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2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip-Part 17 A

19 Jan

A Slice of LIfe

Bill Lites

Day 17 – 7/28/2021

After breakfast this morning, I headed south, out of Jacksonville, 20 miles on I-295 & US-17 to visit the Military Museum of North Florida located in the Reynolds Industrial Park, adjacent to the former US Naval Air Station, in Green Cove Springs, FL.  This museum has a large collection of military jeeps, trucks, and amphibious landing craft, as well as military artifacts, weapons, and equipment honoring all U.S Military personnel from WWI to the present.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

To my surprise, the North Florida Railway Museum is also located in the Reynolds Industrial Park, there in Green Cove Springs, so I just checked out that museum while I was there.  The museum displays railroad exhibits, artifacts and memorabilia telling the history of the railroad’s influence on northern Florida dating from the mid-1800s.  They have several pieces of rolling stock which they are restoring, including a GE 44 Tonner locomotive.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Continuing south 25 miles on US-17, I was absently heading for the David Browning Railroad Museum in Palatka, FL when suddenly Greta (My Garmin) said, “In ¼-mile turn right.”  I said out loud, “What?”  

Now let me tell you how it is with Greta.  She normally takes me on the shortest route to my destination.  Sometimes that is not always the best route.  More than once, she has taken me thru back streets or thru residential neighborhoods, finally delivering me to my destination.  Well, this time it was onto a dirt road.  “Why?”  Was my question, but I kept on going.  Then she had me turn onto a well-rutted dirt road.  The next turn was onto a barely visible rutted muddy dirt road.  I said, “Come on Greta, where are you taking me?”  There was nothing around me but a deep pine forest and a muddy dirt track with potholes.  It had been raining and the potholes were full of water.  I was afraid I was going to get stuck!  The next time she said, “Turn left.”   I said, “NO!”  And kept going straight.  I finally came out of that mess onto US-17 (the hiway I had been on before turning off onto the first dirt road) and eventually made it to the museum there in Palatka.  Whooo!  That was not a fun experience.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

At the museum I discovered that it was situated in the old 1908 Florida Coast Line (FCL) Union Depot and displays antique railroad exhibits, artifacts, and memorabilia about the history of the railroad in Palatka and the surrounding Putnum county area dating from the early 1800s to the present.  The museum also houses a large model railroad layout depicting the city of Palatka in its early railroad days.  

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

It was only a few blocks to where I checked out the Mariner’s Museum located on the banks of the St. Johns River there in Palatka.  This large museum was closed, so I took a stroll over to the Riverfront Park to take a short break and watch the river traffic.   The center piece of the park is an impressive 40-foot-high Millennium Clock Tower.  What a relaxing few minute that was. 

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

After my short rest, I continued south, across the St. Johns River, 10 miles on US-17 to check out the Georgia Boys Fish Camp located on the banks of Dunns Creek in Satsuma, FL.  I discovered the camp was off US-17 (their sign didn’t say how many miles), so I decided since I didn’t have time to do any fishing, I’d just be on my way.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I went 15-miles out of my way to visit the Welaka Maritime Museum located in Welaka, FL.  Greta (my Garmin) took me to the correct internet address, but either the museum was in a boat repair shop at that address (that was closed), or it no longer existed, as there was nothing there but the boat shop.  That turned out to be a big waste of time and gas!

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

So, I found my way back to US-17 and headed another 25 miles south to visit the Barberville Pioneer Settlement.  A few miles down the road the internet had told me there was a Biker Bar in Crescent City, and I had planned to stop for a photo.  When I got to the address, I found that the business had changed hands, and was now The Farmhouse Bar & Grill.  Good thing I wasn’t hungry, as the place was closed.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

—–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

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 16

12 Jan

A Slice of Life

DiVoran Lites

Day 16 – 7/27/2021

Leaving Douglas this morning, I headed southeast on SR-158 about 35 miles to visit the Okefenokee Heritage Center, located on the northern edge of the 700-square-mile Okefenokee Swamp, in Waycross, GA.  This center provides and preserves the historical cultures that make up the diverse area around the Okefenokee, with exhibits and artifacts dating from 350 BC.  The museum also gives tours of the restored area buildings, train station, and 1912 Baldwin steam locomotive (‘Ol No. 9).

