Tag Archives: aviation

My 2019 Great Lakes Road Trip Part 14A

29 Jan

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 14 – Monday August 5

First thing this morning I headed 25 miles east on I-80 to visit the Grundy County Historical Museum located in Morris, IL. This is a small museum that collects and preserves artifacts, documents, and memorabilia related to the history of Grundy County.  This includes items of a cultural, social, geological and anthropological nature.

Heading northeast on I-80 some 20 miles I visited the Old Joliet Prison located in Joliet, IL.  This Illinois State Penitentiary was opened in 1858 to replace the first, and then aging, 1831 Illinois State Penitentiary located in Alton, IL.   Housing nearly 2000 inmates at its peak of operation, the inmate population continued to grow, and this prison was replaced by a new Illinois State Penitentiary in Crest Hill, IL in 2002.  Now just called the Old Joliet Prison, the museum gives tours of a portion of the site which provides visitors with a historical picture of 19th century prison conditions and methods of incarceration.  This was another one of those “You will have to wait for the next tour, and then the tour takes 1-½ hours.”  I opted to go on to the next museum.

Just a few miles south of the Old Joliet Prison I had planned to visit the Stradale Team, located within the Autobahn Country Club complex.  I had hoped to get to see some radical sports cars in action at their road-racing track.  As it turned out, entry into the shops and track was blocked by a sign on the electric gate that informed me that access to the complex was “For Members Only.”  Rats!!

So, I gave Greta (my Garmin) the address for the Illinois Aviation Museum located about 20 miles north, and we headed out.  The next thing I knew, I was caught up in a huge industrial warehousing complex, with literally hundreds of 16-weelers, of all types, heading in every direction.  That wouldn’t have been so bad, but a lot of them seemed to be heading down the same 2-lane road that Greta had me on, and the backup must have been a mile long.  It took forever to get to the “T” in the road where I thought we could finally make some time.  WRONG!  That 2-lane “T” road was also backed up as bad as the one I just turned off of, IN BOTH DIRECTIONS!  It took me a full hour to finally get to a decent 4-lane road where I could pass some of those trucks and make some time.  Whew!  That was frustrating.

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I finally arrived at the Illinois Aviation Museum located adjacent to the Bolingbrook International Airport in Bolingbrook, IL expecting a large museum with lots of beautifully restored airplanes.  What I found was an F-80 Shooting Star, a Huey helicopter, and several smaller airplanes, all jammed in one small hanger.  There was no one around, even after I called out “Hello” a couple of times.  So, I strolled onto the hanger, took a few photos of the airplanes, and told Greta, Let’s tray the next museum.

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Now I headed northeast about 25 miles on I-55 to visit the Chicago Maritime Museum located in the southern part of Chicago.  This large museum houses exhibits, artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of maritime activities on Lake Michigan, with special interest surrounding the port of Chicago in particular.

As a side note, this museum mentions the two Lake Michigan side-wheeler passenger steam ships that the U.S. Navy converted into aircraft carriers (USS Sable & USS Wolverine) and used to train U.S. Navy carrier pilots during WWII.  As it happens, the museum in Florida, where I volunteer as a tour guide, has on display one of the airplanes that was used to train those pilots on those ships during that time period.

—–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


2 Jun


Judy Wills



Have you ever seen a hot-air balloon floating overhead?  Really neat, huh?  We’ve been enraptured with them for quite a while.  The sister of a friend and her new husband “escaped” from their outdoor wedding reception in a hot-air balloon.  How neat is that?

 We had heard about the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta for years, but had never attended one.  It was started after we married and moved away from Albuquerque.   In talking with Fred’s parents, we all decided to head to New Mexico for that great event that year, 2001.  It was the 30th anniversary of the Fiesta.  Fred’s youngest sister and her husband thought it would be fun to join us, as well.  So we made our hotel reservations, airplane reservations, and were getting quite excited.

And then….September 11, 2001 happened.

We were scheduled to fly out in early October, 2001.  After September 11, all flights in the U.S. were grounded.  We were afraid that our flight had been cancelled, as well.  But the grounding was lifted, and we were able to fly out as scheduled.  I’ve heard so many people say they have stopped flying after September 11 – they were just too afraid.  And my thought is…where is your faith?!  Much safer than traveling long distances in a car…etc.

In any case, we flew out as planned and arrived quite safely in Albuquerque, city of my heart.  We connected with the rest of the family, and began our Balloon Fiesta adventure.  It was absolutely wonderful!   Completely fascinating to watch the balloons go from flat on the ground, to upright, to up in the air in a matter of short minutes!  Breathtaking!

But the best day was the day of the Mass Ascension.  If I recall correctly, there were over 800 balloons going up that day.  They were laid out in a pattern, and went up in planned sequence.  But they did all go up.  And that was the day they had the different “shapes” to the balloons, as well.  A cow (Creamland Dairy)…



a Wells Fargo stage coach (as well as a piggy bank)…

















a beer stein…






Mr. Potato Head


Mr Potato Head

Mr Potato Head


Smokey the Bear…



Smokey the Bear

Smokey the Bear



a Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Cone…



Ben and Jerry Ice Cream Cone

Ben and Jerry Ice Cream Cone



Tony the Tiger cereal….



Tony the Tiger

Tony the Tiger



a shoe (Famous Footwear)…



Famous Footwear

Famous Footwear


and a birthday cake congratulating the Fiesta on their 30th anniversary.



Happy 30th Birthday!

Happy 30th Birthday!


We were able to get down close to one of the balloons and watch as they readied it for take off.  Fascinating.



Getting Ready

Getting Ready

Fred has an aversion to large crowds, so it surprised him greatly to find how “uncrowded” this all felt.  As we recall, there were probably well over 100,000 people there!  Of course, it was held on one of the valley floors in Albuquerque, so that helped – lots of room to spare.

That evening, we went to one of the Indian casinos in town, and were able to watch a night-time ascension.  Really beautiful.










Rising Flag

But it is one of our fondest memories – one we recall and treasure.  One year, our oldest daughter and her husband gave us a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle of that event, and we had a great deal of fun putting it together.  Brought back great memories.






The Long, Smooth Highway

22 Apr

My Take

DiVoran Lites

Photo by Melodie Hendrix

Photo by Melodie Hendrix


One Sunday on the way to church, Bill asked if I had any aspirin. No, but here’s something else if you have a headache. He took it. He was rather sluggish all day, but headaches will do that to you. After lunch he said, I can’t wait to lie down. Though he usually takes a nap it wasn’t’ like him to actually say he was tired.

That night or I should say the next morning at 1:41, he woke me and asked me to take him to the hospital. “I think I’m having a heart attack,: he said.” I got out of bed, went to my closet got warm clothes, but not warm enough as it turned out, got my iPod, we got in the car. I was calm, he was calm. We rode down the smooth newly asphalted highway that runs through town in our comfortable old Merc. We talked about how this might not even be a heart-attack so why get our knickers in a knot. Bill walked into the emergency room while I parked the car. He told them he couldn’t get his breath because of the pain and pressure in his chest, so they didn’t make us wait long. They took me in to him after he got his backless nightie and a nitroglycerin tablet. They gave us blankets from the warmer and they started hooking him up to a beeping machine, drips, tubes and I don’t know what all. We were both praying with faith that was given by God and not of ourselves. An old friend who works in environmental services came in and sat down and talked to us the whole time of her break. It seems like it was a long time and we were happy to have her there, happy for the distraction.

I was thinking our daughter would go to work the next morning and since we didn’t know what to tell her I didn’t call until 6:00 a. m. As soon as she got up and got dressed she came. She had called our son and he came from another town, but didn’t get there until after we’d been moved to a room. Both of them were there when the doctor came to talk to us. It was New Year’s eve Monday so the doctor scheduled a catheterization for Wednesday. The adult children and their support made a tremendous difference. There was no fear, no panic, we all thought it was a small thing and not life-threatening, at any rate we knew everything was going to be fine.

You can imagine our surprise when we saw the video of the catheterization the minute it and the insertion of two stints was over. He could have died, the doctor said. It’s a good thing you came when you did. (He had been saved by medications, especially heparin which thinned the blood and allowed it to pass through the two damaged vessels. ) We left the hospital on Thursday morning. We hadn’t called anyone else, there was nothing anyone else could do. We knew everything was going to be all right. It was especially good to spend the time with our children. At one time a nurse said, “Is your company going to stay all day.” Which meant go away and let him rest, I guess she didn’t know they were the best medicine he could have in addition to the methods and medicaments given to save his life. It was all like a dream, a dream on a cloud where everything ran smoothly just like the car did on the Long Smooth Highway.

Bill is doing great. He has been to all the cardio classes, done the exercise therapy and taken up his other exercises again. If they hadn’t had stints, they would have had to do by-passes. Oh, we are so thankful he didn’t have to go through that. He’s taking good care of himself and has lost twenty-five pounds. We have nothing but praise and thanksgiving to our Lord and to all the wonderful people who took care of him. We’ve seen the veins for ourselves and they are in good shape. We are not worried, should we be? No—it’s not necessary, each day is complete in itself. But I’d say we are all a bit more appreciative of each day we have together and we are hoping for a whole lot more of them, God willin’ and the crick don’t rise.

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