Tag Archives: Museum Travel Series

My 2019 Great Lakes Road Trip Part 2

11 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 2 – Wednesday July 24

I was glad things worked out as they did yesterday, since one of the main reasons I picked this area for this road trip was to visit the Air Zoo Museum in Portage, MI.  This is one of the most amazing aviation museums I have visited.  Their 35+ beautifully restored aircraft are strategically positioned and lighted so the visitor can get good photos.  Their restoration building is one of the most organized and clean facilities I have ever seen.  This museum was one of the high-lights of this trip!

After this great museum visit, I headed northeast on SR-43 about 25 miles to visit the Gilmore Car Museum located in Hickory Corners, MI.  This turned out to be another fantastic experience!  The museum consists of some 18 individual buildings, situated on 90 acres, filled with 300+ beautifully restored automobiles, motorcycles, and vintage memorabilia dating from the late 1890s.

The collection actually had on display more vintage Duesenberg motorcars than the Auburn/Cord/Duesenberg Museum in Auburn, IN that I visited in 2016.  There is also a replica 1930s full service Shell Station where gas is always $.18 cents a gallon.

And if you’re hungry, there is the 1941 “Blue Moon Diner” where visitors can stop in for lunch.  I could have spent a whole day at this museum, but I had miles to go and other museums to visit, before this day was going to be over.  

From here I headed southeast on SR-89/37 to visit the Post Cereal Museum located in Battle Creek, MI. Started in 1892 by Charles Post, on this site, the Postum Cereal Company produced cereal drinks and breakfast cereals such as Postum, Grape-Nuts, and Post Toasties before becoming the General Food Corporation in 1929.  Through the years the company grew and was purchased by various conglomerates, until it became a part of Kraft Foods in 1989.  I didn’t have time to wait for the next scheduled tour to begin, so I opted to move on to the next museum.

Now it was east on I-94 to visit Ye Ole Carriage Shop in Spring Arbor, MI.  Because of road construction in the area, this small museum was very hard to find.  I was looking forward to getting a look at a 1902 JAXON steam car in their collection.  The JAXON (which I had never heard of) was built by one of the 24 companies building cars in nearby Jackson, MI during the early 1900s.   When I finally did find the museum, it was closed.

Just a few miles northeast I planned to visit the Cell Block 7 Museum in Jackson, MI.  The museum is located on the grounds of the operational State Prison of Southern Michigan.  What originally began as a log structure in 1839, housing 35 inmates, has grown over the years to become one of the largest walled institutions in the world, housing as many as 5000+ inmates at any one time.  As with the Post Cereal Museum, I didn’t go through this museum as I would have had to wait for the next guided tour.  I have found that these guided tours usually take 1½ to more than 2 hours, and that is more time than I usually like to spend to see a museum.

While I was in Jackson, I tried to find the Hackett Auto Museum, but discovered they were in the process of restoring an old building for their collection and wouldn’t be ready to open until sometime in 2020.  So, I headed east on I-94 again to visit the Waterloo Farm Museum located in Grass Lake, MI. This farm museum is built around the original 1854 farm home of Johannes Siebold and his family.  The museum honors the Michigan pioneer farmers of the 1850s, and has a restored farmhouse,  farm buildings, and farm equipment used during that time period.

Now I headed east to visit the Argus Museum located in Ann Arbor, MI.  One of my first cameras was a 35mm Argus C4 that my Aunt Jessie gave me for high school graduation.  I used that camera to take tons of pictures in the many foreign seaports I visited while I was in the U. S. Navy (1956-1962).  According to their website, my camera was built in this building sometime between1951-1957).  The museum consists of camera displays, artifacts and memorabilia related to the company’s history from 1936-1969.

Since the Saline Depot Museum in Saline, MI was only open on Saturdays, and would take me 20 miles out of my way, I opted to bypass that museum and head east on I-94 to visit  the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum located in Ypsilanti, MI.   This museum is housed in the building that housed the longest operating Hudson dealership in Michigan (1927-1955).  The museum has 30+ beautifully restored cars, including a 1952 Hudson Hornet and a 1948 Tucker  movie prop. The museum name was changed around 1995,but the name on the building is still Hudson Auto Museum. 

By now I was getting hungry, and I asked Greta to take me down the road a few miles, to the motel in Romulus, MI.  The desk clerk recommended Leonardo’s Italian Grill there in town, where I had their delicious Baked Lasagna dinner with fresh baked rolls, and Tiramisu for dessert. 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

My 2016 Mid-West Trip~Part 2

13 Jul

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

My 2016 Mid-West Trip Part 2
By Bill Lites

Day 2 (Sunday)

I was expecting today to be a long day, but that huge storm that hit Houston the day before was getting ready to make today even longer. That storm must have been moving slowly west while I was enjoying a good night’s sleep. I hadn’t been on the road more than a half an hour this morning when I started running into the rain. And it was solid rain from then for the next six hours. It was coming down so hard at times that I couldn’t hear my audio book on the car speaker system over the pounding of the rain on the car.

traffic_in_the_rain

Of course no one expects to have an accident just because it’s raining, but as you might expect, someone did. Just look at the car in the left lane, in the picture above, and tell me that is adequate separation for driving on an Interstate in a driving rain! How can people expect to arrive at their destination in one piece when they drive like that? Over the course of the day there were two major accidents which caused I-10 westbound traffic to back up for miles each time.

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During one of those stop-and-go episodes I was lucky enough to be able to pull off the Interstate for gas and to use the restroom. I was thinking that while I was accomplishing those tasks the traffic might hopefully clear. Well, not only did the traffic not clear up, but there were so many people stopping for gas, that there were lines at all 10 pumps, and people were using the covers over the pumps to stay out of the rain. When I finally was able to snag a pump, my credit card didn’t work. I asked the attendant why my card didn’t work and he said with all this rain his satellite connections are not working. Good thing I had some cash or I would have really been stuck. The light at the end of this very dark tunnel was that the weather in Houston was reported to be clear and dry.

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I finally made it to Houston and got to the Space Center Houston Museum around 2:30 in the afternoon. It was a large facility with a tram tour that included the NASA Human Spaceflight Training Center, the Manned Flight Control Center and the NASA Rocket Park. I ended up spending about 2-1/2 hours there, with the tram tour and walking through the museum.

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By then I was getting pretty hungry and it was starting to rain, AGAIN, so I decided to take my supper at Fuddruckers, which was just down the road. I had one of their 1/3 pound Southwest Specialty burgers. Supper was wonderful and relaxing. Then after a couple of wild goose chases around the northern part of Houston, by my friend Greta, she finally got me to my motel for the night.

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After I got settled in at the motel, I remembered I wanted to pick up a couple of items from Walmart. I asked the desk clerk for directions and found it with no problems. But, as I exited the store I realized I had forgotten to bring Greta with me so I could find my way back to the motel easily. Even with a lot of prayer, and several stops for directions, it still took me an hour to find my way back to the motel. Boy, am I ever glad this day is over. I told myself, “Never leave home-base again without Greta!”

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—–To Be Continued—–

Flying Legends Airshow Part 15

16 Dec

 

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Flying Legends

Day 15 – Wednesday July 15th

 

Did I mention that on Day 2 of this trip (that day that almost did me in) that I had scrapped both passenger side doors of my rental car when I got too close to a metal entry post at a carpark? Well I did, and not even four hours after renting the car. What a bummer! And now I was looking for an auto repair shop to get a damage estimate for Budget and my insurance company. The hotel clerk looked up the name and phone number of a local shop for me. I called (on a pay phone) and asked the owner if he could review the damage and give me a written estimate. He said he could, and gave me his SatNav address. He said his shop was only about 15 minutes from the Europa hotel.

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I gave Greta the SatNav address and headed for his shop. Well, Greta took me to a farm house on a narrow country lane with no repair shop in sight. I put the address in again, and she took me back to the same farmhouse. While I was sitting there trying to decide what to do next, a lady came walking down the lane, and I asked her for directions. She pointed me to the end of the lane, and sure enough there was the shop (about a mile further down the lane). But, it was all locked up! Stress Gummy time.

