2018 Florida Road Trip Part 6

16 Jan

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites


Day 6 Wednesday 10/24/2018


Two of the most important museums I had my heart set on visiting on this trip, were the National Museum of the U.S. Navy located in Pensacola, and the U.S. Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin AFB.  Since hurricane Michael had changed my route plans, I now had to work my way to Pensacola by an alternate route.  After breakfast this morning, I headed north on U.S.-19 to visit some of the museums in Tallahassee that were originally on my list to visit on my way back from Pensacola. The first was the Museum of Florida History.   This museum is located in the R.A. Gray Building, there in Tallahassee, and as the state’s history museum it displays exhibits, artifacts, and memorabilia related to the development of Florida’s unique history over the years.



Just a few miles west of the Museum of Florida History, I visited the Mission San Luis de Apalachee. This is the site of a Spanish Franciscan mission that was built in 1633 as part of Spain’s effort to colonize the Florida Peninsula, and to convert the Apalachee Indians to Christianity (see Wikipedia for “Mission San Luis de Apalachee“ for many additional interesting details).



As I headed for the next museum, I passed the Florida State Capital Building and stopped to take a photo. There was a modern 22-story executive office building in the background that ruined any kind of decent photo that a person would try to take of the restored original 1902 Old State Capital Building. Rats! I could have done without that modern distraction.  Guess I’ll have to learn how to do “Photo Shop” so I can get rid of those, and other, ugly distractions in the future.



While I was in Tallahassee, I went looking for the Railroad Square Art Park, and found it located just south of U.S.-90 and the Florida State University.  Because of my word dyslexia, I didn’t read all the words, and was expecting a “Railroad” park or museum, not an “Art Park.”  All I found at the “Park” was the sign below, just outside a small house with a “Black Dog” sign on it (whatever that means) and a couple of unidentifiable warehouse looking buildings.  DiVoran keeps telling me to, “Read ALL the words Bill” but one slips by me now and then.



Now I headed northeast on U.S.-90 about 10 miles, to visit the Tallahassee Automobile Museum located near the intersection of U.S.-90 and I-10.  This turned out to be one of the largest auto museums I’ve ever visited. The museum displays some 160+ beautifully restored (mostly American) cars dating from 1894, and includes, among others, a rare1948 Tucker.  The museum also has on  display, large collections of motorcycles, bicycles, boats, grand pianos, cash registers, and clocks filling two floors.



After this exhilarating experience, I headed northwest on I-10 & U.S.-231 toward Dothan, AL where I was to spend the night. I was running low on gas when I crossed the state line between Florida and Alabama.  The first gas station I came to in Alabama was advertising gas for $.40/gal lower than the last station I had passed, in Florida.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I pulled in and asked a guy at one of the other pumps if the price was a joke or what?  He said, “Nay, this heres the reglar price, ‘causen we have lower gas taxes here in Alabam than they does down in Florida.  People comes across the border for their gas all the time to save money.”  WOW, what s serendipity!   I made plans to top-off my tank again tomorrow before leaving Alabama.



I skirted Dothan, AL and headed north on U.S.-431 to visit the Todd Syrup Farm  located a few miles north of the city of Dothan near Headland, AL. This turned out to be a long standing small community developed by Mr. Joe Todd and his wife Edria, and consists of a General Store, a Café, a Syrup Factory, a Farming Museum, and Campground.  I got to the Farm just at quitting time, and was able to meet Joe Todd and several of his syrup factory workers as they were closing up shop for the day.  Joe informed me that Thomas Todd had started this syrup business back in 1864, and that the family had been running it ever since. When I asked him about the museum, he mentioned the 40+ different cane mill designs the family had invented over the years, some dating from the Civil War days.



On my way to the motel I passed the entrance to the National Peanut Festival grounds and stopped to take a photo of their giant peanut.  Wikipedia informs me that the annual fall National Peanut Festival is held at this fairgrounds complex to honor peanut growers and celebrate the peanut harvest season.  The festival has amusement rides and an outdoor amphitheater where live music concerts are performed.   I would imagine you could find the “Miss. Peanut” beauty pageant winner there too.



While I was checking in at the motel, the desk clerk commented how lucky I was to have a room reservation, as they had been booked completely full, with relief workers, every night since hurricane Michael.  He was right, as I would not like to have to sleep in my van tonight.  Once settled in my room, I heated up my Italian Mama’s delicious meat Lasagna dinner and enjoyed it again.  Yummm!



