Tag Archives: Road trip

Memory Lane Trip~Part 4

10 Jul

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

Day 4 – Friday 4/20/2018

 

I was out bright and early this morning heading west on I-10 to visit the MKT Railroad Depot Museum situated at the little “Pocket Park” in Katy, TX.  This turned out to be a small restored 1894 railroad depot, whose memorabilia centered on the history of the Missouri/Kansas & Texas Railroad (MKT) and its influence on this part of Texas in the early 1850s.  According to Wikipedia, the town appears to have taken its name from the early evolution of the MK&T Railroad.  Once called “the K-T” that, over time, evolved into “The Katy” and I guess the people honored the railroad by naming their town “Katy” when it was officially established in 1896.  The depot provided the MKT with passenger rail service needs until it closed in 1957.

 

 

Next I headed west on I-10 to Sealy, TX where I turned north on SR-36 for a short side trip to visit the Austin County Jail Museum located in Bellville, TX.  Greta took me to the address I had given her for the museum but I was confused.  A sign on the building said “Austin County Jail” but it looked new, modern and functional. I strolled inside and asked about the museum, and was told this was the “real jail” and that the jail museum was downtown on Bell Street.  For some reason the internet information is using the “real jail” address instead of the museum’s address.  Anyway, this 1896 jail replaced a smaller 1886 structure, and served Austin County until 1982, when it was closed and converted into a museum. I stopped by for a photo, as the museum was closed.

 

 

Now I spent another hour traveling southwest on several Texas back roads, to get back onto I-10 west, so I could visit the Stanzel Model Aircraft Museum located in Schulenburg, TX. This is a very interesting museum for any model aviation enthusiast like me.  The museum displays memorabilia, artifacts, and technical data covers the history of the Stanzel brother’s model airplane designs, and their influence on the country’s model airplane industry from the early 1930s to the present.

 

 

Heading west again, I took another little side trip, south of I-10 this time, to visit the Gonzalez County Jail Museum located in (you got it) Gonzales, TX.  There wasn’t much new about this 1885 jail except for the size of it. This jail was almost as big as the Austin County Jail and I couldn’t imagine the need for such large jails in the mid-1880s.  The city of Gonzalez is only about the size of my hometown now, so I can’t see it that big back then.  That goes for the large city hall and huge mansions I saw as I drove through the town.

 

 

This time it was northwest on U.S.-183 and then just a few miles north of I-10 to visit the Pioneer Flight Museum located in Kingsbury, TX.  As it turned out, the museum was the headquarters for the Vintage Aviation Services facility there at the Old Kingsbury Aerodrome.  A couple of cars were parked in front of an open hanger so I stopped for a look.  There were two, what could have been, vintage airplanes being built or repaired.  I called out for someone to show me around, but no one seemed to be there, so I took a couple of photos and left.  I learned later that the museum aircraft were in another hanger that was closed when I was there.

 

 

Traveling west on I-10, my next stop was to visit the Texas Transportation Museum located on the northeast side of San Antonio, TX.  This is a small museum with memorabilia and artifacts covering the history of the Longhorn & Western (L&W) Railroad and other transportation advances over the years in and around the San Antonio area.  In addition to offering short train rides, the museum houses a model train layout and several antique automobiles.

 

 

I had planned to stay two days in San Antonio because of the many museums I had on my list to visit there. So now it was time for Greta to take me to the motel so I could check-in and find a good Mexican restaurant where I could enjoy some good old TexMex food.  My pre-trip research for the “Top 10 Best Restaurants” in the cities where I was going to spend the night, listed “The Alamo Café” (what a coincidence). So that’s where I ate tonight, and they were right – the food was great.  One of the best Chili Rellenos I have ever eaten!

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

 

 

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 58 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 Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, writing blogs 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 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’s favorite Scripture is: Philippians 1:6

Memory Lane Trip Part 3

4 Jul

A Slice of Life

Bill LItes

 

 

Day 3 – Thursday 4/19/2018 (Continued)

Continuing today’s activities, the next place I visited was the Lone Star Flight Museum located in south-Houston, TX.  I had visited this museum several years ago when it was located in Galveston, TX.  I believe one of the last hurricanes that devastated the Gulf coast convince them to move north. Their new facility is much larger and very clean. They have a nice collection of beautifully restored Warbirds that all are in flying condition.  In fact, one of their AT-6 Texan aircraft had just taxied out for a flight as I pulled up the museum.  After getting photos of all their planes, one of the volunteers helped me locate the Flying Legends Museum building just a few blocks away, adjacent to the runway.  However, they were closed, and when I called the museum, they said all of their planes had been moved to North Dakota for the summer. Ah shucks!

 

 

Now I headed over toward the west part of Houston to visit the 1940 Air Terminal Museum located adjacent to the William P. Hobby Airport.  I had tried to visit this museum on one of my past trips through this area, but it was closed at the time.  The museum displays memorabilia and artifacts related to the rapidly developing air travel services in and around the Houston area in the late 1930s and early 1940s.  Originally built in early 1940, the Art Deco styled air terminal serviced the Houston area’s air transportation needs until the introduction of jet aircraft required a larger airport.  This museum is a work in progress, as it had been setting unoccupied for over 25 years. The restoration project started in 2003, and has been underway steadily ever since.  They still have lots of work to do on the interior of the building, as replicating much of the Art Deco styling is very time consuming and hard to find skilled workers who know how it should be done.

 

 

Not far away I was planning to visit the Houston Bicycle Museum to see what it was all about, but they were closed.  Their website informed me that they display a collection of antique and classic bicycles and cycling related memorabilia and artifacts dating from the 1850s.

 

 

While I was in the area, just down the street, I visited the Buffalo Soldiers Museum.  I really never did find out who was sponsoring the “Restaurant Week” celebration there at the museum that day.  Just as I got to the museum, a steady stream of people with all kinds of wonderful looking food dishes were arriving.  I ventured into the large room where I thought the museum artifacts would be displayed, but the whole area had been cleared and set up with tables and food displays. I would love to have filled a plate and joined the festivities, but it was obvious the party had not started yet.  Besides that, I don’t think it would have gone over well, with the some of the participants, for the only white person there to be first in line.

 

 

By now the sun was beginning to finish its days’ travels, so I headed for the motel there in Houston. Tonight I enjoyed my Saltgrass Baby Back Ribs again.  The full rack of ribs they gave me at the restaurant was enough to feed two people for two full meals, so I was able to make them last me for three meals.  Yummm again!!!

 

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

 

 

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 58 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 Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, writing blogs 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 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’s favorite Scripture is: Philippians 1:6

Memory Lane Road Trip~Part 1

13 Jun

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

 

 

Prolog

 

The emphasis of this trip was FAMILY.  I had contacted several cousins and was looking forward to seeing them on this trip.  One cousin, on my mother’s side, lives in Elgin, Texas near Austin. I had not seen him for almost 20 years, and I was hoping things would work out for us to have some time together.  Three other cousins, on my father’s side, live in the Arlington/Grand Prairie, Texas area located between Dallas and Fort Worth.  I had not seen any of them in almost 20 years either. Several other cousins, also on my father’s side, live in Many, Louisiana located south of Shreveport. I had not seen any of them in more than 50 years.  So as you can imagine, I was excited to get in contact with them again during this trip.

 

Day 1 – Tuesday 4/17/2018

 

It was a beautiful spring day when DiVoran drove me to the Orlando International Airport, to catch my Southwest Airlines flight to New Orleans, LA.  The non-stop flight was on time, smooth and the peanuts were fresh.

 

                       

After I picked up my rental car, the plan was to visit a couple museums in the downtown New Orleans area and then to have coffee and beignets at the well-known Café Du Monde across from Jackson Square.  Well, it had been almost a year since I had asked Greta (my Garmin) to find a museum for me, and I guess she was still on vacation.  I had asked Greta to take me to the Musee Conti Wax Museum.  The downtown area was a zoo, with traffic and pedestrians everywhere.  When we finally got to the Conti Street area, she said “You have arrived at your destination on the right.” I didn’t see a sign for the museum, so I went around the block, and this time she said “You have arrived at your destination on the left.”  Was she confused or was I the one who didn’t know my left from my right?

 

 

There was no place to park, which would allow me to walk the street and get a closer look at the buildings, so I gave up and headed for my next museum.  As it turned out, I had a similar problem trying to find the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum. The shops in the downtown area are so small, close together and shaded, that it is hard to see many of the store signs from the street.

 

 

 

 Next I plugged in the address for the Jackson Barracks Museum, and Greta did not recognize the address.  When I called the museum on the phone to get directions, there was no answer.  After driving around for a while, I spotted an Enterprise Rent-A-Car office and stopped in to ask for a local map and directions. No one in that office had ever heard of the museum.  But a customer waiting for his car overheard my question and said he could tell me exactly how to get there. I followed his directions, the best I could, which ended up taking me another hour of driving around to “nowhere.” I was disappointed not to find this museum as it looks, from this Internet photo, like a very large and interesting museum.

 

 

I decided to give up on museums for today. Maybe I would have better luck tomorrow. Now I headed for Walmart to getmy necessary trip supplies. (I guess Greta is back on the job, since she took me right to the store).  I had received an email advertising Sonny’s Baby Back Ribs at half price (One day only) to help celebrate Tax Day (?). When I was finished shopping, and was exiting the store, a helpful employee looked up Sonny’s BBQ for me on his phone. To my dismay there are no Sonny’s BBQ restaurants in the New Orleans area. So now the hunt was on for another restaurant, to satisfy my desire for Baby Back Ribs. This turned out to be the Saltgrass Steak House, where their Baby Back Ribs were falling-off-the-bone delicious and their sweet potato fries were great too.

                                            

 

—–To Be Continued—–

Road Trip~Celestial Seasonings

25 May

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

Days 16 September 23, 2017

 

If you read the beginning of our road trip story on September 7, 2018, you will remember that we started out as Hurricane Irma was bearing down on Florida and I had mixed emotions about driving further away from our daughter living in Florida. It took us a week to arrive in Denver for our meet up with our friend, Pam and our daughter, Rebekah. The week we spent with them in Pagosa Springs, Colorado flew past and this morning we were up early to drive them to the airport.  Fortunately, they both had their electricity restored and now it was a matter of putting away their hurricane prep. We were sad for them to go, they were fun travel companions.

One place Rebekah had really wanted to visit was the Celestial Seasonings headquarters in Boulder, Colorado. Unfortunately, a visit there couldn’t be worked into our schedule. I guess a kinder mom would have chosen to not visit the tea headquarters without her, but I really wanted to visit it too. Rebekah enjoys flying, I hate flying, so she can fly in for a weekend. So after dropping the “girls” off, husband and I headed north to Boulder.

Except for getting some basic information, I didn’t know anything about the facility and what to expect, except that we would learn how tea is processed.  As we followed the map on my phone, I began to worry when it directed us to turn into a residential area. Surely the phone app had led us astray…again.  We decided to continue following the map app as we had no idea where we were and knew if we were in the wrong place, we could program it to bring us back to a main road.

To our surprise right there in the residential area, we saw the a street sign reading SleepyTime Drive. We were in the right place! Not far down the road, we came to the entrance.

 

 

By this time I couldn’t wait to get inside, and I was hoping we would not have long to wait for a tour.

 

As we approached the headquarters entrance, I had no idea what to expect. The front window was covered in their signature picture.

 

 

Once inside we discovered tea heaven! I can not believe I didn’t take pictures. The first thing we did was sign up for a tour that would be starting in about 20 minutes.  The room had a long counter set with a variety of teas.

 

Photo credit Yelp by Jeff Boyardee T

 

After signing up, we were invited to sample not only those prepared but any tea in their inventory!

 

I was in my element…..free samples!! Take that winerys! We sampled both cold and hot teas until it was time to go into the theatre and begin our tour.

 

 

There is a slight downside. We were touring on Saturday and the processing lines were not running. That didn’t stop us from enjoying the tour as our guide explained what activities we would be seeing if the machines were running.  They process their teas except peppermint from air drying to packaging.  I looked at each variety of tea from all over the globe, while my imagination roamed wild, imagining the places where the tea was grown as well as the people who spend their days hand picking the best leaves.

After we finished our tour, I asked if we could return to the tasting area. I wanted to try out more blends to decide which I wanted to buy. They laughed and said, “you can taste until we close!”  The people at Celestial Seasonings are friendly and seem to love their jobs.  We tasted several more blends, then headed to the Tea shop. As we entered the shop I was delighted with the huge assortment.

I told my husband to buckle up, I would be doing some serious damage to our charge card!

Celestial Seasonings teas are bulk packaged in signature designed boxes. My husband prefers individual pack and we were pleased to note they had a selection of boxed individual tea bags and scooped up several in flavors we can’t get locally. (Reminder to self….order some more of these online.) It was fun browsing the different blends and deciding which ones had to come home with us. It turns out quite a few hopped into our bag!

 

 

The facility also has a cafe and I was hoping to have lunch there, but it was closed. As I am writing this story, I am beginning to think I might need to join Rebekah and Pam when they fly out to visit Celestial Seasonings. Surely the two of them can keep me from embarrassing myself on the plane.

It has taken me way too long to tell the story of our road trip and this is the final episode. My interstate hating husband decided we should abandon back roads for the return trip and drive the interstates. I still don’t know why, but if I understand everything he did, what fun would that be?  Thank you for reading the posts. I have enjoyed remembering the journey. We are undecided about where we will visit on our Fall vacation this year. I do know that a short beach adventure and a tour of a historical city is in the works.

 

Oh the irony. As I am finishing this series, a sub-tropical storm is advancing on Florida.

 

Road Trip~Pagosa Springs, Colorado to Denver, Colorado.

10 May

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

Days 15 September 21, 2017

Packing up day. Sad, but leaving with precious memories. I grew fond of the townhouse at Wyndham, Pagosa Springs. It was a perfect harbor after a day of touring. I am thankful for our friend, Pam, who made this trip possible by sharing not only  her time share with us, but also her bright and sunny personality.  I will miss our morning coffee times.

 

 

Our plan for the return trip to Denver was to visit Pike’s Peak. We didn’t have time to visit the peak on a previous vacation.   Unfortunately, husband’s breathing episode at Lobo Overlook caused us to scratch it once again.  The  275 mile journey would be a combination route of our trip a week earlier to pick up Rebekah and Pam at the Denver airport which would be new to them, as well as retracing some of the route we took south from Rocky Mountain National Park.

We of course, were planning to have a picnic lunch along the way and were looking for the park we found on the trip south.We should have done a GPS drop pin on the location, because we couldn’t find it. Finally, an urgent need for “facilities” drove us to find anyplace to stop!  We spotted a smallish parking area with facilities and pulled in. The facilities were adequate, but the scenery was fantastic. It turned out there was another lower level to the parking area and the river was a prime kayaking area. I guess it was a little too windy cool for them to be out that day as we didn’t see any. There were also picnic tables so we had our lunch there.

 

 

The Aspen trees on the drive north gave us a grand display of color.

We arrived in Denver and checked in to the hotel where we had stayed the previous week. We made it in time for their free supper buffet and it was nice to stay in after the long day. When we checked out after our previous stay, I left a bottle of wine in a room drawer. I had purchased it at a winery near Jefferson, North Carolina for Rebekah and Pam to enjoy at Pagosa and lugged that bottle across the country.  When we checked in, I asked if it had been turned in to lost and found. ! They said they would check and let me know. I’m still waiting…..Silly me, of course not!

 

 

 

Road Trip-Sunday Ascent

15 Mar

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

I'm a winner

 

 

Day 11, September 17, 2017

 

After our adventure at Night Glow, I wasn’t excited about arising early on Sunday but a balloon ascent was planned to take place at the Wyndham resort where we were staying. I needed coffee!!

We weren’t 100 percent sure where the ascent was to take place so we drove around until we spotted the field where the balloonists were setting up.

 

 

Rain was in the forecast but several of the balloons took a chance and arose into the sky.

 

 

This balloon crew were planning to ascend but the balloonist’s young daughter begged her father to change his mind. She claimed to be able to feel the lightning in the atmosphere. After what appeared to be talking back and forth between the crew, the decision was made to not make the ascent. It was the correct decision as clouds rapidly built.

 

 

We returned to our truck and Rebekah drove as we followed the flights of the balloons that were descending.

Feeling damp and cold we headed back to the condo for a cup of hot cocoa.

 

Pam caught up with Facebook, sharing photos and catching up on texts.

 

 

Rebekah took advantage of the light and captured a great picture of our view.

 

 

Hubby had declared the day, a day of rest (It was Sunday, after all) So the girls piled into the truck and Rebekah drove us around to check out the town and have a girlie lunch at The Rose, one of the local restaurants.

 

I apologize for the time in between my posts. Life moves faster than I can type!

Road Trip~Colorado Springs to Denver, Colorado

14 Dec

On the Porch 

Onisha Ellis

 

 

September 13, 2017 Day 7

Our seventh day on the road. We are moving at a turtle pace, but we are savoring the journey. Tomorrow we pick up our daughter and family friend at the Denver airport and they will spend the week with us. We checked in with Rebekah before hitting the road. She is still without electricity but good news, a friend from church who does odd jobs will be over to repair her roof. I know she will be relieved to have it fixed before joining us in Denver.

I am particularly excited about this leg of our trip as we have tickets to ride the Royal Gorge Train near Cañon City, Colorado, I first learned of this train while reading Go West by DiVoran Lites but never dreamed I would have the opportunity to ride it. To add to the fun, my husband would enjoy the up close view of scenery straight out of a cowboy movie!

 

 

Our seating was in a club car and we began the journey sharing a table with a lovely newly wed couple. Once the train pulled out of the station, we moved to an empty table so we could stretch out.

 

 

Food and drinks were available but we brought a picnic lunch and ate before boarding the train.

 

 

As we pulled out of the station, we passed the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility. The prisoners here ran the first water flues through the gorge to bring fresh water to the town. I wondered if this was the prison where DiVoran’s father once worked.

 

 

As we entered the gorge, we decided to check out the view from the open bed car. We were fortunate that one adjoined our club car.

 

My hair was a mess

The front of the train heading into the narrow opening.

The opening through the mountains is so narrow, the first tracks laid were a “slim gauge,” 36″ between rails;

A bridge was constructed 1,000 feet above the gorge but as cars became larger, it was downgraded to  walk across only. As our train passed under the bridge we saw a brave soul riding a zip line across the gorge, over 1,000 high. For the less brave, there is a gondola. We decided we were content to leave the adrenaline pumping to the more adventurous. We didn’t get a picture but we also saw several groups of people in rafts taking on the whitewater of the Arkansas river.

 

Zip line was almost too fast to capture the shot

The bridge is 1,000 high and they are higher!

 

The railroad provided a guide on the open car to point out interesting sights as well as share tidbits of history. When we came alongside these miniature power poles, he explained them to us. They were not power poles at all. The short lines extending down from the cross tie were in fact, used as a rock slide alert. If a rock touched the line and broke the connection, the train station was instantly notified there were rocks on the track and pinpointed the location.  Clever, yes?

 

 

My husband was fascinated by this tree as we waited to board the train. At the end of the trip, he asked what type it was. Being from Florida, he had never seen a cottonwood tree  and was pleased to finally be able to touch the bark. He enjoys carving and had read that cottonwood was excellent for carving. I wonder where we would find the bark for sale in Florida.

 

 

After all the fresh air and sunshine, we were both craving some ice cream before heading to Interstate 25 to complete our trip to Denver. We went to McDonald’s for a hot fudge sundae, but their ice cream machine was broken. Has anyone else noticed that McDonald’s has a high rate of ice cream machine failure? Not to be deterred from our ice cream craving, we pulled into a Sonic Drive In . Their ice cream machine worked fine and our cones were decadently delicious.

Our hotel for the night provided a free welcome buffet so we ate our supper there, then made it an early night. We were both looking forward to picking up Rebekah and Pam the next day and beginning a new adventure.

 

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