Tag Archives: Road trip

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 7

20 Oct

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 7 – 7/18/2021

This morning I headed north out of Syracuse on SR-370 about 5 miles to visit the Salt Museum located on the Onondaga Lake in Liverpool, NY.  Salt: that common ingredient that flavors our world, and that most of us can’t do without.  It all started in 1788 when Asa Danforth and Comfort Tayler came to Onondaga County New York, and with the help of the Native Onondagas, erected the first salt works.   The museum has an assortment of exhibits and artifacts used in the early 1800s to mine and process salt.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Next it was north 30 miles on I-81 to visit the H. Lee White Maritime Museum located at the Oswego Historic Maritime District in Oswego, NY.  The museum is situated in the 1925 former grain elevator freight house and has a variety of rare marine artifacts dating from the 16th century.  The museum also includes the WWII Tugboat LT-5 and the 1927 Darrick Boat #8.  This museum also maintains the old Oswego West Pierhead Lighthouse built in 1934, to replace the original 1880 light.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Before leaving Oswego, it was only a short drive to checkout the Oswego Speedway.  Known as the “Steel Palace” this track is the “Home of the Supermodifieds” open-wheel racecars.  There was nothing going on at the speedway, so I just found SR-104 and headed west.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

It was some 30 miles west on SR-104 to where I had planned to visit the Chimney Bluffs State Park in Wolcott, NY.  Time was against me, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to see all the places on my list today, so I skipped this park.  I continued west on SR-104 another 35 miles to where I tried to visit the Schutt’s Apple Mill in Webster, NY but they were closed.  So, it was just 15 miles west to Rochester, NY where I visited the George Eastman Museum.  This museum is located in the 1905 George Eastman House (I’d call 35,000 sq. ft. a mansion) and is said to be the world’s oldest museum dedicated to photography open to the public.    

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I passed up the Charlotte Genesse Lighthouse and continued west another 45 miles on SR-31/31A to visit the Medina Railroad Museum located in the 1905 NYCRR Freight Depot in Medina, NY.  The museum displays antique railroad artifacts and restored rolling stock, and normally provides steam train tours throughout the year.  The museum also has a large model train layout for all to enjoy.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

It was another 35 miles west on SR-31 to where I had planned to visit the Niagara Falls Wax Museum and the Observation Tower.  But arriving in Niagara Falls, I found the entire area absolutely mobbed with tourists.  I gave up any idea of trying to visiting the museum and tower (that was a real disappointment) and headed for the Niagara Aerospace Museum a few miles east.  This museum located adjacent to the Niagara Falls International Airport has a small collection of rare historic aircraft and replicas dating from the 1950s.  Most of these exhibits and memorabilia represent the historical influence of the Bell Aircraft Company and the Curtiss-Wright Aircraft Corporation on this area dating from the 1920s.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now it was only a few miles south on SR-265, along the Niagara River, to where I visited the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum located in North Tonawanda, NY.  This museum is housed in the original 1910 factory complex and displays wood carrousels and other rare artifacts representing the many products this company manufactured from 1833 to 1955.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Before leaving the North Tonawanda area I drove a few blocks south to check out the National Railway Historical Museum.  This small museum is the Niagara Frontier Chapter of the NRHS and is located in the original 1922 Eire Railroad Freight Depot.  The museum displays railroad artifacts dating from early 1900s and several pieces of restored rolling stock.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed south 20 miles on I-195, along the Niagara River to visit The Steel Plant Museum of Western NY located on Lake Erie in the Heritage Discovery Center in Buffalo, NY (known as one of the “Rust Belt Cities”).   The museum was closed, but their website informs me the museum displays artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of the western New York steel industry dating from the early 1800s.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

It was only a short drive south on US-62 to find my motel for the night in South Buffalo.  After I got checked in and carried my things into my room, I warmed up my leftover Baked Lasagna, from the Basil Leaf Italian Ristorante and enjoyed that great meal again.  Yummmm!  

