Archive | Bill Lites A Slice of Life- Wednesday RSS feed for this section

America’s North Country Trip~Part 9

15 Nov

A Slice of Life
Bill Lites

Bill

 

Day 9 (Saturday)

This morning I had to do a little back tracking, as I headed south out of Missoula on I-90, back thru Butte, to pick up I-15 south toward Idaho Falls. The first stop was to visit the Beaverhead County Museum located in Dillon, MT. This was a small but very well kept museum situated in the Old Pacific Railroad train station. The station has been restored and now contains the Old Depot Museum, with local artifacts and memorabilia, the Old Depot Theater, and the Lewis & Clark Diorama Bird Display. Outside there was a restored one-room schoolhouse, a restored 1885 one-room log cabin and an early 1900’s Shepard’s wagon.

 

 

Now as I was leaving town, I happened to pass a curio shop with the sign that read “Bitterroot Trading Post” and I just had to stop and take a photo. For some reason, that sign just yelled out loud at me, “Come See the Pioneer West Here.”

 

 

At the suggestion of the tour guide at the Old Depot Museum, and just a few miles down the road, I visited the Bannack State Park located in Beaverhead County on Grasshopper Creek. The town of Bannack was founded in 1862 after a major gold strike was made in the area, and got its name from the local Bannock Indians. The town of Bannack grew so big that it served as the capital of the Montana Territory until the capital was moved to Virginia City. After the gold ran out and the last inhabitants left, the abandoned town, and its 60 buildings continued to decline, over the years, from wind and weather until finally becoming the ghost town that it is today.

 

 

As I continued south on I-15 I stopped at a rest stop to check out a sign for the Nez Perce War. As it turned out, the Nez Perce War was between the Nez Perce tribe and their allies the Palouse tribe and the U.S. Army in 1877. This conflict was motivated when the Indians (called “non-treaty Indians) refused to move to the Idaho Indian reservation. In fact it was a violation to the 1855 Treaty of Walla Walla for the Army to force the Indians to leave their established ancestral lands. The Indians resisted, and the Army chased some of them all the way to Canada.

 

 

Next I visited the Pacific Fighter Restorations, located at the Idaho Falls Regional Airport in Idaho Falls, ID. This was a one-hanger warbird restoration facility that had several WWII aircraft in various stages of restoration. The folks were very friendly and allowed me to walk thru their shop and take photos of their various projects, while they watched the airshow going on from their hanger door.

 

 

During the planning of this trip, I had researched 2017 airshows to be held in the U.S. and discovered there was one in Idaho Fall on the weekend of July 22-23 at this airport. That worked into my scheduled route, and I had purchased an online advanced ticket for the 23. While I was at the airport today, I checked out the parking area with Greta so I could drive right to it in the morning.

 

 

Now I headed south on I-15 for a quick trip to visit the Idaho Potato Museum located in Blackfoot, ID. This museum is located in what was the original Union Pacific Railroad train depot there in Blackfoot, and displays all sorts of potato industry related artifacts and memorabilia. I found the “Timeline History” of potatoe consumption in the U.S. very informative, as well as the 1600 year old Peruvian-made vessels that are believed to be the first ever containers used to store potatoes.

 

 

As part of the museum, they have a small “Potatoe Station Café” where you can get potato-themed foods of all kinds. I’m sure DiVoran would have liked their chocolate dipped potatoe chips. And then of course there is the Spud Seller” gift shop. They had a series of catchy video advertisements that I thought were very creative. Try the link below to see what I mean.

 

 

Now it was time to head back to Idaho Falls to find my motel and look for a place to have dinner. On the way, I stopped in Shelley, ID to see if anyone was flying model airplanes at the Red Baron R/C Modelers field. Greta had a hard time finding the field since it was located within the North Bingham County Recreation Area. The club has a nice field, but no one was flying this afternoon.

At tonight’s motel, there in Idaho Falls, I ask the desk clerk if she could recommend a good restaurant. She said she liked Jalisco’s Mexican Restaurant located not far from the motel. That sounded good to me, so I gave Greta the address and we were on our way. I tried their “Casa Ranchero” and it was wonderful. Of course there was way too much for me to eat at one sitting, so I would have plenty left to enjoy again tomorrow night.

