Tag Archives: American Museum tour

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 16

12 Jan

A Slice of Life

DiVoran Lites

Day 16 – 7/27/2021

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

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

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

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

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

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

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

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

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

—To Be Continued—–

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

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

My 2019 Great Lakes Road Trip Part 13A

15 Jan

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 13 – Sunday August 4

This morning after breakfast, I headed east some 55 miles, on I-80, to visit the Palmer Chiropractic Museum located in Davenport, IA.  Called the founder of Chiropractic, Dr. Daniel D. Palmer is said to have performed the very first Chiropractic adjustment on Harvey Lillard in 1895 there in Davenport.  Dr. Palmer and his family went on, over several generations, to create what is now known as the Palmer College of Chiropractic Academic Health Center with facilities in Iowa, Florida, and California.

Description: Image result for d.d.palmer in davenport, ia

This Museum is a part of the Palmer College campus there in Davenport, and resides on two floors of the Vickie Anne Palmer Hall.  The museum showcases the evolution of Chiropractic and its impact on overall health that is said to have helped start a revolution in health care in the early 1900s.  Over the years the Palmer family has been avid collectors of Chiropractic artifacts, and the museum displays many of these artifacts and memorabilia from around the world.

While I was looking for the Bix Beiderbecke Museum, also located in Davenport, I passed an Irish Memorial and stopped to take a photo.  This outdoor memorial was erected by the local St. Patrick Society and honors the many brave men, women, and children who, in the 19th century, left their homes in Ireland and traveled to America to start a new life.

The Bix Beiderbecke Museum resides on the first floor of the River Music Experience Building where exhibits, artifacts and musical scores of this legendary jazz musician/composer are displayed.  A re-creation of the Hudson Lake Casino stage, where Bix performed with his cornet, shows Bix in his prime and the museum will appeal to many jazz lovers and enthusiasts. 

Now I headed northeast on US-67, following the western bank of the Mississippi River, to visit the Buffalo Bill Cody Homestead located in Princeton, IA.  Located just north of Le Claire, on the Mississippi River, this original boyhood home of Buffalo Bill was built by his parents Isaac & Mary Cody in 1847.  The house is furnished with period furniture and artifacts, that tell the story of the young Bill and his brother Samuel, growing up fishing and swimming in the nearby Mississippi River. Interestingly, I saw more live Buffalo here at the homestead than I did last year on my road trip thru the Dakotas, Montana, and Wyoming.

I had to backtrack a few miles south, on US-67, to find the I-80 bridge across the Mississippi River.  As I was passing thru Le Claire, IA on my way to I-80, I happened to spot the Buffalo Bill (Regional History) Museum and stopped to check it out.  This small museum is located right on the Mississippi River, and consists of artifacts, exhibits, and memorabilia related to the history of famous people from Le Claire, such as Buffalo Bill Cody (showman), James Ryan (inventor), and James B. Eads (engineer).  The 1869 steam-powered paddlewheel towboat “Lone Star” is part of the museum, and is located adjacent to the museum in a special pier. 

After crossing the Mississippi River into Illinois, I headed southeast, another 20 miles or so on I-80, to visit the Geneseo Historical Museum located in Geneseo, IL.  The museum is housed in the family home George Richards built in 1855, shortly after the railroad came to Geneseo.  The museum is appointed with period furnishings, and displays artifacts and memorabilia related to the early history of Geneseo and the surrounding area.  It has been rumored that this house was one of the many stations on the “Underground Railroad” used by run-a-way slaves, on their way to Canada, during the Civil War.

Next I headed east on I-80 and south on SR-78 to visit the Johnson-Sauk Trail State Park located just south of Annawan, IL.  The reason for this small side trip was to check out the unusual barn structure that I saw when I was researching this area of my trip.

This park is located on 1365 acres in the north-central Illinois area, formerly referred to as the Great Willow Swamp.  The area is a favorite for camping, fishing, hiking, and nature enthusiasts.  It was initially part of the Great Northwest Territory, claimed by the French, until after the French and Indian War.  In 1765 the land was ceded to Great Britain, where it became part of the Northwest Territory, and finally the Illinois Territory, until Illinois gained it’s statehood in 1818.

—–This day’s activities will be continued next week—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 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

Memory Lane Road Trip~Part 7

8 Aug

A Slice of Life

Bill LItes


Day 7 – Monday 4/23/2018


I knew this was going to be another full day, so after a quick breakfast of blueberries and yogurt in my room, I grabbed a glass of orange juice from the motel breakfast room and headed north, on I-35, to visit the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum located in Waco, TX.  This museum displays artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of the Texas Rangers Law Enforcement Agency which dates as far back as 1823, when the west was wild, and the unit was originally formed by Steven F. Austin.



I continued north on I-35 again to visit the Hill County Cell Block Museum located in Hillsboro, TX. It doesn’t look much like a prison or even a cell block to me.  Built in 1893, the building housed the prison cell block, sheriff’s office and living quarters for the sheriff and his family.  The prison was in use until 1983, when it was closed and became the Cell Block Museum.  Now you tell me if that looks like a prison to you.



Just north of Hillsboro, I picked up I-35E and headed northeast to visit the Cold War Air Museum and the Dallas Squadron of the CAF located at the Lancaster Regional Airport just southeast of Lancaster, TX.  There was very little activity going on at the airport this morning, and most of the hangers were closed.  I found the CAF hanger, but it was closed.  The Cold War Air Museum is open on Saturday and Sunday only so that turned out to be a pretty much wasted stop.



I had another CAF museum in this area on my list, so I asked Greta to take me to the Dallas Commemorative Air Force Museum.  This museum is located at the Dallas Executive Airport, which is on the southwest outskirts of Dallas, Texas.  When I got to the museum, I was surprised to see their sign saying it was the CAF National Headquarters.



I had visited the CAF Headquarters in Midland, TX several years ago, on another trip, and didn’t realize they had moved their headquarters to Dallas.  Of course, their airplanes are all beautifully restored and in flying condition.  The young lady at the desk informed me, that as usual, several of their airplanes were “on the road” at airshows around the country.  I got photos of the airplanes in the hanger, and then I saw a really neat picture, on the wall.  The picture was of a CAF aircraft display showing several of their airplanes, with what I assumed was the Dallas skyline in the background.  I ask the young lady about the photo, and she informed me that it had in fact been taken, there at the Dallas Executive Airport, around 2015.  I asked if I could take a photo of it, and she said, “Help yourself.” So I did.



Now I headed into downtown Dallas to visit the Old Red Museum located across from Dealey Plaza.  Their website informs me that the building was originally built in 1892 as the Dallas County Courthouse.  At the time the courthouse was designed with 6 courtrooms and a library.  The  Courthouse served Dallas County until 1966, when it was moved to a new building.  The Old Red Courthouse building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, and was eventually renovated for use as a landmark museum.  The museum now consists of four floors, where four separate galleries tell the history of Dallas, from the first settlement in 1841, with artifacts and memorabilia. The museum also houses a children’s education center, four mini-theaters, an IMAX theater, and a Great Hall event center with seating for 300 guests.




—–Stay tuned, this day’s activities will be continued next week—–

Memory Lane Trip~Part 6

25 Jul

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites


Day 6 – Sunday 4/22/2018


This morning I headed north on I-35 to visit the New Braunfels Historic Railroad Museum located on W. San Antonio Street, in New Braunfels, TX.  This museum is a restored 1907 train depot that served the International & Great Northern (I&GN), MOPAC, and MKT railroads during what was called the Golden Age of Railroading (1865-1918).  The museum displays memorabilia and artifacts related to how the I&GN and other railroads affected the New Braunfels area over the years.  The museum has several beautifully restored pieces of rolling stock, including a small 1942 fuel-oil fired steam O-6-OT Porter Locomotive, and a 48 seat 1922 Pullman Dining Car that can be rented for special events.



Leaving New Braunfels, I continued north again on I-35 several miles, to visit Dick’s Classic Car Museum located in San Marcos, TX.  This is a large museum displaying around 50 beautifully restored cars from the 1930s – 1950s, including a rare 1948 Tucker Sedan.  The Museum also includes a restoration area, where the cars are brought back to life, and also offers an event center.



While I was in San Marcos, I stopped by the Blue Skies Aviation maintenance and repair facility located at the San Marcos Reginal Airport, to see what they might be working on, but they were closed.



