Tag Archives: #Roadtrip

Memory Lane Trip~Part 7 (Continued)

15 Aug

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

 

Day 7 – Monday 4/23/2018

 

As you might have guessed by now, this was turning out to be a really busy day.  Next on my list, there in Dallas, was a visit to the Frontier of Flight Museum a few miles north of downtown Dallas, located at the Dallas Love Field Airport.  This is the best aviation museum I have visited on this trip so far.  This is a large museum with two large display areas and 30+ beautifully restored airplanes.

 

 

One of the museum’s most unique displays is their complete Boeing 737 airliner. The nose section of the airplane is inside the building and the passenger section is outside the building.  Visitors can access the airplane from inside the building and examine the entire complete interior at their leisure.

 

 

One of my favorite TV series of late, is “Fast N’ Loud” which follows the exploits of hot rod hunter, Richard Rawlings, and his Gas Monkey Garage crew, located there in northwest Dallas.  I’m constantly amazed by the crew’s talents, as they transform “barn finds” or a “basket case” car into some of the most beautiful and unusual road machines ever. Since I was in Dallas, I decided to stop in at the Gas Monkey Garage and see what was happening.

 

 

Surprise!!  The episodes of the TV series I have seen are mostly confined to the garage area, as seen in the photo above, with Richard’s office cubical in the back of the garage.  So imagine my surprise to find that Richard has expanded his Gas Monkey complex to include Corporate Offices, and the “Merch” store, which is an apparel store feathering “Trending Threads” and Gas Monkey souvenirs.

 

 

As luck would have it, the Discovery film crew was working on another episode, and access to the garage area was restricted.  I was disappointed not to be able to meet any of the “Monkeys” to tell them how much I enjoy the series and the wonderful work they do.

 

 

One of Richard’s ventures, since the series started, was the opening of the Gas Monkey Bar & Grill, located just a few miles north of the Garage, on I-35E.  I stopped by to check out this beautiful restaurant, but things were very quiet, as the dinner crowd had not started showing up, so I headed west on I-30 to meet my cousins in Arlington, TX.

 

 

I had made arrangements to meet three of my first cousins in Arlington for dinner and some reminiscing. These cousins were from my father’s side of the family, and I hadn’t seen any of them in almost 20 years.  Our family had made several visits to see them, in central Louisiana, when I was 6 or 8 years old.  Milton is my age, so we ran around with each other during those visits.  Gerry and Delois were Milton’s older sisters, and as you can imagine, we had lots to talk about.  Well, as luck would have it, we had a communications breakdown, and we missed each other at the restaurant.  After driving around a while trying to connect with them, I finally gave up and stopped to enjoy some really delicious St. Louis Ribs with baked beans and cold slaw at Jambo’s BBQ Shack there in Arlington.

 

 

With the help of my cousin, Gerry, I had made reservations, before I started this trip, for a room at the Texas Masonic Retirement Center, where Gerry and her husband George live. This was a great arrangement for the two nights I planned to stay in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, as it included three meals each day if I so elected.  And, I would be right there in the same building with two of my cousins.  Later, when we finally did find each other, there at the center, we had a wonderful time going over some of our family history. Gerry’s sister, Delois, also lives in the Masonic Retirement Center, and she joined us in Gerry’s apartment for the festivities.

—–To Be Continued—–

 

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

 

Bill

Memory Lane Road Trip~Part 7

8 Aug

A Slice of Life

Bill LItes

 

Day 7 – Monday 4/23/2018

 

I knew this was going to be another full day, so after a quick breakfast of blueberries and yogurt in my room, I grabbed a glass of orange juice from the motel breakfast room and headed north, on I-35, to visit the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum located in Waco, TX.  This museum displays artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of the Texas Rangers Law Enforcement Agency which dates as far back as 1823, when the west was wild, and the unit was originally formed by Steven F. Austin.