Photo Credit: https://www.thebasilleafrestaurant.com/

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 64 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

Covid Impressions from our Road Trip

19 Oct

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

September 24th my husband and I set off on a three-week road trip. Due to my husband’s health challenges we chose to do a fairly short trip in miles,  over an extended time period.

 I will be writing about the places in we visited in future blogs. Today is just about Covid and it’s effects on travel. 

We began our trip in Western North Carolina and our first overnight was in neighboring Alabama. According to news reports Alabama had a low vaccination rate and high Covid numbers. Our small town was enduring a rise in Covid numbers and although not mandatory many were wearing masks when out in the community. To my surprise only a handful of the Alabamians that we saw seemed to feel masks were needed. We chose to take our meals in local restaurants when possible, and they seemed to have adequate and cheerful staff.

After Alabama we moved on to northern Mississippi, very close to Memphis, Tennessee. Once again, low mask use but unlike Alabama, finding restaurants that were staffed well was a challenge. One evening we tried two national chain restaurants. One had an hour wait due to lack of staff, the other wasn’t allowed to seat diners unless the hostess cleared all of the tables first. No one was busing tables. Kind of gross actually. We said no thanks and moved on. Another restaurant was drive through only. After three tries we found a local restaurant that was open, staffed, clean and the smoked beef brisket was delicious. Most disturbing, in the chain restaurants, I sensed a feeling of dark heaviness.

We traveled further west to Arkansas. We like to stop at McDonalds on road trips as they usually have clean restrooms but several of them were drive through only, although their bathrooms were open.( Travel tip-chainstore pharmacies tend to have adequate restrooms as well)   Once we arrived at our VRBO in Arkansas we set out to explore the town. We found an excellent BBQ restaurant where one orders at the counter and the food is brought to your table in disposable  containers. When finished, the diner throws containers, cups etc into the garbage. The food was good and the atmosphere was cheerful. Masks were worn but not in great numbers. We drove through a high tourist area and there were a lot of people exploring historic sites and checking out shops.

Our next destination was in north central Arkansas. When we arrived at our rented time-share the road was blocked due to the communitie’s October Fest. We spent a week exploring the area and except for one crafter, no one seemed concerned about Covid. Shops and restaurants were open. Staffing was not optimal but it was adequate.

The first legs of our road trip were fairly short due to my husband being the driver and tiring easily. A week into the journey our daughter and a friend flew into Arkansas to share our trip. Fortunately our daughter was able to help my husband with the driving as we traveled to Franklin, Tennessee to tour an historic home from the Civil War era.

Masks were not required. After leaving the historic home we had planned to indulge in Krispy Kreme( Husband’s vice) doughnuts and coffee. Sadly the indoor seating was closed and a limited variety was available in the drive through. We made the best of it by finding a shady place to park and enjoy our treat. Then it was on to Kentucky, our final leg of the trip.

During our McDonald’s stops we found it interesting that most that allowed inside dining had disabled the self ordering kiosks to prevent the spread of Covid. Imagine our surprise when a McDonald’s in Kentucky asked customers to use the kiosks to prevent spread. We visited The Ark Encounter and The Creation Museum and masks were worn by around 25% of the people. The Ark philosophy was for guests to respect individual decisions.  We found restaurants open and staffed.

Now that I have talked about masks and restaurants, I want to mention hotels. Consistently the hotels appeared to be understaffed with the front desk clerk working on folding towels and managing the breakfast room. I’m not sure how they didn’t lose their minds. More than once we saw housekeeping trying to clean rooms with a small child in tow. 

If you are pondering a road trip, I would encourage you to do it. Life has to go on. Take the precautions that will make you feel secure and safe. We wiped down our rooms with alcohol  wipes and used hand sanitizer obsessively.

Take your spirit of adventure. Some places will delight but others may be different, but isn’t different part of the adventure?  We usually opt for free outdoor activities over crowded  indoor ones. That made it easier to manage our expectations.  Find joy in being with people you love. Build memories to savor.

I Love to Travel Part 2

4 Aug

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

So now, this is an example of how I plan one of my road trips.   I select a specific Aviation Museum (the target museum), from the Guide Book to visit.  I preferably like it to be in an area of the country where I haven’t been before.  Using the guide book, I research the other Aviation Museums in the states surrounding the target museum.  Then I use Wikipedia (“Museums in Colorado”) to find all the different types of museums in the target state and the states surrounding the target state, that interest me.  I locate the museums, using MapQuest, to establish a route, in those states, and that becomes my itinerary.  I find a major city, nearest my route, with the best airline rates, and my itinerary starts there.  I usually fly Southwest Airlines because I can fly free with my Reward Miles with them.

Photo: https://www.fool.com/investing/2020/08/19/southwest-airlines-says-it-wont-take-coronavirus-g/

My direction of travel does not depend on moving clockwise or counterclockwise, as long as the big two-week itinerary circle brings me back to the same airport.  That way I can pick-up and return my rental car at the same location without any additional drop-off charges.  The rental car costs, gas, food, and the museum admissions are usually my only our-of-pocket expenses I have (unless there are tour fees or special tickets. etc.) for one of these two-week trips.  I have my own Accident Insurance, but I’m not always sure if my Auto Insurance will cover everything on the rental car, so I usually purchase Travel Insurance that covers anything that could happen to me or the rental car during the trip.

Photo: https://aloharents.com/

I figure a day’s travel miles (as close as possible) where my itinerary will place me at a location where I can get good motel rates (larger cities generally have more motels to choose from, and their rates are usually lower).  I make advanced motel reservations (usually free with credit card points), so I don’t have to do that on the road.  All of this planning can sometimes take me weeks to arrange, but once it’s all arranged, and I have conformations for everything, I’m ready to go.  

Photo: https://www.qualityinnsarasotafl.com/

I like to print out a copy of all my conformation notices for airline, rental car, and motels.  Then I Google each museum and make a copy of the description of it, which includes name, address, phone number and days & hours of operation.  I arrange the museum sheets in the order I have decided on for my itinerary, so I will have them at hand in the car as I go.  That way, all I have to do is plug-in the address on my Garmin (Greta), and off I go.  This also gives me a record of everything I might need in case Greta or I get lost, or any other type of problem I might run into.  Sometimes Greta, will take me to the wrong address, or not be able to locate the address.  If that happens, I can refer to the information sheet, for the place I’m heading, and call to ask for directions.  Those sorts of things have happened more than once on my trips in the past.

Photo: https://www.bestbuy.com/site/garmin-drive-52-5-gps-black

At the end of each day’s travels, while relaxing at the motel, I record the hi-lights of the day’s activities on my cell phone and email it to my computer at home.  When I get home I use the emails, and the internet, to thoroughly research each museum for any special or historical data I can find.  It’s amazing how much more interesting my blogs can become with that expanded information.  I arrange the museum’s information in sequence, for that day, and that becomes a short blog (500-700 words).  Then I post one blog per week on the “Old Things R New” website.  This allows others to enjoy my trips (vicariously) if they like that sort of thing, and maybe learn a little something new at the same time.  Writing up these blogs also allows me to re-live the fun memories of the trip again.

Image: https://www.kissclipart.com/computer-working-png-clipart-computer-web-browser-4tl976/

I hope you have enjoyed this quick look at the reason “I Love to Travel” and how I go about choosing, researching, arranging, and reporting a two-week “Bucket List” road trip.  These trips are so relaxing, enjoyable and freeing for me.  I can really recommend travel.  Just getting away from the every-day mundane things of life, and hitting the road to somewhere.  It doesn’t have to be a BIG trip.  Just get out and go.

  We have a big country out there, and there is a large variety of very interesting and beautiful places and things to see.  So enjoy it.  If you are ever interested in some of the places and things I’ve encountered on my past trips, you can find my travel blogs at www.oldthingsrnew.com.  Enter the Title & Part # (if any) of the blog you would like to read in the search box, at the top of the opening screen.  Press “Search” and that should take you to the blog you are looking for (by Bill Lites).  I wish each and every one of you Happy Traveling and enjoyable reading.

Image: https://www.pinclipart.com/pindetail/ibJbmim_ltv-driver-jobs-in-pakistansrc-https-cartoons-driving/

—–The End—–

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

Fishing with Ivan Part 4 C

31 Mar

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

The next day we crossed the Mohave Desert on our way to visit DiVoran’s brother, David, & his family in Bonita, CA.  David’s house was less than 10 miles from the Mexican border, and he regaled us with stories of illegals coming thru his property at night, on their way north.  We learned that David’s house keeper, Angelica, was the only daughter of a Mexican lawyer and could speak very little English.  She had come from Mexico City with her boyfriend, and was later abandon by him. She didn’t know very much about housekeeping, but boy could she cook!  I remember she cooked up the most delicious authentic Mexican style Chili Rellenos dinner for us that I have ever had.

Photo by Bill Lites

When we said goodbyes to David and his family, we headed north to visit our good friends Terry & Mary in Diamond Bar, CA.  I had worked with Terry on the Apollo Moon Landing program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, before they had moved back to California for his work.  Terry and Mary were also in our Bible Study group, there in Titusville, for many years.  I remember when they took us to one of their favorite restaurants, Pinnacle Peak Stakehouse, for dinner that Terry warned me that the restaurant had a ‘No-Tie Policy’ and the servers would cut the necktie off any first-time customer, without any notice.  When we walked into the restaurant, I was stunned to see the ceiling was absolutely covered with neckties.  The service was great and the steaks were wonderful!

Photo Credit Yelp

After a great visit with Terry and Mary, we continued north, up the California coast on U.S. 101 & CA-1, to visit Hearst Castle (La Cuesta Encantada) located near San Simeon, CA.   William Randolph Hearst built the 42 bedroom, 61 bathroom, 19 sitting room castle (1919-1947) which is surrounded by 125 acres of gardens.  There are indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a movie theater, a zoo and a private airfield.  Hearst lived in the castle during most of the years of its construction, and until his death in 1951.  ‘The Big House’ was opened to the public in 1958, as a museum, operated by the California State Park System.  That was an amazing tour!  The tour lasted over an hour and a half, and even then we only saw a small portion of that huge edifice (68,500 sq. ft.).  We learned that much of the castle’s beautiful artwork and building materials were obtained from, as far away as, England and Spain and shipped all the way to the west coast of California. 

Photo: https://www.travelawaits.com/2477527/touring-hearst-castle

Continuing north on CA-1, along the picturesque California coast, we next stopped to check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium located in Monterey, CA.  This is a very unusual and spectacular attraction!  In addition to the amazing indoor tank (320,000 gallons), the aquarium also has a unique ‘Open Sea’ outdoor pool (1 million gallons), both of which have large viewing windows and are fed by filtered sea water from Monterey Bay.  From the observation deck, surrounding the Open Sea pool, we had a wonderful view of the Sea Otters eating and playing in the pool.

We stayed long enough to watch a diver, thru the glass wall of the large indoor pool, feed the fish.  I was surprise to see that the fish didn’t swarm around him all at once.  They came up to him, a few at a time, to grab a piece of food, and then they would casually swim back into the dark swaying kelp forest.  They must keep them well fed, as none of the different types of fish, jelly fish, or sharks seemed to be in a hurry to eat.  It all seemed quite casual, more like a dance routine. (I’m sure they had fed the sharks first).

—–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

Mount Rushmore Road Trip Part 12

6 Jan

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 12 Sunday 

9/20/2020 

This morning I headed 30 miles south on US-83 to Vivian, SD where I took 1-90 west 25 miles to visit the Pioneer Auto Museum located in Murdo, SD.  This museum consists of some 185 beautifully restored antique and classic cars dating from 1902 to 2005.  Wow!  What a great collection!  There are also around 15 cars and trucks of all types and conditions for sale.

Now I headed south 25 miles on US-83, thru White River and  55 miles east on SD-44 to visit the Tripp County Historical Museum located in Winner, SD.  You might think you had entered a diner when you first walk into this small museum, but it goes along with the  Main Street displays and other exbitits showing the life of 1900s southeastern SD pioneers to the present.  The museum also has a steam engine tractor collection in another building.

I continued south 20 miles on US-18 to Colome, SD where I picked up US-183, south, another 60 miles to visit the Sellers Barton Museum located in Ainsworth, NE.  This museum resides in an historic log building and consists mainly of artifacts and memorabilia related to life in the north central Nebraska area during the 1800s & 1900s. 

I wanted to visit the Boneyard Creation Museum located in Broken Bow, NE but they were closed today, and besides that it would have taken me around 50 miles (roudtrip) out of my way.  So I just headed south on US-183, thru Basset and Westerville, a long and boring 160 miles to Kearney, NE where I visited the Classic Car Collection located at the intersection of US-30 & NE-10.  The long drive was worth it!  This is a fabulas collection of some 200+ beautifully restored 1930s to 1970s classic cars.  The collection includes rare and historic family cars, touring cars, sports cars, and mussle cars.  There is also a recreated 1950s service station and an origineal drive-in movie ticket booth.  I loved the videos projected on car hoods.

A few miles south I visited the Nebraska Firefighters Museum located adjacent to I-80 there in Kearney.  This museum is deticated to honoring the history and heritage of firefighters from all parts of the state of Nebraska, and has a large collection of firefighting equipment dating from the early 1800s.

From the Firefighters Museum I could look east and see the Archway spanning I-80.  This Historical Monument was built in 2000 and has a museum that chronicles the development of the Great Platte River Road, a throughfare thru this area dating from the mid-1800s (Fort Kearney).  Generational displays help visitors grasp the great western movement of american pioneer travelers to the west.

Now I heeaded into town to visited the Rails & Trails Museum located just off of NE-44.  This museum tells the story of the western migration thru southern Nebraska over the centuries with local artifacts and memorabilia.  The museum also has several pieces of restored rolling stock representing how the railroad helped expand Platte River Valley area over the years.

I couldn’t believe how tired I was.  After only 360 miles.  Come on Bill. What are you, some kind of a whimp?  I headed for the motel there in Kearney.  After I got checked in, I broke out one of my Heat-&-Serve dinners and heated it up in the micrrwave.  Then I enjoyed a great  Chicken Marsala meal while I relaxed with some TV.

—–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

Life During Covid-19 Part 20- Road Trip West

27 Aug

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

I decided to journal our journey. I know we will make many special memories and I don’t want to forget a single one, even the not perfect ones because sometimes those memories become the most dear.

We spent months planning our 49 1 /2 years anniversary road trip west.  Many days I awoke to doubts that we should take the trip due to Covid concerns, but each day after my morning quiet time and meditation, my worries would banish.

Our biggest challenge was packing the truck!  Our daughter and a friend would be flying to join us in Montana so we were carrying their luggage as well.  Then there were the folding chairs for impromptu picnics and a large tote for the various jackets we would need in the Rocky Mountains. After two attempts to fit everything we resorted to Facetime with our daughter, a master packer!

Day 1

When our children were young we began our annual vacation with a quick video, usually accompanied by the song, On the Road Again. One year, my son held the cat up and gave her a slight squeeze so that she would screech, imitating the movie studio that used a roaring lion as its signature.

My husband and I decided to revive the tradition but 2020 style.  He rummaged through his “stuff” (ladies, you know what I mean) and found two purple full face respirator masks from his working life. We put them on and took a selfie. I posted it on Facebook with the caption Road Trip. I had no idea anyone would think the masks were serious. But several did.

Our first stop would be Georgetown, Kentucky, a little over a 5 hour drive. Most of our drive was through mountainous areas and so beautiful. We wanted to avoid interstate as much as possible but in some areas, the interstate was the better choice.

In Kentucky we stopped at Cumberland Gap, of Davey Crockett fame. We enjoyed our first on the road picnic lunch in the parking lot before driving up to the Pinnacle Overlook.

The road getting to the top was extremely curvy!

Overlook from the Pinnacle

When we arrived at our stop for the night, I was delighted to see that one of our favorite burger and salad restaurants , Culvers, was directly across the street and there was a traffic light to make crossing easy. Perfect!

A nice finish to a good first day…but trouble was on our horizon. The best laid plans.

