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2022 Road Trip-Part 10A

23 Nov

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 10 (5/25/2022)

This morning after breakfast, I headed east 15 miles on and I-55 to see what The Largest Catsup Bottle, located in Collinsville, IL was all about.  It turns out it is this huge 170-foot-high Collinsville water tower (100,000 gallons).  Built in 1949, in the shape of a catsup bottle, it has the name ‘Brooks’ painted on it, to honor the Brooks Catsup Company, that was in business there from 1907s to 1959, when the company merged with the P. J. Ritter Co.  The Suppiger Bottling Company moved its operations to Illinois in the early 1960s, and their name also appears on the water tower. Collinsville is also the self-proclaimed Horseradish Capital of the World, and hosts the annual Horseradish Festival held there in the city.

Note: Collinsville, IL was originally founded in 1837 as Unionville, IL. 

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now it was northeast 45 miles on I-55 to visit the Litchfield Museum located in downtown Litchfield, IL.  This small museum is the Official Route 66 museum in the area, as Old US-66 ran thru Litchfield, but was bypassed by I-55.  The museum has a large displays of early Route 66 artifacts, memorabilia, and curios.  The curator and I had a nice time remembering the Route 66 days of our youth.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

North 40 miles on I-55 I visited the Chatham Railroad Museum located just off Main Street in Chatham, IL.  This small museum is situated in the old restored 1902 C A & M station, that replaced the original 1852 C & M Railway Depot, and displays local railroad artifacts, memorabilia and photos associated with the railroad’s influence on the growth of the city of Chatham and the surrounding Sangamon County area from the mid-1800s.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now it was only another 10 miles northeast on SR-3 to where I visited the Air Combat Museum located at the Lincoln Capital Airport outside Springfield, IL.  This museum consists of the private collection of Mick George and has 18 beautifully restored aircraft, most of which are in flying condition.  Their latest project is the restoration of a WWII P-40N Warhawk, which is being restored to flying condition.  The crew were very friendly, showing me around their restoration hanger, and I invited them to visit our Valiant Air Command Museum in Titusville the next time they were in our area.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Next it was only a couple of miles over to visit the Lincoln Memorial Tomb Site located within the 180-acre Oak Ridge Cemetery there in Springfield.  Wikipedia tells me that the National Lincoln Monument Association was formed by citizens of Springfield on April 15, 1865 (the day Lincoln died) and has maintained Lincoln’s tomb ever since.  It is a magnificent mausoleum to our 16th President.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

After touring the rest of the beautiful Oak Ridge Cemetery, I headed east another 30 miles on I-55 to visit the Postville Courthouse Historic Site located in Lincoln, IL.  This is the site of the 1839 Postville Courthouse that served Logan County until 1848.  As a member of the Traveling Bar of the 8th Illinois Judicial Circuit, young lawyer, Abraham Lincoln, attended court here twice each year until the county seat was moved to Mount Pulaski, IL in 1848.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 65 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

2022 Road Trip Part 9B

16 Nov

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 9 Continued (5/24/2022)

Next on the list was The National Museum of Transportation located in the Twin Oaks area of St. Louis.  This museum is laid out over a huge 42-acre rolling hills park that could really be called a four-museums-in-one arrangement.  There is the Lobby Area with its antique streetcars, the Miniature Train Station, the Automobile Collection, the Train Yard, and the Roberts Pavilion.  This museum has gone a long way to protect and interoperate North American’s Transportation Heritage.  There is something for everyone, including a miniature train ride around the park perimeter.  A family could easily spend a whole day here, and sill not see everything.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

In the main lobby area, I was impressed with the 1870s Bellefontaine Railway ‘mule car’ and the 1880s Boston & Providence Railroad coach.  There was also a selection of framed model history scenes depicting the evolution of transportation in America, as well as the McDonnell Tribute Exhibit.  For the antique car collector, there was a 1924 Ford Model ‘T’ there in the lobby being showcased as a give-a-way (Sweepstakes).  A real prize for someone!

