John Daywalt - SHU - Political Science Blogger

Day 4 - 11/22/2010
Unfortunately this will be my final blog for this trip.

On our “long goodbye” to Ohio, our first stop of the day was Kent State University. Unlike SHSU, the campus is spread out, dispersed, I would think, to the point of annoyance for students. We also saw numerous black squirrels, apparently Kent State’s unofficial mascot. Most important we visited the site memorializing the four students who died in the May 4, 1970 protests of the Vietnam War. It was an humbling experience.

Afterward we stopped at Brandywine Falls. The waterfall was soothing and peaceful and worth the stop. According to the park, the 60-foot waterfall was at least 350-400 million years old

In my blog yesterday, I indicated that the Pro Football Hall of Fame was the best museum I had ever visited. Well, it’s hard to admit, but the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame may be better yet. The place was amazing!

My first semester at Sam Houston State I took a History of Rock and Roll class which greatly enhanced my experience. The museum had everything from guitars to apparel, cars, and historical information. An interesting thing I learned while at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was that Elvis Presley seemed to be obsessed with becoming a police officer. He was made an honorary police officer or Sheriff’s Deputy in countless departments including the Los Angeles Police Department and Shelby County Sheriff’s Department. And after being sworn in, he was able to get badges for inner circle—just months after being “deputized” himself.

The only downside to the museum is that I couldn’t find any exhibits of my favorite band, the Eagles. They were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999, but there wasn’t information on them in the Museum. I was, however, able to buy Hotel California—on a vinyl album—in the gift shop. I don’t have a record player, but the album will look nice on my wall.

It will be another long night; we won’t get back to Huntsville until after midnight. And we’ll still have classes early tomorrow, but I loved the trip, the experience, and the people. We got along great, had an amazing time, and learned much more than I expected. Thanks to everyone who followed along in our blogs!

Day 3 - 11/21/2010
This morning started off great with a surprise not long after I woke up. A sausage, egg, and cheese McGriddle from McDonalds courtesy of Stephanie. I must admit I am a McDonald’s addict.

Our first stop today was President William McKinley’s Library, Museum, and Memorial in Canton, Ohio. I cannot recall ever having been to a President’s Library or Museum before. The museum mostly included items from Stark County—the county in which Canton is located. There was an old fire truck from the early 1900s which really stuck out. We even got to slide down a fire station pole. After the museum we went and visited the memorial which Pres. McKinley, his wife Ida, and two daughters are interred.

Also in Canton is the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This place was amazing, probably the best museum I’ve ever been to! This museum included the history of football, a history of all 32 teams, all the inductees of the Hall of Fame, and a new gallery covering the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl gallery was my favorite. It even included the Vince Lombardi Super Bowl Trophy and a super bowl ring from every Super Bowl.

We ate at a local restaurant called Arcadia Grill in Canton for lunch where I had a pretty good Sloppy Joe sandwich with chips. One thing unique about this place is that it had oversized business cards on the ceiling for ceiling tiles which I’d never seen before.

On our way to Pittsburgh I slept through the Dean Martin stops we made. And surprisingly we actually ran into West Virginia by accident, pulled over and got our feet on the ground to make it official. Yes that’s correct; instead of us just visiting three states in four days we made it four states: Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. I told the group we should just go for it all and make it over the border to Canada just to make it an international trip.

Once we made it to Pittsburgh a group of us went to the Andy Warhol Museum. Before today I knew who he was and had heard his name before, but I got to see a lot of his work today from paintings on canvas to films and his television show. I still do not really care for him too much. He was just a little too out there for me.
Then we all met back up to go to the Cathedral of Learning. Let me just say this gothic revival style building is absolutely enormous. Not many other words could describe it. I joked around and said if the building was cut down and made into one two-story building it would cover the entire Sam Houston State University campus.

This evening we ate at a local Italian pizza restaurant, Aiellos Pizzeria, in the famous Squirrel Hill area. Cameron and I both ate Philly Cheese Steaks. We figured this would be our best shot at getting a real Philly Cheese Steak for a very long time so why not, even if we weren’t quite in Philadelphia. This Philly Cheese Steak came in foot-long Italian bread like at Subway, but completely filled me up after just eating half of it. I couldn’t believe how great it tasted!

