When people first hear about Nerd Trips, they often ask about the name and how it all got started. Throughout my life, I have always enjoyed visiting historic sites, particularly the homes of famous people, but these excursions were never an official hobby, nor did they have an official title.
In 2001, I had been living outside Cleveland, Ohio for nearly five years. I had always been interested in visiting President Garfield’s house, but just never seemed to get there. However, a group of friends from work would be meeting at a restaurant in Mentor near Garfield’s home, so I recruited my friend Julie Fogel to come with me to Lawnfield.
While on the tour, we met an older couple who were spending their retirement years traveling the country in an RV visiting presidential locations. Julie turned to me and smacked me on the arm saying, “That’s just the kind-of nerdy hobby you’d like.” (However, that’s not where the name from).
Our tour friends told us that there was a book in the giftshop that they used as a guide. So $16 later (plus tax) I had “Presidents Birthplaces, Homes and Burial Sites Including Presidential Libraries, a Pictoral Guide” by Rachel M. Kochman and a new hobby. This book offered the first suggestions for future nerdy outings. https://www.amazon.com/Presidents-Birthplaces-Homes-Burial-Sites/dp/0961666617/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1311038067&sr=8-1
Now if you’re going to start a hobby involving presidential homes, Ohio is a good place to be living. At the time, I was working as a news producer at a local TV station. While I worked with many smart people there, a few of my coworkers could not understand why anyone would want to spend their free time visiting presidential homes.
So, when I announced that I had a day off coming soon, someone in the newsroom teased me by asking, “Are you going on another one of your Nerd Trips?”(I really wish I could remember who asked that question!). In fact, Julie and I were planning to visit Spiegel Grove, the home of President Hayes.
Rather than get defensive, Julie and I thought the concept of “Nerd Trips” was great! Some people may think these excursions are nerdy, but so what? We knew that we’d have fun and learn a little bit at the same time. So we embraced the idea and took the first official Nerd Trip to Fremont, Ohio to learn about Rutherford B. Hayes.
I’ll write more about that trip later, including the crazy squirrels that live on the grounds and the Walleye Festival we stumbled upon afterward. I wish you safe travels, loads of learning and lots of laughs on your own Nerd Trips.