 

—–To Be Continued—–

America’s North Country Trip~Part 8

8 Nov

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

 

Day 8 (Friday)

 

After a short drive west on I-90 this morning, I visited the World Museum of Mining located on the outskirts of Butte, MT. This museum is located on a 22-acre site of what is an inactive silver & zinc mine named the Orphan Girl. As part of the museum, there is a 37- building reconstruction of a typical mining town called “Hell Roarin’ Gulch” which displays thousands of articles common to the miner’s way of life in the early 1890’s. I didn’t try to walk on the cobble-stoned streets, and stuck to the boardwalks on either side of the street.

 

 

I-90 makes a swing northwest, thru the mountains as I headed to visit the Old Montana Prison located in Deer Lodge, MT. I discovered that the Powell County Museum & Arts Foundation (PCMAF) operates what they describe as a museum complex, with several museums within a three block area. This included five of the museums I had on my list to visit there in Deer Lodge. I started with the Old Prison Museum. This is a massive prison complex, said to have been built using prison labor. This early 1800’s Montana Territory prison is now being maintained by the PCMAF but is not restored. As a result, there are only certain parts of the prison that can be toured.

 

 

Since one ticket gets you into all of the Museum Complex museums, I now walked next door to the Montana Auto Museum. This museum consists of over 150 beautifully restored automobiles dating back to 1903. It’s hard for me to walk thru an auto museum like this and not want to stop and take a photo of each and every auto, as well as read all about them.

 

 

Across the street I started with the Powell County Museum which consisted of local early Montana artifacts and memorabilia. Another store next door included handmade items (mostly leather goods) that inmates have made at the Montana State Prison and are brought here for sale.

 

 

The Cottonwood City park was a collection of restored early 1850’s Montana prairie structures including a church, a one-room schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop and a gazebo.

 

 

Next door was the Frontier Montana Museum which consisted of mostly pioneer and early Montana artifacts and memorabilia, including a covered wagon and a sheriff’s office and jail cell, and the Capa’s Cowboy Collection. This building also housed the WWII Exhibit which included U.S. Army and USAAC artifacts, and memorabilia. I was surprised to see a display for the memory of Bud Anderson, a B-24 pilot during WWII. I knew of a Bud Anderson who was a P-51 fighter ace during WWII, so couldn’t correlate the names with the planes they flew.

 

 

Now it was back onto I-90, heading west to visit the Smokejumpers Visitor Center located in Missoula, MT. This was a very informative facility, located adjacent to the Missoula International Airport. I was informed that Missoula is home to the largest smokejumper base in the U.S. The Visitor Center also has a smoke jumpers loft that allows visitors an opportunity to learn about firefighting procedures, smoke jumping history, and other fire related issues.

 

 

At the other end of the Missoula International Airport I visited the Museum of Mountain Flying. This museum turned out to be situated in a one large hanger with several beautifully restored aircraft, including the original DC-3 used to drop the Mann Gulch smokejumpers in August 1949. Unfortunately 13 jumpers were overcome and died in that fire. The museum also displays artifacts and memorabilia related to the Rocky Mountain flying history.

 

Now I went looking for the Boone & Crockett Club located on the Clark Fork River there in Missoula. Here again Greta had a hard time locating the address. She would tell me I had arrived at the requested address, when actually the building was below that location on the riverbank. This turned out to be a private club, founded by Theodore Roosevelt and other visionaries in 1887. The idea behind the club was basically wildlife conservation for future generations. Since I was not a member, and wasn’t a guest of anyone, I wasn’t invited in. That was just as well, since it was time to head for my motel there in Missoula for the evening.

 

 

 

As luck would have it, on the way to the motel, I came across a Fuddruckers’s Restaurant (one of my favorites) and stopped in to experience one of their “Elk Burgers” for the first time. No. it didn’t taste like chicken. It tasted like venison, in case any of you has ever eaten venison.   As usual, it was delicious, and I went to the motel with a full and happy tummy.

