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America’s North Country Trip~ Part 16

3 Jan

A Slice of Life
 Bill Lites

 

 

Day 16 (Saturday)

This morning’s activities centered on getting ready for my flight home. After a great complimentary hot breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage links, a biscuit & gravy and orange juice, there at the motel, I took my remaining snack items out of my cooler, and left it with a note for housekeeping that the cooler and everything in it were for them. I finished packing, checked out of the motel and headed for the Eppley International Airport, there in Omaha, to turn in my rental car.

 

 

The rental car return went like a breeze, and now I had 1½ hours to kill until my flight left. I ate a granola bar and my last banana before I headed for security. At security I discovered that I not only didn’t have to remove my shoes (over 75 years of age) but when I told them I had an electronic device wired to my back for pain ( a tens unit), I didn’t have to remove that either. They did an individual body scan and that made the process a lot quicker and much easier for me.

 

 

My 2-hour non-stop Southwest flight to Orlando was very restful, and here again the peanuts and pretzels were fresh. DiVoran picked me up at the airport, and we had dinner just north of the airport at Sonny’s BBQ, right there on SR-436.

 

 

Then we made the short trip home to Titusville. Boy did it feel good to pull into our driveway and know I was going to be sleeping in my own bed tonight. I love going on these trips, and getting to see all the different parts of our wonderful country, but it is always nice to get home where everything is familiar and I don’t have to live out of a suitcase.

 

 

I hope you have enjoyed reading about this trip as much as I have writing about it. I invite you to join me to read about my next trip to new and different places, and where I may even meet some new and exciting people.

 

“Take me on your next trip Daddy”

—–The End—–

One of the many sites I was looking forward to seeing were the large herds of Buffalo that I had seen portrayed on TV documentaries in recent years. As it turned out, after driving almost 4000 miles through these six states, I never saw the first live Buffalo. Not even when I visited the National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown, ND! I saw a lot of stuffed Buffalo in museums along the way, but not a single live one. What a bummer!

America’s North Country Trip~Part 15

27 Dec

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

 

 

 

Day 15 (Friday)

 

Before leaving Lincoln this morning, I swung by the Frank H. Woods Telephone Museum but it wasn’t open. So, I just headed northeast on US-6 for the short trip it took me to find and visit the Greenwood Railroad Museum located at the Greenwood Village Park in Greenwood, NE. It was early when I got there and found that this small museum was only open by appointment.

 

 

Not to be deterred, I continued northeast on US-6 another 10 miles or so to visit the SAC & Aerospace Museum located just to the east of Ashland, NE. This is a very impressive museum, consisting of two large hangers where more than 40 nicely restored historic aircraft, missiles and space vehicles are displayed.

 

 

Next I made a side-trip to the southeast to visit the Brownville Historical Railroad Depot Museum, located in Brownville, NE. This museum turned out to be a small preserved 1875 depot, with local railroad artifacts related to the railroad’s influence on the surrounding area and a caboose.

 

 

There was not a lot to see there, so I went up the street to take a peek in the Sage Memorial Museum. This was a very small store-front museum highlighting Native American activity in southeast Nebraska, along with local artifacts and other memorabilia.

 

 

It appears, from an historical marker at the edge of town, that Brownville was first settled soon after the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which permitted settlement of the territories west to the Missouri River. The city flourished until the railroad passed it by in the late 1860’s, and was soon thereafter almost completely abandoned. According to the 2010 census, only about 132 people now live in Brownville.

 

 

Now I headed north on I-29 to visit the Missouri River Basin Lewis & Clark Center located just southwest of Nebraska City, NE. This interpretive center focuses mainly on the natural and scientific discoveries recorded by the Lewis & Clark expedition of 1804-1806, which included some 122 new animals & 178 new plants.

 

 

Next I made the short trip back into town to visit the Kregel Windmill Factory located in downtown Nebraska City, NE. This turned out to be one of the most fascinating museums I’ve come across. According to an historical marker out front, it is said to be the last intact historical windmill factory in the U.S. it consists of the original work shop, with all its equipment, where George Kregel built Eli-brand windmills from 1902 until 1941. The tour guide said that all of the equipment still worked, and there were even racks of stock still there ready to be made into the next windmill order.

 

 

Now I made my way back to I-29 and headed north to visit the RailsWest Railroad Museum located in Council Bluffs, IA. This museum is housed in the 1899 Rock Island Depot, which replaced the original 1869 depot that was destroyed by a rail car explosion in 1881. The museum displays artifacts and memorabilia related to the eight railroads that have served the Council Bluffs area until the mid-1980’s. Outside the museum are the Union Pacific locomotive #813 and the Burlington & Quincy locomotive #915, along with other pieces of restored rolling stock.

 

 

Before leaving Council Bluffs for the last time, I tried the CAF Museum located at the Council Bluffs Municipal Airport again, just on the chance that someone might be at the museum. Of course they were closed, so I just wondered around the ramp looking at the private airplanes that were tied down there. I said, “HI” to a young man heading for one of the planes there on the ramp. He would get into his plane and fly off to who-knows-where, and wished I could join him. Oh well, I would just have to wait until tomorrow for my airplane ride back to Florida.

 

 

So, now I headed west across the Missouri River to find my motel for the night in Omaha, NE. After I got checked in, I went looking for someplace to eat dinner. I settled on the “Twisted Fork Grill & Saloon” located in the Old Market District of Omaha. This restaurant’s claim-to-fame is that they say they serve American comfort food with a “Cowboy Twist.” I can highly recommend them if you are ever in Omaha.

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

 

America’s North Country Trip~Part 14

20 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

 

 

 

Day 14 (Thursday)

 

Today I started off heading east on I-80 to visit the Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles located in Lexington, NE. This museum has an amazing collection of over 100 beautifully restored military vehicles, of all types from all military services, housed in a huge hanger and outside.  There is also a large number of displays of weapons, uniforms, engines, and other military equipment.

 

 

Next on the list today as I continued east on I-80 was a visit to the Chevyland USA Museum located in the middle of a cornfield just south of Elm Creek, NE. This is a one-man classic car and motorcycle museum, collected, owned, and operated by Monte Hollertz. Monte says he started collecting his cars in 1972 after he read the book titled “60 Years of Chevys” and just kept on collecting. The problem is, he has collected some 100 cars and motorcycles, and parked them and that is all. They are mostly in the same condition they were when he parked them in his museum building. Also, the lighting is poor, which is not good for taking photos.

 

 

Just 15 miles east on US-30, I visited the Classic Car Collection located on the east side of Kearney, NE. WOW! What a difference over the last museum! This collection of over 200 beautifully restored and displayed classic cars, dating from the early 1900’s to the present, is one of the best of its type I’ve seen. The displays are well positioned and well lighted so the visitor has a chance to get good photos of the collection. It’s hard to leave a collection or museum that is so well presented.

 

 

While I was in Kearney, I decided to visit the Trails & Rails Railroad Museum located just to the west of SR-44, on the south edge of town. This museum is situated in the restored 1898 Shelton Union Pacific Railroad Depot, and consists of artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of the great transportation routes that passed thru the local area over the years. The museum also has a restored 1903 Baldwin Steam Engine #481 with flat car and caboose.

 

 

Back on I-80, I headed east again to visit the Pioneer Village Museum located just north of Minden, NE at the intersection of US-34 & SR-10. This 20 acre museum complex consists of 28 buildings that display over 50,000 item dating from the 1830’s to the present. As part of the Village Complex, there are also restored frontier buildings, early automobiles, airplanes, tractors and a variety of other farm equipment, a motel and campground. Way too much to see all at one time.

 

 

I got back on I-80, heading east and got off at exit 312, and north on US-34/281 to visit the Stuhr Pioneer Village located in Grand Island, NE. This is another frontier village type museum, located on 207 acres, with several areas of interest. There is a pioneer settlement consisting of eight 1850’s log structures. There is also a Railroad Town where living historians. dressed in period costumes, tell you all about how it was to live and work there in 1897. There is also a 38-foot diameter replica of a 1830’s Pawnee earthen lodge showing where as many as 50 people would have lived. Here again, this was another case where there was just too much to see in such a spread out area, so this museum got a “hit and miss” visit from me today.

 

 

Next I stopped by to check out the Nebraska National Guard Museum in Seward, NE to see if they had any airplane displays, but they were closed. So, while I was there in Seward, even though it was getting late in the day, I looked up Whisler Aviation located at the Seward Municipal Airport, but their hanger was also closed.

 

 

I thought I would try the Lincoln Airport to see if I could catch a glimpse of at least one airplane today, before I headed for my motel for the night. The Lincoln Air National Guard Base shares the airport facilities, but Greta couldn’t find their address for me. However, God was good to me, allowing me to see one of the most unusual airplanes I would ever have expected. It was located at the entrance to the Lincoln Airport. I couldn’t believe my eyes! But there it was, perched on its pedestal, in all its simplistic beauty. I just had to stop and take a photo. I’m sure you can see why.

 

 

After getting checked into my motel for the evening, I sat back, relaxed and tried to watch TV while I enjoyed leftover El Paraiso Mexican food. Of course there was nothing on the TV worth watching, but the leftovers were a treat.

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

 

 

 

 

 

America’s North Country Trip~Part 13

13 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

 

 

Day 13 (Wednesday)

 

This morning I headed east on I-80,across the border into Nebraska, to visit my first museum, the Mansion on the Hill Museum located in Ogallala, NE. This is the restored 1887 Victorian residence of former Opallala banker, H. L. Williams, and his family. The museum is beautifully furnished with original period furnishings, and includes a servant quarters. Other buildings on the premises include a 1902 one-room school house and an early 1900 homestead dwelling.

 

 

Just around the corner and up the street, I checked out the Boot Hill Cemetery there in Ogallala. Buried there are people from all walks of life, who found themselves in Ogallala, NE (Cowboy Capital) at the end of their life for whatever reason. RIP.

 

 

Now I headed east on I-80 again, and was hoping that Greta could help me find the Buffalo Bill Ranch located on the west side of North Platte, NE. The original Second Empire style home was built in 1886, and resides on what is now the 25 acre Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (also known as Scout’s Rest Ranch) adjacent to Scout Creek. The house is furnished with period furnishings, and includes servant’s quarters, an ice house, and a large barn.

 

 

As I headed toward North Platte, I stopped to visit the Lincoln County Historical Museum & Village, located just south of the North Platte River. This was another frontier village type museum, located on 8-acres, with a main building displaying local central Nebraska historical artifacts and memorabilia. There is also a restored early 1800’s “Main Street” town with several period buildings including; general store, schoolhouse church, blacksmith shop, and barn.

 

 

While I was in the area, just south a couple of miles, I visited the Golden Spike Museum & Baily Yard. The museum was an unusually shaped 8-story structure that gave the visitor a grand view of the huge “Baily Yard” operated by the Union Pacific Railroad. I had seen many very long coal trains during this trip, and I asked the tour guide how long the trains were. He said, “From 125 to 145 cars. We have a length restriction of 8-miles.” I was stunned, and asked him why 8-miles and he said, “Because the sidings are only 9-miles long, and the train has to fit on the siding.” Then I asked him how much coal each car could carry, and said, “Each car can carry 100 tons of coal, and each coal car weighs 20 tons.”  I did the math. WOW! What a load!   What did you get? I guess that’s why there are two diesel engines pulling and two diesel engines pushing those long coal trains across the open plains.

 

 

 

Now I headed across the north part of North Platte to visit the Cody Park Railroad Museum located just north of the North Platte River. This is a small museum with local Union Pacific artifacts and memorabilia in the restored train depot, and the only Challenger 3900 series steam locomotive on public display. The museum also has several nicely restored items of rolling stock attached to the locomotive.

 

 

Greta took me on U.S.83 south thru the city, across the South Platte River back toward I-80 to visit the Fort Cody Trading Post. This looked to me like nothing more than a big tourist trap, so I took a couple of photos and was on my way east on I-80.

 

 

I had picked up a brochure for a Pony Express station museum somewhere along the way on this trip, and planned to stop and check it out now if time permitted. I took the #211 exit off I-80, turned north across the North Platte River, into the city of Gothenburg, NE. I found the Pony Express Station Museum on the south edge of Ehmen Park in the middle of town. The museum was a restored one-room log cabin that had originally been used as a fur trading post and ranch house before being used as a Pony Express Station in 1860 – 1861.

 

 

The curator gave me a lot of information about the Pony Express that I had never known. First of all, I had no idea that the Pony Express was only in operation for 19 months in 1860-1861. Started by three business men in 1860, it was initially called the Leavenworth & Pike’s Peak Express Company, and provided “fast” (10 days) mail service between St. Joseph Missouri and Sacramento, California. The approximately 1900 mile route consisted of 120 riders, 157 Pony Express stations (spaced every 10 miles), 400 horses, and was manned by several hundred men. The express rider would stop at each station, change to a fresh horse, taking only the mail pouch called a mochila (Spanish for pouch) with him. The mochila was thrown over the saddle and held in place by the weight of the rider sitting on it.  The mochila could carry 20 lbs. of mail in four pockets (two on each side) that would be padlocked.

 

 

The initial price was $5.00 per ½ ounce to send mail by the Pony Express route. The transcontinental telegraph (Telegraph Act, authorized by congress in 1860) completed in 1861, put an end to the Pony Express, and it is said the investors lost over $200,000 (1860 dollars) during the short period of time their mail service system was in operation.