 

 

I continued north on I-35 again to visit the Hill County Cell Block Museum located in Hillsboro, TX. It doesn’t look much like a prison or even a cell block to me.  Built in 1893, the building housed the prison cell block, sheriff’s office and living quarters for the sheriff and his family.  The prison was in use until 1983, when it was closed and became the Cell Block Museum.  Now you tell me if that looks like a prison to you.

 

 

Just north of Hillsboro, I picked up I-35E and headed northeast to visit the Cold War Air Museum and the Dallas Squadron of the CAF located at the Lancaster Regional Airport just southeast of Lancaster, TX.  There was very little activity going on at the airport this morning, and most of the hangers were closed.  I found the CAF hanger, but it was closed.  The Cold War Air Museum is open on Saturday and Sunday only so that turned out to be a pretty much wasted stop.

 

 

I had another CAF museum in this area on my list, so I asked Greta to take me to the Dallas Commemorative Air Force Museum.  This museum is located at the Dallas Executive Airport, which is on the southwest outskirts of Dallas, Texas.  When I got to the museum, I was surprised to see their sign saying it was the CAF National Headquarters.

 

 

I had visited the CAF Headquarters in Midland, TX several years ago, on another trip, and didn’t realize they had moved their headquarters to Dallas.  Of course, their airplanes are all beautifully restored and in flying condition.  The young lady at the desk informed me, that as usual, several of their airplanes were “on the road” at airshows around the country.  I got photos of the airplanes in the hanger, and then I saw a really neat picture, on the wall.  The picture was of a CAF aircraft display showing several of their airplanes, with what I assumed was the Dallas skyline in the background.  I ask the young lady about the photo, and she informed me that it had in fact been taken, there at the Dallas Executive Airport, around 2015.  I asked if I could take a photo of it, and she said, “Help yourself.” So I did.

 

 

Now I headed into downtown Dallas to visit the Old Red Museum located across from Dealey Plaza.  Their website informs me that the building was originally built in 1892 as the Dallas County Courthouse.  At the time the courthouse was designed with 6 courtrooms and a library.  The  Courthouse served Dallas County until 1966, when it was moved to a new building.  The Old Red Courthouse building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, and was eventually renovated for use as a landmark museum.  The museum now consists of four floors, where four separate galleries tell the history of Dallas, from the first settlement in 1841, with artifacts and memorabilia. The museum also houses a children’s education center, four mini-theaters, an IMAX theater, and a Great Hall event center with seating for 300 guests.

 

 

 

—–Stay tuned, this day’s activities will be continued next week—–

Memory Lane Trip~Part 3

27 Jun

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

Day 3 – Thursday 4/19/2018

 

After breakfast this morning I took a little side trip, off of I-10, north on SR-27 to visit the Dequincy Rail Road Museum located in Dequincy, LA.  This was a very small museum and I got there before they opened. I took a photo of their steam locomotive #124 and their restored 1923 railroad Depot, and then headed on down the road to the next museum.

 

 

Next on the list this morning took me across the border into Texas, where I visited the Fire Museum of Texas located in Beaumont, TX. This is the restored 1927 Beaumont fire engine station, which displays several beautifully restored pieces of 19th century firefighting apparatus, and several fire engines/hook & ladder fire engines from the early and mid-20thcentury.

 

 

While I was in Beaumont, and just a few blocks away, I also visited the Texas Energy Museum.  This was a very large modern museum with exhibits, artifacts, and memorabilia that major on the progress that the state of Texas realized, as a result of the development of the local oil industry.

 

 

Just around the corner from the Texas Energy Museum was the small restored Travis Street Electrical Sub-station, which has been converted into The Edison Museum.  This small sub-station gives the visitor a view of how electrical power was transferred for residential and commercial use back in early 1929, to keep the city of Beaumont lighted and running.

 

Next on the list was a visit to The Clifton Steamboat Museum located some 12 miles west of Beaumont. This museum was created by Mr. D. H. Clifton, who was an avid fan of Civil War maritime technology. The museum is filled with beautiful renderings of Civil War maritime battles and miniature models of many of the Civil War battleships and Ironclad’s of the period.  Mr. Clifton took it upon himself to single-handedly rescued the 1938 tugboat “Hercules” that was scheduled for the scrap yard, and moved it to his museum location in 1994.  Old “Hercules” could stand a new coat of paint in my opinion.

 

 

Now I headed west on I-10 again, to visit the Royal Purple Raceway (Now called Houston Raceway) located in Baytown, TX.  This huge sports complex includes a ¼ mile dragstrip (NHRA) and a 3/8 mile oval dirt track.  The pit area is large enough to accommodate 400 racing rigs, and the spectator viewing area seats 30,000.  The activity was electric at the raceway the day I was there, but sorrowfully it was all in preparation for the weekend event that I would miss.  Maybe I’ll catch an event next time I’m in the area.

 

 

I had no idea of what a big mistake I would be making when next I tried to visit the Battleship Texas (BB-35) located in La Porte, TX.  Road construction was terrible and had Greta so confused she couldn’t find the location. This was complicated by the fact that coming on the shortest route from Baytown, she had me using ferries which I didn’t have time for.  So, after several tries, I just gave up and headed for my next museum.

 

 

 

Note: This day’s activities will be continued next week.

 

—–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 2

20 Jun

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 2 – Wednesday 4/18/2018

 

I headed west on U.S.- 61 this morning for my first stop to check out the South Louisiana Executive Airport located in Reserve, LA.  This turned out to be a very small local FBO with no activity and only a few hangered airplanes. However, they had a beautifully restored F-11 Tiger jet that was painted in Blue Angels colors as their gate guard.

 

 

Next I continued west on U.S.- 61 until I picked up I-10 west, to check out the USS Kidd (DD-661) located in Baton Rouge, LA.    The whole area around the ship, which was part of the Veteran’s Memorial Museum, was blocked off to visitors.  I discovered the ship was being used in the making of a new movie named “Greyhound” starring Tom Hanks.  The ship was surrounded with barge-cranes and boats to handle all the movie sound and lighting equipment.  I didn’t see any filming activity on the upper decks, and it will be interesting to see how they use that stationary ship in the finished movie.

 

 

Next I tried to find the Old Arsenal Museum also located there in Baton Rouge.  Access to the museum (which was hidden from sight from the only road where parking was available), was difficult to find and when I finally did get to the museum it was closed. A sign on the front of the museum indicated that it was the original powder storage magazine for the Baton Rouge Arsenal & Ordnance Depot. Wikipedia informed me that the Baton Rouge Arsenal was one of several arsenals established by an act of Congress in 1816 to protect Louisiana borders after the War of 1812.  In early1861, even before Louisiana had seceded from the union, the Louisiana State Militia captured the arsenal and held it until mid-1862 when Union forces recaptured it, during the Battle of Baton Rouge.

 

 

Just around the corner and down a couple blocks from the Old Arsenal, I checked out the Louisiana Old State Capital Building Museum situated on a high bluff overlooking the Mississippi River.  Designed and built in 1847-1852, the “Castellated Gothic” turreted edifice served the Louisiana Legislature from 1852 until 1862.  During the Civil War, when Union forces captured Baton Rouge, it was used as a prison and later as a military garrison.  I didn’t go inside because it was full and overflowing with junior high school age students on a field trip.

 

 

Now I headed west on I-10, across the Mississippi River, to visit the USS Orleck (DD-886) which is tied up on the Calcasieu River, located on the northwest side of Lake Charles, LA.  This turned out to be another real challenge for Greta, in that she directed me to the wrong side of the road.  The ship was tied up in an area which was almost completely obscured by trees and shrubbery, which made it very difficult to see from the road and also hard to photograph.  The ship was in a state of dis-repair and didn’t look like visitors were welcome. I googled the USS Orleck when I got home from my trip, and Wikipedia informed me that the ship was damaged during the 2005 Hurricane Rita and is now being prepared for the scrap yard.

 

 

While I still had some time before supper, I went looking for the Lake Area Radio Kontrol Society flying field located in Sulphur, LA just a few miles from Baton Rouge. This actually turned out to be the highlight of the day as far as I was concerned.  Greta found the field with no problem, and there was one club member with his Grumman F-7F Tigercat, getting ready to fly.  The club had one of the greatest flying field setups I’ve ever seen.  They have a 600’ paved runway, with several run-up stations and paved taxi-ways to the runway.  There is a large metal covered prep area with tables and chairs.  They also have a nice-sized attached clubhouse with full kitchen and bathroom.  We had a great time talking model airplanes before and after he flew his beautiful Tigercat.

 

 

The light was fading fast by the time I left the LARKS Model R/C field, so I headed for the motel there in Lake Charles.  Greta did a good job of finding the motel this time.  After I got checked in and settled in my room, it was time to relax, and  warmup my leftover Saltgrass Baby Back Ribs.  Who could ask for more to finish a long day on the road?

 

 

—–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

 

The Space Race~Part 4

17 Jun

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Bill Lites

 

The most amazing aviation museum I visited last year was the “Pima Air & Space Museum and Boneyard in Tucson, Arizona. The museum is amazing, with 150 beautifully restored hangered aircraft, and another 150 static displayed aircraft of all types in their 80 acre outdoor area. That’s also where the U. S. Government has 300 acres of discontinued aircraft of all types (the boneyard) in storage or waiting to be scrapped. What an amazing array of aircraft that is!

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What makes a lot of these airshows and museums I visit really fun and stand out, is that many of the museum docents dress in period costumes and display a variety of period planes, vehicles and equipment. At one museum I visited, and that really stands out in my memory, is the Fantasy of Flight museum in Polk City, FL. That’s where I met “Rosie the Riveter” & “Penelope the Wing Walker” who were tour guides there and showed me around portions of their museum. What a special treat that is for visitors at that museum!

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As a serendipity on one of my museum trips two years ago, I just happened to be in Albuquerque, NM during the week of their Annual Balloon Fest. Now if you have never attended a balloon fest or seen an IMAX movie of a balloon fest, I want to tell you, that is a spectacle to behold! Hundreds of colorful balloons of all shapes and sizes ascending into a usually beautiful clear blue sky at one time is absolutely spectacular! The Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum there in Albuquerque tells the history of how the balloon has evolved, from one of the first methods man used to venture into the sky, and over the centuries, to what the balloon hobby is today.

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I was reminded of the 1967 song “Up, Up and Away” which starts off with, “Would you like to ride in my beautiful balloon…” which DiVoran and I actually did with her folks during one of our many visits to see them in California. It was the occasion of father’s 60th birthday, and her brother invited us to join them for the celebration with a wonderful balloon ride. What a thrill that was! It was very quiet and peaceful.

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Since I can’t be on the road all the time, I stay close to the aviation community by being a volunteer tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum here in Titusville, FL.   Our small museum has 38 aircraft on display, 7 of which are flyable and 4 which are in one state or another of restoration, plus a vast array of military memorabilia. We even host our own Warbird Airshow every March, which brings a large variety of aircraft to our small TICO Airport & VAC Museum. Each airshow celebrates a different theme and usually includes at least one well-known flying demonstration team like the Thunderbirds or the Blue Angles.

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                                                            —–To Be Continued—–

My Colonial States Trip~Part 17

11 Mar

A Slice of Life
 Bill Lites

My friends from Boston and New York had advised me not to use the George Washington Bridge if I could help it, but that’s the way “Greta” took me on my way back to the west to visit the Aviation Hall of Fame in Teterboro, NJ. So, it was across the Throgs Neck Bridge, thru the Bronx, over the Hudson River on the G.W. Bridge to the museum. As it turned out, it must have been my lucky day for that crossing, because that trip was pretty much of a breeze and I made it to the museum in good time. This museum, located at the Teterboro Airport, displays historic aircraft and spacecraft equipment, artifacts and photographs along with a model aircraft collection, honoring the many New Jersey men and women who have helped make the aviation industry what it is today. There is a room filled with medallions honoring the over 160 inductees to date.

