Tag Archives: Alabama

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 13

8 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 13 – 7/24/2021

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

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

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

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

Photo Credit:Bill Lites

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

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

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

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

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

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

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

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

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

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

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 64 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

2021 Road Tripping to Arkansas-Little River

11 Nov

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

We follow a low carb Keto diet and hotel breakfasts can be iffy, especially in the era of Covid. Before the trip I baked some low carb muffins for my breakfasts. My husband is an eggs and bacon kind of guy, so I practiced cooking a scrambled like egg in my Dash griddle. He approved the taste and texture, and I had a plan, except maybe I forgot to test one thing…

As I made his first on the road breakfast, I added a bit of butter to the griddle to give him some extra flavor. Mistake. Butter on a griddle smokes and my practical husband pointed out that I was going to set off the fire alarm. No more butter on the griddle, lesson learned.

Our destination for this day was Little River Canyon National Preserve near Fort Payne, Alabama. From their website:

Little River is unique because it flows for most of its length atop Lookout Mountain in northeast Alabama. Forested uplands, waterfalls, canyon rims and bluffs, pools, boulders, and sandstone cliffs offer settings for a variety of recreational activities. Natural resources and cultural heritage come together to tell the story of the Preserve, a special place in the Southern Appalachians.


What a gem! I learned of it from a short blurb in a magazine touting the waterfalls of north east Georgia and was pleased to see that it would fit nicely into our road trip. At the information center we learned the details of the scenic drive and were given a very helpful brochure. Our first stop was a beautiful, handicap accessible waterfall.

I regret not taking more pictures on the 11 mile drive. I really think I did. I have a sneaking suspicion that my compulsive need to delete photos from my camera, after downloading may have come into play. Or, I can go all conspiracy theory and blame their absence on the C.I.A.

The canyon was pretty amazing, not Grand Canyon amazing, but awesome. There were some kayakers but they were so far down, my camera did pick them up.

One stop was an area where eagles were known to soar, but sadly, we didn’t see any.

After we left the Preserve, we made our way to the next stop on our trip, Tuscumbria, Alabama. We chose backroads over interstate highway and we definitely wandered. Bathroom facilities seemed to be non-existent. When we finally arrived in a community with a fast food restaurant, Burger Kind, we exited the car and made a dash for the facilities. Burger King restrooms are not always well maintained but thankfully, this one was. We decided to combine the stop with lunch and were pleasantly surprised with their efficiency.

Back on the road we congratulated ourselves for our stop as we didn’t see any other places or businesses for several miles. Then we began to see large warehouses and an assortment of carpet and flooring manufacturing. Wow, who would have thought so many businesses would be in the middle of nowhere. Then we saw signs for an interstate and it made sense. Perfect access for trucking their goods. On the other side of the interstate was a Bus-ees, a mega gas station with almost anything you can think of to eat, drink or buy just for fun. It was packed with drivers from the interstate! I can testify that But-ees has THE nicest restrooms I have ever had the opportunity to visit. LOL

Photo credit:Flickr

Eventually, we did leave the back roads for the interstate. My ears were weary from the GPS directing us to turn left at the next stop sign then continue on…blah, blah blah. Fortunately, the interstate traffic was minimal and it was a pleasant drive to our nights lodging in Tuscumbria.

Veteran’s Day

I’ve been thinking a lot about veterans this week. I realized how many stories and memories are being lost. I was fortunate that my dad spoke of his WWII service, but as I age, I have so many more questions for him. I only knew one person who served in Korea and I wish I had asked him more about his experiences. Of course, he wasn’t very happy about being called up after being discharged, so while his story wouldn’t necessarily have been positive, it was his story and I wish I knew it. As we honor our Veterans this week, if the opportunity arises, ask them to tell their story.

I'm a winner

After my retirement, I decided to re-learn the canning and preserving skills I learned from my mother but hadn’t practiced for twenty years. I titled the blog Old Things R New to chronicle my experience.  Since then I have been blessed to have six other bloggers join me, DiVoran Lites, Bill Lites,  Judy Wills, Louise Gibson, Janet Perez Eckles and Melody Hendrix

In addition to blogging, I work as the publicist/marketer/ amateur editor and general  “mom Friday” for my author daughter, Rebekah Lyn. I also manage her website, Rebekah Lyn Books  

My 2021 goal is continue to use my love of photographs and words to be an encourager on social media. You can visit Real Life Books and Media You Tube Channel if you would like to view some of the mini-videos I have created for our church, Gateway Community in Titusville, Fl.

Mini Road Trip to Alabama

12 Jul

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis


Last week our daughter in Florida came to visit us in Western North Caroina and we took a mini road trip to Alabama. When we stopped at the Unclaimed Baggage and Freight Store in Scottsboro, Alabama on our road trip last summer, I thought she would enjoy exploring it as she is a serious bargain hunter. Before we arrived at Unclaimed Baggage, we made a stop at the Lodge Factory, just over the line into Alabama from Tennessee. The people who work in the store are super friendly and always seem to be happy. Their smiles are worth the stop!


Check out the kitchen tools on the statue


Here is a little from their website. If you use Lodge cast-iron, you should visit their site.

Originally named The Blacklock Foundry after Joseph Lodge’s friend and minister, the company gained success until May of 1910 when it burned down. Just three months later and a few blocks south, the company was reborn as Lodge Manufacturing Company.


The drive to Unclaimed baggage from the Lodge store was uneventful  except that we gained an extra hour of shopping time when we crossed from Eastern Standard Time to Central Standard Time. Here is a short excerpt from their About page.


In 1970 Doyle Owens headed to Washington D.C. with an idea, a borrowed pick-up truck and a $300 loan to pick up his first load of unclaimed baggage. Selling the contents on card tables in an old rented house, the venture was an instant success.


We walked into the huge store with seemingly endless rack of clothing. Our daughters face had  look of someone who is overwhelmed. Sensing her confusion, I suggested she start looking at hats as she loves collecting them.




Her “finds”

Our stop for the night was Huntsville, Alabama, home of the US Space and Rockert Center, the Redstone Arsenal and Marshall Space Flight Center. Husband and I had only driven through the city on our road trip last year, so we were looking forward to touring the next day. As a bonus, our daughter would be able to pick up some background information as well as absorb the culture of the area for the sequel to her award-winning novel , Jessie.




We chose an early start the next morning for two reasons, first to buy tickets for the daily bus tour and second to see as much as possible before the oppressive heat was in full force. We were successful at snagging tickets but not so much at avoiding the heat. It was a hot, humid day and neither the buildings nor the bus had adequate air-conditioning. (Tip: Don’t visit during the summer!). The Rocket Center had some interesting exhibits as well as hands on activities. Husband and daughter took a go at attempting to land a Space Shuttle.



Rebekah crashed in a spectacular manner. Her dad landed successfully but “ground control” had some serious comments about his landing skills.

We marveled at the cramped conditions ithe early astronauts endured n the space capsules . Rebekah slid into a Mercury capsule but it was so tight, she didn’t slide all the way into it. While she was in , several people approached and we urged them to take a turn inside. They all backed away with panicky looks on their faces.



I think our favorite stop on the bus tour was at the ISS payload building.  We were able to view the command center which is staffed 24/7 to communicate with the station. We were fortunate that one of the staff came out and gave us an interesting talk about the work of the ISS ground communications team.  There were several children in the crowd and they asked great questions.



As we were leaving, husband snapped a picture of our daughter in a space suit. It was a fun day, even with the heat . Rebekah was able to check off another item off of her Space bucket list. She toured Johnson Space Center a year ago and holds an annual pass to Kennedy Space Center. Next on her list is Greenbelt, Maryland and the Goddard Space Flight Center.



As I said, this was a mini road trip and the next morning we were headed home to our beloved mountains and cooler temperatures.


PS: I forgot to mention that our daughter, Rebekah is participating in a promotion that is giving away a copy of The Magnolia Table cookbook by Fixer Upper star, Joanna Gaines as well as a $25.00 Amazon gift card. Click below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


19 May


Judy Wills


Growing up in New Mexico, there wasn’t a lot of water around – no swimming pools (except at the public ones), no ponds or lakesides, no oceans, etc. So, consequently, I was not really familiar with boats of any kind. That really didn’t bother me too much I had a lot of other interests.

If you have ever lived in government quarters – as we did on any military base where we were stationed – then you know that, when you leave that posting, you are required to have those same quarters absolutely immaculate! Better than when you moved into them! And there would be an inspection of those quarters by an official inspector. If they found anything wrong – you were required to “fix” it before you were allowed to leave the base.

We had lived in quarters on Tyndall AFB, Florida for five years. That’s almost too long, actually. Our usual moves were about every three years. I told Fred that we needed to leave soon, because I was beginning to put down roots – in a government duplex!!

He was finally given orders to relocate. So then the work of packing up and moving out began. After the movers had taken our belongings away, we started cleaning the unit. We had always thought we could do that ourselves, rather than hire someone to come in and do it for us. So I set Fred and the girls to cleaning, and I thought I would tackle the kitchen. I had planned on the weekend to do the entire kitchen. Unfortunately, the stove was so old that, in taking it apart and cleaning it – it took the entire weekend just for the stove!

By the time we had finished, we were exhausted.
Now….you may think there is no connection to cleaning and boats…but wait….

page1image16592 There was a gentleman who worked in the Weather Station with Fred, who LOVED boats! And especially sailboats. Not being able to purchase one for himself, he had contracted with another gentleman from Alabama to care for his sailboat.

It was a 33-foot Hunter that would sleep six people. It had a full galley and full shower. It had a small auxiliary engine to get us in and out of port. It was set up for ocean voyages and was one-person configured. Whenever the owner wanted to “play” with it, he would call and come down and retrieve it. That usually only happened once or twice a year. The rest of the time, our friend could take it out whenever he wanted.

And that’s what happened with us. He had offered to take us out for a sail, on the last day we were in town. And so we did. I was a bit confused when we motored out of port, thinking “what does this have to do with sailboating?”

But then he cut the engine and unfurled the sail. It was the most wonderful thing – so very quiet, and peaceful, and RESTFUL…just exactly what we needed after all that cleaning.

He even let our 8-year-old handle the wheel for a while. She loved it!

We’ve never purchased a boat of our own – never felt the need to. But it was an experience that we savored and have remembered all these years.

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