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed southeast 35 miles on US-23 to visit The Folkston Funnel located in Folkston, GA.  It’s not a train depot as I originally thought but is a raised platform for visitors to watch the dozens of CXS trains traveling into and out of Florida thru the nearby “Folkston Funnel” switching station.  The city provided platform has chairs, tables, lighting, ceiling fans, and a scanner that allows train fans to listen to radio traffic between trains passing thru the area.  I didn’t read a sign thoroughly, located close to the platform, that advertised ice cream and cold drinks down the street.  I thought the ice cream shop was in the caboose.  Silly me!

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I picked up US-301 out of Folkston and headed southeast 15 miles, crossing the St. Marys River (the border), where I visited the Corner’s  A-Maize-Ing Acres located in Hillard, FL.  As it turned out, this is a 125-acres privately owned farm that caters to people who are looking for a variety of farm-fresh vegetables and/or a beautiful setting for a family picnic or special photo shoot.  I didn’t need vegetables (I had no idea what was in season) or a family photo, so I just made a quick stop to rest my back, and was on my way.

I continued 10 miles southeast on US-301 to where I visited the West Nassau Museum of History located in Callahan, FL.  I found this small museum situated in the old restored 1881Callahan Train Depot, and it displays railroad exhibits, artifacts, and memorabilia about the history of Callahan and the surrounding Nassau County area dating from the early 1800s.

Now it was only 20 miles southeast on US-17 to visit the Ritz Theater & Museum located in the LaVilla area of Jacksonville, FL.  The 426-seat theater was built in 1929 and was the focal point of LaVilla (considered the mecca for African American culture and heritage) from the 1920s to the 1960s and was known as “The Harlem of the South.”  The LaVilla Museum is located off the lobby of the theater and displays a variety of exhibits related to the LaVilla area dating from the early 1900s.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

It was a short drive to downtown where I visited the Jacksonville Fire Museum.   This museum is housed in the restored 1886 Station No. 3 building and displays firefighting equipment, artifacts, and a diorama of the Great Fire of 1901, which distroyed over 2000 buildings in a 146-block area of what was then the city of Jacksonville.  The museum also has a restored 1902 LaFrance horse-drawn fire engine and a 1926 American LaFrance fire engine on display.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed for the Southbank Riverwalk district of town to visit the Museum of Science & History (MOSH) there in Jacksonville.  Originally chartered in 1941, this three-story museum has a large Florida Natural History Center and many Florida scientific and historical exhibits on display for visitors.  The museum is home to the beautiful 200-seat Bryan-Gooding Planetarium.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

It was still raining, and I needed to find the motel there in Jacksonville and get something to eat.  As it turned out, the motel was in the Orange Park area off, south I-295, and it took me a while to get there.  After I got checked in and got my stuff settled in my room, I recorded my activities for the day.  Then I warmed up my leftover Enchiladas, refried beans and yellow rice, from the El 1800 Mexican Restaurant last night, and enjoyed that great tasting meal again.  What a delight!

—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

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 15B

5 Jan

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 15 – 7/26/2021 (Continued)

Now I headed east 20 miles on US-82 to visit the Old Engine No. 100 Museum located at Jeffords Park in Sylvester, GA.  This small museum is situated in the old restored 1895 Georgia-Ashburn-Sylvester-Camilla (GASC) Railroad line depot that serviced Worth County from 1895 to 1972.  Old 100 is a 1930 Baldwin Mikado 2-8-2 Steam Locomotive that was one of the many that were used to service the GASC line, which included Sylvester (first called ‘Isabella Station’ in 1893), during that time period.

Continuing another 20 miles southeast on US-82, I visited the Tifton Terminal Railway Museum located in Tifton, GA.  This museum is housed in the old 1910 Atlantic Coast Line station and displays railroad artifacts and other exhibits related to the history of the railroad’s influence on the city of Tifton and the surrounding Tift County area in the early 1900s.  The original depot served passengers on the CSX line from 1910 until 1986 when passenger service to this area was discontinued.

Photo credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed east on US-319 out of Tifton and traveled east 20 miles to Ocilla, where I picked up SR-32.  It was another 25 miles on SR-32 to where I visited the Heritage Station Museum located in Douglas, GA.  This small museum is situated in the old renovated 1905 Georgia and Florida Railroad Depot and has on display artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of Douglas and Coffee County dating from 1905.  The depot stopped serving passengers in 1949 and operated only as a freight office until 1985 when it was closed.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

It was just a few blocks to where I wanted to visit the WWII Flight Training Museum located adjacent to the Douglas Municipal Airport there in Douglas.  The museum was closed, but their website informs me that the Training Base was built in 1941 by the USAAF as a primary flight training school to teach young cadets how to fly.  Thirteen of the original buildings have been renovated to show visitors how cadets lived and worked during their basic flight training at the base.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

While I was in the vicinity of the Douglas Municipal Airport I stopped to visit my friend Tom Reilly at his restoration facility there at the airport.  Tom was good enough to take time from his busy schedule to give me a tour of his current projects.  Tom has restored many aircraft to flying condition over the years, but he is best known for recently finishing the 12-year restoration of the only flying XP-82 Twin Mustang in the world.  By the way, the airplane is For Sale, so if you are in the market for a superb one-of-a-kind warbird, give Tom a call and he will be glad to tell you all about the airplane.

Tom and his crew are currently restoring a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress to flight configuration for one customer, while at the same time they are restoring the wings of another B-17 for another customer’s current restoration project.  Tom loves his work and gives his customers the very best product for their money.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

After that amazing tour with Tom, I told Greta (My Garmin) to take me to my motel for the night there in Douglas.  On the way to the motel, I noticed a sign for the ‘El 1800 Mexican Restaurant’ just across US-441 from the WWII Flight Training Base and decided to give them a try.  I ordered their Enchiladas Plate, which came with refried beans and yellow rice.  It was delicious and there was enough for two dinners, so I’ll get to enjoy it again tomorrow.

—–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

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 15A

29 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 15 – 7/26/2021

After a nice breakfast at the motel this morning, I headed southeast out of Columbus, 50 miles on US-280 to visit the Plains Train Depot Museum located in Plains, GA.  This small depot was built in 1888 and served the Plains, GA community from 1888 to 1951 when passenger service to the town was discontinued.  The depot was restored in 1975 and used as the headquarters for the 1976 Jimmy Carter Presidential Campaign there in Plains.  The museum displays photos and artifacts focusing on the activities held in the building during that time period.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

A few blocks down the road I stopped to take a photo of Billy Carter’s Service Station Museum.  I learned that Billy Carter gave up managing the family peanut business in 1972, and bought this service station, where many of the 1976 Jimmy Carter presidential campaign celebrations were held.  Billy continued to run the station until 2008, when the station was renovated for use as a museum.  The museum displays artifacts and family memorabilia covering mostly the life and times of Billy Carter.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I continued east 10 miles on US-280 to visit the Windsor Hotel located in Americus, GA.  This hotel should be a museum, as it is one of the most lavish hotels I’ve seen.  Built in 1892, it was designed for many of the same reasons the Alcazar Hotel in St. Augustine Florida, to attract rich northern winter visitors.  This 100-room Victorian masterpiece served the community until it closed in 1972.  It was renovated in 1991 and modernized in 2010 to its present grander when it became part of the Best Western Group.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I drove over to the Jimmy Carter Regional Airport, there in Americus, Georga, to see where Charles Lindbergh made his first solo-flight in 1923, at age 21.  As the story goes, Lindbergh rode his blue Harley Davidson motorcycle to Southern Field in Americus to purchase a surplus WWI Curtis JN-4 ‘Jenny’ airplane for his barnstorming career.  He was able to purchase a new ‘Jenny’ (still crated in its shipping container), from a Mr. Wyche for $500.  

That price included the cost of mechanics time to assemble the plane there in one of the hangers at the field.  When the plane was ready to fly, and after several hours of instruction by Glenn Messer, Lindbergh took his first solo-flight in that airplane there at the field.  As you might remember, that young man went on to world fame, by being the first to fly non-stopped (solo) from New York to Paris in his ‘Spirit of St. Louis’ airplane and winning the coveted Orteig Prize ($25,000), in May of 1927.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I continued southeast 15 miles on US-280 to visit the Georgia Rural Telephone Museum located in Leslie, GA.  This museum is housed in an old 1920s cotton warehouse, across the street from the Citizen’s Telephone Company, and displays antique artifacts, photos, exhibits, and memorabilia explaining the history and advancement of telecommunications from 1878 thru the 19th and 20th centuries.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Continuing south 30 miles on US-195 I visited the Thronateeska Heritage Center located at the Heritage Plaza in Albany, GA.  This center, situated in the old restored 1913 Union Station, is dedicated to the preservation of the history of Southwest Georgia, and displays photos, exhibits, and artifacts related to the development of the southwest Georgia area dating from the 16th century.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

—–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

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip-Part 14

22 Dec

A Slice of LIfe

Bill Lites

Day 14 – 7/25/2021

Leaving Birmingham this morning, I headed south 30 miles on I-65 to visit the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum located in Calera, AL.  This museum actually utilizes two restored railroad depots as part of their displays.  One served the Southern Railway line and the other served the Louisville & Nashville (L&N) Railroad, both of which were moved to this location over the years.   The museum has restored steam locomotives, and other rolling stock, that are used to take visitors on short excursions, during the year, letting them experience real 1900s train travel.  

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Both of the ‘Heart of Dixie’ museum’s depots display antique railroad artifacts, photos, and memorabilia relating the history of the railroad’s influence on the Shelby County area dating from 1890 to 2005.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Another 60 miles south on I-65 I wanted to visit the Maxwell AFB Air Park located in Montgomery, AL but the park was on the base and was closed to the public without a special pass.  So, I headed downtown to visit several places on my list.  The first was the Old Alabama Town, which is a collection of 50 restored 19th and 20th century structures that show how the early pioneers of central Alabama lived and worked.  This is an amazing attraction!

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Next was the Hank Williams Museum, where this small store-front museum displays original artifacts and memorabilia from the singer’s short life.  The centerpiece of the museum’s displays is Hank’s 1952 Baby Blue Cadillac convertible.  The car is surrounded by many of his guitars, costumes, and photos as visitors are serenaded by some of his famous songs.  Brings back a lot of memories for me. 

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

It wasn’t far to where I stopped to check out the Riverfront Park there in Montgomery.  As it turns out, this is a wonderful city owned and operated recreation compound that provides an amphitheater for musical and other events, a baseball stadium, a riverboat for rides on the Alabama River, and the restored Union Train Station shed.  This compound is a great place for locals as well as visitors to enjoy a day at the park. 

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I drove past the Capital Building on my way to visit The First White House of the Confederacy.  It is said that President Jefferson Davis and his family lived in this house during the time Mongomery was the capital of the Confederate States of America (1861).  The capital of the Confederacy was moved to Richmond, VA later that year.  The house was built in 1835 and moved to its present location in 1921, where it was restored for use as a museum, and has been furnished with many original mid-1800s period Jefferson family pieces.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Just down the street I ran across ‘The Alley’ and stopped to take a photo of that unusual entrance.  It appears that some creative folks have renovated the buildings on either side of this alley and now have all types of upscale boutiques, stores, restaurants, and bars for people to enjoy during their leisure time.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I wanted to visit the Hyundai manufacturing plant there in Montgomery but they had discontinued their tours because of Covid-19, so I headed east 40 miles on I-85 to visit the Tuskegee Airman National Historic Site located at the Morton Field in Tuskegee, AL.  This site honors the African American pilots who fought in the air for their country during WWII.  Morton Field was the home of the Tuskegee Airman Museum I visited on a previous road trip, but it has moved or closed, as I couldn’t find it at the field on this trip.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Continuing east 45 miles on I-85, across the border, I stopped to visit the National Civil War Naval Museum located in the Rotary Park area of Columbus, GA.  This large museum has the remains of two Civil War ships, the CSS Jackson Ironclad, built in 1864, and the USS Hartford, built in 1858, plus a large selection of scale model Civil War ships and ironclads.  The museum also displays a large variety of original Civil War uniforms, weapons, and a host of other artifacts, and memorabilia.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

By now it was time to find my motel there in Columbus.  I entered the motel address into Greta (my Garmin) and she took me right to the motel.  After getting checked in, I recorded my day’s activities.  Then I heated up my leftover St. Louis Spareribs and enjoyed them for the third time.  That’s what I call stretching a good thing as far as you can.

—–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

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 13

8 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 13 – 7/24/2021

After a good night’s sleep at Terry and Mary’s house, Terry insisted on taking me to breakfast at the local Cracker Barrel, there in Lester.  We talked about airplanes and my trip over breakfast, after which, we said our goodbyes.  Heading south 35 miles on SR-99/US-31, I passed thru Mt. Razell and Athens, where I visited the Old Decatur Depot located 

in Decatur, AL.  This small museum is situated in the restored 1905 Union Railway Passenger Depot and displays antique artifacts and memorabilia which tell the story of the rich railroad history of early Decatur and the surrounding Morgan County area.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I continued south 30 miles on US-31 to visit the Cullman Railroad Depot located in Cullman, AL.  This is another small railroad depot built in 1913 to replace the original 1870s depot there in Cullman.  The Depot was used until 1968 when passenger service was discontinued, and the building was renovated for the museum.  The museum displays railroad artifacts from the 1930s thru the 1960s.

Photo Credit:Bill Lites

I picked up I-65 out of Cullman and proceeded south 50 miles to visit the Southern Museum of Flight located in Birmingham, AL.  This large inside museum has 25+ beautifully restored aircraft displayed in two galleries dating from the Wright Brothers 1903 Flyer replica to the 1972 Rutan Variviggen.  The outside aircraft display of 20+ aircraft range from the 1948 Lockheed T-33 trainer to the 1968 Lockheed A-12 Blackbird.  I hate to see these wonderful examples of our country’s aviation history exposed to the elements like that.  Oh well, at least they are available for people to see, while they last.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I had several places to visit there in Birmingham, but I didn’t want to run out of time and miss the Barber Motorsports Museum, so I headed there next.  I had been to this museum once before on another road trip, but they rotate their exhibits from time to time and I knew their displays would be new.  This museum is housed in a modern 5-story building that shows off some 900 vintage motorcycles dating from 1903, and around 200, mostly Lotus, race cars.  Everything in this museum has been beautifully restored to running condition, and the tour guide I talked to said every one of the items could be running within an hour or so.   This museum was the highlight of this road trip!

After that great experience, I headed downtown to visit the Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark.  This site was closed, but their website informs me that the site serves as an interpretive museum for the steel industry and commemorates the pig-iron blast furnace plant that operated here in Birmingham from 1882 to 1971.  

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

It was just a few miles to where I stopped to check out the Golden Flake Factory.  This factory produces UTZ Potatoe Chips and several other snack foods.  I was hoping to get a tour of their facility, but they were closed.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Next, I headed toward Five Points South to visit the Vulcan Park & Museum where I wanted to get a photo of the 56-foot-tall statue of the Roman god Vulcan that overlooks the city.  I learned that it was designed in 1903 by Giuseppi Moretti, and was cast in 29 parts at Bethlehem Steel, for Birmingham’s entry at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis Missouri.  I must admit it is very impressive!

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed off to look for the motel there in Birmingham.  Greta (My Garmin) found the motel without any problems.  I got checked in and recorded the day’s activities. Then I warmed up my leftover St. Louis Spareribs dinner, from last night, and enjoyed that wonderful meal again.  WOW!  Was that ever good.  Amazingly, I still had enough left over for another meal.  Nothing like enjoying a meal three times, if you can.

—–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

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 12

1 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 12 – 7/23/2021

Leaving Knoxville this morning, I headed southeast 30 miles on I-40 and SR-66 to visit the Tennessee Museum of Aviation located at the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport in Sevierville, TN.  This museum has several beautifully restored WWII aircraft, in flying condition, and has other aviation artifacts and memorabilia, dating as far back as the Wright Brothers glider replica on display.  Flight demonstrations, put on by this museum’s aircraft, are a frequent occurrence, but that didn’t happen while I was there.  Bummer!

Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/TN.Museum.of.Aviation/

It was only a few miles to where I visited the Floyd Garrett Muscle Car Museum there in Sevierville.  This museum has 90+ perfectly restored muscle cars dating from the classic ’50s, ’60s, & ’70s and some of the more recent 2000s – 2010s.  To say this museum is filled with some of the most delicious looking ‘Eye Candy’ is an understatement.  That little tour took me back to my high school hot-rodding days.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

After that wonderful trip down ‘Memory Lane’ I headed southwest 25 miles on US-441 to visit the Cades Cove Museum located in Mayville, TN.  This small museum can be found in the restored 1790 Thompson- Brown log cabin adjacent to the Cades Cove Visitor’s Center.  The museum displays many family relics and family heirlooms from the generations who lived in this area prior to the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (1934).

