Tag Archives: Florida Road Trip

2018 Florida Road~Trip Part 3 (Continued)

19 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

Day 3 Sunday 10/21/2018

 

Now I headed northwest on SR-865 to visit the Mound House located on Estero Island, known today as Fort Myers Beach.  This Restored 1898 Tudor house is situated on top of a huge ancient 2,000 year old Calusa Indian shell mound.  Over the years, It has become a unique historical and archaeological site to study the Calusa Indian culture, which was first discovered by the explorer Ponce de Leon in 1513.

 

 

Heading northwest another 15 miles on SR-865/867, I crossed the San Carlos Bay to visit the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum located on Sanibel Island.  Known as one of the best shell collecting spots in the world, Sanibel Island is the natural location for this shell museum.  I found this to be a very interesting and impressive museum. In addition to the 34+ shell exhibits displayed, the museum collaborates with science and research institutions from around the world in the study the marine science, biology and ecology of the world’s shell and mollusk cultures.

 

 

Next I headed northeast on SR-867 to visited the Edison & Ford Winter Homes located adjacent to the Caloosahatchee River in Fort Myers.  This rambling 20+ acre home and gardens, started in 1886, was the vacation homes to Thomas Edison and his good friend Henry Ford until their deaths in 1931 and 1947 respectively.   The museum displays artifacts and memorabilia of the two men dating from the early 1800s in the historical buildings, and includes Edison’s Rubber Laboratory and the 1928 Botanical Laboratory.  (Google each of these visionary men for many fascinating details).

 

 

 

 

Heading north on U.S.-41, I crossed the Caloosahatchee River on my way to visit the Punta Gorda Railroad Depot Museum. This small museum is situated in the restored 1920s Atlantic Coast Line Depot, and displays artifacts and memorabilia related to the development and growth of this area, on the Pearce River, in the early 1920s.

 

 

 

Just across the street from the Depot Museum was what looked like a restored 1930s Texaco service station. The property was fenced off and there was no sign on the fence or the building to identify what the building was. So I took a photo and was on my way, wondering if I had missed a service station museum or something else.

 

 

While I was in Punta Gorda, I visited the Military History Museum located in the Fishermen’s Village complex on the south bank of the Peace River.  This small museum displays authentic one-of-a-kind artifacts and exhibits related to all branches of U.S. Military Services.  As a point of interest, for those of you who are familiar with WWII, I learned from their website that Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets, Jr. famed pilot of the B-29 Super Fortress “Enola Gay” was the museum’s first honorary chairman.

 

 

By now it was getting late and I gave Greta (my Garmin) instructions to take me to the motel in Port Charlotte for the night.  As I was pulling into the motel parking lot I noticed a Cracker Barrel down the street. After I got checked in, I drove down and enjoyed one of their delicious Grilled Catfish dinners, with green beans and fried okra.  And there is always one of their fresh baked biscuits, with butter and honey for desert.

 

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

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.

 

Bill

 

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

2018 Florida Road Trip Part 3

12 Dec

A Slice of Life 

 Bill Lites

 

Day 3 Sunday 10/21/2018

 

After a full complimentary hot breakfast at the motel this morning, I headed about five miles west to visit the Gold Coast Railroad Museum located just north of the Miami Metro Zoo. This is a relatively new museum (founded in 1956) and displays historical railroad artifacts and memorabilia to educate the public about railroad history.  Along with 40+ pieces of rolling stock, the museum has 3-miles of track on which visitors can take short rides in a restored vintage Florida East Coast steam engine, a Western Pacific Silver Crescent Passenger car, or their Western Pacific caboose.  The museum also displays several model railroad layouts of various scales.

 

 

Now it was just a few miles northwest to where I visited the Wings Over Miami Air Museum located adjacent to the Tamiami Executive Airport.  This small one-hanger museum displays 8-10 beautifully restored aircraft, most of which are in flying condition. I was told the museum’s goal, with the restoration of vintage aircraft, is to be a tribute to those aviators and veterans who pioneered civilian and military aviation in our country.

 

 

It was time to head west across the Florida Everglades to Naples.  I had planned to take the Tamiami Trail (U.S.-41) but one of the guides at the Wings Over Miami Museum warned,“That two-lane road could be a problem if there was an accident anywhere along the route.”  So, I elected to head north, a few more miles, to where I could pick up I-75 (Alligator Alley) and use it to transition the “Glades.”  Boy, those 95 miles were the longest and most boring I have ever traveled! Not a thing to see but swamp grass, in all directions, the whole way.  I stopped at two rest stops, to stretch my legs and get the kinks out of my back, but that didn’t help much.

 

 

I finally got to Naples and visited Naples Motorsports, Inc. which was located just south of I-75. This turned out to be a top-of-the-line exotic and high performance car dealership. I have never seen so many expensive sports cars in one place except at museums.  There were Ferrari Spiders & LaFerraris, Lamborghini  Aventadors & Gallardo Spyders,  Maserati Grand Turismo Sports & Stradales, McLaren P1 & 675LT Spiders, and Porsche 911 Targa 4S & 918 Spyders.  All the big names were there.  It was all too rich for my blood!  When I Googled their website, it listed some 80+ automobiles, from all over the world for sale.  Wow! What and inventory!

