Go West, Young Man (Pt. 5)

Ohio to New Jersey. A drive of nearly six hundred miles that would take the better part of the day. The smart thing to do would be to get up early, have a good breakfast, and immediately start driving east. That would be intelligent. Responsible. Reasonable. But that would also be boring and not what we do here at The Open Road Ahead! So on a Friday morning, with many hours of driving in our future, my wife and I detoured to two cool stops before finally heading home. I invite you to sit back, relax, and enjoy this conclusion of our Midwest road trip!

Map of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, with a blue route from Fremont Ohio to New Brunswick New Jersey.
Our last day on the road would take us almost six hundred miles, and with stops, approximately twelve hours of driving.
Marblehead Lighthouse with sign in front that says MARBLEHEAD LIGHTHOUSE 1821
We awoke before dawn and got an early start to Marblehead Lighthouse State Park to visit the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the Great Lakes.
Exterior of Marblehead Lighthouse, a white and gray lighthouse on a rock shoreline.
Built in 1821, it has operated for nearly 200 years, keeping ships away from the rocky shores of Sandusky Bay along Lake Erie. Its current light is an LED that can be seen up to eleven miles away.
Lighthouse keepers home, a two-store white-sided building.
Nearby is the museum, which was once the home of the lighthouse keeper, until the lighthouse became automated and no longer required a live-in attendant.
White Jeep Grand Cherokee in front of Lighthouse.
Between the NJ Lighthouse Challenge, trips through New England, and now a visit to the Great Lakes, my wife and I are becoming lighthouse tourists (Is that a thing? It should be!).
Exterior of Victory Coffee & Company, a one-store shingled building with a peaked roof.
Before heading to our next destination, we stopped at Victory Coffee & Company, an outstanding independent coffee shop. We enjoyed a delicious caffeine fuel-up and a nice chat with the owner, and then headed on back to Fremont, Ohio.
Exterior of Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museum.
Our final stop for the day was the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museum, the first Presidential Library in the U.S. The center tells the story of the life of Hayes, the 19th President who served from 1877-1881.
Exterior of museum, with concrete staircase with integrated handicapped access ramp.
As we were nearing the entrance to the library, my wife and I both paid special attention to the entrance steps. As we both work in the field of disability services, we noticed that the steps and the handicapped access ramp are integrated into each other. No separate entrances, no access issues – just one easy way into the building for everyone. Very, very cool!
Black horse-drawn carriage.
Talk about riding in style! President Hayes purchased this Landau horse-drawn carriage at the beginning of his Presidency for $1,150, the equivalency of $28,000 today. The carriage was built by Brewster and Company. Brewster later became the primary supplier of bodies for Rolls Royce cars in America.
Glass display case with black coat, top hat, gloves, cane, and other personal effects of Rutherford B. Hayes.
President Hayes won a narrow election in 1877 over Democrat Samuel Tilden. Although Hayes lost the popular vote, he won the electoral college by exactly one vote.
Sideboard and dishes from Hayes White House.
This sideboard is from the Hayes White House, as are the dishes. The sideboard was sold off as surplus furniture by the White House in 1903, and the museum purchased it in 1967.
Mannequins of Civil War nurse and wounded soldier, behind a glass display case.
The basement tells of the personal lives of the Hayes family. Before serving in the Civil War, Hayes was a lawyer in Ohio and defended runaway slaves in court. He fought for the Union, and was injured during combat twice. His wife also served – as shown in this display, Lucy Hayes spent her time during the war as a nurse, tending to wounded soldiers.
Large Chinese cannon in room filled with guns and swords.
One room in the basement is a special exhibit focused on the military heritage of the Hayes family. Rutherford’s son Webb served in the Spanish-American War, the Philippine-American War, and World War I, attaining the rank of colonel. Many of the items in this collection were gifted by Webb to the museum.
Model train running through snowy landscape.
The basement also held a special exhibition of holiday trains! The display was self-serve: simply switch on the power and play with the trains to your heart’s content.
Room filled with a table with a model train set, and model trains on the walls.
The train display filled four rooms – we caught it on the second-to-last day of its operation.
Stone and marble atrium, with bust of President Hayes in middle of room.
President Hayes only served four years in office, pledging upon his election not to run for a second term.
I tend to keep politics out of this blog, but this quote on the wall of the atrium is perfectly worded.
House of Rutherford B. Hayes, a three-story mansion in brick.
The Library and Museum are built on the grounds of President Hayes’ home. The 31-room mansion was the home of the Hayes family beginning in the 1870s. It is now part of the museum, and presents the home life of the Presidential family.
Tomb of Rutherford B. Hayes and Lucy Hayes.
Behind the house, down a small tree-lined path is the tomb of President Hayes and his wife. Behind this tomb are the graves of Hayes’ son Webb and Webb’s wife Mary.
American bald eagle engraved on metal grates, with Presidential seal.
As we were leaving, we noticed the gates – these were the gates to the White House during President’s Hayes time in office, and when they were due to be replaced (as they proved too narrow for vehicle traffic), Hayes’ son Webb asked to install them at his father’s library and museum. They have been at the museum since 1928.
Sign by side of road that says PENNSYLVANIA PURSUE YOUR HAPPINESS.
We were back on the road, and with rain clouds settling over the highway, we crossed into Pennsylvania.
View of rolling hills and mountains along I-80 in Pennsylvania.
The next six hours were spent in Pennsylvania, heading east, stopping only for gas or a quick break. Despite the gray skies, the views were still terrific.
Exterior of Stemie's 1818 Tavern, a 2-story brick house.
Nearing home, we did make one last stop in Easton, Pennsylvania: dinner at Stemie’s 1818 Tavern. The number “1818” is thought to indicate its original address, as the building was built in the 1700s to act as a statehouse and brothel (ahem). It is also reportedly haunted by at least one ghost, who several staff have claimed to have encountered (via The Morning Call).
Plate of scallops with baked potato and broccoli.
Ghost stories aside, it’s definitely a neighborhood bar -we had the feeling we were one of the few people not from the local area, but we were certainly never made to feel unwelcome! The service was fantastic, and the food was delicious. I ordered a crab cake sandwich (made only with crab meat and spice – no fillers!) and my wife got the scallops provencal. It was a really good meal, and I would definitely return to Stemie’s!
Highway in the rain, with sign along left side that says Welcome to New Jersey.
At night, in the rain, at 65 miles per hour, well… you’ll have to trust me that the sign on the left says “Welcome to New Jersey.”
Car odometer that reads 46,465.
And finally… home!

