My 2019 Great Lakes Road Trip Part 14A

29 Jan

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 14 – Monday August 5

First thing this morning I headed 25 miles east on I-80 to visit the Grundy County Historical Museum located in Morris, IL. This is a small museum that collects and preserves artifacts, documents, and memorabilia related to the history of Grundy County.  This includes items of a cultural, social, geological and anthropological nature.

Heading northeast on I-80 some 20 miles I visited the Old Joliet Prison located in Joliet, IL.  This Illinois State Penitentiary was opened in 1858 to replace the first, and then aging, 1831 Illinois State Penitentiary located in Alton, IL.   Housing nearly 2000 inmates at its peak of operation, the inmate population continued to grow, and this prison was replaced by a new Illinois State Penitentiary in Crest Hill, IL in 2002.  Now just called the Old Joliet Prison, the museum gives tours of a portion of the site which provides visitors with a historical picture of 19th century prison conditions and methods of incarceration.  This was another one of those “You will have to wait for the next tour, and then the tour takes 1-½ hours.”  I opted to go on to the next museum.

Just a few miles south of the Old Joliet Prison I had planned to visit the Stradale Team, located within the Autobahn Country Club complex.  I had hoped to get to see some radical sports cars in action at their road-racing track.  As it turned out, entry into the shops and track was blocked by a sign on the electric gate that informed me that access to the complex was “For Members Only.”  Rats!!

So, I gave Greta (my Garmin) the address for the Illinois Aviation Museum located about 20 miles north, and we headed out.  The next thing I knew, I was caught up in a huge industrial warehousing complex, with literally hundreds of 16-weelers, of all types, heading in every direction.  That wouldn’t have been so bad, but a lot of them seemed to be heading down the same 2-lane road that Greta had me on, and the backup must have been a mile long.  It took forever to get to the “T” in the road where I thought we could finally make some time.  WRONG!  That 2-lane “T” road was also backed up as bad as the one I just turned off of, IN BOTH DIRECTIONS!  It took me a full hour to finally get to a decent 4-lane road where I could pass some of those trucks and make some time.  Whew!  That was frustrating.

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I finally arrived at the Illinois Aviation Museum located adjacent to the Bolingbrook International Airport in Bolingbrook, IL expecting a large museum with lots of beautifully restored airplanes.  What I found was an F-80 Shooting Star, a Huey helicopter, and several smaller airplanes, all jammed in one small hanger.  There was no one around, even after I called out “Hello” a couple of times.  So, I strolled onto the hanger, took a few photos of the airplanes, and told Greta, Let’s tray the next museum.

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Now I headed northeast about 25 miles on I-55 to visit the Chicago Maritime Museum located in the southern part of Chicago.  This large museum houses exhibits, artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of maritime activities on Lake Michigan, with special interest surrounding the port of Chicago in particular.

As a side note, this museum mentions the two Lake Michigan side-wheeler passenger steam ships that the U.S. Navy converted into aircraft carriers (USS Sable & USS Wolverine) and used to train U.S. Navy carrier pilots during WWII.  As it happens, the museum in Florida, where I volunteer as a tour guide, has on display one of the airplanes that was used to train those pilots on those ships during that time period.

—–This day’s activities will be continued next week—–

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

One Response to “My 2019 Great Lakes Road Trip Part 14A”

  1. divoran09 January 29, 2020 at 4:28 pm #

    you triggerd a memory when you said Joliet prison. I was still in elementary school when one of the boys told me his brother was in Joliet prison.


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