 

 

—–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 3

20 Sep

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

 

 

Day 3 (Sunday)

 

This morning I headed north on I-29 and west SR-34 to visit the Historic Prairie Village located in Madison, SD. This is a reconstruction of a turn-of-the-century South Dakota village, with some 40 antique-filled buildings, located on 120 acres. The buildings were rescued from the surrounding area and maintained as museum pieces. The village was too spread-out for me to walk around the whole area so I asked the lady, where I bought my ticket, if I could drive slowly thru the area and take photos. She agreed, and that allowed me to see the entire village from the comfort of my car.

 

 

Now I continued north on US-81, across the border, to visit Bonanzaville USA, sponsored by the Cass County Historical Society and located in West Fargo, ND. This museum consists of some 47 buildings moved from the surrounding area and placed to form a frontier town. Situated on 12 acres, the homes and buildings are furnished with period items. I was overwhelmed by literally hundreds of thousands of artifacts that make up the museum’s collection. There are displays of antique horse-drawn vehicles, firefighting vehicles, medical and dental equipment, law enforcement items, a telephone exchange and a small newspaper office. There are also buildings filled with antique aircraft and automobiles.

 

 

Several years ago I watched the movie “Fargo” and was not prepared for the difference between what I saw in that movie and what I experienced of Fargo today. The movie was filmed in the winter with snow everywhere and people bundled up in heavy clothes. Today in Fargo the temperature was 94 degrees (it felt like 104) and I was looking for places to cool off. The air conditioned portion of the Bonanzaville Museum wasn’t cool enough in my opinion, and most of the “Frontier Town” was outside and open to the hot air of the day.

 

 

On today’s segment of this trip I had traveled a lot of miles (275+), and was looking forward to visiting the Fargo Air Museum to cool off. However, Greta

(my Garmin) was having issues with locating the address, and by the time I finally found the museum it was closed. So I headed for the motel there in town, where I knew I could get a shower and crank down the A/C. After cooling down, I went looking for a place to eat dinner. I finally found a Denny’s restaurant where I enjoyed one of their delicious Ground Turkey Meatloaf dinners, which came with green beans, potatoes & gravy and a home-made biscuit with honey for dessert.

 

 

—–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—–

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

America’s North Country~Trip Part 1

6 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

Prolog:

 

Growing up in the Southwest (New Mexico), I have always been interested in the development of the western United States. I have visited all of the southwestern states many times, but have never ventured north. I had always wanted to visit the Western Plaines states or America’s North Country/ (as I call them), so I decided to take this opportunity to checkout this part of our beautiful country. During my research for this trip I quickly discovered that this area of our country is still pretty much wide-open and the trip was going to be much different from many of my recent trips. Whereas, I was accustomed to having multiple airplane, auto, railroad and maritime museums to choose from, I now found very few of these type museums. What seemed most prevalent in these states (Nebraska, North & South Dakota, Montana, Idaho & Wyoming) were Frontier type museums. This consisted of Historic Site & Town restorations, Pioneer Villages, Lewis & Clark Historic Sites, Territorial Prisons and Dinosaur museums. There would be a few airplane, car and railroad museums scattered along the way, but very few. What did I expect?

 

 

Day 1 (Friday)

The only city in any of the six states I was going to visit, into which I could get a non-stop flight on Southwest Airlines, was Omaha, NE. I was amazed to find the curbside check-in stand at the Orlando Airport with less than a dozen people in line to check their bags. The security check line was also minimal, and I was at the gate before I knew it.

 

 

My 2-hour, 10-minute Southwest non-stop flight from Orlando to Omaha, NE was smooth and comfortable. The Honey-Roasted peanuts were fresh and went well with two glasses of apple juice. I had brought along a couple of Roasted Almond Crunch bars to supplement the peanuts, so was not too hungry by the time we landed in Omaha.

 

 

At the rental car desk, the agent asked me where I would be traveling to, and I just picked Fargo, ND off the top of my head. I was informed that the rate I had been quoted by my travel agent would not allow me to take the car out of any state that did not border Nebraska. What kind of scam was this? What could I do? The agent said she could give me a “Commercial Rate” which would allow me to travel in any state I wished, for only $250 more! I said, “No Thanks” and went to another rental car desk. There I was able to rent a top-of-the-line car that I could travel anywhere in, for only about $40 more than my originally quoted price. That car had more “Bells & Whistles” than I knew what to do with.

