2022 Road Trip-Part 1

17 Aug

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 1 (5/16/2022)

Leaving my home in Titusville, FL this morning, I headed west 15 miles on SR-50 to visit the Fort Christmas Historical Park located on the west side of CR-420 in Christmas, FL. The fort is a full-scale replica of the original fort, one of 200 forts built (between 1835 and 1847), during the Second Seminole War, to protect settlers in the central Florida area during the 1820s, 1830s, and 1840s.  The fixed garrison originally consisted of 2000 U.S. Army Alabama Volunteers.  

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

A historical museum is located within the walls of the fort and display Seminole Indian and pioneer artifacts dating from the Seminole War period.  Some of the items included are Indian and pioneer weapons, clothing, tools, household goods and other items dating from the early 1800a.  The park has been in the process, over the years, of relocating many early 1800s structures around their 25-acre park, and restoring them to their original conditions.  The houses are furnished with period household items and are open for viewing.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Heading west another 40 miles on US-50, I took SR-408 to by-pass the downtown Orlando traffic, to visit the Central Florida Railroad Museum located in Winter Garden, FL.  This museum is located in the former 1913 Tavares & Gulf Railroad depot, that replaced the original 1899 T&G depot.  The museum is loaded with antique railroad artifacts and memorabilia.  The T&G railroad changed names a couple of times over the years and the depot served the Winter Garden area until 1978, when service on this portion of the Seaboard Coast Line (SCL) track was terminated.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Next, I headed west another 15 miles on SR-50 to checkout the Citrus Tower in Clermont, FL.  This famous Florida landmark was opened in 1956, and at the time, claimed to be the highest point in Florida (543 feet above sea level).  The view from the observation deck allows a person to see 35 miles to the horizon (on a clear day) which includes 8 Florida counties and 2000 sq. miles of surrounding land.  Back in that day all a person could see was orange groves, but today several winter freezes and Florida growth have turned most of that land into homes and businesses.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed northwest on US-27 about 25 miles to where I visited the Paquette’s Historical Tractor Museum located in Leesburg, FL.  This museum is situated on 50-acres, which includes three buildings displaying some 150+ beautifully restored International Harvester and Farmall tractors and farming equipment, and retro memorabilia dating from 1923.  I was glad to be able to view this amazing collection before the museum closes in July.  I am always sorry to hear about a museum of any kind closing, and this is especially true of the Paquette Tractor Museum.  It will be sad for “Stew” to see his many beautifully restored antiques go on the auction block later this year.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

To the next museum I used SR-44 and I-75 northwest 25 miles to visit the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing located just south of Ocala, FL.  I had visited this museum once before on another road trip, but just wanted to get another look at some of the fastest dragsters to run on a drag racing strip.  The museum gives the history of drag racing icon “Big Daddy” Don Garlits and the many machines he used over the many years of his amazing career.  There are over 175 dragsters of all types and sizes in one building, plus almost 100 antique cars in another building, in Don’s Antique Car Collection dating from 1909.  Wow, what a car buff’s dream museum that is!

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

As I was leaving the museum, I snapped a photo of the A-7 Corsair II Gate Guard.  I know you can’t read it in the photo below, but the name of the pilot printed under the canopy is Captain “Lites” Leenhouts.  I was surprised to see the “call sign” for this pilot.  I found it interesting that the “call sign” was “Lites” and not “Lee” or “Hoot” and that it was spelled “Lites” and not “Lights” as is usually the case.  It’s becoming a smaller world out there, and you never know what form of personal association you might run into, with another person, in your travels.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

After that wonderful experience at the “Big Daddy” Drag Racing Museum, there wasn’t a lot to see for the next 60 miles, as I traveled northwest skirting west of Ocala on I-75, and passed thru the towns of Friendship, Williston, and Bronson on US-27 before arriving at the Levy County Quilt Museum located just outside Chiefland, FL.  The museum was closed, but their website informs me that it was originally known as the Log Cabin Quilters and was formed by 8-local ladies in 1983 to show and sell their handywork.

Photo Credit: https://www.scenicpathways.com/quilt-museum

I gave Greta (my Garmin) the motel address there in Chiefland and she took me right to it.  After I got checked, and got my things moved into the room, I ask the desk clerk for restaurant recommedations, and he told me he liked the food at the  “19/98 Grill” so I tried it.  I ordered Liver & Onions (one of my favorites) and they served me a huge plate of some of the best Liver & Onions I have ever eaten.  Yummm!  i had enough left over for dinner tomorrow night.

Photo Credit: www.yelp.com/biz/19-98-grill-and-country-store

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 64 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 “2022 Road Trip-Part 1”

  1. divoran09 August 17, 2022 at 1:47 pm #

    That was a lovely blog, dear. Keep up the good work!


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