 

 

While I was in Naples I visited the Naples Railway Depot Museum.  This small depot museum is located in the restored 1926 Seaboard Air Line Railway Station building.  This museum displays artifacts and memorabilia related the railroad development and use in the city of Naples and Collier County in the early 1920s.  The museum was closed, so I just took a photo and was on my way to check out the next museum on my list.

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

 

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.

 

Bill

 

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

2018 Florida Road Trip Part 2

5 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

Day 2 Saturday 10/20/2018

 

First thing this morning I heated up my leftover IHOP Colorado Omelette, and had a delicious breakfast there in my motel room.  What a wonderful way to start the day!  After breakfast, I headed south to visit my first museum, the Palm Beach Maritime Museum located in the Northwood Village area on the Indian River.  I was expecting a museum exhibiting displays and artifacts related to the early maritime history of the Palm Beach area.  So I was surprised to find the museum closed, and the remnants of last night’s local homeless community packing up their things. Since there was no one around to ask about the status of the museum, I just took a photo and was on my way.

 

 

While I was in West Palm Beach, next I visited the Palm Beach Photographic Centre in downtown West Palm Beach.  This museum is located in the Mandel Public Library, and is a visual arts organization that displays various forms of photographic artwork.  The museum is noted for organizing the city’s annual FotoFusion photography festival.

 

 

Another museum there in West Palm Beach I wanted to visit was the Ragtops Antique Automobile Museum. This museum is known for its beautifully restored classic cars of all type and models dating from the 1930s to the 1960s muscle cars.  And the biggest surprise is that all of these cars are For Sale!  Just bring lots of cash.

 

 

Now it was on south another 30 miles to visit the Boca Express Train Museum located in Boca Raton. This museum is housed in the restored 1930s Florida East Coast Railroad depot, and displays artifacts and memorabilia related to the early development of the Boca Raton area aided by the railroad. The museum also has several restored pieces of rolling stock, including a 1930s Baldwin steam engine, a 1947 Seaboard Air Line streamlined rail car, dining & lounge car, and a 1946 Atlantic Coast Line caboose.

 

 

Next I headed just a few miles south on U.S.-1 to visit the South Florida Railway Museum located in Deerfield Beach.  This small museum is situated in the 1926 Seaboard Air Line Railway Station and displays artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of the railroad with respect to the early Deerfield Beach area.  The museum was a little hard to find, as it is located on the south end of the restored, and still active, Deerfield Beach Amtrak passenger terminal.

 

 

Another 20 miles south on U.S.-1 I visited the Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum located in the Poinciana Park area of Fort Lauderdale.  This museum was created by Mr. Arthur Stone, and is his personal and loving collection of Packard Motor Cars from 1900 to 1958.  The museum also displays a vast array of automobile and oil company artifacts and memorabilia dating from the early 1900s.

 

 

While I was in Fort Lauderdale, I wanted to visit the World Jet, Inc. facility to see what they were all about.  As it turned out, World Jet is a full-service Fixed Base Operator (FBO) located adjacent to the Fort Lauderdale Executive airport.  They specialize in the maintenance and servicing of all types of private jet aircraft.  There wasn’t much to see going on this morning.

 

 

As part of my research for this trip I had planned to visit my friend, Lucas, there in Fort Lauderdale, for lunch.  He had grown up in Titusville, and his family still lives there.  I found his apartment, which had a beautiful view of the Middle River and many of its more expensive homes and yachts.  He took me to the Tom Jenkins BBQ restaurant where I had some delicious Smoked BBQ Sausage with baked beans and cole slaw.  We had a great visit and he gave me a ride in his new Mini Cooper.  I was surprised at how much room there was in that small car. And the 40+ m/gal impressed me too!

 

 

Next I visited the Naval Air Station Museum located next to the Fort Lauderdale International Airport. This small museum displays artifacts and memorabilia mainly related to U.S. Naval Aviation during WWII.  The museum has a section dedicated to Flight 19 that flew out of NAS Fort Lauderdale on December 5, 1945 and vanished into the Bermuda Triangle.  Flight 19 is one of the Navy’s most perplexing unsolved mysteries to date (Google U.S. Navy Flight 19 Mystery for many interesting details).  The museum also honors NAS Fort Lauderdale as the base where future President, then Ensign, George H. W. Bush trained to become a torpedo bomber pilot.

 

 

By now it was time to head for the motel for tonight.  I told Greta (My Garmin) to take me south toward to the motel, located in the Richmond Heights area of south Miami.   Traffic was pretty heavy, but we finally got to the motel.  After getting checked in, I heated up my leftover Smoked BBQ Sausage and enjoyed that great meal again.

 

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

 

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.