 

 

With that task finally settled, and since I had gained an hour during my flight, I still had some time left to visit a few museums before they closed for the day. I headed across the Missouri River to visit my first museum. It was only about 3½ miles to the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs, IA. This museum, located in the old, beautifully restored, Council Bluffs Carnegie Library, has several exhibits covering the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad in the years after the Pacific Railway Act was signed into law by Abraham Lincoln in 1862, and the ultimate growth of the Union Pacific Railroad system.

 

 

I had chosen to go to the Union Pacific Railroad Museum first because it closed early, so now I headed back across the Missouri River, to visit the Lewis & Clark Historic Trail Headquarters in Omaha, NE. I found it very interesting that this area, on the west bank of the Missouri River, was originally obtained by the U.S. Government in 1854 from the U-mo’n-Ho’n (Omaha Indians) or “upriver people.” I really had never related the word “Omaha” with an Indian tribe before. Doesn’t say much for my American History knowledge does it?

 

 

History seems to suggest that the wandering Omaha Indians established their first permanent village west of the Missouri River around 1734. I was impressed to learn that the Lewis & Clark Expedition Trail extends over 3700 miles, thru 11 states, from the St. Lewis area to Fort Clatsop in Oregon Country on the Pacific coast. As part of the Historic Trail, it is said that the Lewis & Clark Expedition traveled, camped, hunted and fished around this area. They also met and traded with the Omaha Indians, and held council with many of the Indian Chiefs in the middle Missouri River area. My travels on this trip would follow much of the northwestern portion of the original historic Lewis & Clark Expedition of 1804-1806.

 

 

Next it was just a short drive to where I visited the Durham Museum located in downtown Omaha. This museum is housed in the beautifully restored former Union Pacific Railway station, and has several displays depicting the early days of the Union Pacific Railway system during the growth of the city of Omaha. The museum also has a nice selection of restored rolling stock outside.

 

 

Next I visited the Omaha Memorial Park, located another few miles west of the Missouri River. This memorial park was dedicated in 1958 to honor all of the men and women from Douglas County, Nebraska who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

 

 

Then I drove a couple more miles to visit the Lewis & Clark Landing, located on the west bank of the Missouri River, also near downtown Omaha. The landing represents the original 1804 landing site, in the Omaha area, of the Lewis & Clark Expedition as they explored some of the vast lands (828,000 sq. miles) which made up part of the Louisiana Purchase for the U.S. Government.

 

 

As an interesting side note, there was a “labor” sculpture adjacent to the landing to honor the many men who had been a part of the lead refining industry that operated in this area, by one name or another, from 1871 to 1997.

Note: See the man with the hammer raised over his head in the photo below? When I Googled this sculpture, I came across a photo of this same sculpture during the Great Flood of 2011, showing the water level so high that only his hand and the hammer were above the water, when the Missouri River crested between 30-35 feet above normal.

 

 

Another interesting area in downtown Omaha was the Pioneer Courage Park. This park represents the many struggles and hardships the early pioneers faces on their trip west thru this area. The picture of these stalwart pioneers is beautifully rendered in several bronze action sculptures, one of which is shown below.

 

 

On my way to visit the CAF Museum in Council Bluffs, IA I happened to spot sign for the River City Star. I stopped to see what it was all about and discovered that the “Star” is a passenger excursion riverboat that sails on the Missouri River and is docked at the Miller’s Landing & Yacht Club. The Yacht Club was closed, but a group had chartered the “Star” for a party and people were going aboard.

 

 

Since I was not invited to the party, I headed back across the Missouri River to check out the CAF Museum located at the Council Bluffs Municipal Airport. Unfortunately the museum was closed by the time I got there, so I just headed for my motel located there in Council Bluffs. However, before I got to the motel, I spotted a KFC restaurant and decided to have dinner with the Colonel. Yummm! I do like his chicken. The 3-piece chicken dinner came with green beans, mashed potatoes & gravy and one of their homemade biscuits with butter and honey for dessert. I had a very happy tummy after that delicious meal.

 

 

 

 

—– 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—–

 

%d bloggers like this: