where Reagan lived.  This is the story of the man.

On the mantel in what appeared to be their family room, is a Seal of the President of The United States,
 which is done completely with nails on a polished wood circle.  It was quite a center piece for the fireplace.

The outside of the ranch was totally awesome and blew my mind completely.  Alongside of he house are two other small buildings, used to house guests and workers on the ranch.  All of the fencing around the house was done by Reagan.  He cut the wood, hauled it to the site, and built the fences.  He was not afraid of hard work. 

Reagan even built Nancy's "First Ladies Park."  It was a quiet, sweet place to walk.  Our tour was so amazing, and we have a wonderful caretaker to thank for it.  It was about 1/2 way through our tour, after we looked at the old cars and saddles, etc.that were part of Reagan's belongings, I discovered
that George Thompson was a Santa Monica High School Alumni.  We were nearly classmates.  He graduated the year before I did, and as we were naming friends from Samohi, we found that we knew a lot of the same people.  Then, I threw out the name of my dad's restarant, "Pickle Bill's" and I wish I had taken a picture of George's face.  He worked for my dad as a bus boy for a couple of years!  Oh my goodness, talk about a small world!

Reagan loved to ride, and he rode his horse every day that he was on the ranch.  His personal Secret Service body guard, John Barletta, rode with him, too.  He was selected because he knew how to ride a horse.  Reagan loved his horses and his animals.  There is a special burrial site on the property where all of the animals that died while Reagan lived on the ranch are burried.  We got to visit some of the horses--and feed them carrots!

I thought it was interesting that the original brand for the ranch (before Reagan bought it) was an arrow pointing up and down (for "Tip-Top Ranch").  Reagan changed it to a double sided arrow pointing left and right for "Dos Vistas."  When you stand up on the highest point of the ranch, where the heli-pad was for Marine One to land on, and the place where Reagan bought the ranch because he loved the view, you can see the ocean to the west and the beautiful Santa Ynez valley to the east.  Breath-taking country.

I will continue our Reagan adventure with my next post, as we visit the amazing Reagan Library in Simi Valley.


Kim Messick said...

That is so GREAT! Love all the adventures! Keep sharing please!

Anonymous said...

George Thompson is my uncle.....I am so glad you had a wonderful grandma and I used to eat at pickle Bill's all the time when I was little.