Photo credit: Bill Lites

Within walking distance of the lobby, I checked out The Carl G. Lindburg Automobile Center, which displays some 60+ beautifully restored cars and trucks dating from the early 1900s.  Two of the most unusual cars in this collection are Bobby Darin’s Dream Car (Designed and built by fashion designer Andy Di Dia) and a 1963 Chrysler Turbine Car (only 55 produced).  And yes, Jay Leno has one that runs (#34) that he bought from Chrysler.

Photo credit: Bill Lites        Bobby Darin’s Dream Car

Photo credit: Bill Lites        1963 Chrysler Turbine Car

A little farther up the hill was the museum’s huge historic Train Yard.  This collection of 45+ pieces of restored rolling stock, includes the 1939 General Pershing Zephyr streamlined ‘Silver Challenger’ and the Union Pacific #4006 ‘Big Boy’ steam locomotive, considered to be the world’s largest (successful) steam locomotive

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

As I was walking back down to my van, I passed the Miniature Train Station, filled with excited young passengers waiting for their turn to ride in the museum’s Miniature Train. The train travels around the perimeter of the park and gives visitors an opportunity to see where all the exhibits are located.  Everyone loves that train ride!  This is truly a family attraction.

Photo credit: https://www.ksnt.com/news/miniture-park-train/

After that informative visit, I headed over to visit the James S. McDonnell Prologue Room located in the Boeing/St. Louis Headquarters building adjacent to the St. Louis Lambert International Airport.  This prologue room displays full-size Mercury and Gemini capsules as well as hundreds of models, dioramas, photographs, and videos that tell the story of the milestone events that the original McDonnell Aircraft Company was instrumental in, that helped shape America’s early manned space programs.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now it was time to get something to eat and head back to the motel for the night.  I stopped at an Applebee’s in the St. Johns area for a plate of their Rib-Lets with French fries and coleslaw.  I had enough left over to enjoy that delicious meal again tomorrow night.  Greta (My Garmin) acted like she knew the way to the motel, having been there before,

and took me right to it.  I recorded today’s adventures and went to bed.  I didn’t even turn on the TV.  I was a tired puppy.

Photo Credit: https://yahoo.com/applebees+riblets+plate

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 65 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

2022 Road Trip-Part 9A

9 Nov

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 9 (5/24/2022)

I was up early this morning, had breakfast, and headed for downtown St. Louis to visit The Gateway Arch and Museum.  I wanted to get there early to find the right parking garage which I had not been able to locate yesterday.  As luck would have it, I found it on the first pass and even with the three-block walk, still arrived at the Arch before the doors opened.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

The prelude talk before the ride to the top was long and took us from one level to the next, but we finally arrived at the trams.  The 6-minute ride to the top of The Arch was knee-to-knee crowded in the tram, but when we got there, the view was worth the ride.  The windows were small, but the view (30 miles in any direction on a clear day) was spectacular!  I was amazed to feel the floor under my feet move slightly at one point.  We were only allowed about ten minutes at the top before we were herded back into the trams for the 4-minute trip back down.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

As we exited the trams, we were guided onto the museum floor and the exits.  The museum is a very impressive layout.  There are six-themed exhibit areas that chronicle 201 years of American Western Expansion history as was witnessed by the St. Louis area from 1764 to 1965.   The displays are informative and explain each of the six periods in detail, with hands-on items for the younger visitors.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

After completing that ‘Bucket List’ adventure, I walked over to check out the Basilica of St. Louis, King of France church (known as the Old Cathedral).  This cathedral’s roots date back to 1764, when St. Louis founders Pierre Laclede and Auguste Chouteau dedicated land (church block) to the people of St. Louis for religious purposes. The log cabin built on that site was the first church west of the Mississippi River and the first church in St. Louis.  This 1831 Cathedral (renovated over the years) is the fourth structure to be built on this site and tells the story of the early history of St. Louis.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed off to explore some of the other museums on my list there in the St. Louis area.  First on the list was the Jefferson Barracks POW & MIA Museum located in the 405-acre Jefferson Barracks Park which was founded in 1828 as part of the Jefferson Barracks Military Post.  This museum is housed in the old restored 1905 Post Exchange building and is designed to honor those men and women who did not return from the war they fought, with personal and military artifacts and memorabilia.   

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Before leaving the Jefferson Barracks Park, I visited the Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum which is situated in an original restored 1896 building.  This building was originally designed as a two-family duplex, and was part of in the ‘Officers Row’ housing section, within the U.S. Army Jefferson Barracks base.  The museum features an extensive collection of telephones, and telephone related equipment dating from the late 1800s to 2012. 

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Next, I drove out to the Creve Coeur Airport, not far from the Missouri River, to visit the Historic Aircraft Restoration Museum.  As I was pulling into the airport complex, I saw a sign for the Army Aviation Heritage Flying Museum which I didn’t know was also located in this complex.  I looked for their museum all over the complex, but couldn’t see any other indications as to where their museum was.  So, I tried the Restoration Museum.  This museum was closed, and I was really disappointed to miss a chance to see their collection of beautifully restored ‘Golden Age of Flight’ aircraft.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 65 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

 2022 Road Trip Part 8B

2 Nov

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

Day 8 Continued (5/23/2022)

After that quick ‘Trip to the Past’ I left Paduca and headed back north 50 miles on SR-13 to visit the Gateway Classic Cars collection located in O’Fallon, IL.  This is a fabulous collection of beautifully restored cars, ranging from the 1930s Hot Rods to the present-day Muscle Cars.  I never get tired of drooling over the finished product of someone’s ‘Dream Car.’  I’ve been there and know how hard it is to sell that car you have put your heart and soul into restoring. 

Photo Credit; Bill Lites

Now it was only about 15 miles west on I-24 to where I had planned to visit the old 1831 Campbell House Museum located in the Lucas Place neighborhood in St. Louis, MO but they were closed by the time I got there.   Just a few blocks away I stopped to see if the Soldiers Memorial Military Museum was open.  They weren’t, so it wasn’t far to where I checked out the Moto Motorcycle Museum.  This museum is the private collection of famous architect, Steve Smith, and displays mostly motorcycles made before 1975, and mainly from European countries.  It is a beautiful collection of motorcycles with names not commonly heard of in the United States.

Photo Credit; Bill Lites

On the same block I noticed the International Photography Hall of Fame & Museum, and stopped to take a photo.  They were closed also, so I headed a few blocks to check out the Laclede’s Landing Wax Museum located not far from the Gateway Arch, adjacent to the Mississippi River.  This museum has five levels and displays over 250 wax figures of some of the most famous persons in history, including movie stars, presidents, world leaders, religious leaders, and inventers just to name a few of the categories of wax figures.

Photo Credit; Bill Lites

By now I was getting hungry, so I gave Greta (My Garmin) the address for the Blueberry Hill Diner located in the Delmar Loop district across from the Ackert Walkway leading to University City.  The Blue Berry Hill is a longtime pop culture–themed diner where live music is played several nights each week (Not tonight – Bummer).  They advertise that Chuck Berry walked across their stage, in their ‘Duck Room’ over 200 times.  I enjoyed an order of their famous French Dip, accompanied by a lot of Chuck Berry’s recorded music in the background, while I ‘people watched’ the crowd who came and went.

Photo Credit; Bill Lites

After that exciting experience, I walked across Delmar Blvd to take a photo of the bronze statue of Chuck Berry that guards the entrance to the Ackert Walkway leading to University City.  I was amazed at the crowd of people filling the sidewalks on either side of the street.  They consisted of people of all ages dressed in every conceivable type of clothes, from shorts to dinner attire.  What a sight that was!

Photo Credit; Bill Lites

Greta was again employed to take me to tonight’s motel there on the outskirts of St. Louis, and she did a good job.  After I got checked in and got my things into the room, I recorded my day’s activities, and went to bed.  I had to get up early as I had reservations for the first timeslot at the Gateway Arch tomorrow morning and wanted to get a good night’s rest.

