Archive by Author

America’s North Country Trip~Part 12

6 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

 

Day 12 (Tuesday)

 

This morning I headed east on I-80 to visit the Wyoming Frontier Prison located in Rawlins, WY. Construction of this facility began in 1893 as a replacement for the old Wyoming Territorial Prison, in Laramie. Even though new, the first 104 cells (cell block “A”) had no electricity or running water, and very inadequate heating when first opened. Over the years, Cell blocks “B” and “C” were added to handle the ever growing number of inmates. The prison employed several different means of discipline, including a dungeon, solitary confinement and even a “Punishment Pole” where men were secured and whipped with a rubber hose. Just one more remnant of the grizzly past of the “Old AmericannWest.”

 

 

While I was in Rawlings, i decided to check out the Carbon County Museum. This was a small museum, very nicely displaying historical artifacts and memorabilia associated with the surrounding southwestern Wyoming area.

 

 

Now I headed east on I-80 again to visit the Laramie Railroad Museum in Laramie, WY. This museum turned out to be located in the old Union Pacific train station (designated “The Overland Route”) of the Union Pacific System. Unfortunately the museum was closed today. So, I took a stroll around the small Railroad Heritage Park adjacent to the museum, where I took a photo of the restored Union Pacific locomotive # 535 pushing a snow plow and pulling a 6-man crew-bunk car and a caboose.

 

 

As I passed thru downtown Laramie, I pass the St. Matthews Episcopal Cathedral and just had to stop and take a photo of that majestic old structure. Built in 1892, it somehow reminded me of the Laramie city historical marker, I had just seen, that informed me that Laramie was founded in 1866, and was named after the fur trader Jacques LaRamie. Interesting how civilization and architecture had a way of pushing its way west, even in those early days of territorial life.

 

 

Next I visited the Wyoming Territorial Prison located west of the city on the Laramie River. Built in 1872, the prison was problem riddled with fires and jail breaks from the beginning. Of the 44 prisoners accepted in the first two years of operation, 11 escaped. Butch Cassidy was a prisoner there from 1894 to 1896. Prisoners were transferred to the new Wyoming State Prison located Rawlins, WY in 1901, the prison was closed, and in 1903 and the University of Wyoming used the facility to conduct experiments in livestock breeding until 1989. The facility was opened to the public in 1991 as the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historical Site. If this prison was opened 11 years before the Wyoming Territorial Prison in Rawlings, I can just imagine what horrible things the prisoners had to endure in this prison.

 

 

Leaving Laramie I headed east on I-80 again to visit the old Cheyenne Depot Museum (AKA: Wyoming Transportation Museum) located in downtown Cheyenne, WY. This museum was located inside the reconditioned Union Pacific Railroad terminal which was built in 1886. The Union Pacific Railroad serviced its last passenger from this terminal in 1971, after which it was closed. The terminal was subsequently re-opened (after much renovation) to the public as a museum in 1990. The two-story museum displays exhibits related to the history of the Union Pacific Railroad, and its role in the development of the city of Cheyenne.

 

 

Across the street from the depot, is the Cheyenne Depot Plaza where you will see a number of 8’ tall painted cowboy boots. These boots are each painted to show a different part of the history of Cheyenne. You can take a cell-phone audio tour (looking for other Big Boots), that guides you to 19 different locations of interest in the city. Pretty cool idea, if you have the time and want to see the city.

 

 

Just a few blocks from the park, I visited the Nelson Museum of the West. This was a small museum, beautifully displaying artifacts and memorabilia from the surrounding Wyoming plains area, dating from the early frontier days to the present.

 

 

On my way to my next museum, I passed the Wyoming State Capital building and stopped to take a photo of that beautiful structure.

 

 

I hadn’t gone far before I saw another beautiful structure. This turned out to be the St. Mary’s Cathedral. I am always impressed with the architectural beauty of the various churches, cathedrals, and government buildings I see on my trips in different parts of this country of ours.

 

 

A little ways north of town, I decided to visit the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum located there in Cheyenne. This is a frontier town type museum, with restored buildings set up to represent “Main Street” in the early 1800 days in the Cheyenne area. The buildings are occupied with tour guides dressed in period clothes ready to tell you all about what it was like “back in the 1890’s old west days.” I just happened to be in Cheyenne the week of the “World’s Largest Outdoor Rodeo & Western Celebration.” This is a huge annual event in Cheyenne that had a big part of the city’s streets blocked off, and I was unable to visit the CDF Museum located close to the Frontier Park & Arena because of that.