 

 

After that informative stop, I told Greta it was time to find my motel for the night, located down the road a ways in Cozad, NE. She did a good job, and before I knew it, I was there and checked in. The desk clerk informed me that there were very few restaurants in town that he could recommend, and directed me toward the ones he thought best. I looked them over and selected the El Paraiso Mexican Restaurant, where I had one of the best combination plates of chili relleno, enchilada and taco dinner I’ve had in a long time. Yummm!

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

America’s North Country Trip~Part 12

6 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

 

Day 12 (Tuesday)

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

America’s North Country Trip~Part 11

29 Nov

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

 

 

 

Day 11 (Monday)

 

This morning I did a little back-tracking north on US-20 heading for my first visit of the day to the Legacy Flight Museum located at the Rexburg-Madison County Airport in Rexburg, ID. This was a small one-hanger museum where all of their planes are flyable. I learned that several of the planes from this museum were at the Extreme Blue Thunder Airshow in Idaho Falls last weekend.

 

 

As I walked thru the hanger taking photos, I spotted a yellow P-51 Mustang that looked familiar. I asked the tour guide if that really was Bob Hoover’s “Ole Yeller” and he said, “Yes.” I asked him how it ended up in their museum, and he said, “Bob knows one of the owners of this museum, and when Bob was forced to retire from flying, he designated that his P-51 Mustang would be displayed, maintained and flown by this museum until a specified time, when it would go to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.” What an amazing man and airplane!

 

 

Now I headed east on SR-33, past a beautiful part to the Teton Mountain Range to visit The Teton Valley Museum located in Driggs, ID. The museum was closed, but I learned from their website that their exhibits mostly center on local history of the surrounding Teton Valley.

 

 

Just down the road a ways, at the Driggs Airport, I visited the Teton Aviation Center. This center houses a small FBO as well as an impressive collection of beautifully restored WWII warbirds. There is also the “Warbird Café” where you can eat a delicious meal and have a great view of the Grand Teton Mountains from your table.

 

 

In downtown Driggs I visited the Teton Geotourism Center just to see what it was all about. They advertise to be the world’s first Geotourism center which they say is the portal to an experience on the Teton Scenic Byway (a part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem). Most of their exhibits are interactive, showing the Teton Valley in its best light. I did like the on-board husky-driven snow sled ride video.

 

 

As I headed south and west on SR-33 thru the Caribou Targhee National Forest, where I picked up US-26 in Swan Valley. I continued south along the Snake River, crossing the border into Wyoming, where I picked up US-89 into Afton, WY where I visited the CallAir Museum. This was a very small museum located in the Afton Civic Center building. I learned that the Call Aircraft Factory was founded in 1939 there in Afton, and went on to design and manufacture single engine passenger aircraft and crop duster aircraft until 1970.

 

 

Before I left Afton, I wanted to see and photograph what is advertised to be the World’s Largest Elk Horn Arch. The arch is 18 feet high and 75 feet wide, and is said to contain over3000 elk antlers. Sure enough, there it was, stretching across US-89 in downtown Afton, with a pair of elk sparing on top. Wow! That took a lot of elk Horns to build! There must have been a lot of elk roaming around these parts in the early days, as I have seen all kinds of elk Horn furniture in museums on this trip.

 

 

Now I headed south on US-89, skirting the Bridger National Forest, until I picked up US-30 just below Geneva, ID. US-30 continues south another 25 miles before it turns east, past the Fossil Butte National Monument, to where I could merge with I-80 near Little America Travel Center. Since it was only another 25 miles to the Sweetwater County Historical Museum in Green River, WY were I had planned my next visit, I put off a potty break until I got there. As expected, this museum’s exhibits majored on the cultural heritage of southwestern Wyoming, including the early explorers, fur trappers, sheepherders, cowboys, and the Pony Express.

 

 

 

While there in Green River, I went looking for what I thought would be an old timey Wild West saloon where I could get a sarsaparilla. But the address for the Wild Horse Saloon and the Hitching Post were both the same, and I found out that they had been combined, and were now called the Hitching Post Restaurant & Saloon. Since I was sure this saloon would probably not be serving anything as mild as a sarsaparilla, I decided to look for the Island Park, down by the Green River, to relax while I called DiVoran. I couldn’t find the Park, so I just pulled up in a nice shady spot next to the river and made my call. The rustling water was very soothing.

 

 

 

Now I headed east on I-80 another 15 miles to Rock Springs, WY to look for my motel for the night. After I got checked in, I saw the Best Western “Outlaw Inn” across the street. They had a restaurant called the” Open Range” where I enjoyed a dinner of Baby Back Ribs with all the trimmings. What a great way to end a long day on the road.

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

America’s North Country Trip~ Part 10

22 Nov

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

 

 

 

 

Day 10 (Sunday)

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

America’s North Country Trip~Part 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—–

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