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 65 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

2022 Road Trip-Part 8A

26 Oct

A Slice of LIfe

Bill Lites

Day 8 (5/23/2022)

After breakfast this morning, I headed northwest 35 miles on US-68 to visit the old McCracken County Jail Museum located in Paducah, KY.  As it turned out, I forgot to add the word ‘Museum’ to my search, and I ended up at the ‘New’ McCracken County Jail.  No museum there!  I realized my mistake and drove just a few blocks to where I intended to visit the Paducah Railroad Museum, but it was closed.  So, as I was heading for the River Heritage Museum, I passed the old William Clark Farmers Market House entrance and stopped to take a photo.  This historic building, in the middle of Paducah was built around 1827, when the city was platted by William Clark, and was the city’s farmers market and gathering place for many years.

Photo Credit; Bill Lites

When I arrived at the River Heritage Museum, I discovered, it is a small museum located on the banks of the Ohio River that displays artifacts and memorabilia used to help educate and preserve the history of America’s river systems.  I have to admit that I have never been an avid American river history student, and really couldn’t tell you what rivers run thru what states. This museum was quite an education.

Photo Credit; Bill Lites

Just around the corner, I stopped to check out The National Quilt Museum there in Paducah.  This museum has three galleries which display some 600+ fiber art quilts from local artists as well as those from around the world.  The museum is also unique in that it provides workshop classes for fiber art students for all ages of children and adults.  Quite an interesting and beautiful display!

Photo Credit; Bill Lites

Leaving Paducah, I headed northwest, along the Ohio River for a while, on SR-306, picked up I-24, and crossed the Ohio River (border) into Illinois.  Then it was northwest another 70 miles on I-24 to visit the General John A. Logan Museum located in Murphysboro, IL.  This small museum is situated in the original house built by Tom Logan in 1885, and is filled with artifacts and memorabilia covering the life and times of General John A. Logan (1826-1886).  The General (at his wife Mary’s suggestion) was instrumental in the creation of our Memorial Day holiday (originally known as Decoration Day).  A mister Christopher C. Buller purchased the house in 1890, where he and his wife, Anna, raised 15 children.  In 1908 General Logan’s wife, Mary Logan, turned their ‘Calumet Place’ home in Washington, D.C. into a museum honoring the general, and later she donated the general’s furnishings to this museum.

Photo Credit; Bill Lites

Now I headed north 30 miles on SR-13 to visit the Old Perry County Jail Museum located in Pinckneyville, IL.  This museum is housed in the original 1871 Perry County Jail, which replaced the 1833 Perry County Jail, and served as the only correctional facility in Perry County until 1987 when it was replaced by a new jail facility.  The museum displays prison artifacts and memorabilia describing prison life as it was in the 19th and 20thcenturies in southern Illinois.

Photo Credit; Bill Lites

Next, I headed west 40 miles on SR-154 (a little out of my way) to visit the Spinach Can Collectables & Popeye Museum located on the banks of the Mississippi River in Chester, IL (birthplace of Elzie Segar, the creator of the ‘Popeye’ comic character).    This small store-front shop and museum sells and displays a large assortment of ‘Popeye the Sailor Man’ antique artifacts (some not for sale) and collectables.  The museum also hosts the annual ‘Popeye Festival’ held there in Chester each July.  Popeye was my hero as a youngster!

Photo Credit; Bill Lites

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 65 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

2022 Road Trip-Part 7B

19 Oct

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 7 Continued (5/22/2022)

Next door to Willie’s Museum was the Nashville Palace, which is a live music venue that was once the home of ‘The Grand Ole Opry’ and TV shows like ‘Hee Haw’ and others.  The Nashville Palace is a place where Country singing stars can come to relax and share some of their songs with visitors.  Some of the greats who have appeared at the Nashville Palace, over the years, are Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Roy Acuff, George Jones, Randy Travis, and Mel Tillis just to name a few.  Unfortunately, no performers were on hand while I was there, so the only music I heard was piped out from loud-speakers I could hear from the parking lot.  That’s OK, as I liked what they were playing. 