—–To Be Continued—–


Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.




One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

Divine Encounter 2

14 Jan

My Take

DiVoran Lites



In Publix, I saw a woman with a little dog in a sling strapped to her chest. It was a long-hairedwiener dog with dangling ears full of natural wave. She wore a dog-sized visor and her legs hung from the sling. The dog’s name was Alice. Her eyes looked blank as though she was ignoring the noise and clamor around her. I’d seen that expression before and understood why it was there. I then noticed a SERVICE DOG badge attached to her vest. After admiring her, I asked what kind of service dog she was.

Her owner said, “I got her when she was six months old, named her Alice. One night after she’d been with me about a year, she started yapping and pushing at me to wake me. I said, ‘lie down, be quiet, go away,’ I wanted to sleep, but she kept it up. Feeling groggy, I took a reading on my glucose monitor. It read over 300, but after an injection, I used the monitor again and the reading was fine. When I told my doctor what Alice had done, he insisted that with that special talent Alice should be certified as my service dog. He wrote the letter himself and now she goes everywhere with me and wakes me if the blood sugar needs some help.”

I found out that many people stopped Alice and her owner in stores, and I recalled another famous dog that would not respond to strangers. We met him at an event at the Space Center. He was one of the dogs who played Lassie in the movies and on TV. Yes, male and female dogs played the part. Apparently,famous dogs just have to protect themselves from over-stimulation in order to do their jobs.



On New Year’s Day, 2019 Bill and I were in the hardware/lumber store. I walked around while Bill shopped.

This gentleman looked kind of sad and quite bored, so to cheer him a bit I said, “I like your hat.

“It came over from Christmas he said. His voice reminded me of Louis Armstrong’s.

“Do you sing?” I asked, on impulse.

“Yes,” he nodded.

“You’re wearing a jazz hat. Will you sing for me?’

“I will,” he said. Everyone else was busy in other parts of the store. He paused to think through his memory songbook. When started, it was an old sweet song sung so quietly that no one else could hear it. I was happy, but suddenly shy. I kept smiling, however,  knowing that to look away would surely make him feel embarrassed.

“That’s an Etta James song,” he said. “You made my day.” But really he had made mine.

We shook hands, and I said, “thank you,” and walked away as if nothing had happened. ”

I hope this whole year is like that. I’m not one for surprises, but I do dig divine encounters.



Author, Poet and Artist

DiVoran has been writing for most of her life. Her first attempt at a story was when she was seven years old and her mother got a new typewriter. DiVoran got to use it and when her dad saw her writing he asked what she was writing about. DiVoran answered that she was writing the story of her life. Her dad’s only comment was, “Well, it’s going to be a very short story.” After most of a lifetime of writing and helping other writers, DiVoran finally launched her own dream which was to write a novel of her own. She now has her Florida Springs trilogy and her novel, a Christian Western Romance, Go West available on Amazon. When speaking about her road to publication, she gives thanks to the Lord for all the people who helped her grow and learn.  She says, “I could never have done it by myself, but when I got going everything fell beautifully into place, and I was glad I had started on my dream.”

My Children in Church~Part 1

13 Jan


Judy Wills


A memory came to my mind recently that caused me to giggle.  When I described it to Fred, my husband, he chuckled, as well.  Hope you think it’s funny, as well.

You see, in most Baptist churches (we are Baptists, as you might surmise), children have their own Sunday School classes, divided by ages.  That way, they can learn about church and God at their own age level.  We as parents try to do our part in that, teaching them by the way we live, speak, and act, that we are children of God.  In any case, by the time a child reaches the age of four, they are allowed to go to the regular worship service, rather than still being in a nursery/classroom setting during that time.

Because Fred and I have always been in the adult choir during worship services, we usually enlist the help of an older couple to “sit” with our children in the worship service itself.  If we are in a small enough congregation to allow the choir members to leave the choir loft and return to the regular congregation, we then will pick up our child/children and sit with them during the remainder of the service.  However, if we are in a large church, the choir usually remains in the loft during the service.  What I am about to tell happened in a large church.


I guess we had not told Karen (our oldest daughter)


Karen about the age of this incident



that when Janet (our youngest daughter) was “promoted” to the five-year-old class, she would be going into the worship service. Or if we did, she didn’t absorb that information.

So, what to my surprise, did I see Karen ANDJanet beaming at us from the second pew, as we entered the choir loft the first Sunday after Janet turned four-years-old! Karen had taken it upon herself to go and get Janet from her class that day!

All went fairly well for a while, but then Janet, being the tease that she was,


Janet at the age of this incident


decided she wanted to sit on the front pew!  So she eased herself around the end of the pew. I saw Karen trying to coax Janet back to the second pew, i.e. face set in an imploring expression (head tilted up, mouth in a hard, straight line, eyes closed), index finger stridently indicating that Janet should return to Karen’s side!  And, of course, Janet was ignoring her completely.


Well, Janet made it to the front pew, just as the preaching began.  As it turned out, the minister of music (who was a good friend of ours) had just left the stage area and sat down next to Janet on the front pew.  I watched them throughout the remainder of the service (I have no recollection what the Pastor preached on – I was too busy watching the drama enfold!).  Every time Janet wiggled, our friend just patted her hand, and she stopped wiggling. Whew!

We managed to get through the service, and thanked our friend for taking things into his own hands.

And we made sure that Karen understood that Janet was not to be taken into the service until she had been promoted to the next age class!

But, as I said, as I look back on it – it makes me giggle to remember.


Children are a heritage from the Lord….

Psalm 127:3

JUDYJudy is living in Central Florida with her retired U.S. Air Force husband of 50+ years. Born in Dallas, Texas, she grew up in the Southwestern United States.She met her husband at their church, where he was attending the university in her town. After college and seminary, he entered the Air Force, and their adventures began.They lived in eight of our United States, and spent six years in Europe, where their oldest daughter was born. She was a stay-at-home mom for many years
Judy has always been involved with music, both playing the piano and singing.
Always interested in exercise, she was an aerobic dancing instructor, as well as a piano teacher for many years, and continues to faithfully exercise at home.
After moving to Central Florida, she served as a church secretary for nearly nine years.Her main hobby at this point in time is scanning pictures and 35mm slides into the computer. She also enjoys scrapbooking.
She and her husband have two married daughters and four grandchildren, including grandtwins.
She and her husband enjoy the Disney parks as often as possible.

How to be Steady in the Storms of Life

12 Jan

Walking by Faith, Not by Sight

Janet Perez Eckles


January 14, 2019

Getting ready for a cruise.

 Is there anything more fun than preparing for a cruise on the Caribbean? Sometimes, God gives me a wink and opens the opportunity for me to do just that.

But although the fun, the sun, gourmet food, the shows and visits to exotic islands describe a cruise, storms can change all that.

It did for me and my friends a few years ago. We had our bags packed with suntan lotion, sunglasses, towels and cold drinks. But before we made it to the exit, the announcement came:

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Captain. Regretfully, because of weather conditions, waves that reach 12 feet, and lack of safety, we will not be visiting the island as scheduled.”

Our disappointment was as high as those waves. Plan B: to enjoy the fun inside the ship. But that didn’t happen either.

We tried to make our way from one place to another on that wabbly ship. To avoid falling, we clung to the metal bars that lined the narrow corridors between the state rooms. The fun was gone and our stomachs churned.

How similar to our life’s storms.

Often, they show up unannounced. They’re the intruders that squash our plans. And while walking on the unsteady ground of disappointment, our confidence shakes, our faith is unsteady, and our anxiety causes us to lose our balance. Then, when the loneliness and pain get too much, we secretly wish the ship would sink and end our misery.

But in the sea of life, we’re not alone. We have the Divine Captain who knows of the storm before it hits, He is aware of the high winds, and He knows well our weak and feeble ways.

And because He knows all, He’s capable of leading us through storms, dark skies, high winds, and even through waves of uncertainty.

No matter how hard those waves hit, all we have to do is hold on to the security of His Word. That’s when our soul finds the calmness to receive His instructions, toss out anxious thoughts, remove the clouds of anxiety, and breathe in His reassurance.

His reassurance is enough…

…even when clouds still hover, even when circumstances remain and the sun hasn’t come out yet, the reassurance of His presence is enough. With a calm heart we step out into His promise that we’ll see sunshine again and will embrace a new tomorrow as our spirit sings:

Lord, you are the Master who has the power to calm the raging seas with the gentleness of Your voice. When I am surrounded by troubles you quiet my heart. As I call out Your name. You guide me through the turmoil that is before me. You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm…” Isaiah 25:4

Isn’t that the greatest news of all?

It’s not the storms that jostle us, or the painful circumstance that bring clouds of gloom. But a trust in Him who’s the anchor, powerful and available that provides the shelter from the turmoil.

Let’s Pray

Father, in the storms that shake my world, show me how to cling to you, to call out Your name, to focus on Your Word, learn from You and keep my thoughts steady till the storm subsides. In Jesus’ name, amen.

What will you hold on to during the storms you face today?



Did you know I wrote a book filled with words of encouragement, uplifting thoughts and illustrations of real-life triumph to empower you? Its title, Trials of Today, Treasures for Tomorrow: Overcoming Adversities in Life. You can get it HERE.

CLICK HERE for a one-minute inspirational video.

Looking for a speaker for your upcoming event? A great speaker makes the difference between a so-so event and one that shines with impact. I invite you to view one of my two-minute videos HERE.

Please share: Feel free to share Janet’s posts with your friends.




Janet Eckles Perez

Some say she should be the last person to be dancing. Her life is summarized in this 3-minute video: http://bit.ly/1a8wGJR

Janet Perez Eckles’ story of triumph is marked by her work as an international speaker, #1 best-selling author, radio host, personal success coach and master interpreter. Although blind since 31, her passion is to help you see the best of life.


Today I Choose to Hear His Word

11 Jan

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis


photo credit simon matzinger unsplash photo


Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,

for I have put my trust in you.

Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.

PSALM 143: 8

And Then the Sun Came Out

10 Jan

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis


We certainly didn’t have a white Christmas or New Years in Western North Carolina. The only white we experienced was fog and clouds.



We enjoy clouds and mist but after a while, it does become monotonous. We awoke on Saturday to a brilliant sun. We were supposed to be returning to Florida for the winter that morning, but an unexpected medical test required a day’s rest for my husband before we could travel.  Rebekah and I decided to take advantage of the day of sunshine to explore 12 Spies Vineyard in Rabun Gap, Georgia.

The vineyard had been on my wish list to explore with Rebekah for quite a while and I was intrigued by this excerpt from their website. From our home, sunsets are blocked by the mountains and I really miss them.

12 Spies Vineyards is tucked between the North East Mountains to the west and the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest to the east. The sunsets are spectacular and views from the vineyard are stunning. There are many gardens filled with gourds, pumpkins, flowers and vegetables scattered around the 9 acre property. Bring your camera and enjoy a glass of wine from the covered deck or take a relaxing walk.

After making sure my husband was ok and promising to not do any lifting, Rebekah and I set out on the 30 minute drive to Rabun Gap. We spotted a sign directing us to turn off highway 441 and the adventure began! The next sign we saw pointed us to turn onto a “less traveled” road and I was a bit leery. Mountains roads have a tendency to wander and one can end up in odd places. Fortunately, this road ended up in the right place.

I wish I had taken a picture of the tasting room. What was the point of a new camera for Christmas, if I forget to use it?  The tasting room is small with a cozy ambiance. Our host was a lovely woman who reminded Rebekah and I of one of the actresses on the television show, Cedar Cove. She explained their wines and was patient as we made our tasting choices. I love the idea of drinking wine, but my body doesn’t. When I explained that I wouldn’t be able to handle tasting, she offered me mini pours. I decided to purchase a bottle of 2016 Lordy Mercy Sweet White to give as a thank you gift to a friend. After several pours, Rebekah chose, I think, 2017 Holy Moses Sweet Red. The tasting room has a patio with inviting views. We decided to enjoy the sunshine, me with water and Rebekah with wine.


The winery doesn’t prepare food, but it does offer packaged foods and after a while in the outdoors, we decided to have a snack of cheese and crackers. I went inside to order and I was disappointed to learn they were out of the cheese trays. They did have hummus so I ordered that for Rebekah. The host asked if I wanted hummus as well and I explained that I only eat low carb. She set about pulling together items that I could eat and I had two cheese slices and some cucumbers at no charge. I sure did appreciate her extra efforts.

I like the rustic table set and the casual feel of the patio. Some afternoons and evenings they offer live music.


In the distance I could see cows grazing against the backdrop of the beautiful hills. ( I have a “thing” for cows) I can imagine how beautiful the scenery will be in the spring and summer and fall. And I plan to return with a picnic to enjoy sunset.



If you are driving through North East Georgia, choosing the less traveled road to the winery would be a pleasant diversion. I can’t compliment the owners enough for the friendly hospitality. Call ahead for hours or check their website.

12 Spies Vineyard

550 Black Branch Road
Rabun Gap, GA 30568




I'm a winnerAfter my retirement, I decided to re-learn the canning and preserving skills I learned from my mother but hadn’t practiced for twenty years. I titled the blog Old Things R New to chronicle my experience.  Since then I have been blessed to have six other bloggers join me, DiVoran Lites, Bill Lites,  Judy Wills, Louise Gibson, Janet Perez Eckles and Melody Hendrix

In addition to blogging, I work as the publicist/marketer/ amateur editor and general  “mom Friday” for my author daughter, Rebekah Lyn. I also manage her website, Rebekah Lyn Books  where we frequently host the best in up and coming authors.

2018 Florida Road Trip Part 5

9 Jan

A Slice of Life
Bill Lites


Day 5 Tuesday 10/23/2018


I was out early this morning, heading north on U.S.-19 to visit the National Armed Services Museum located in Dunedin.  This small museum displays artifacts and memorabilia from all branches of the U.S. military, dating from the Revolutionary war to the present.



Now it was another 10 miles north on U.S.-19 to visit the SpongeOrama Sponge Factory located in Tarpon Springs.  This is a very interesting place where they tell you all about how Florida Gulf Coast natural sponges are harvested, processed and distributed all over the country. I would have enjoyed a lunch at one of the fine Greek restaurants along the water front if it hadn’t been so early.



While I was in Tarpon Springs, I drove into downtown to visit the Historic Train Depot Museum.  This small museum is situated in the original 1909 Atlantic Coast Line Railroad depot building and displays artifacts and memorabilia related to the influence of the railroad on the city of Tarpon Springs beginning in the early 1900s.



Now I headed north on U.S.-19 & SR-50 to visit the Brooksville Railroad Depot Museum located just off S. Main Street in Brooksville.  This museum is located in the original 1885 Florida Southern Railroad Depot and presently is the trailhead for the Good Neighbor Trail Project (Wikipedia will tell you all about the trail).  The museum displays memorabilia and artifacts that tell the story of the railroad’s influence on Brooksville and the surrounding area in the late 1880s.



Next I worked my way roughly 145 miles north, mostly on U.S.-19, to visit the Forest Capital Museum State Park located just east of the Perry- Foley Airport.  This 13 acre park contains a small museum and several restored early 1800s buildings, that gives visitors an idea of what life would be like, as they tried to scratch out a life on an 1864 Florida homestead.



A Florida Historical Marker at the entrance to the park described how the nearby Perry Army Air Base (1943-1945) was used to help train 120 U.S. Army Air Corps fighter pilot replacements each month in support of the WWII war effort.  Today the Perry-Foley Airport still uses those runways for general aviation purposes.



By now I was ready for Greta (my Garmin) to take me to the motel for the night there in Perry.  After I got checked in, I asked the desk clerk for her restaurant recommendations, and she said,  Mama’s Family Italian Restaurant just down the street was good.  So I gave Mama’s a try, and enjoyed a delicious meat Lasagna dinner with  fresh baked Italian rolls and butter.



NOTE: When I planned this trip in early September, I had planned to travel from Perry, west on U.S.-98, along the Florida west coast, all the way to Pensacola, the most westerly point of my trip.  I would visit museums along the way in St. Marks, Carrabelle, Apalachicola, Port St. Joe, Panama City, Destin, Fort Walton Beach, and Eglin AFB.  I had motel reservations for a night’s stay in Panama City and Pensacola.  We now know that hurricane Michael had other plans for western Florida.



A week after the hurricane dealt it’s deadly blow to the southeast (and two days before my trip was to begin), the Panama City motel called to tell me they were not going to be able to honor my reservation because of major hurricane damage.  Because of the way I had made my reservation (non-refundable), the closest place they could place me for that night was Bainbridge, GA.  I agreed since most of U.S.-98 along the west coast of Florida was closed, and I didn’t want to take a chance on traveling on any roads other than Interstates thru the hurricane’s path.  The next day the Bainbridge motel called to tell me they were not going to be able to honor my reservation for that night either.  What a mess this was turning out to be.  I ended up having to stay in Dothan, AL that night.  I just wanted to get all the details straightened out before I left on my trip, as I didn’t trust my ability to make or change the necessary arrangements while on the road.

—–To Be Continued—–



Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.




One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

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