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I had assumed the owner was in his shop when I had talked to him, but no, he was on his mobile phone! Now what was I going to do? Just then I spied a call button on the wall next to the shop. I pressed it and a woman answered and told me I had buzzed the private house behind the shop. Ops! I told her I was there to see the owner of the repair shop and she said, “Oh, that’s George.” I told her my problem (she was very nice) and asked her if she would mind calling George for me. She did, and George said he could be at the shop in 15 minutes. He came and gave me a written estimate of the repair work. Then I realized I didn’t have the SatNav for the Budget office (only the phone number). I ask George if he would call them for their SatNav number. He was kind enough to do that, and I was on my way to turn in my rental car.

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Greta took me to the Budget office at the Arora Hotel, there in Crawley, with no problems. The Budget agent was very nice about the damage to the car. I gave him my insurance paper work/estimate, and he wrote up an incident report for Budget. What a joy it is to work with people like that. They just seem to smooth out all the rough edges of any situation. He even gave me a ride to the Crawley train station.

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At the train station I bought my ticket to the London-Gatwick Airport and was there (on a Virgin train) at 11:00 to check-in with Virgin Atlantic Airlines for my flight to Orlando, leaving at 1:00 pm.

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After a 45 minute departure delay at Gatwick (while they loaded some rich collector’s vintage Mercedes automobile onto our plane) we finally took off. Again I enjoyed setting in the upper deck of the Boeing 747-400 (Ruby Tuesday) during the flight back to the U.S. The plane was fuller on the flight back than the flight over and I was not able to recline my seat enough, so I didn’t get much sleep.

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I was glad I had insisted on an upper deck seat since there was less traffic and it was much quieter. Again, I was surprised at how great the beverage and food service on the 9-hour flight was (full course meal and snack).

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When we arrived in Orlando I didn’t notice, after going thru Customs, our bags were delivered to the “B” side of the airport. DiVoran was waiting for me at the “A” side Arrival pickup area, and it took a while for us to find each other. Thank goodness for cell phones.

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By then it was almost 8:30 pm and we decided not to go out for dinner as planned, but to go straight home where DiVoran whipped up a delicious ham, cheese and mushroom omelet for us both. Yummm!

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I was very happy to get home, see my lovely wife, sleep in my own bed, and not have to live out of a suitcase for a while. Having to lug that suitcase up and down all those stairs wasn’t any good for my shoulder and knees either!

—–The End—–

 

 

Flying Legends Airshow~Part 9

21 Oct

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Flying Legends

Day 9 – Thursday July 9th

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After another great English breakfast at the Riverside Pub, the first museum on my list today was the City of Norwich Aviation Museum, located adjacent to the Norwich Airport. This was a small museum with 12 beautifully restored aircraft displayed outside. However, two of their displays were a Vulcan bomber and a Nimrod naval patrol aircraft. It’s amazing to me how these small museums manage to acquire these very large and rare aircraft.

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Next it was on to the Norfolk & Suffolk Aviation Museum in Bungay. This museum consisted of some 13 nicely restored outside static displayed aircraft and two Quonset hut type buildings of WWII memorabilia. This was one of the few UK aviation museums that did not have a Vulcan bomber in their collection.3

The Parham Airfield Museum turned out to be nothing more than a small restored control tower which was closed that day. I am assuming that the control tower contained memorabilia related to the U.S. 390th Bombardment Group that was based at this field during WWII.

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The Ipswich Transportation Museum has the largest collection of transportation items in Britain devoted to just one town. Everything displayed in the museum was either made or used in and around Ipswich, a county town in Suffolk. This included cars, trucks, buses, and trollies. The museum also includes many items of the Ipswich Engineering Collection.5

This turned out to be a fairly short day and Greta took me past the Box Bush Cottage B&B Iocated in St. Edmunds the first time. After I re-entered the SatNav, address she took me right to it. Box Bush Cottage is a lovely 200 year old two-story home situated on approximately 20 acres of beautiful farm land. The owners Nick and Emilie were some of the greatest hosts a person could ask for. They had beautifully landscaped yards and gardens. They also had some black Chochin China chickens, a really cute pet goat, and a couple of the cleanest small pigs I’ve ever seen.6

Nick is a roofing contractor and amateur race car enthusiast. He owns and was preparing his Morgan Three-Wheel Super Sport for a hill-climb event at Shelelsey Walsh in Worcestershire on the following Saturday. In case you are like me, having never heard of the Shelelsey Walsh Speed Hillclimb; it is a 1000 yard long 10-16 degree incline course that hosts one of the oldest motorsport events in the world (begun in 1905). I was very interested in the Three-Wheeler since I had only seen photos of them at car shows. Nick informed me that the Morgan Motor Company began hand building the first “Cyclecar” in 1909, which was the company’s original Three-Wheeler, that Mr. Morgan called the Morgan Runabout.

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Because of its superior design, it wasn’t long before the Morgan Cyclecar was entering and winning Cyclecar races throughout the UK and Europe. These race wins culminated with the winning of the Cyclecar Grand Prix at Amiens in France in 1913, against much opposition from many continental four-wheelers. After that victory, Morgan named one of his most popular Three-Wheeler models the Grand Prix.

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In 1920 Morgan introduced the four-seat Family Runabout three-wheeler which helped put economic travel within the reach of most families. Morgan Cyclecars continued to be improved and upgraded thru the years, and in 1931 the Super Sport was introduced.

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After WWII Three-Wheeler popularity declined such that production was finally discontinued in 1953. Morgan continued building automobiles, but then some 60 years later, in 2014, by popular demand, the company “Reimagined” their Three-Wheeler to 21st century standards. Nick’s new and improved Morgan Three-Wheeler is a beautiful machine, and I wished him and his son the best of luck at Saturday’s hill climb.

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—–To Be Continued—–

My Colonial States Trip~Part 19

25 Mar

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

 

Next I headed east on SR #138 across Narragansett Bay to visit the Breakers and the Mansions of Newport, RI where I was surprised at the number of tourists there were lined up at the Newport Visitor Center trying to get on a tour bus ride of the area. The affluence of the area was brought home to me in an unusual way, when I stopped at a Shop-N-Go to pick up some granola bars. The first thing I noticed was the parking lot had an overabundance of expensive cars in it with names like Mercedes, BMW and Lexus. Then as I was walking the aisles looking for the granola bars, I saw this elegant looking woman, dressed in a beautiful flowing black silk dress, with her hair done up in some kind of fancy French looking hairstyle and 7-inch heels, pushing a shopping cart down the aisle. What a picture that was!

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The Newport mansions were huge and unbelievably beautiful! They were too spread out for a walking tour (for me), and I didn’t want to take the time to go on a bus tour, so I just drove to a few of them, parked in their free parking areas, and toured outside the mansions and their grounds, taking photos. I had a brochure of all the different mansion locations, so was able to see several before I got bored with all that extravagance and moved on to the next museum on my list.

While I was in Newport I dropped by the White Horse Tavern just to say I had seen the oldest tavern building (1652) in the U.S. and get a photo of it. Over the years the building was expanded and used for other things, such as a boarding house and as a meeting house for the Rhode Island General Assembly. It’s rumored that a pirate (name unknown) ran the tavern operation during the early 18th century. It wasn’t actually named the “White Horse Tavern” until 1730, and during the American Revelation, Tories and British troops were quartered in the building around the time of the British occupation and the Battle of Rhode Island in 1778 (also known as the Battle of Quaker Hill).

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Battleship Cove is a maritime museum located on the Taunton River in Fall River, Ma and is said to be the home of the world’s largest collection of naval vessels in one place. Included in the collection are the U.S. Battleship USS Massachusetts (BB-59), the U.S. Destroyer USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. (DD-850), the U.S. Attack Submarine USS Lionfish (SS-298), the German Tarantul-class Corvette Hiddensee and the U.S. PT Boats, PT-617 and PT-796. As I mentioned earlier, since I have toured several U.S. Destroyers, Battleships and Submarines, my main interest at this museum was the PT Boats. I was impressed with their size, armament, speed and ability to go up against some of the enemy’s largest ships, sink them, and live to fight another day. It reminded me of the day I was walking with DiVoran in the woods near our house when I got too close to a wasp nest. I never saw the wasp that stung me and was gone before I knew what had hit me. I would guess that was just how some of those enemy ship’s captains must have felt like, after being torpedoed by a PT boat, and their ship beginning to sink under their feet. I can just hear them screaming, “What was that and where did they come from?”

  

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

 

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