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed northwest about 50 miles on I-24 to visit the L & N Train Station Museum located in downtown Clarksville, TN.  This museum is situated in the old restored 1859 L & N Railroad depot, and displays many antique railroad artifacts and memorabilia related to the railroad’s influence on Clarksville and the surrounding Montgomery County area dating from the early 1800s.  The museum also has a restored diesel locomotive and caboose on display outside.

Photo Credit: https://www.google.com.my/travel/l&ndepot/clarksville/

On the north side of Clarksville, I visited the Fort Defiance Civil War Park located on a bluff 200 feet above where the Red River and the Cumberland River converge.  Over the years, the area around this famous site (originally Sevier Station) has been the focal point for Native Americans, early 18th century pioneer settlers, a long-standing trading post, and a stronghold for Confederate forces during the Civil War.  The fort and interpretive center provide a wealth of information related to the use of this site, prior to, and during the course of the Civil War.

Photo Credit: clarksvilletn.com/fort-defiance-civil-war-park/

Now I headed north another 35 miles on US-41, across the border, to visit the Hopkinsville L & N Railroad Museum located in Hopkinsville, KY.  This small depot was built by the EH&N Railroad in 1868.  It was   acquired and refurbished by the L & N Railroad in 1892.  The station closed when the last passenger train left Hopkinsville (Hop Town) in 1968.  However, the L & N Railroad merged with the CSX Railroad in 1982 and CSX still runs trains on the tracks alongside the museum.     The L & N Railroad Museum displays many antique railroad artifacts and memorabilia dating from the early to mid-1800s.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed northwest 30 miles on SR-91 to check out the Adsmore Museum located in Princeton, KY.  This Greek Revival style residence was built in1854 by John Higgins and served as the family home until, Katharine Garrett, the last surviving relative passed away in 1984.  This living history museum consists of four acres on which one finds the original residence, filled with period furnishings, a carriage house (gift shop), a restored mid-1800s log cabin, and the Ratliff gun shop.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

My motel was in Benton, KY tonight, which was about 30 miles west of Princeton.  So, I gave Greta (My Garmin) the address and using I-24 she took me right to it.   On the way I crossed the Cumberland River and then the Tennessee River before arriving in Benton.  After I got to the motel and checked in, I carried my things in to my room and warmed up my leftover St. Louis Ribs from ‘Big Bob Gibson’s Bar-B-Q.’  I really enjoyed that delicious meal again.  Yummm!!   I tried to watch some TV, but there was nothing good on, so I recorded the day’s activities and went to bed.  Boy, was I tired.

Photo Credit: yahoo.com/big+bob+gibson+bar-b-q+st.+louis+ribs

Just looking at this picture, and remembering, makes my mouth water!

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 65 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

2022 Road Trip-Part 7A

12 Oct

A Slice of Life

Bill LItes

Day 7 (5/22/2022)

This morning after a quick breakfast, I said my goodbyes to my friends, Terry and Mary and headed north 25 miles on SR-29 & SR-166 to visit the Sam Davis Memorial Museum located across the border in Pulaski, TN.  This Memorial Museum is a small mausoleum dedicated to Sam Davis, a young Confederate soldier, who was captured while carrying Union battle papers and hung as a spy on November 27, 1863, at this location.  The museum was closed today this photo of the mausoleum was the only thing I had to remind me of my visit.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed north 30 miles on US-31 to visit the President James K. Polk Home and Museum located in Columbia, TN.  I discovered this museum was only open for appointment tours, but their website tells me that this is the first home of the eleventh President of the United States.  The house was built by his father, Samuel Polk, in 1816 and was in the family until 1871 when the last Polk relative to live in the home passed away. Sarah Polk was instrumental in preserving many of President Polk’s White House furnishings, which are now displayed in the museum.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I headed north 45 miles on I-65 to visit the Johnny Cash Museum located in Nashville, TN but by the time I got there, the tourists were out in force, and I couldn’t find a place to park.  I drove past the museum and the streets were so jammed with tourists that I decided to pass up that museum.  That was a very disappointing decision, as Johnny Cash is one of my favorite country singers.  What a Bummer!   Just a few blocks away I tried to visit the Tennessee Central Railway Museum, but it was also closed.  Today was turning out to be a driving day and not a viewing day.  I took a photo of this museum and headed for the next museum on my list.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