We ended our evening in Pittsburgh at the Duquesne Incline. This incline took us up to side of a large hill overlooking the city of Pittsburgh and the three rivers that meet up, which are the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela. The view was magnificent!

Tomorrow we’ll be stopping at a waterfall and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame amongst other things including flying back to Texas.

Day 2 - 11/20/2010
Let me start off by saying today was great and I really enjoyed the conference! Luckily, this morning started off a little later than yesterday. Once again we had a fully loaded day, but this time mostly with panel discussions that lasted from 9:00 am through 5:30 pm, followed by the Cleveland Art Museum and dinner at a Soul Food restaurant.

The first seminar, which was also my favorite, was titled “Winning Campaigns, Campaigning 101.” The first speaker was Dr. Michael Burton, an associate professor of political science from Ohio University. He gave a brief overview of message targeting. He offered his “Top Ten Tips” for targeting, which he analogized to algebra. His best advice was tip number ten, which admonished students to “Learn from the best.” Of course this is true for anything in life. I thought Dr. Burton was the best speaker of any panel, but the other panels (and panelists) were also interesting, covering grassroots, behavioral science, what makes voters go out to vote, and the McCain 2008 Presidential Campaign.

Interestingly, the conference was set up such that each of the students were able to have lunch with a campaign “mentor.” My mentor was Dr. Whit Ayres, who is the President of Ayres, McHenry & Associates, and also President of the American Association of Political Consultants—the organization hosting the conference. We discussed everything from our future goals to his work experience, the latter mostly involving his recent work with Senator-Elect Marco Rubio.

This evening we went to the Cleveland Museum in Arts. I don’t know a lot about art, but there were a few names I recognized, and I learned a new one, too: Lovis Corinth. His “Self Portrait with Hat and Coat,” completed in 1915, was my favorite.

We finished off the night at a new Cleveland soul food restaurant called Zanzibar. After experimenting with some appetizers—soul rolls, catfish fingers, and artichoke and collard green dip—I had some tender and delicious pork chops.

We’ve got a lot planned tomorrow, but I’m most looking forward to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Day 1 - 11/19/2010

Hi, this is John Daywalt, a sophomore at Sam Houston State University and a member of the Political Science Junior Fellows. We are finishing our first day of a four-day trip to Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

To make the most of the trip, organizational members put countless hours into planning and researching so that we will have the background information necessary to absorb information. In fact, the trip has turned into a research project of sorts, and we are all very excited to be a part of this experience.

Being in the Army I am almost always on time, if not 10-15 minutes early, but this morning I had a rough start and slept straight through my alarm. After getting numerous wake up calls from anxious organizational members, I quickly awoke at 3:30—the exact time I was supposed to be at our meeting place. Luckily, I only postponed our group a few minutes since I was already packed.

Once in Detroit, our first stop was the Mariner’s Church of Detroit, a church listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. The church was founded in 1849 to provide a place for mariners to stop for spiritual support. In front of the church stands a statue of George Washington characterized by numerous Masonic symbols. As it turned out, the statue was donated by the freemasons. The gothic style building seems somewhat out of place being adjacent to the skyscrapers of the General Motors Headquarters, but I really enjoyed the church and would recommend it to anyone who happens to be in the area.

We then ate lunch at a Greek restaurant called the Laikon Café, which opened in 1927. I travelled to Greece a couple years ago, and wasn’t very fond of the food at the time. However, the pastitsio at this restaurant was excellent, and I may have to reconsider my views of Greek food.

I was most looking forward to the Motown Historic Museum. Unfortunately, the museum didn’t quite live up to my hopes. Nonetheless, it was interesting, and I enjoyed seeing Michael Jackson memorabilia and the nineteenth-century piano played by Motown greats such as Marvin Gaye.

Tomorrow we’ll be at the Political Consultants Outreach Conference for most of the day. I’m most looking forward to the session on campaign strategy, but I am sure the entire day will be educational!

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