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed 20 miles west on US-321, thru Ainwick & Friendsville to visit the Lenoir City Museum & Cotton Mill located in Lenoir City, TN.  The small museum relates the history of Lenoir City, and that of Major William B. Lenoir, who moved to North Carolina in 1810 and settled on land granted to his father.  The Mill was one of several mills built in 1821 by Lenoir to produce cotton yarns and battings.  It survived the Civil War and was converted to a flower mill in the late 1800s.  The mill continued to operate, producing flower until the 1950.  Only ruins of the mill remain, as it was burned by arsonists in 1991 and was not restored.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I headed southwest 30 miles on US-11 to visit the Sweetwater Depot located in Sweetwater, TN.  The restored 1852 Sweetwater railroad depot uses photographs and antique railroad artifacts, to tell the story of the development of the city of Sweetwater and the surrounding Monroe County area from the early 1800s.

Photo Credit:Bill Lites

It was another 35 miles southwest on US-411, thru Etowah, Delano, and Wetmore where I stopped to check out the Chilhowee Gliderport located in Benton, TN but there was nothing going on at the airfield.  So, I continued southwest about 10 miles to Ocoee, where I picked up I-75 and another 35 miles southwest to visit the Tennessee Valley RR Museum located in Chattanooga, TN.  This museum is situated in the reconstructed 1920s East Chattanooga Depot and displays restored steam locomotives and other rolling stock.  The museum has antique railroad artifacts dating from the early 1800s and offers daily short excursions, and other special offerings, on their restored 1950s era steam-driven trains.

Photo Credit: http://have-kids-will-travel.com/index.php/2018/11/01/tennessee-valley-railroad-museum-

Now I headed northwest 80 miles on I-24, across the Tennessee River, to visit Beechcraft Heritage Museum located adjacent to the Tullahoma Regional Airport in Tullahoma, TN.  This Museum displays 35+ beautifully restored civilian aircraft, including the very first 1924 Beechcraft Travel Air ‘Mystery Ship’ and many others in the Walter Beech Hanger.  My favorite is their 1932 Beechcraft Staggerwing.

Photo Credit:Bill Lites

After that thrilling tour thru aviation history, I headed southwest 75 miles on US-64 to visit my friends Terry and Mary, who have a beautiful home in the boonies, just across the border, near Lester, AL.  Greta (my Garmin) took me on a few back roads to get me there, but I finally made it to their house.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Terry told me I was just in time to go with him to Jim ’N & Nick’s BBQ for dinner.  I ordered their St. Louis Spare Ribs plate with baked beans, cold slaw, and a cornbread muffin.  That was a great meal!  And, I had enough left over for tomorrow night’s dinner.  It was dark by the time we got back to their house, and we spent the rest of that evening reminiscing about old times, when our kids were growing up together in Titusville, FL.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

—–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

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 11

24 Nov

A Slice of Life

Bill LItes

Day 11 – 7/22/2021

Leaving Lexington this morning, I headed south 40 miles on I-75 to visit The Cabin of Old Town Artisan Gallery located in Berea, KY.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but when I arrived at the site, I discovered it was not just one restored 1813 cabin, but an entire cul-de-sac of shops displaying various types of home-made crafts.  One of the buildings looked like it could have been the old Berea Railway Station. 

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Continuing south another 15 miles on I-75 I visited the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame Museum located in Mt. Vernon, KY.  This museum is situated in the former Renfro Valley Riding Stables and was created to recognize those Kentucky artists who have made a significant contribution to the music industry.  To date more than 50 inductees of all genres have been added to the museum’s list.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I continued south 35 miles on I-75 to visit the Harland Sanders (KFC) Café & Museum located in Corbin, KY.  This is the home of the original 1940 Harland Sanders café where Sanders developed his famous Kentucky Fried Chicken receipt.  The café was expanded with a motel in 1940 and the café and motel operated there until 1956 when the Colonel started selling KFC franchises.  The café operated as a KFC franchise until 1988 when it was closed, remodeled, and reopened in 1990 as the Harland Sanders Museum.  What an American dream story!

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I picked up I-75 again and headed south 15 miles to visit the Cumberland Inn & Museum located in Williamsburg, KY.  This museum is owned and operated by the University of the Cumberlands and has many displays and artifacts including the Henkelmann Life Science Collection of specimens from around the world.  