Marblehead Light State Park is open year round and is free to visit. The lighthouse is currently undergoing renovations, but should be re-opening by this coming Memorial Day. The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museum is open from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm Tuesday through Sunday during the winter (the library is open seven days a week after March). Admission is $20 for adults, $18 for seniors age 65+, $10 for teens ages 13-18, $6 for children ages 6-12, and children 5 and younger can enter for free, but do check online for discounts, as the museum offers several options for reducing your ticket prices. The last leg of our return journey was long, but filled with fun and good memories.

The Trip Summary

Map of eastern half of United States, with blue route line running fro Minneapolis, Minnesota to New Brunswick, New Jersey.
The map of our trip, from the furthest point west to the further point east.

Beginning Mileage: 44,665

Ending Mileage: 47,465

Total Mileage: 2,800 miles (exactly!)

States: NJ, PA, OH, IN, IL, WI, MN, IA

Snowstorms: 1

Ice Storms: 1

Fuel Stops: 7

Average Miles Per Gallon: 21.3

Total Cost of Journey: Priceless

The journey to the Midwest for the holidays was one of the best road trips I have ever taken. The memories my wife and I made, the sights we saw, the attractions that caught our eye along the road… it all made for a wonderful trip. Special mention also goes to “Grace,” my wife’s 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which performed admirably, soaking up the highway miles with ease, offering ample cargo space to hold our luggage and gifts, and providing ferocious all-weather performance.

Thank you for coming along on this extended journey down the open road ahead.

‘Til next time.





2 thoughts on “Go West, Young Man (Pt. 5)

  1. Haha, a “priceless” journey indeed. Great adventures! Twelve hours in one day is a pretty good jaunt. At least you had a comfortable ride to do it in. I like the model train set. I’m surprised you didn’t climb to the top of the lighthouse (do they even allow that?).

    Liked by 1 person

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