I'm a winnerAfter my retirement, I decided to re-learn the canning and preserving skills I learned from my mother but hadn’t practiced for twenty years. I titled the blog Old Things R New to chronicle my experience.  Since then I have been blessed to have six other bloggers join me, DiVoran Lites, Bill Lites,  Judy Wills, Louise Gibson, Janet Perez Eckles and Melody Hendrix

In addition to blogging, I work as the publicist/marketer/ amateur editor and general  “mom Friday” for my author daughter, Rebekah Lyn. I also manage her website, Rebekah Lyn Books  where we frequently host the best in up and coming authors.

My 2019 goal is to use my love of photographs and words to be an encourager on social media. You can visit Real Life Books and Media You Tube Channel if you would like to view some of the mini-videos I have created for our church, Gateway Community in Titusville, Fl.

My 2019 Great Lakes Road Trip Part 9A

4 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 9 – Wednesday July 31

My plan was to stay in Minneapolis two days to see the many museums in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.  So to start today, I headed back southeast about 15 miles on I-694/I-35W, in morning traffic, to visit the Minnesota Transportation Museum located in St. Paul, MN.  This is a fabulous museum that is housed in a portion of the restored 1907 Jackson Street Roundhouse maintenance and repair facility.   The museum is beautifully laid out to represent the original Great Northern Railroad steam engine roundhouse, where various types of restored vintage train cars are displayed for visitors to walk thru.  Many other railroad artifacts and memorabilia fill the museum.  Additional restored unique and vintage rolling stock are displayed outside the museum building.  

Now I made my way south, to visit the Commemorative Air Force-Minnesota Wing, located adjacent to the Fleming Field Airport, just a few miles south of downtown St. Paul.  This was a very active hanger, filled with 5 or 6 aircraft of various types, all being worked on by at least two or three people.  Their largest plane was a B-25J named “Miss Mitchell.”  Everyone in the hanger, while busy, was very friendly, and informed me that all of the airplanes being worked on there were in flying condition.  After that quick visit, Greta (my Garmin) and I tried to find the Science Museum of Minnesota and the New Brighton History Center, but to no avail.  We finally gave up and headed for the Historic Fort Snelling.

Next I traveled some 10 miles west, across the Mississippi River, to visit the Fort Snelling Veteran’s Memorial Chapel located in the Fort Snelling State Park.  Access to this State Park from the direction I was coming was a nightmare, and took me three tries to finally make it to the chapel.  This is a beautiful park and the 1927 Chapel is dedicated to the many U.S. veterans who have sacrificed their lives for our country.  The Chapel also honors Colonel Josiah Snelling, who served as the fort’s commandant from 1820 to 1824, and for whom the fort was named.

Now I headed a few miles north to visit the Minnesota ANG Museum located at the north end of the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport.  It turns out that the museum is on the National Guard base, and when Greta took me to a guard gate,  the guard said the museum was no longer open to the public without the proper background check pass.  Rats!  This is another case of a museum internet site not providing a person all the information needed for directions, hours, access requirements  and etc.

 I made a “U” turn and was heading for the intersection, when I spotted an unused driveway off to the side.  I pulled in to inter the address for Greta to take me to the next museum.  I couldn’t have been there more than 2 or 3 minutes, but when I looked up from concentrating on the address, there stood two Military Police outside my window.   They were dressed in their camos, wearing every accessory known to the Military Police.  With their hands on the butts of their weapons, they politely asked me what I was doing.

I explained that I was just using the unused driveway (outside the fenced area) to look up a museum address.  They informed me that I couldn’t park on “Military Property.”  I thanked them (for not shooting me) and got on my way, under their watchful eyes.  After this incident, I moved on north a few more miles, to visit the Twin City Model Railroad Museum located in the Bandana Square area of Saint Paul.  This museum began in1834 as the St. Paul Craftsman Club, and over the years, has grown to display a world-class model panorama of the Twin Cities railroads of the 1930s-1950s.  The museum also displays several different gage-size model railroad layouts and other railroad artifacts.

—–(This day’s activities will be continued next week)—–

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—–

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