In another part of town, I visited the Lane Motor Museum (I finally found a museum I could visit today!).  This museum made my day.  It is the collection of Jeff and Susan Lane and consists of some 500+ cars (150 on display) from all over the world.  Many of these cars are one-of-a-kind, prototypes or antique models.  The collection is rotated periodically, and many are loaned out to other museums for special events.  One event is the annual fundraiser where donors are allowed to drive one of the museum’s cars on a nearby rural route.  How about that for a donor prize!  This is a fantastic museum for car buffs!

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Not to be deterred by the many museums being closed on Sunday, I pressed on to visit the Willie Nelson & Friends Museum there in Nashville.  This wild and wooly multi-purpose attraction features a Museum, General Store, Gift Shop, and a Snack Shop.  The Willie Nelson Museum is filled with artifacts and memorabilia that relate to Willie’s life and career.  This whole block is home to several Country Music establishments.  A person could spend a whole day visiting just the stores on this one block!

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

—–To Be Continued—–

2022 Road Trip Part 6

5 Oct

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 6 (5/21/2022)

This morning after breakfast, Terry and I headed off in search of the Blue & Gray Museum located in Decatur, AL.  We found the address, but the museum had closed (another victim of Covid I guess).  As we were walking down Bank Street, looking for the museum, I saw this historical marker and took a photo.  It seems that Ellen Hildreth was the founder of the Alabama Women’s Suffrage Club, there in what was then called New Decatur, in 1892 and hosted many National Suffrage Leaders at the Echols Opera House which is also located there on Bank Street.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

We gave up on the Blue & Gray Museum and it was only a few blocks to where we visited the Historic Decatur Railroad Depot Museum there in Decatur.  This small museum is situated in the old restored 1905 Southern Railway Depot and displays many antique railroad artifacts and memorabilia related to the early development of Decatur and the surrounding De Kalb County, dating from the early 1800s.  The museum also has a model railroad layout on the trackside of the depot.  The curator informed us that as many as 100+ trains still pass by the museum in any given day.  Busy place!

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Terry grew up in the Decatur area and he and the museum curator, who was also from Decatur, had a wonderful time talking about old times in the area and the many things they remembered that had changed over the years.  I finally pulled Terry away from the curator, so he could talk to other visitors, and we headed for one of Terry’s favorite restaurants there in Decatur.  This turned out to be the Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q Restaurant, where I ordered a plate of their St. Louis Bar-B-Q Ribs with a sweet potato, coleslaw, and a glass of their ‘real southern’ iced tea.  The ribs were falling-off-the- bone delicious and tender. After that wonderful meal, I still had enough left over to enjoy that meal again tomorrow night.

Photo Credit: lastoneeating.wordpress.com/big-bob-gibson-bar-b-q/

After that fantastic meal, we headed back to Terry’s house in Lester where I took a quick nap.  That was my first nap since I started this trip, and it really felt good.  We spent the rest of the afternoon talking about the ‘Good Old Times’ in Titusville, what had happened to all the friends we had worked with, and how so many things have changed.  We brought each other up to date on our children, grandchildren, our lives, and the many ailments us old geezers have to deal with.  We pretty much exhausted every subject we could think of until it was time for dinner.  Mary had prepared a light meal of chicken Taco Salad (Tostado) and it was delicious.   