I also looked for the San Marcos Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) there at the airport, but couldn’t find it, as most of the hangers were closed, and there was little activity on this Sunday morning.  So I headed on into the west side of Austin, TX to visit the Texas Military Forces Museum.  The museum didn’t open until 10:00, but Wikipedia informed me that the museum is located within Camp Mabry, in building #6, which was built in 1918 as part of the original camp.  The museum displays memorabilia and artifacts related to the history of the Texas Militia which dates from 1823 (when it was formed) to the present.



Now I headed to downtown Austin to visit the Bullock Texas State Historical Museum.  The museum didn’t open until noon, and I had a lunch date with my cousin Pat, so I didn’t get to visit the museum.  But, Wikipedia says the museum is a large three-floor edifice filled with artifacts and memorabilia dedicated to the “Story of Texas.” The museum also includes a 200 seat multimedia theater (Texas Spirit Theater) and a 400 seat IMAX theater.



I had made arrangements with my cousin Pat and his wife, Lee, to meet for lunch at the Saltgrass Steak House located in Round Rock, TX.  Since it is situated on an access road, adjacent to I-35, Greta had trouble finding the restaurant.  After much back and forth, we finally found it and had a wonderful visit and a nice long lunch.  Their Chicken Tortilla Soup and ½ Texas Cheesesteak Sandwich combo was excellent.  Pat is my first cousin on my mother’s side, and I had not seen him for almost 20 years.  My sister, Judy, has kept up with that side of the family better than I have, so as you might imagine, we had lots to talk about.



After lunch and a wonderful visit, I bid Pat and Lee goodbye and went looking for the Chisholm Trail Park there I Round Rock.  There was not too much information at the park, but Wikipedia informs me that the Chisholm Trail was named for Jesse Chisholm, a rancher, who laid out the trail. He made it famous in the years after the Civil War, by driving many herds of cattle from ranches in the Red River and south Texas ranches, to the rail heads in Hays and Kansas City, Kansas.



The Chisholm Trail passed through this area, marked by the large round rock in the middle of Bushy Creek. That rock located a low water crossing spot for cattle and wagons alike.  The area became known as the “Bushy Creek Crossing at the Round Rock” by cattlemen as well as western traveling pioneers.




            —–Stay tuned – This day’s activities will be continued next week—–   






Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 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

Memory Lane Trip Part 3

4 Jul

A Slice of Life

Bill LItes



Day 3 – Thursday 4/19/2018 (Continued)

Continuing today’s activities, the next place I visited was the Lone Star Flight Museum located in south-Houston, TX.  I had visited this museum several years ago when it was located in Galveston, TX.  I believe one of the last hurricanes that devastated the Gulf coast convince them to move north. Their new facility is much larger and very clean. They have a nice collection of beautifully restored Warbirds that all are in flying condition.  In fact, one of their AT-6 Texan aircraft had just taxied out for a flight as I pulled up the museum.  After getting photos of all their planes, one of the volunteers helped me locate the Flying Legends Museum building just a few blocks away, adjacent to the runway.  However, they were closed, and when I called the museum, they said all of their planes had been moved to North Dakota for the summer. Ah shucks!



Now I headed over toward the west part of Houston to visit the 1940 Air Terminal Museum located adjacent to the William P. Hobby Airport.  I had tried to visit this museum on one of my past trips through this area, but it was closed at the time.  The museum displays memorabilia and artifacts related to the rapidly developing air travel services in and around the Houston area in the late 1930s and early 1940s.  Originally built in early 1940, the Art Deco styled air terminal serviced the Houston area’s air transportation needs until the introduction of jet aircraft required a larger airport.  This museum is a work in progress, as it had been setting unoccupied for over 25 years. The restoration project started in 2003, and has been underway steadily ever since.  They still have lots of work to do on the interior of the building, as replicating much of the Art Deco styling is very time consuming and hard to find skilled workers who know how it should be done.



Not far away I was planning to visit the Houston Bicycle Museum to see what it was all about, but they were closed.  Their website informed me that they display a collection of antique and classic bicycles and cycling related memorabilia and artifacts dating from the 1850s.