 

 

Now I headed for a quick check to see if Greta could find the Big Boy No. 4004 steam locomotive located in the Holiday Park there in Cheyenne. It was one of the world’s largest steam locomotives ever built. Big Boy No. 4004 was one of 25 Big Boy locomotives built between 1941 & 1944 for the Union Pacific Railroad. It went into service in 1941; measures 132’ long, weighs 1.208,750 lbs. & carries 25,000 gal. of water. The Big Boy locomotives were so long that their frames had to be “hinged” or articulated to allow them to negotiate curves.

 

 

I headed for the motel there in Cheyenne, and after getting checked in I relaxed and enjoyed my leftover Baby Back Ribs from last night at the Open Range Restaurant.

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

America’s North Country Trip~ Part 10

22 Nov

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

 

 

 

 

Day 10 (Sunday)

 

Since the airshow gates didn’t open until 9:00, and it was located on the other side of the airport runway, I decided to check out the Red Barn Hanger there at the Idaho Falls Reginal Airport first. Built in 1930, the hanger served the city of Idaho Falls, during the early pioneering years of aviation, helping to provide a link between the eastern and western parts of the country. They hadn’t opened all the hanger doors yet this morning, but I could see a couple of modern twin-engine aircraft parked inside.

 

 

People were already beginning to stream thru the airshow gate by the time I got there and got parked. I showed my ticket, got my hand stamped and strolled over to one of the courtesy carts and asked for a ride to the flight line. It was a good ¼ mile to where the Blue Angles aircraft were parked. However, there were not too many people at the flight line fence yet, so I was able to get a clear shot of all the planes.

 

 

The visitor viewing area for the airshow was shaped like a triangle with about ¼ mile sides, and by the time I got back to the gate I was ready to sit down and rest. Did I mention that the temperature in this area had been really high, and today it was forecast to be 94 (feels like 104).

 

 

 

By the time the airshow activities started the temperature had gotten up to about 90 degrees and everyone was looking for some shade. But, there wasn’t any!

 

 

I ask the courtesy cart lady, who originally had given me a ride to the flight line, if I could sit in her cart when she wasn’t busy, and she said, “Sure.” This turned out to be the best seat at the airshow; I had a place to sit, the cart had a roof for shade, and I had someone to talk to about the show. Best of all, every time her support people came by to give her a bottle of water, she got one for me. Then when they came by and gave her a big sub-sandwich for her lunch she said, “I can’t eat that much.” and offered me half. What a deal that turned out to be!

 

 

Since this airshow was being held in a location where there weren’t any vacant surrounding areas where pyrotechnics could be used, it limited the activities of the show somewhat. They started the show with parachute jumper who came down with the American flag while the National Anthem played.

 

 

Then there several single plane aerobatic displays, where the pilots did some of the most amazing things with their airplanes.

 

 

There was a 4-plane AT-6 demonstration team that performed some really smooth formation flying.

 

 

And one of my favorites, Matt Younkin flying his Twin Beech 18, always puts on one of the most amazing and beautiful aerial flight demonstrations with a twin engine airplane.

 

 

There was a three-plane demonstration team consisting of a Mig 15, Mig 17 & F-86 Saber that was the first of its kind I had ever seen.

 

 

And there was a F-35 flight demonstration that was amazing. The pilot did things with that airplane that were just hard to believe any modern jet could do. All in all, they put on a good show, even though there was some really long “no action” periods between events. Of course everyone was really there to see the Blue Angles put on their airial demonstration. I had seen the Air Force Thunderbirds perform at our Valiant Air Command Airshow last year, but had never seen the Blue Angles perform. They put on a really impressive demonstration and I didn’t see anyone leave during their performance.

 

 

Since I was watching this while sitting in the courtesy cart close to the entrance gate, I was able to thank the lady driver who had been so kind to me throughout the entire airshow, and beat the crowd to my car and out to the street. The police had many of the streets blocked off to help clear the airshow crowd from the area. This didn’t help me in my effort to get to the Museum of Idaho there in Idaho Falls for a visit. By the time I got to the museum it was closed, so I just took a photo.

 

 

I had planned to stay in Idaho Falls for two nights, so by now Greta was familiar with how to get me back to the motel. A shower felt really good after a full day out in that blistering heat (even though I was shaded most of the time), and then I enjoyed my leftover Casa Ranchero Mexican dinner again. All that hot open air exposure, a cool shower, and delicious meal (and there was nothing good on TV) made it very hard to stay wake. So it was very easy to go to bed early tonight.

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

America’s North Country Trip~Part 7

1 Nov

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

 

 

Day 7 (Thursday)

 

As I continued west on I-90 next I visited the Crazy Mountain Museum located in Big Timber, MT. This was a small museum in a lovely wooded location, and included a main building which displayed a 1/16th scale model of the town of Big Timber as it looked in 1907. Outside there was a restored one-room schoolhouse, a replica of a Norwegian Stabbur (storage building), and a restored sheep herder’s wagon (these could have been the first RV’s back in the day).

 

 

Continuing west on I-90 next I visited the Livingston Railroad Depot located in Livingston, MT. This museum is in the restored 1902 Northern Pacific Railroad train station and contains a large assortment of local railroad memorabilia. The waiting platform has been converted into a very nice patio café for visitors and locals alike.

 

 

On the way to my next museum there in Livingston, I drove past a Custom Car Restoration garage and decided to pop in to see what was in the works. As it turned out the owner was very friendly and showed me around his shop and some of his projects. He had several classic cars and trucks that were in various stages of restoration.

 

 

While I was in Livingston I also visited the Federation of Fly Fishers Museum just to see what it was all about. This turned out to be a small two-story building where both floors were filled (floor to ceiling) with every conceivable type of fishing fly. The museum owner’s wife was very nice and showed me a lot more than I would ever have wanted to know about fly fishing, tackle and the making of flies. She also introduced me to their National Fly Fishing Hall of Fame gallery which included famous Fly Fishing inventers and celebrities from all over the country.

 

 

Next on the list was the Yellowstone Gateway Museum, also there in Livingston. This museum consisted of a large 3-story building (plus a basement) filled with local memorabilia from the early western Montana area. The museum’s collection included restored wagons, buggies, fire wagons, a shepherd’s wagon, and of course, as with most museums in these Plaines States, a stuffed buffalo. Outside there was a one-room schoolhouse and lots of restored early farm equipment

 

 

Now I continued west on I-90 to visit the Museum of the Rockies, located in Bozeman, MT. This is a very large museum, and as an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is known for its paleontological collections. It also claims to have the largest collection of dinosaur remains in the U.S. I was impressed with the number and size of their complete dinosaur displays.

 

 

It was getting late in the day, so I headed west to try to get to the Headwaters Heritage Museum located at the corner of Main & Cedar Streets in Three Forks, MT before they closed. This was a small museum, in a two-story downtown building (I think it was originally a bank), consisting mostly in local early American memorabilia. I was impressed with their display of over 750 different types of “bobbed wire” that has been used over the years. I didn’t spend much time in this museum as I was eager to get down the road to my ultimate destination for the day.

 

 

Now it was on west to visit the Jefferson Valley Museum located in Whitehall, MT. This was another frontier village type museum that depicts the early history and heritage of the local area, including Native American tribes, fur trappers, miners and homesteaders who raised horses, cattle and produce for the area’s mining camps and railroad workers. I opted not to walk through this museum village, and instead headed for my motel there in Whitehall.

 

 

On the way to the motel I spotted a KFC restaurant, and decided to have dinner with the Colonel again tonight. I really do like his chicken. I had their 3-piece chicken dinner again. This time I got cold slaw, mashed potatoes & gravy and I always get one of their homemade biscuits with butter and honey for dessert. What a great way to end a long day on the road.

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

America’s North Country Trip~Part 6

18 Oct

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

 

 

Day 6 (Wednesday)

 

I headed southwest on I-94 this morning. I had been noticing, for the last couple of days as I traveled through the North Dakota and Montana plains country, that the round hay bales were everywhere I looked! They were all over the fields, in huge stacks (40-50’ high & 200-400’ long) and even in the right-of-ways along the Interstate. This was a very unusual site for me, as I was used to the right-of-ways in Florida mostly being swales full of water.

 

 

My first museum visit today was the Range Riders Museum located in Miles City, MT. This was one of the most amazing museums I have ever seen! There were some 20 separate galleries under one huge roof, with 8 additional buildings outside. Every inch of every wall was covered with Indian, Pioneer, Homesteader, Westerner and Rodeo artifacts. I was informed that every single item in this entire museum had been donated by someone over the years, including the large main building.   I couldn’t begin to explain all there is or to try and show you about this museum adequately. Just Google “Range Riders Museum” and click on “Exhibits” to get a slideshow for a better idea of just how much there is to see.

 

 

On down the road a ways I saw a sign advertising the Brinton Museum Store located in Hysham, MT and decided to run up U.S. 10 a couple of miles to check it out. This turned out to be a one-room museum store consisting of a beautifully restored antique soda fountain and some local historical artifacts. The museum was closed but I was able to get a photo thru the front window.

