Tag Archives: Florida #RoadTrip

2018 Florida Road Trip Part 6

16 Jan

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

Day 6 Wednesday 10/24/2018

 

Two of the most important museums I had my heart set on visiting on this trip, were the National Museum of the U.S. Navy located in Pensacola, and the U.S. Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin AFB.  Since hurricane Michael had changed my route plans, I now had to work my way to Pensacola by an alternate route.  After breakfast this morning, I headed north on U.S.-19 to visit some of the museums in Tallahassee that were originally on my list to visit on my way back from Pensacola. The first was the Museum of Florida History.   This museum is located in the R.A. Gray Building, there in Tallahassee, and as the state’s history museum it displays exhibits, artifacts, and memorabilia related to the development of Florida’s unique history over the years.

 

 

Just a few miles west of the Museum of Florida History, I visited the Mission San Luis de Apalachee. This is the site of a Spanish Franciscan mission that was built in 1633 as part of Spain’s effort to colonize the Florida Peninsula, and to convert the Apalachee Indians to Christianity (see Wikipedia for “Mission San Luis de Apalachee“ for many additional interesting details).

 

 

As I headed for the next museum, I passed the Florida State Capital Building and stopped to take a photo. There was a modern 22-story executive office building in the background that ruined any kind of decent photo that a person would try to take of the restored original 1902 Old State Capital Building. Rats! I could have done without that modern distraction.  Guess I’ll have to learn how to do “Photo Shop” so I can get rid of those, and other, ugly distractions in the future.

 

 

While I was in Tallahassee, I went looking for the Railroad Square Art Park, and found it located just south of U.S.-90 and the Florida State University.  Because of my word dyslexia, I didn’t read all the words, and was expecting a “Railroad” park or museum, not an “Art Park.”  All I found at the “Park” was the sign below, just outside a small house with a “Black Dog” sign on it (whatever that means) and a couple of unidentifiable warehouse looking buildings.  DiVoran keeps telling me to, “Read ALL the words Bill” but one slips by me now and then.

 

 

Now I headed northeast on U.S.-90 about 10 miles, to visit the Tallahassee Automobile Museum located near the intersection of U.S.-90 and I-10.  This turned out to be one of the largest auto museums I’ve ever visited. The museum displays some 160+ beautifully restored (mostly American) cars dating from 1894, and includes, among others, a rare1948 Tucker.  The museum also has on  display, large collections of motorcycles, bicycles, boats, grand pianos, cash registers, and clocks filling two floors.

 

 

After this exhilarating experience, I headed northwest on I-10 & U.S.-231 toward Dothan, AL where I was to spend the night. I was running low on gas when I crossed the state line between Florida and Alabama.  The first gas station I came to in Alabama was advertising gas for $.40/gal lower than the last station I had passed, in Florida.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I pulled in and asked a guy at one of the other pumps if the price was a joke or what?  He said, “Nay, this heres the reglar price, ‘causen we have lower gas taxes here in Alabam than they does down in Florida.  People comes across the border for their gas all the time to save money.”  WOW, what s serendipity!   I made plans to top-off my tank again tomorrow before leaving Alabama.

 

 

I skirted Dothan, AL and headed north on U.S.-431 to visit the Todd Syrup Farm  located a few miles north of the city of Dothan near Headland, AL. This turned out to be a long standing small community developed by Mr. Joe Todd and his wife Edria, and consists of a General Store, a Café, a Syrup Factory, a Farming Museum, and Campground.  I got to the Farm just at quitting time, and was able to meet Joe Todd and several of his syrup factory workers as they were closing up shop for the day.  Joe informed me that Thomas Todd had started this syrup business back in 1864, and that the family had been running it ever since. When I asked him about the museum, he mentioned the 40+ different cane mill designs the family had invented over the years, some dating from the Civil War days.

 

 

On my way to the motel I passed the entrance to the National Peanut Festival grounds and stopped to take a photo of their giant peanut.  Wikipedia informs me that the annual fall National Peanut Festival is held at this fairgrounds complex to honor peanut growers and celebrate the peanut harvest season.  The festival has amusement rides and an outdoor amphitheater where live music concerts are performed.   I would imagine you could find the “Miss. Peanut” beauty pageant winner there too.

 

 

While I was checking in at the motel, the desk clerk commented how lucky I was to have a room reservation, as they had been booked completely full, with relief workers, every night since hurricane Michael.  He was right, as I would not like to have to sleep in my van tonight.  Once settled in my room, I heated up my Italian Mama’s delicious meat Lasagna dinner and enjoyed it again.  Yummm!

 

 

—–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 5

9 Jan

A Slice of Life
Bill Lites

 

Day 5 Tuesday 10/23/2018

 

I was out early this morning, heading north on U.S.-19 to visit the National Armed Services Museum located in Dunedin.  This small museum displays artifacts and memorabilia from all branches of the U.S. military, dating from the Revolutionary war to the present.

 

 

Now it was another 10 miles north on U.S.-19 to visit the SpongeOrama Sponge Factory located in Tarpon Springs.  This is a very interesting place where they tell you all about how Florida Gulf Coast natural sponges are harvested, processed and distributed all over the country. I would have enjoyed a lunch at one of the fine Greek restaurants along the water front if it hadn’t been so early.

 

 

While I was in Tarpon Springs, I drove into downtown to visit the Historic Train Depot Museum.  This small museum is situated in the original 1909 Atlantic Coast Line Railroad depot building and displays artifacts and memorabilia related to the influence of the railroad on the city of Tarpon Springs beginning in the early 1900s.

 

 

Now I headed north on U.S.-19 & SR-50 to visit the Brooksville Railroad Depot Museum located just off S. Main Street in Brooksville.  This museum is located in the original 1885 Florida Southern Railroad Depot and presently is the trailhead for the Good Neighbor Trail Project (Wikipedia will tell you all about the trail).  The museum displays memorabilia and artifacts that tell the story of the railroad’s influence on Brooksville and the surrounding area in the late 1880s.

 

 

Next I worked my way roughly 145 miles north, mostly on U.S.-19, to visit the Forest Capital Museum State Park located just east of the Perry- Foley Airport.  This 13 acre park contains a small museum and several restored early 1800s buildings, that gives visitors an idea of what life would be like, as they tried to scratch out a life on an 1864 Florida homestead.

 

 

A Florida Historical Marker at the entrance to the park described how the nearby Perry Army Air Base (1943-1945) was used to help train 120 U.S. Army Air Corps fighter pilot replacements each month in support of the WWII war effort.  Today the Perry-Foley Airport still uses those runways for general aviation purposes.

 

 

By now I was ready for Greta (my Garmin) to take me to the motel for the night there in Perry.  After I got checked in, I asked the desk clerk for her restaurant recommendations, and she said,  Mama’s Family Italian Restaurant just down the street was good.  So I gave Mama’s a try, and enjoyed a delicious meat Lasagna dinner with  fresh baked Italian rolls and butter.

 

 

NOTE: When I planned this trip in early September, I had planned to travel from Perry, west on U.S.-98, along the Florida west coast, all the way to Pensacola, the most westerly point of my trip.  I would visit museums along the way in St. Marks, Carrabelle, Apalachicola, Port St. Joe, Panama City, Destin, Fort Walton Beach, and Eglin AFB.  I had motel reservations for a night’s stay in Panama City and Pensacola.  We now know that hurricane Michael had other plans for western Florida.

 

 

A week after the hurricane dealt it’s deadly blow to the southeast (and two days before my trip was to begin), the Panama City motel called to tell me they were not going to be able to honor my reservation because of major hurricane damage.  Because of the way I had made my reservation (non-refundable), the closest place they could place me for that night was Bainbridge, GA.  I agreed since most of U.S.-98 along the west coast of Florida was closed, and I didn’t want to take a chance on traveling on any roads other than Interstates thru the hurricane’s path.  The next day the Bainbridge motel called to tell me they were not going to be able to honor my reservation for that night either.  What a mess this was turning out to be.  I ended up having to stay in Dothan, AL that night.  I just wanted to get all the details straightened out before I left on my trip, as I didn’t trust my ability to make or change the necessary arrangements while on the road.

—–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 4 (Continued)

2 Jan

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

Day 4 Monday 10/22/2018

 

Now I headed 10 miles northeast on SR- 684 to visit the Manatee Village Historical Park located in Bradenton.  This historical village park consists of some ten restored buildings, a steam locomotive, artifacts and memorabilia, arranged to give visitors an idea of what the old “Cracker Trail” of Florida was like before paved roads and electricity.  In addition to the 1903 Wiggins General Store, there is a farmhouse, a barn, a bunkhouse, a community church, a schoolhouse, a courthouse, a smokehouse, a sugar cane mill, and boat works.

 

 

There seems to be several definitions for the term “Florida Cracker” that I have come across in my travels. Wikipedia suggests the term “cracker” was used as far back as the Elizabethan era England to describe a braggart.  Then in the 1700s the term “cracker” was used to describe American frontiersmen who the British considered boastful and lawless rascals.  By the 1800s the term “cow hunter,” in the south, had morphed into “cracker cowboy” because of their use of whips to drive the cattle.

 

 

Then there is the definition I’ve heard that the term “cracker” was derived from the Spanish Vaqueros, who had migrated from Mexico to the southeastern U.S. and also used whips to drive their cattle.  And then there are the people today who use the term “cracker” to boast about how many generations their families have lived in a certain area (e.g. George Cracker or Florida Cracker).  So take your pick.  I like all the definitions, and am not about to argue with any of them.

 

 

Next I headed northeast 15 miles on U.S.-41/-301 to visit the Florida Railroad Museum located just north of SR-62, outside the city of Parrish.  The museum consists of a collection of some 40+ pieces of rolling stock from various time periods.  This museum is known for its short round-trip railroad excursions in their restored vintage 1930s Pullman cars, on a six-mile section of the original 1895 Seaboard Air Line track, between Parrish and the ghost town of Willow.

 

 

After this quick visit, I headed east on SR-64 to visit the Pioneer Park Museum & Wildlife Refuge located in Zolfo Springs (1878).  This turned out to be a big waste of time, since I almost missed the tiny “Cracker Trail Museum” in the middle of the huge campground area.  It turns out this is a camping/events site, and their few “Cracker” houses & buildings didn’t hold much interest for me.

 

 

Now I headed northwest on several Florida backroads, to visit the TECO Streetcar Line in Tampa. The address Greta (my Garmin) took me to turned out to be the streetcar stop for the Port of Tampa Bay.  There were no streetcars there, but The Florida Aquarium was in the same location.  Since the aquarium was on my list of things to see on this trip, that worked for me.  This attraction is home to more than 7000 aquatic plants and animals, and their exhibits are laid out in such a manner as to show the extensive journey a single drop of fresh Florida spring water takes to get to the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

 

 

My original plan was to stop in Tampa for a meal at the Columbia Restaurant, but time was running out on me, “…and I had miles to go before I could rest.”  So I by-passed the Columbia and headed for the Tampa Firefighters Museum there in Tampa. This museum is housed in the restored 1911 Old Fire House No.1 and has on display artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of the Tampa Fire Department from 1885.

 

 

Now I headed west on I-275 to visit the Tampa Bay Automobile Museum located in Pinellas Park.  This is a fabulous museum with a unique collection of some 60+ beautifully restored vintage cars from all over the world.  I can’t begin to tell you how impressed I was with this museum.  A car collector’s “must see” when next you’re in the Pinellas Park/St. Petersburg area.

 

 

Next I tried to find the Tampa Bay SimCenter, close to the Tampa/Clearwater International airport, where I was hoping to take a flight in a Boeing 737 simulator.  When I couldn’t find their facility, I called them and they said I would need a 24-hour advanced reservation for a slot.  Well that didn’t work, so while I was near the airport, I looked for the Florida Military Aviation Museum.  When I saw the Grumman Albatross, out front where the museum should have been, I thought I had found the museum, only to discover it was no longer in business. Bummer!  The Albatross was the “gate guard” for the Coast Guard office at the airport.

 

 

So I told Greta (my Garmin) it was time for her to take me to dinner, which tonight was going to be at the original Crabby Bill’s seafood restaurant (1983) located in Indian Rocks Beach.  I had a delicious dinner of Wild Sea Scallops with cold slaw and onion rings.  Yummm!

 

 

 

—–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 1 (Continued)

28 Nov

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

Day 1 Friday 10/19/2018

 

Now I headed west, back across the Indian River on the North Causeway, to visit the Missionary Flights International (MFI) facility located at the St. Lucie County Airport in Fort Pierce. One of the missionary families DiVoran and I support ministers to several small communities in Haiti, and uses the MFI folks to transport equipment and supplies to their son who heads up the ministry there in Haiti.  I had called ahead and talked to Leslye, who now introduced me to the President of MFI operations.  Joe was kind enough to take the time, from his busy schedule, to give me a tour of the MFI facilities and their fleet of airplanes, which range from a Cessna 310 to three turbo prop powered C-47s.

 

 

Now I headed east, across Seaway Drive to A1A, and a few miles south, to visit the FPL Energy Encounter located on Jensen Beach.  This attraction was closed at the time, but I was informed that this museum is not open to the general public, and that reservations are required for group access, and.   The Encounter displays a collection of electrical and nuclear power exhibits to educate visitors about the various ways of producing electrical power for consumers.

 

Heading back across the Indian River on Ocean Blvd, across U.S.-1 again, I was looking for the Maritime & Yachting Museum located in Stuart.  This museum displays artifacts and memorabilia which include antique boats, navigational equipment and model boat displays related to yachting.  The museum was  closed, so I took a photo of the building and was on my way.

 

 

While I was in Stuart, I decided to pop over to the Witham Air Field and check out the Stuart Jet Center to see what they were all about.  As it turned out, the Jet Center is a flight and service center for all types of aircraft calling Martin County their home base.  One of their most recent winter visitors to the Jet Center is the world’s oldest flying DC-3, the American Airlines Flagship Detroit.  The Flagship Detroit is usually maintained and operates from its home base located at the Shelbyville Municipal Airport in Shelbyville, TN.  As with many older people, and some older machines, the Flagship Detroit now calls the Stuart Jet Center its winter home, where it can enjoy the warm and sunshiny days.

 

 

Next I headed south another 25 miles, on U.S.-1, to visit the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum located on the north side of the Jupiter Inlet.  Construction began on the lighthouse in 1853, but was delayed several times (once by the Third Seminole War 1855-1858) before it could be completed in 1860.  Over the years a U.S. Weather station, a U.S. Signal station, and a U.S. Navy Radio Compass station were added to aid navigation in the area.    In 1939 the U.S. Coast Guard took over responsibility for the lighthouse, and the U.S. Navy established a Radio Detecting Station known as ”Station J.”  In 1943 alone, Station J was credited with locating some 60+ German submarines, off the coast of Florida, which were destroyed by the U.S. Army Air Corps and the U.S. Navy.

 

 

By now I was ready for Greta (My Garmin) to take me, the 20 miles south, to my motel, for tonight, in West Palm Beach.  After getting checked in, I asked the desk clerk for some restaurant recommendations, and he said there’s an IHOP right there at the end of the driveway.  Well, I wasn’t in the mood for breakfast. I wanted some MEAT in my meal tonight.  I got in the van and went downtown looking for my kind of place to eat. Nothing!  I came back to the motel and went the other way.  I just knew there had to be something somewhere. Nothing!  OK, that did it.  I drove back to the motel and went to the IHOP.  I ordered one of their Colorado Omelettes, and to my surprise, it was the most delicious omelette I’ve ever had, and it was huge!  I could only eat half of it, so I will nuke the other half tomorrow morning for a scrumptious breakfast in my room before heading out on Day 2.

 

 

—–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

%d bloggers like this: