Tag Archives: North Carolina

2022 Road Trip-Part 16 A

15 Feb


A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 16 (5/31/2022)

This morning after breakfast, I headed southwest out of Columbia 15 miles on US-1 to visit the Craft Axe Throwing Company located in Lexington, SC.  I have heard about axe throwing, and I’ve read about it. My son tells me he has done it, but I have never been in one of these places to see what it’s all about.  When I got there, this place didn’t open until later in the day, so I just continued another 60 miles southwest on I-20 to visit my first museum of the day.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

This took me across the border, not to a museum, but to Broad Street in downtown Augusta, GA where I stopped to take a photo of the Confederate Monument.  This impressive 76-foot-tall monument, also known as the Richmond County Confederate Monument, was erected in 1878, and is dedicated to all those Georgia Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Just a few blocks from the Confederate Monument, there in Augusta, I saw a mural on the side of a building that honors the musician, James Brown, and his contribution to the music world as the ‘Godfather of Soul’ music.  It appears that the mural by artist, Cole Phail, was the winner of a Greater Augusta Arts Council contest in 2020, and named his mural ‘The Spirit of Funk.‘

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed 35 southwest on US-1 looking for the ‘Old Quaker Road’ historical marker located in Wrens, GA.  I couldn’t find the marker, but the internet tells me this marker designates where that important road ran thru this area in around 1769.  As it turns out, this area is also where the ‘Famous Indian Trail’ connected Augusta with many of the Cherokee, Creeks, Choctaws, and Chickasaws Indian tribes in the mid to late 1700s.

Photo Credit: www.bing.com/old+quarker+road+historical+marker+wrens+ga

It was another 30 miles southwest on SR-88 to where I visited the Old Jail Museum located in Sandersville, GA.  This museum is housed in the old 1891 Victorian era sheriffs’ home and jail, and really doesn’t look like the ‘Old Jail’ I was expecting on the outside.  I was sure it had been given a major facelift at some point, but no, that is the way it was built.  Looks like the sheriff lived in style.  The museum is filled with historic jail artifacts as well as historic local county, and state memorabilia dating from the mid-1800s.  The old jail has a gallows yard at the back of the house. That’s not a pretty sight.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

It was just a few blocks from the Old Jail where I planned to visit the Sandersville Railroad Museum.  However, what I found was the privately owned Sandersville Railroad, which is a relatively short section of track used for freight between Deepstep and Tennile.  The Sandersville Railroad was formed in 1893 with only 3-miles of track.  The railroad continued to grow, over the years, until now it provides rail transport services to a variety of companies on its 37-mile rail system, which also has links with the Norfolk-Southern Railroad.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed west 30 miles on SR-24 to visit the Museum on Main located in Scottsboro, GA but it was closed.  So, I continued west another 35 miles on SR-57 to visit the Griswoldville Historic Battlefield located just outside Macon, GA.  This historic site is dedicated to the memory of the northern and southern soldiers who fought at the Battle of Griswoldville, when General Sherman made his famous ‘March to the Sea’ from Atlanta to Savanah in November of 1864.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 65 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

2021 Mid-eastern Road Trip Part 4A

1 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 4 – 7/15/2021

I headed north out of Fayetteville on US-401 about 50 miles this morning for my first visit to the New Hope Valley Railway located in New Hill, NC.  As it turned out, this location is the terminal depot for the 5-mile steam train ride between New Hill and Bonsal, NC where the museum is located.  The museum features a collection of beautifully restored steam & diesel locomotives and antique rolling stock dating from 1869.

Photo credit: Bill Lites

I continued northeast about 20 miles on US-1 to visit the Legends of Harley Drag Racing Museum located in Raleigh, NC.  This museum is situated on the second level of the spacious Ray Price Harley Davidson dealership and displays exhibits and the history of world-famous drag racing champion Ray Price and others.

Photo credit:Bill Lites

After learning all about the history of motorcycle drag racing, it was only a few blocks to where I visited the Raleigh Fire Museum.  This museum displays several beautifully restored pieces of fire-fighting equipment and other fire-fighting memorabilia dating from their 1905 American LaFrance Steamer.

Photo credit: Bill Lites

On my way to visit the Mordecai Historic Park there in Raleigh, I passed the Capital building and stopped long enough to take a photo of that grand edifice.

Photo credit: Bill Lites

At the Mordecai Historic Park, I learned that the Mordecai House is the oldest house (1785) in Raleigh.  The Andrew Jackson (17th U.S. President) Birthplace House was built in 1795, and is among seven other restored buildings, at the park, that are part of the original Mordecai Plantation complex, or have been moved there over the years. 

Photo credit: Bill Lites

I wanted to visit the Neuse River Valley Model Railroad Club there in Raleigh, but they were closed.  I was disappointed to miss a visit to this club because I’m always amazed at the detail that goes into the model railroad layouts at these model clubs.

Photo credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed northwest 25 miles on US-70 & I-85 to visit the Duke Homestead & Tobacco Factory Site located in Durham, NC.  The Duke Homestead was built in 1852 by Washington Duke who founded what evolved into the first, and largest, tobacco firm (the American Tobacco Company) in the early 20th century.

Photo Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bC6rot_u8l8

It was only about another five miles west on I-85 to visit the Bennett Place Historic Site there in Durham.  This site is known as the 1789 home of James Bennett, where General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered his Confederate army (last to surrender) to General William T. Sherman on April 26, 1865 effectively ending the Civil War.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Another 15 miles west on I-85 took me to the Orange County Historical Museum located in Hillsborough, NC.  This museum has the distinction of being the site of North Carolina’s 1788 Constitutional Convention and displays artifacts and memorabilia related to Hillsborough and the surrounding Orange County area from the pre-settlement period thru the 1950s.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed west another 20 miles on I-40 to visit the Whistlestop Exhibit at Company Shops Station located at the Alamance County’s AMTRAK passenger station in Burlington, NC.  This exhibit includes models of the 1800s Company Shops with scenes of life in the 1900s with steam and diesel engines coming thru the engine house.

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 63 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

It’s Spring, It’s Winter, No Wait, It’s Spring Again.

23 Mar

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis


Our daughter has been visiting with us this past week. Although the weather wasn’t the best, we had enough fun to keep me from having time to pick up where I left off on our road trip.

Before Rebekah arrived, I noticed a sign advertising a u-pick farm located on the outskirts of town that grows tulips, hyacinth and daffodils. When I mentioned it to Rebekah, she was keen to go.  We ventured out on Monday, before the rains began only to discover the farm was closed on Mondays. We were determined, though and  Tuesday morning dawned sunny. Rebekah loves tulips so she was in her element.



Wednesday we awoke early and the temperature had plunged.  The rain began shortly after our weekly breakfast with friends. On our drive home we saw a few snow flurries, but the ground was too warm for any accumulation. By lunch time the snow was beginning to fall steadily and we decided to drive highway 441 up towards Cherokee to see if the snow was “sticking” there. This was the first time I had experienced fairly heavy snowfall that melted upon hitting the ground.  I found it to be kind of weird.

In Cherokee, the temperature was colder and while the roads were clear, snow covered the tress and buildings. It was beautiful.



Snow covered solar panels at the Visitor center.


Highway 441 which travels through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park was closed 4 miles north of the Oconaluftee visitor center. We were good with that. Being raised in Florida, icy roads terrify me. Rebekah wanted to take pictures of the pioneer village in the snow, so I bundled up and joined her, while hubby stayed in the car. He has a lot more common sense than I do!



I love the homestead picture. The wood was damp enough to allow the color of the wood to pop. In the Summer sun, it is not as obvious.

On our way back through Cherokee we stopped to get a picture of this painted bear. He is beautiful. I wish the camera on my phone had been able to capture the art.



Thursday, it was as if all the snow and cold temps never happened. The sun was bright in a beautiful blue sky. We decided to take a drive to our favorite waterfall in the area, Cullasaja falls. We love it in every season.



We seem to be physically incapable of visiting Cullasaja without continuing on up the road to Dry Falls. I went with Rebekah to the overlook, but it was cold and I decided to pass on walking down to the falls!




Rebekah will be returning to her home soon and we will be settling back into our life in the mountains. I will need to readjust to the slower pace-no more power walking in the grocery store!  I will need to remember to meet the eyes of the people I see in the shops and to SMILE. Don’t get me wrong, Florida people are friendly. Growing up in the 50s, everyone smiled and said hello but we have lost the art of saying howdy.




Watching Grass Grow

2 Jun

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

I'm a winner

  You know how people joke about watching grass grow, indicating boredom? Well, watching grass grow at our house has been pretty darn exciting. In the past we adopted the haphazard method of dealing with our grass in North Carolina. This method involved a lot of head scratching as each of our efforts failed. This year, due to our slide area, we spoke with the Soil and Water folks and took their advice.


In Florida, we didn’t sow grass seeds. We bought slabs of St. Augustine grass  and voila, we had grass. Of course, if we didn’t water it frequently we had dead grass.

My husband changed his method of dealing with our apple tree that had not produced a single apple in five years. In the fall he gave it a stern lecture, threatening to turn it into applewood lumber if it didn’t quit stalling. It seems the tree took it to heart.


We do have still have some gardening questions and your input is appreciated.  Why are our blue hydrangea now blue and white and is this pretty flower a weed or a plant that I can buy more of? It looks like Foxglove, but is more delicate and spindly.

It hasn’t been all gardening the past two weeks. We finally figured out how to get our sidewalk poured. My husband had been dreading hauling the concrete laden wheelbarrow. as he has painful shoulders, but we received an unexpected blessing in the form of the concrete truck driver. I call him our angel of mercy. He didn’t allow my husband to push even one wheelbarrow load. He and the handyman we hired went way above our expectations, hauling the excess concrete around the house and bucketing it up on a hill where we plan to build a water feature. They even smoothed the concrete!

Do you see our “porch dog” Gus supervising the men? My job was to make sure Gus didn’t make paw prints on the walkway. He only jumped on it once and it was easy to smooth out.

We were especially pleased to get our walkway finished as our aunt was visiting and we wanted a nice surface for her walker to roll on. We spent several days out and about with my aunt and my cousin. Lots of fun! We visited Black Rock Mountain State Park in Georgia. What a beautiful park it is!

I’m not a big garage sale fan, but my visiting family are and they always find great deals. I even found some myself. The best part of “garage selling” was discovering new communities in the area, The mountains sure have an abundance of nature and beauty. Here are two photos I took at one yard sale. I was warned a black snake was sighted heading for the old door. No worries. Black snakes are our friends.

It is quiet here now that our family returned to their home. I am back to watching the grass grow and the flowers bloom and I am enjoying every minute of it!


12 May

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

I'm a winner

#ThankfulThursday was trending on Twitter this week. Yes, it is a hash tag, but it is exactly what I feel. My husband has been feeling poorly for a while and today he is building a form to pour a concrete walkway, Three weeks ago, he could not do that. I am REALLY thankful. I am also thankful to be back in the North Carolina hills where summer hasn’t even begun. Florida was becoming unbearably hot and this week will have many ninety degree days.

When we left Florida, Rebekah was able to come up with us  for a long weekend. The hills were experiencing a weak cold front and we all welcomed the cooler temperatures. One of the reasons she chose to come to the hills is that Franklin was holding their annual “Airing of the Quilts.” It was a cool and breezy morning.

Check out this quilted car and the “Granny Clampet” truck.

We also came across a “Little Library.” I knew there was one in downtown Franklin but I had not seen it yet.


We were sad when Rebekah’s visit came to an end but we had a fun moment when we were driving her to the airport. Sylva, North Carolina is the setting for a movie shoot!



We took  some photos as we were driving.  Yes, I had my head and arms outside the car trying to get the shots. My friends know I am NOT a movie fan, I did if for movie buffs Jen and Pam. Those shots were awful so I went with windshield view.

I like the blue on the red brick. I think they should keep the colors. There was also a newspaper office but I wasn’t fast enough to get it.

Another thing I am thankful for is that I am back in the hills in time to enjoy the gorgeous blooms on my peonies. The first time I saw peonies was at the cabin of our friends Karen and Bill. I fell in love with them and they were a must-have on my list of flowers when we built our North Carolina home. The white ones are particularly dear to my heart as they came from Karen and Bill’s cabin. I think of them with a smiling heart as I enjoy the blooms.  They both passed away within a year of each other and I miss them.

I would love to hear what you are thankful for!


Spring Unfurling

9 Apr

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

I'm a winner

  We left Florida earlier than usual this year and arrived in North Carolina before spring. Our daffodils greeted us with their beautiful faces and the Bradford Pear trees were spectacular but everything else was brown. Temperatures continued to drop into the upper twenties and lower thirties and it seemed spring might forget to arrive.IMG_2476   Each day we searched for signs our plants were waking up. The first to awaken were the forsythia. We seldomsee them in their bright yellow coat and they are a treat to our eyes. Don’t you think it is cool the way God staggers the arrival of spring so each plant gets it own time to shine? IMG_2486   The weather warmed this week and it seems the rest of nature is anxious to share its beauty. While the forsythia is shedding its yellow coat and daffodils are beginning to fade the blueberries and apple buds are swelling. Plants that had lain hidden all winter are sending out new shoots.   I am especially thrilled with one of our peony plants. You see, it came from the yard of a precious friend who passed away. One day, as I sat with her I asked if I might have a root from one of her beautiful plants and she said yes. We had spent many hours rocking on her porch and admiring them and I wanted something special to keep those memories close. Sadly, at the end of the summer it seemed to die. Imagine my joy this morning when my husband told me the plant was coming back to life! IMG_2490   So far, we have late daffodils, one tulip, bleeding heart and a fat bee on a dandelion!

On Wednesay we drove down to Clayton, Georgia to see the cherry blossoms. We had gone the week before and they were bare sticks but this week they were glorious.

The weather today is warm bordering on hot so I know spring will be fully unfurled in a few more days. My husband decided today was a good time to erect a handrail for the stairs down to his workshop. I sneeked a picutre thorugh the screeon of him and our porch dog gus. Mike and gus copy 3   I’m not sure why, but I kind of like the texture the screen adds to the picture.

The Roses

13 Apr

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis


Some of you might think the idea of allowing a legally blind man who also has early Alzheimer’s to give you driving directions might be a bad idea, and you would be right but last Thursday it turned out to be a wonderful.

My aunt had to have surgery and we were staying with my uncle Paul who is my mother’s brother. The day after her surgery, Paul insisted that on the way to the hospital we stop at the town florist to get a nice bouquet of flowers.  This sounds simple but we had no idea where the florist was located. “Can you tell us how to get there?” we asked.  “Sure I can” he replied, so taking him at his word we set out.

We knew how to get to the hospital but once we turned off the main highway we had no idea where we were. Sitting in the back seat I sent up a quick prayer. “Lord, we are taking directions from an almost blind man whose mind isn’t always clear. This doesn’t seem real smart but he really wants to do this so I am trusting you.”

As my husband drove I searched the sides of the street for florist signs. Every time I saw one, I asked, “is that it uncle Paul? “I was so sure he wouldn’t be able to see it but every time he said no, that’s not it. Finally he spied the florist and gave my husband directions how to get to it. Uncle Paul was very tired and out of breath that morning and it was quite an ordeal for him to get out of the car and into the store. As we slowly walked in, a sweet sales lady approached us and mouthed, “Is that Mr H?”  “It is “I replied. She gave me an understanding smile and explained to my uncle that she was a friend of his son. When my uncle explained that he wanted some nice flowers for his wife who was in the hospital, she led him to the cooler and told him if he didn’t see anything he liked she would make something for him right then. Uncle couldn’t really see the flowers so he chose roses.

Making it to the florist and being treated with such kindness would have made it a great morning but God is into abundance. Leaving the florist parking lot uncle Paul instructed my husband to not go back the way we came but to go on through town. Well, Lord, I thought we made it to the florist, I guess we will make it to the hospital. We hadn’t gone a mile when uncle Paul told Mike to turn and Mike missed it. We began looking for a place to turn around then uncle Paul said just keep going straight, we can make this work. We were driving through the countryside when he casually pointed to the right and said that is one of the places papa farmed. Swiveling my head to look, I asked “did he farm it when you lived at home?” Yes, he said, “all we young’uns worked the farm.”

My parents were raised in North Carolina but I was raised in Florida. When I was a child they had driven me around the small farming community where my mother grew up, but being a child I just didn’t pay that much attention. Since she died, I had a hungering in my heart to revisit those places. The farms were mostly gone, replaced with housing developments but my imagination could picture her there, running through fields barefoot and up to mischief.

We made it to the hospital with no problem and my uncle proudly carried the vase of roses on his lap and we wheeled him into the hospital room. He had no idea; God had used him to deliver one of my heart’s desires.

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