 

 

Next I took a small side-trip, south on SR-47, to visit the Big Horn County Historical Museum located in Hardin, MT near the Crow Agency Trading Post. This museum is another frontier type museum with 24 relocated and restored buildings arranged to represent a 1850s Montana frontier village, with artifacts depicting those of that era in each building.

 

 

Another few miles down the road I visited the Battle of the Little Big Horn Monument, commonly known as the location of Custer’s Last Stand. This monument was packed to overflowing with visitors. At the battlefield there is a monument commemorating the 1876 engagement between the U.S. Army and the combined forces of the Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian tribes. There are headstones positioned on the hill where the 7th Cavalry solders died and were originally buried. There is also a new section set aside as a National Cemetery.

 

 

I was interested to learn that several relatives of General Custer were among those who died with him during this battle. There was Captain Thomas Ward Custer his younger brother, Boston Custer his second brother, 1st Lt. James Calhoun his brother-in-law, and Henry Armstrong Reed his 18-year old nephew. History seems to indicate that most of the Custer relatives (including General Custer) looked upon this trip as an opportunity to experience the west in all its grandeur and beauty. I think they got a lot more than they expected!

 

 

Now I headed northwest on I-90 to visit the Moss Mansion Historic Museum located in Billings, MT. I thought this was going to be a museum I could just walk thru, but no, it was a one-hour guided tour and I didn’t think my knees would be able to handle all those stairs. So I just took a couple photos and went to find the next place on my list.

 

 

That turned out to try to find the Boot Hill Cemetery there in Billings. When researching this trip I had discovered this location was going to be a little difficult to find, but I thought Greta (my Garmin) could handle it. However, now that I was relying on her to get me to the exact location, she was confused and was leading me in circles. I finally found it, using my trusty paper map, and was not impressed. I’ve seen much better Boot Hill cemeteries on other trips.

 

 

I tried to find the Rimrocks there in Billings, but here again Greta was unable to locate a specific address. I thought it was a city or county park, but as it turned out it was an area of high cliffs cut into the mountain side by the Yellowstone River that borders the east side of Billings.   I finally found the right road and enjoyed the natural beauty as I followed the road from the river level to the top of the high plateau.

 

 

By now it was time to head for the motel there in Billings, get checked in and relax while I enjoy my leftover CC’s Ground Beef Steak dinner which included green beans, mashed potatoes & gravy with Apple Crisp for dessert. Yummm!!

—–To Be Continued—–

 

America’s North Country Trip~Part 5

11 Oct

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

 

 

 

 

Day 5 (Tuesday)

This morning I headed west again on I-94 a short distance, to visit the Fort Lincoln Trolley Co. located in Mandan, ND. This is an attraction that utilizes 1890s open-air trolleys that travel from the old Third Street Station in downtown Mandan to the Fort Lincoln State Park and back. Since they weren’t open and I didn’t have the time to wait for the next trolley (1:00pm), I saved that ride for another trip.

 

 

While I was there in Mandan, I decided to check out the North Dakota State Railroad Museum. This turned out to be another small museum which was also closed. Their website indicates the museum displays mostly local railroad memorabilia; however, they do have several nicely restored items of rolling stock outside.

 

 

On the way to my next museum, I saw a sign for the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and decided to stop in and see what it was all about. The park is located in western North Dakota where the Great Plains meet the rugged Badlands. There wasn’t much to see from the Visitor’s Center, and I didn’t want to take the time to drive around the “Loop” which would have passed the Maltese Cross Cabin where President Roosevelt once lived.

 


After using the restroom there at the Visitor’s Center, I continued west for a visit at the Cowboy Hall of Fame Museum located in Medora, ND. This museum tells the story of the northwest plains horse and cattle culture which is a unique way of life in western America, and includes the Native Americans of the area, Western Ranching and Rodeo history.

 

 

 

 

In the Rodeo Hall of Fame Inductees area I saw several photos mentioning the “North Dakota Six Pack” of Rodeo champions spanning the 1850s-1960s, when North Dakota rodeo riders ruled the National Rodeo Circuit. When I asked the curator where I could find additional information about these men, she directed me to the “Cowboy Café down the street, where the wife of one of the sons of a “Six pack” was the owner.

 

 

 

So I walked down to the Cowboy Café and ordered one of their special Buffalo Burgers. I asked the waitress if the owner was there, and she said she would get her from the kitchen. It turned out that she was the daughter of Thomas J. Tescher, who was one of the “North Dakota Six Pack” champions. His family had been cattle ranchers there in North Dakota for generations. She was very nice and gave me a quick run-down of the family history and their involvement in the National Rodeo Circuit. Her father, Tom, one of 15 Tescher children, entered his first rodeo at age 17 and went on to be ranked in the top 10 saddle bronc riders from 1955 to 1958, and qualified for the National Finals Rodeo in Dallas in 1959.

 

 

Note: “The North Dakota Six Pack” was a group of North Dakota rodeo competitors who dominated the national rodeo scene during the 1950s and 1960s. They included (L to R Below) Tom Tescher, Duane Howard, Dean Armstrong, Joe Chase, Jim Tescher, and Alvin Nelson.

 

 

With a full tummy, I now headed west again, crossing the border into Montana, to visit the Wibaux Railroad Museum located in the little town of Wibaux, MT. This museum turned out to be one train car (the museum) one caboose, and a monument sign telling about Pierre Wibaux, the founder of the town of Wibaux.

 

 

Heading west again, I next visited the Frontier Gateway Museum located in Glendive, MT. This was a small museum that was a mix of displays including fossils recovered from the local area, Native American artifacts, homesteader’s items, settler’s tools, cattlemen’s paraphernalia, and Northern Pacific railroad information.

 

 

Located just down the street was the Glendive Dinosaur & Fossil Museum. This museum has more than 23 full-sized dinosaur and fossil exhibits. It claims to be the largest dinosaur and fossil museum in the United States to present its fossils in the context of biblical history. This unique museum also sponsors “Dig-for-a-day” fossil digs in the badlands close to Glendive, which gives participants an opportunity to experience paleontology first hand as they learn how to identify, collect and interpret fossils from a Biblical creationist’s perspective.

 

 

While I was in Glendive, I stopped by to check out the Makoshika State Park. The word Makoshika (Ma-ko-shi-ka) is a variant spelling of the Lakota phrase meaning “bad land” or “bad spirits.” The park was closed and from the map at the visitor’s center, there didn’t seem to be much to see. So I headed for the motel, to get checked-in and look for a place to eat.

 

 

The motel clerk recommended CC’s Family Café down the road, so I headed that way and enjoyed their delicious Ground Beef Steak dinner which included green beans, mashed potatoes & gravey with Apple Crisp for dessert. Very satisfying!

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

America’s North Country~Trip Part 4

4 Oct

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

 

 

 

Day 4 (Monday)

 

Before I left Fargo this morning I stopped for a quick visit to the Fargo Air Museum, just a few minutes from my motel, located at the Hector International Airport. This was a nice museum consisting of many aircraft which the museum keeps in flying condition. Their collection included the famous DC-3 “Duggy” and a full-scale prototype model of the Northrop-Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk.

 

 

Now I headed west on I-94, about 25 miles, for a quick stop to visit the Cass Regional Airport in Casselton, ND. As it turned out I couldn’t find a museum at the airport, but I saw an open hanger door and ducked in to ask about a CAF Squadron. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a Japanese Zero getting a touch-up paint job by Roy Kieffer. He informed me that he had painted several Warbirds for various people and organizations there in that one-plane sized hangar. Who would have guessed?

 

 

On these trips I am always on the lookout for brochures advertising museums that I might be interested in visiting. That is how I came across a brochure for the Rosebud Railroad Visitor Center located in Valley City, ND. This turned out to be a very small museum (one restored 1881 Superintendent Rail Coach) housed in a replica of a 1850s freight depot. There wasn’t much to see, but they had a very nice restroom.

 

 

Now I made a short side-trip, off of I-94, northwest to visit the Midland Continental Depot located in Wimbledon, ND. This turned out to be pretty much a waste of time, since the museum was a very small restored depot building, which was closed, and a caboose out front.

 

 

On the way to Jamestown, ND to visit the National Buffalo Museum, I stopped to get a photo of the World’s Largest Buffalo Monument (26’ tall, 46’ long & 60 tons). I can’t imagine why anyone would put together something like that! I guess it is an advertising gimmick for the buffalo museum there in Jamestown.

 

 

However, one of the things I was most looking forward to seeing on this trip was the large herds of buffalo that the TV documentaries have been showing for the last few years. So here I was at the National Buffalo Museum to checkout that herd of buffalo. Well, you guessed it. There was not a single live buffalo to be seen. As a matter of fact, I didn’t see the first live buffalo during my entire trip. My friends tell me they are all somewhere in South Dakota. Right!

 

 

After leaving Jamestown I picked up I-94 and headed west again to visit the Historic Town of Buckstop Junction located on the outskirts of Bismarck, ND. This was another tourist trap setup to look like an early North Dakota pioneer town. One look at “Main Street” of the town and I was ready to mosey on down the road.

 

 

My first stop in Bismarck was to visit the Lewis & Clark Riverboat, located at the Port of Bismarck on the Missouri River. This turned out to be a dinner cruise type riverboat that took people and groups up and down the river daily and by charter. Since I wasn’t interested in a dinner cruise, I took a couple pictures and headed into downtown Bismarck.

 

 

I almost missed the Camp Hancock Historical Site there in downtown Bismarck. The original site was built-up as an infantry post in 1872, to help guard the construction of the railroad thru that area of North Dakota. In later years it was used as a quartermaster’s station and then as a weather station. The small site now consists of a restored church, weather station building and a locomotive.

 

 

I stopped at the Former Governor’s Mansion long enough to take a photo, and then swung by the North Dakota Capital for another photo.

 

 

Since it was after 5:00, I thought I would look up the local R/C Model airplane flying field to see if anyone was flying this afternoon. Even though it was a beautiful evening, no one was at the field, so I headed for my motel there in Bismarck.

This evening Greta had no trouble finding the motel and, after getting checked in, I settled down to enjoy my leftover Denny’s Ground Turkey Meatloaf dinner with all the trimmings.

 

 

—–To Be Continued—-

 

 

America’s North Country Trip~Part 2

13 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

 

Day 2 (Saturday)

After a nice hot complimentary breakfast of orange juice, scrambled eggs, sausage links, biscuit & gravy at the motel, I headed north on I-29 to visit the Sergeant Floyd River Museum which is surrounded by Larson Park and located in Sioux City, IA. This dry-docked towboat was built in 1932 for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to manage the nation’s inland waterways, and is now a museum exhibiting historical artifacts about its use over the years on the Missouri River.

 

Sergeant Floyd Museum Boat

 

Next there in Sioux City was a quick visit to the Mid-America Museum of Aviation and Transportation. This was a small museum with a few nicely restored aircraft, buggies, automobiles, trucks and a 1981 Moni-Motor glider built by Monett Experimental Aircraft Co. hanging from the ceiling.

 

 

Another place I wanted to visit there in Sioux City was the Sioux City Railroad Museum near the Riverside area. As it happened, a film crew was there making a documentary about the Museum, and they had several young women dressed in period costumes being used as models. It was interesting to watch them bustling around trying to get the gals to pose just the way they wanted, and in just the right light, for their photos. What a bunch of prima donnas!

 

 

As I was leaving Sioux City I, stopped by the Chief War Eagle Monument to take a photo and learn a little more about this Yankton Sioux Chief. History records him as “Friend of the White Man” and a scout for the U.S. Government, as well as a mediator with the native tribes during the war of 1812. He was one of the tribal leaders selected to go to Washington D.C. to negotiate peace treaties, and was awarded the Silver Peace Metal by President Martin Van Buren in 1837.

 

 

Now I headed north on I-29 stopping by the South Dakota ANG, located adjacent to the Sioux Falls Reginal Airport, to see if they had a museum. They didn’t, so I had to be satisfied with photos of their static display aircraft from outside the fence.

 

 

Next on my list was a visit to the Battleship USS South Dakota (BB-57) Memorial located there in Sioux Falls, SD. This was an unusual memorial in that it had displayed many individual pieces of the ship (a 16” gun barrel, a 40mm gun mount, ship’s anchor, etc.) around the grounds. Inside there were many artifacts and memorabilia displays of this historical ship and its crews.

 

 

On my way through town, I stopped to take a photo of the Sioux Falls Old Minnehaha Courthouse Museum. It was a majestic structure, but I didn’t take the time to go in as I expected it would display mostly city historical items, and I was sure my knees wouldn’t appreciate all those stairs.

 

 

After checking into the motel for the night there in Sioux Falls, I went looking for someplace to eat. As luck would have it, I saw a Panera Bread restaurant and stopped in for a delicious Pick-2 Meal of a Chipotle Chicken sandwich and a cup of their great Broccoli-Cheese soup. One of their oversized chocolate chip cookies topped off my meal for dessert. What a wonderful way to end a day on the road!

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Critter in the Attic

19 Apr

 

A Slice of Life

By Bill Lites

DiVoran and I moved to East Central Florida in 1965 and bought our first brand new house. At the time, the area was booming with the Manned Space Program, and the construction industry couldn’t keep up with the demand for new houses. Our new house was located in a small new sub-division, and was typical for the time and area; concrete block construction, with pitched roof, jalousie windows, and minimal insulation.

 

 

Having both been born and raised in the southwest, we were not used to the heat and humidity here in Florida. As a result, I spent a lot of my spare time during those first several years in the attic building board walkways, installing lights, and wiring ceiling fans for every room in the house.

 

 

There were stories of how the contractors were cutting corners to meet their schedules and reduce costs. We didn’t pay a lot of attention to the stories at first, as we were just happy to have been able to find and buy a new house in such a “Buyer’s Market” so quick. However, working in the attic gave me a good idea of some of those shortcuts.

 

 

For instance, the attic insulation was very flimsy. It was made of Aluminum coated corrugated craft paper! Try to imagine, in the picture below, that the top and bottom layers are corrugated craft paper (somehow bonded together) with the aluminum coating on the outside surfaces. The aluminum coating, we were told, was supposedly to reflect the radiant heat from of the sun. The open area between the top and bottom layers was an “insulating air space” to keep the heat from reaching the ceiling. I can’t imagine how any building industry standards organization could have ever approved such a flimsy and ridiculous design. But, there it was. And of course, there was NO insulation of any kind over the garage area.

 

 

DiVoran and I always had pets while growing up, and of course we had to have a pet to go with our new house. Our beautiful long-haired gray and white tabby’s name was “Pepper” and he was a very active in-door addition to our family. I can’t remember just when the following episode occurred, but suffice it to say it was some years after our move to Florida.

 

 

In the middle of the night, I woke to hear what sounded like a small critter in the attic above our bedroom. It sounded like it would scurry around quickly, on that flimsy craft paper insulation in the attic, and then it would stop and I could hear it gnaw on something. Then it would scurry around some more, and then back to gnawing. For the next few nights, I pondered on how I was going to get rid of that pesky critter. I could just see it gnawing through the insulation on an electric wire and starting a fire. And, I didn’t want it to make a home in our attic and start raising a family to add to the potential problem. Then I believe God gave me an inspired idea!

 

 

The next evening I put Pepper in the attic and closed the access door. He circled the access door a few times, meowing. When he finally realized I wasn’t going to open the access door and let him out, I heard him walking across the craft paper insulation to the vent holes in the soffit.

 

 

He kept moving from one vent hole to the next, looking for a way to get out of the attic. He progressed around two whole sides of the house until he got to our bedroom, when his movements stopped. All this time our pesky critter had been busy gnawing and scurrying around its usual area of the attic, just above our bedroom light fixture. There was silence from Pepper for a full minute, while the critter kept gnawing. Then there was a loud thump! And then complete silence. We heard no more sounds from the attic for the rest of the night.

 

 

The next morning, I opened the attic access door and called Pepper. It took him a while, but then I saw him walking toward me on the walk-way board, meowing all the way. I lifted him down and he seemed happy to be back in the house with his family. As it turned out, we never had another problem with critters in our attic. Who knows, maybe Pepper left his scent up there, and it deterred any other adventuresome critters from making a home in our attic. Whatever the case, we are happy they have stayed away. Just in case you were wondering, we did put some real insulation in our attic not too long after that.

 

 

 

—–The End—–

 

A 2016 Dawn Patrol Rendezvous Trip~Part 15

12 Apr

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

Day 15 (Thursday Oct.13, 2016)

 

I was up early this morning, and had a delicious breakfast at the Bob Evens Restaurant just down the road from the motel. With a full tummy, and since I didn’t have to be at the airport until after lunch (2:00 pm), I decided to drive around the Columbus area, to see what I could find of interest.

 

 

I drove up and down what looked like busy business streets, but came across nothing much of interest in the area where I had stayed. I Googled “Things to do in Columbus,” and one of the things recommended was German Village. So I picked the Schiller Park, which was said to have an interesting “Umbrella Girl Fountain” on display. It turned out to be a beautiful but small park, and the fountain display was very restful.

 

 

By the time I got through checking out the Schiller Park and the “Umbrella Girl Fountain” it was getting close to noon, and I thought I better get something to eat to tide me over, on the Southwest “Peanut Flight” back to Orlando. Google had also informed me, that one of the best places to eat, in the German Village area, was the “German Village Coffee Shop” located on Thurman Street. I found it (it was tiny) and tried one of their grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. I’m not sure what all the “Hoopla” is about?

 

 

Then I headed for the Enterprise Rental Car office to turn in my car. That process went well, and I tried to call an Uber ride. That didn’t go so well, until one of the Enterprise agents helped me out. I had a ride within ten minutes, and was delivered to the John Glenn Columbus International Airport in another fifteen minutes. What a great service!

 


The non-stop Southwest flight from Columbus to Orlando was on time, smooth, and the peanuts were fresh. Those peanut bags are really small, and I had to ask for an extra bag. I was in the first row isle seat on the left, so was one of the first off the plane in Orlando. The walk from the arrival gate, to the tram into the main terminal, and the wait at Baggage Claim took almost as long as the flight had.

 

 

My lovely wife, Divoran, picked me up at the arrival area, and we headed north on SR-436 looking for somewhere to eat dinner. She let me know that she had her mouth set for pizza, and we were able to find a small Pizzeria not far from the airport. We enjoyed the food and time alone together, bringing each other up to date, mostly about her adventures with Hurricane Matthew.

 

 

The trip home to Titusville was uneventful, and I was glad to be home where I could unwind and sleep in my own bed for a change. Living out of a suitcase gets old in a hurry, and people’s loud TV at night doesn’t help. And as they say, “Home is where the heart is.” At least until I can plan another of my exciting travel adventures. Hope you have enjoyed hearing about this road trip and will join me for the next trip, when I will be exploring the many museums of the American North Country.

 

 

 

—–The End—–

A 2016 Dawn Patrol Rendezvous Trip~Part 14

5 Apr

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

 

Day 14 (Wednesday Oct.12, 2016)
Today was more or less a free day, since I had visited some of the museums around Columbus, scheduled for today, on the first day of this trip. I started

with the hope that I could visit the Waco Aircraft Collection of Anthony M. Morozowsky, there in Zanesville, before I headed toward Columbus. A month before this trip, I sent Mr. Morozowsky a letter requesting a visit to his collection. However, I never did receive an answer and the only thing I had to go on was the address on the FAA Registry, for his 30+ aircraft. When Greta informed me that we had arrived at our destination, I was disappointed that it turned out to be nothing more than a vacant lot and a couple of rusty broken down vehicles.

 


So I headed west on I-70, to visit the Historical Aircraft Squadron located in Carroll, Ohio. This was a small one hanger museum with six nicely restored airplanes, and a collection of retired ex-military volunteers sitting around the coffee machine sharing war stories. What a great bunch of guys!

 


Next on the list, was a visit to the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, located a few miles north in Pickerington, Ohio. I have visited so many museums, in the last two weeks that it was sometimes hard to remember which ones I had already visited, until I actually pulled into the parking lot. This was one of the museums I had visited earlier. That’s OK, since I was headed that direction anyway.

 


Just a few miles west, I went to visit the Bob McDorman Automotive Museum, located in Canal Winchester, Ohio. This museum was closed when I tried to visit it on day 1 of this trip (even though the sign out front said “Open Wed-Sat 1-5”). As it turned out, it was closed again today (Same sign was outside; Go Figure), and I missed out seeing Bob’s fine collection.

 

 

Now it was on down the road, to visit the Motts Military Museum located in Groveport, Ohio. To say this was the most extensive display, of military memorabilia that I have ever seen in a museum, would be an understatement. There were two large wings to the museum absolutely chocked full, from floor to ceiling, of memorabilia on both walls covering the U.S. military services dating from the Civil War through current times. The museum also had a very nice display of restored military vehicles and weapons displayed outside.

 


Now I headed into Columbus to visit the Ohio Village & Museum, at the Ohio History Center. The portion of the Center that housed the museum was a massive edifice, and would take the average person hours to go through it. Once I got a look at a museum layout map, at the visitor’s desk, I decided not to spend the time there and move on to the next museum.

 

 

The Camp Chase Site and Confederate Cemetery, located some four miles west of downtown Columbus, was surrounded by a high brick wall and I almost missed it. Wikipedia informed me that the camp was established in 1861, during the Civil War, as a staging and training base, and included a Confederate prisoner-of-war camp. Named for Salmon P. Chase, Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury, the site was closed in 1865 and the buildings were dismantled. The cemetery arch was erected as a memorial, to the many Confederate soldiers who were imprisoned at the camp, and to the 2200 that died there before the war ended.

 

 

The Ohio Railway Museum, located in Worthington, Ohio, some 12 miles north of Columbus, was the last museum on the list for this trip. As it turned out this was a very small museum, consisting of local railroad memorabilia and some very weather-beaten rolling stock.

 

 

 

Since it was still early afternoon, I headed for the motel, to get settled in and, so I could use their computer to print-out my boarding pass for my Southwest flight tomorrow. Because the Enterprise Rental Car office, where I rented my car, did not provide transportation to the airport, I had to come up with some way to get there on my own.

 

 

There was the taxi option, or possibly the Uber option. I liked the sound of the Uber option better, and spent quite a bit of time registering an account with them. I just hoped I would be able to use them tomorrow. We’ll just have to wait and see how that works out.

 


Dinner tonight was another delicious (leftover) dinner of Grilled Rainbow Trout with corn, green beans and one of their Cracker Barrel famous buttermilk biscuits with butter and honey for dessert. Yuuum!! Again.

 

—–To Be Continued—–

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