While I was in the area, just down the street, I visited the Buffalo Soldiers Museum.  I really never did find out who was sponsoring the “Restaurant Week” celebration there at the museum that day.  Just as I got to the museum, a steady stream of people with all kinds of wonderful looking food dishes were arriving.  I ventured into the large room where I thought the museum artifacts would be displayed, but the whole area had been cleared and set up with tables and food displays. I would love to have filled a plate and joined the festivities, but it was obvious the party had not started yet.  Besides that, I don’t think it would have gone over well, with the some of the participants, for the only white person there to be first in line.



By now the sun was beginning to finish its days’ travels, so I headed for the motel there in Houston. Tonight I enjoyed my Saltgrass Baby Back Ribs again.  The full rack of ribs they gave me at the restaurant was enough to feed two people for two full meals, so I was able to make them last me for three meals.  Yummm again!!!




—–To Be Continued—–




Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 58 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 Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, writing blogs 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 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.

Bill’s favorite Scripture is: Philippians 1:6

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 9

15 Nov

A Slice of Life
Bill Lites



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 4

4 Oct

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites




Day 4 (Monday)


Before I left Fargo this morning I stopped for a quick visit to the Fargo Air Museum, just a few minutes from my motel, located at the Hector International Airport. This was a nice museum consisting of many aircraft which the museum keeps in flying condition. Their collection included the famous DC-3 “Duggy” and a full-scale prototype model of the Northrop-Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk.



Now I headed west on I-94, about 25 miles, for a quick stop to visit the Cass Regional Airport in Casselton, ND. As it turned out I couldn’t find a museum at the airport, but I saw an open hanger door and ducked in to ask about a CAF Squadron. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a Japanese Zero getting a touch-up paint job by Roy Kieffer. He informed me that he had painted several Warbirds for various people and organizations there in that one-plane sized hangar. Who would have guessed?



On these trips I am always on the lookout for brochures advertising museums that I might be interested in visiting. That is how I came across a brochure for the Rosebud Railroad Visitor Center located in Valley City, ND. This turned out to be a very small museum (one restored 1881 Superintendent Rail Coach) housed in a replica of a 1850s freight depot. There wasn’t much to see, but they had a very nice restroom.



Now I made a short side-trip, off of I-94, northwest to visit the Midland Continental Depot located in Wimbledon, ND. This turned out to be pretty much a waste of time, since the museum was a very small restored depot building, which was closed, and a caboose out front.



On the way to Jamestown, ND to visit the National Buffalo Museum, I stopped to get a photo of the World’s Largest Buffalo Monument (26’ tall, 46’ long & 60 tons). I can’t imagine why anyone would put together something like that! I guess it is an advertising gimmick for the buffalo museum there in Jamestown.



However, one of the things I was most looking forward to seeing on this trip was the large herds of buffalo that the TV documentaries have been showing for the last few years. So here I was at the National Buffalo Museum to checkout that herd of buffalo. Well, you guessed it. There was not a single live buffalo to be seen. As a matter of fact, I didn’t see the first live buffalo during my entire trip. My friends tell me they are all somewhere in South Dakota. Right!



After leaving Jamestown I picked up I-94 and headed west again to visit the Historic Town of Buckstop Junction located on the outskirts of Bismarck, ND. This was another tourist trap setup to look like an early North Dakota pioneer town. One look at “Main Street” of the town and I was ready to mosey on down the road.



My first stop in Bismarck was to visit the Lewis & Clark Riverboat, located at the Port of Bismarck on the Missouri River. This turned out to be a dinner cruise type riverboat that took people and groups up and down the river daily and by charter. Since I wasn’t interested in a dinner cruise, I took a couple pictures and headed into downtown Bismarck.



I almost missed the Camp Hancock Historical Site there in downtown Bismarck. The original site was built-up as an infantry post in 1872, to help guard the construction of the railroad thru that area of North Dakota. In later years it was used as a quartermaster’s station and then as a weather station. The small site now consists of a restored church, weather station building and a locomotive.



I stopped at the Former Governor’s Mansion long enough to take a photo, and then swung by the North Dakota Capital for another photo.



Since it was after 5:00, I thought I would look up the local R/C Model airplane flying field to see if anyone was flying this afternoon. Even though it was a beautiful evening, no one was at the field, so I headed for my motel there in Bismarck.

This evening Greta had no trouble finding the motel and, after getting checked in, I settled down to enjoy my leftover Denny’s Ground Turkey Meatloaf dinner with all the trimmings.



—–To Be Continued—-



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