 

Bill

 

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

2018 Florida Road Trip (Prelude)

14 Nov

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

Prelude:  Because of the influence of NASA and the U.S. Air Force, east central Florida is the home to many historic, space, and aviation related museums.  Living in this area for many years, I have visited many of these museums more than once. Because they are all within a “Day Trip” distance, or less, from where I live, they will not be counted as part of this current road trip.  However, I will start off by giving you a brief account of each of them so you will know what is available in the area.

 

 

Because we live on Florida’s east coast near the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), one of my favorite places to visit is the KSC Visitors Center.  This is one of the most frequently visited attractions in Florida, next to Disney World in Orlando.  The visitor center is one of the best ways for NASA to advertise their launch operations business that has been on-going within the 144,000 acre Kennedy Space Center over the last 60+ years.  The KSC Visitor Center complex displays a variety of artifacts, memorabilia, and exhibits related to the history and future of America’s manned space flight programs.  The U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame is also located within the NASA Visitor Center Complex. There is a rocket garden and several space related attractions, as well as bus tours. The bus tour gives visitors a close-up look at the KSC and provides educational information about the many past and current projects as well as those planned for the future from this location.

 

 

Located southeast of the KSC, across the Banana River, on the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station you will find the Air Force Space & Missile Museum.  This small museum exhibits artifacts and memorabilia related to the early days of America’s space programs.  The museum also has a Rocket Garden which includes the restored launch complex 26, from where the first successful American satellite was placed in earth orbit, and launch complexes 5/6 which were used to place America’s first Astronauts in earth orbit.

 

 

While in Cape Canaveral anyone who has an interest in lighthouses will want to visit the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse, located on the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and operated by the U.S. Air Force Space Wing.  The lighthouse has a very interesting history beginning with the first lighthouse placed at this location in 1838.  Other lighthouses have been built and moved to this location over the years, to warn mariners of the dangerous Southeast Shoals located just off the Florida coast.  Free tours of the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse can be scheduled for Wednesdays & Thursdays (only) thru the Patrick AFB Public Affairs office.

 

 

Just a few miles west of Cape Canaveral, across the Banana River, you will find the 82 acre Brevard Veterans Memorial Park located just south of SR-520 at the south end of the Sykes Creek Parkway.  Within this beautifully laid out park you will find the Veterans Memorial Library, the Veterans Memorial Plaza and the Veterans Memorial Museum.  The museum displays artifacts and memorabilia related to all branches of the U.S. Military Services dating from the Revolutionary War to the present War on Terror.

 

 

On your way back towards Orlando from either of the afore mentioned museums you will find the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum located just off SR-405 on the east side of the Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, FL.  This is a large three-hanger museum that displays 40+ beautifully restored aircraft from WWI to the present.  As with most aircraft museums, there are always aircraft in various stages of restoration by the excellent staff of volunteer mechanics. Several of the aircraft in this museum’s collection are in flying condition and for those who wish the thrill of flying in a vintage warbird, and have the money, this can be arranged at the gift shop.

 

 

Another local space related museum is The American Space Museum located in downtown Titusville, FL. This museum displays artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of America’s manned space exploration from its earliest days.  The museum also has examples of launch control consoles from the blockhouse of launch complex 36, from which NASA and the U.S Air Force launched various payloads on Atlas rockets from 1962 to 2005.

 

 

The outdoor Space View Park, located on the Indian River, just two blocks east of the museum, is the site of the Space Walk of Fame and is an integral part of the American Space Museum. The monuments and brick engravings honor the Astronauts and many of the workers who made the U.S. Manned Space Programs possible.  The Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle monuments and engravings displayed in the park also help keep alive the memory of the people and programs and what they have accomplished in their generation.

 

           Additional Brevard County area museums will be discussed next week.

—–To Be Continued—–

 

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.

 

Bill

 

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

Florida Caverns State Park

24 Jan

A Life to Live

Melody Hendrix

Did you know that Florida has caves as beautiful as the famous Mammoth Cave and Carlsbad Caverns? Florida Caverns State Park is located in the Florida Panhandle near Marianna. It is home to the only air-filled cave accessible to tourists in Florida.
Florida Caverns is unusual for the state. It is a limestone cave, part of a system of Ocala limestone which stretches out into north Florida and south Alabama and south Georgia..
The Florida Caverns has dazzling formations of limestone stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, flowstones and draperies. The caverns are home to blind salamanders and crayfish, as well as the endangered gray bat.

This is just one more example of Florida’s diverse landscapes. The tour of the cave is a must.
caves-2

The address is  3345 Caverns Rd, Marianna, FL 32446

Directions to Florida Caverns State Park

Florida Caverns State Park is located three miles north of Marianna, off of U.S. 90 on State Road 166. From Tallahassee, take I-10 west to exit 142, turn right on Highway 71 and travel north to Highway 90. Turn left. Follow brown park signs. From Pensacola: Take I-10 east to exit 136, turn left on Highway 276, travel north to Highway 90. Turn right. Follow brown park signs.

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