Photo Credit: https://www.familyvacationcritic.com/cumberland-inn-and-museum/htl/

I headed south another 55 miles on I-75, across the border, to visit the Museum of Appalachia located in Clinton, TN.  This is a living history museum and Pioneer Village that has a collection of 30+ early 19th century buildings that have been restored and situated on 65 acres of pastureland, to represent early pioneer life to visitors.  The museum also hosts annual performers of traditional Appalachian music and art festivals.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I continued 25 miles south on I-75, diverting a few miles toward Powell to check out the Airplane Gas Station located in northwest Knoxville, TN.  This unusual station was originally created by Elmer & Henry Nickle in 1930 to attract the attention of US-25 travelers.  The brothers operated the station until sometime in the 1960s, when it sold and became a liquor store.  Over the years since then the airplane building has been used as a produce stand, a bait & tackle shop, and even a used car lot.  It is currently a barber ship.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Before heading to downtown Knoxville, I drove a few miles east to check out Riffey’s Hot Rod Restorations located in the Northridge Estates area.  This small shop has been in business in the Knoxville area for 27 years and Larry and his crew specialize in custom auto restorations of all types.  Their amazing work has been recognized in many national car magazines over the years.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

It was about 10 miles into downtown Knoxville to where I visited the James White Fort located on the banks of the Tennessee River.  Built in 1786 by James White, who is considered the founder of Knoxville, the fort was actually built to keep wild animals away from his cabin, as White was friendly with the local Cherokee Indians and negotiated several treaties between them and new settlers to the area.  White’s many descendants played prominent economic and political roles in the development of Knoxville for more than a century after his death in 1821.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

While I was in the downtown Knoxville area, I stopped by the Southern Railway (Old Smoky Railway) Museum to see what they had to offer.  This museum located in the 1903 Southern Railway Depot has restored mid-twentieth century steam locomotives and other rolling stock for visitors to walk thru.  The museum also has artifacts and memorabilia related to the railroad’s influence on Knoxville and the surrounding Knox County area during the early 1900s.

Now it was time to find my motel, there in Knoxville.  Greta (My Garmin) took me right to my West Knoxville motel, where I got checked in and recorded my days activities.  Then I warmed up my leftover Cracker Barrel Sweet & Smoky Glazed Chicken Tenders and enjoyed that great meal again.  Yuuuum!

—–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

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 10

17 Nov

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 10 – 7/21/2021

Leaving Charleston, WV this morning I headed west 15 miles on US-60, along the Kanawha River, to visit the C&O Depot Museum located in St. Albans, WV.  This small museum is housed in the 1906 Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Depot, and displays rare railroad exhibits and artifacts related to the influence the railroad had on the city of St. Albans and the surrounding Kanawha County area, from the early 1900s until 1963 when railroad service to the depot was discontinued.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now it was only a few miles west on SR-25, across the Kanawha River, where I visited the Nitro War Museum located in Nitro, WV.  I learned a very interesting story at this museum.  The building that houses the museum was the focus of a 1917 U.S. Government project to build “Explosives Plant C” and a town for 24,000 to support its operations.  From 1917 to 1919, the plant manufactured 350 tons of gunpowder per day until the end of WWI.  Nitro is short for “Nitrocellulose.”

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I took SR-25 north out of Nitro to pickup I-64 and headed 20 miles west, across the Kanawha River again, to visit the Blenko Glass Company located in Milton, WV.  The Company is known for its artistic hand-blown glass among other types of colorful glassware products.   The story goes that William J. Blenko (1853-1933) emigrated to America in 1893 to start a stained-glass business.  However, after three failed attempts he formed the Blenko Glass Company which has grown over the years to an internationally known and respected company.  It is said that even the White House has a collection of Blenko tableware (circa 1930s) which is used periodically.  

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I continued west 20 miles on I-64 to visit the Huntington Railroad Museum located in Huntington, WV.  This museum is situated in the Ritter Park Area and displays Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Railroad artifacts and memorabilia, including one of the last Class 1 steam locomotives (#1308) built in 1949. The museum also has other restored rolling stock that was used mainly by the coal industry, some of which date from the early 1800s, until retired in 1956.