Photo Credit: https://images.search.yahoo.com/ Chicken-Tostada

After dinner I called DiVoran with my nightly update, and we spent a good hour, each taking our turn talking to her.  Mary went to bed after that, and Terry and I stayed up talking about my trip plans and all the new aviation books he had read.  

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

So ended another great day with friends.  The trip to the museum, all that good food, and reminiscing with Terry and Mary, were just the thing I needed to put me to sleep for a good night’s rest.  ZZZZZ.

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 65 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

2022 Road Trip-Part 5

28 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill LItes

Day 5 (5/20/2022)

This morning after breakfast I headed east 25 miles on I-22 to visit the Fulton Dragway located on the outskirts of Fulton, MS.  This was another one of those out-of-the-way places that gave Greta (My Garmin) a hard time finding.  Once we found it, It turned out to be a pretty simple track with no frills at all.  I took a photo of their ‘Winners Circle’ and was on my way.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I found my way back to I-22 where I went east a few miles and then at Tremont, MS I went north another 20 miles on SR-23, across the border again. to visit the Tifton Motorhome Factory located in Red Bay, AL.  To my disappointment, the last morning tour of the factory had already left by the time I got there, so I took a photo of the Visitor’s Center and left.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed northeast 25 miles on SR-247 to have lunch at the famous Rattlesnake Saloon, located just south of Tuscumbia, AL.  I had been told by friends that this was a unique restaurant, but in reality, it is one of the most interesting restaurant locations I have ever seen, the way it is situated in a large cave with a huge overhang.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites


It was at least ¼ mile from the parking lot, and then down a steep slope to the restaurant, located in a deep holler.  Luckily a ride on benches in the bed of a big 4×4 truck was available for guests.  I was really glad I had opted for the ride, as it would have been awfully hard on my knees to have tried to walk down that slope to the restaurant.  And then there would have been the walk back up that slope on a full stomach.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

The Saloon is situated at one end of the cave (on the left) while the rest of the cave is used for the restaurant and bandstand.  The menu was a list of great sounding dishes with ‘Trail’ sounding titles.  I finally choose their ‘Smoked Trail Dog’ plate, which was smoked sausage and sauerkraut, with a side of onion rings.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I understand the attraction started with the Seven Springs Lodge, that featured houseback riding and nature trails.  Over the years they added a campground, the Sidewinder’s Trading Post, motorcycle events, trail riding, and chuck wagon racing events.  There are also live Music and Hoedowns on special occasions.  WOW, what an interesting adventure

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

After that exciting experience, I headed northeast 15 miles on SR-247 to visit the Helen Keller Birthplace located in Tuscumbia, AL.  This house and grounds tell the story of Helen Keller, who was blind, and was helped to become one of American’s leading authors, a disability rights advocate, political activist, and lecturer.  What an amazing story of what any person can do with their life if given the opportunity.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

It was just a few blocks from the Helen Keller Birthplace to where I visited the Tuscumbia Railroad & Roundhouse.  This museum is situated in the old 1888 restored M & C depot and displays antique railroad artifacts and memorabilia related to Tuscumbia and the surrounding Colbert County dating from the early 1800s.  The museum also has several restored pieces of rolling stock

Photo Credit: northalabama.org/tuscumbia-depot-and-roundhouse/

It was just a short drive to where I wanted to visit the Indian Mound & Museum located in Muscle Sholes.  I was looking forward to seeing the many historical items that have been recovered from this famous 3000 year old (Woodland Period) Indian Mound, but the museum was closed by the time I arrived.  So, I just took a photo of their sign and was on my way.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now, I headed northeast 45 miles on US-72, skirting the Tennessee River part of the way, to visit my friends Terry and Mary in Lester, AL.  I had worked with Terry for many years and our families had been very close.  They live in a beautiful house out in the middle of nowhere and enjoy the quiet serenity of the area.  We had a wonderful reunion and then went to their favorite 306 Bar-B-Q Restaurant for a great meal.  The rest of the evening was spent reminiscing about our years in Titusville where our children grew up together.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

——To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 65 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

2022 Road Trip-Part 4B

21 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 4 Continued (5/19/2022)

As I checked out the old Sciple’s water mill, I noticed a hand-written sign that pointed to the Water Mill Opry House across the road, and I just had to take a photo of that old place.  It looked to be as old as the water mill and was all closed up.  I wouldn’t have believed it, but their website informs me that on Saturday nights its standing room only for folks who come from all over Mississippi to enjoy the country music of Ed Sciple’s band and participate in some of the wildest boot-scootin’ and hi-steppin’ dancing around these parts.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

After that wild ride in the countryside, I continued north 60 miles on SR-39 & US-45 to where I visited the Tennessee Williams Home located in Columbus, MS.  I don’t believe I ever read any of Tennessee Williams’ books, but I have enjoyed the movies made from some of his books.  I was the only visitor at the time, and the curator took the time to show me thru the entire house, pointing out little details as we went thru the various rooms.  A framed quote by Tennessee Williams said, “I was composed of a little Welsh wildness, a lot of puritan English, and a big chunk of German sentiment.”  That pretty much said it of the man.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Not far from the Tennessee Williams Home I visited the White Arches house there in Columbus.  This original “Columbus Eclectic” home was built by Jeptha V. Harris in 1857 and is on the list of homes shown on Columbus’ Annual Spring Pilgrimage.  The museum was closed when I was there, but the photo below shows the unique Greek Revival, Gothic, and Italianate design of the house with all its 19th century grandeur.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed north 35 miles on US-45 to visit the Aberdeen City Hall Museum located in Aberdeen, MS.  This 1912 building turned out not to be a museum, but the operating Aberdeen City Hall.  My mistake.  This was another case of me not reading all the words about a given museum or subject.  My wife, DiVoran, keeps telling me, “You have to read ALL the words Bill.”

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

While I was driving around Aberdeen, I noticed an Aberdeen Mississippi Blues historical marker in front of a Blues Mural on the side of a building.  I stopped to get a photo and read all about the Mural.  Not being a big blues fan, I didn’t know about Booker ‘bukka’ White, Chester Aurthur ‘Howlfn’ Burnett, and Albert King being born in Aberdeen, and about the mural dedicated to the Aberdeen Mississippi Blues artists.  Now I’m a little more informed.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I continued north 30 miles on US-45 to visit the Tupelo Automobile Museum located in Tupelo, MS.  I was expecting to get a look at their 175 beautifully restored cars.  But when I got there, the museum was closed, and from what I have heard, its permanent, and all their cars have been put up for sale.  What a bummer!  So, I headed over to check out the Tupelo National Battlefield located just on the outskirts of Tupelo.  This battlefield was the location of the July 1864 ‘Battle of Tupelo’ otherwise known as the ‘Battle of Harrisburg’ where the Union forces claimed a victory.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed over to visit the Elvis Presley Birthplace there in Tupelo.  Even though DiVoran and I were Elvis fans when we were teenagers, neither of us knew he was born and raised in Tupelo.  So, this was a new experience for me.  I learned that he sang in the local Assembly of God Church choir from an early age and got his first guitar at age ten.  In the years after his family moved to Memphis, TN in 1948, he and his cousins, Jerry Lee Louis, later known as ‘Mr. Rockabilly’ and Jimmy Swaggart, later known as ‘The Evangelist’ spent a good deal of their time hanging out with many of the early black Jazz and Blues performers who frequented the Beale Street clubs and restaurants.  This is where it is suggested that a lot of the Blues, Jazz, and Southern Gospel they heard seeped into their souls and into their music.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now, I gave Greta (My Garmin) the address of my motel there in Tupelo and she took me right to it.  After I got checked in and got my things into the room, I warmed up my leftover fried Catfish dinner from the Blue Crab Grill and enjoyed that delicious meal again.  Yummm!  Then I tried to watch some TV but there was nothing worth watching, so I recorded my days activities and went to bed.  What a long day this has been!

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 65 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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