Photo Credit: https://visithuntingtonwv.org/company/railroad-museum

I jumped back on I-64 and drove approximately 65 miles west, across the Big Sandy River (Border), to visit the Rowan County Veterans Museum in the Freedom Park area of Morehead, KY.  This small museum displays military artifacts honoring the men and women who have served in all five branches of U.S. military services dating from WWI to the present.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Continuing west another 45 miles on I-64, I stopped to visit the Bluegrass Heritage Museum located in Winchester, KY but they were closed.  However, their website informs me that the museum is housed in the former home of Dr. John Ishmael, built in 1895, which displays exhibits and artifacts and the history of the Bluegrass area (not music) from the early Eskippakithikl (‘blue licks place’) Indian settlements (circa early 1700s), thru the Civil War era, and to the present.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

It was another 25 miles west on US-60, around the city of Lexington, to where I visited the Aviation Museum of Kentucky located adjacent to the Bluegrass Airport in Lexington, KY.  This museum displays several restored aircraft dating from 1908, aircraft engines, as well as other aviation artifacts.  The museum also has a restoration and repair shop and is the home of the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now it was time to find my motel there in Lexington and get something to eat.  On my way to the motel, I noticed a Cracker Barrel restaurant and decided to stop for dinner.  Their special was a new item called Sweet & Smoky Glazed Chicken Tenders, served with green beans and fries.  I was impressed, and I’ll be trying that meal again soon.

Photo Credit: https://togo.crackerbarrel.com

With a full tummy, Greta (my Garmin) found the motel for me, where I got checked in, recorded my day’s activities, and proceeded to try to  watch some TV.  Of course, there was nothing worth watching, so I just went to bed in hopes of getting a good night’s sleep.

—–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

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 9B

10 Nov

A Slice of Life

Onisha Ellis

Day 9 – 7/20/2021 (Continued)

Across the street from the main entrance to the WV Penitentiary, there in Moundsville, is the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex, which houses the Delf Norona Museum and is a research center for the Moundsville Adena Burial mound.  This museum displays artifacts related to the history, research, and excavations of the largest Adena burial mound in the area.  This 69-foot high, 295-foot diameter mound is thought to have been constructed in successive stages by the Adena people between 250 BC and 150 BC.

Photo Credit:Bill Lites

The next 65 miles south on US-250 from Moundsville to where I finally picked up I-79 were some of the most beautiful, but adventuresome, stretches of highway I had been on so far during this trip.  It was mile after mile after mile of two-lane highway that wound its way up one side of the mountains and then wound its way down the other side.  I was worn out by the time I arrived at the West Virginia Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) Camp Museum located in Mount Clare, WV.  This museum displays artifacts and exhibits relating the history and effectiveness of the West Virginia CCC camp (just one of 1600, that employed over 3-million men nation-wide) and operated from 1933 to 1942. 

Photo Credit:Bill Lites

Now it was 20 miles south on I-79 to visit the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (TALA) located in Weston, WV.  The Weston State Hospital was originally authorized as a Kirkbride psychiatric hospital in the 1850s.  However, the need for more room initiated the building of a larger facility, and TALA was built and opened in 1858.  This facility operated until it was closed in 1994 due to patient over-crowding and changes to their patient treatments.  Just try to imagine some of the mental health techniques used on patients in the Mid-1800s.  Very scary!

Photo Credit:Bill Lites

Now I headed southwest 95 miles on I-79 to visit the Craik-Patton House located in Charleston, WV.  This federalist period Greek Revival house was built by James Craik for his wife Juliet in 1834.  They occupied the house until 1858, when Colonel George S. Patton Sr.  purchased it.  Patton lived in the house until his death of wounds suffered during the Civil War in 1864.  The house was moved to its present location in the Danial Boone Park, overlooking the Kanswha River, in 1973 where it was restored to its early 1800s representation.

On the same property there in the Danial Boone Park area, I saw this old log cabin and stopped to check it out.   It turned out to be the Ruffner Log House, built by Joseph Ruffner for his family in 1803 

(‘Rosedale’) and is said to be one of the oldest houses in Kanawha County.  The house survived the Civil War and Ruffner families lived in the house until the last Ruffner descendant died in the late 1960s. The Ruffner house was moved to its current location and refurbished for use as a museum in 1975.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now it was time to find my motel, there in Charleston.  Once I found the motel and got checked in, I brought my stuff in from the van and had a shower.  Then I warmed up my leftover Steamers Baked Penne & Sausage and enjoyed that meal again.  Boy, was that good!  I recorded my days activities, of this long day, and was soon asleep.

—–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

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