I woke up to rain the next morning. Up until now the weather had been perfect and I had just assumed it would be the same for the whole trip. Silly me. What was I thinking? Well, it rained that entire day as I sloshed my way toward Connecticut. I figured “Greta” would have routed me back across the G.W. Bridge and up I-95 to Bridgeport, CT before turning north. But I wasn’t ready to try my luck getting across the G.W. Bridge again, especially during the morning rush-hour traffic in the rain. So, I decided to take the northern route, using the Garden State Parkway, and then crossing the Hudson River at the Tappenzee Bridge. Well, wouldn’t you know, I missed the exit for the bridge. I stopped at a service center and asked how to get back to the bridge exit and the guy said, “Just take the next exit and do a “U” turn.” Right! It was 20 miles to the next exit and it ended up taking me 30 minutes and another 30 miles back to the bridge exit (all this in the pouring down rain).

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I finally made it to the right exit, across the Tappenzee Bridge, then thru Danbury and Hartford, CT to the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, CT. That ended up taking 1-½ hours longer than I had planned. What a waste of time that was! The museum displays over 60 beautifully restored aircraft and related artifacts/equipment in three hangers. As I followed a group into the B-29 hanger, I overheard someone say that the small group was honoring their 95 year old uncle who had been a navigator in B-29s during WWII. The elderly gentleman was overwhelmed by the occasion and the size of the aircraft. I heard him say, “I don’t remember it being so big!” What a nice thing for a family to do for their uncle. While I was in the area, I had planned to visit the American Museum of Aviation in Stafford Springs, CT but I discovered that visiting the museum was by appointment only. I was behind schedule anyway, so I just headed south to my next stop, at the New London Customhouse in New London, CT which is operated by the New England Maritime Association. This turned out to be a very small museum, so I didn’t spend much time there.

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—–To Be Continued—–

My Colonial States Trip~Part 16

4 Mar

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

Bill Lites

Bill Lites

 

I saw the Dolly Todd (Madison) house, Edgar Allen Poe’s house, the Fireman’s Hall Museum, the Pine Street Presbyterian Church and the Mechanic’s National Bank. I had trouble finding the Seaport Museum, home of the USS Olympia, and when I did find it they wanted $15.00 to park and $10.00 admission, and this was another case of not feeling like I would have enough time to see the museum and the ship to justify the cost.

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So, I headed back across the Delaware River to Camden, NJ to try to see the USS New Jersey before they closed, but didn’t make it. So, I just went on back to Gloucester City, where I had another fabulous rib dinner at the Texas Roadhouse restaurant before going back to the motel for the night.

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The next day I passed up visiting the Simeone Auto museum and the Wings of Freedom Aviation Museum, as I saw so many things in Philadelphia that I ran out of time, and had to push on toward that day’s list of places to visit.

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First on the list was the Air Victory Museum in Lumberton, NJ which was closed that day. When I was researching the drive from Lumberton to my next stop in Garden City, NY I was pleased to see that “Google Maps” routed me south, around New York City, on I-278 to miss the city traffic. So now, after inputting the Cradle of Aviation Museum address into “Greta”, I sat back to enjoy the ride. The first indication that something was not quite right was when I was directed to enter the Lincoln Tunnel. The next thing I knew I was stopped at a light at the corner of East 42nd Street and Madison Avenue.

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What in the world was going on? “Greta” had done it to me again! All I could do at this point was follow her directions, as I had no idea how to get to Garden City by myself. She took me thru the Queens Midtown Tunnel onto the Long Island Expressway (I think) and somehow delivered me to the correct museum address in Garden City. Needless to say, it took a lot longer than I had planned to get there. When I finally pulled up in front of the Cradle of Aviation Museum, I was expecting to be thrilled with lots of beautifully restored aircraft in that magnificent facility. What greeted me, as I entered the front door was a huge mess of canvas tarps on the floor, with tables, buckets, and women everywhere, making preparations for a local flower show, of all things. As it turned out, the museum had a surprisingly small number of aircraft for the size of their facility. I guess the main reason for that was their emphasis is on education rather than strictly on aviation. In one area, on the ground floor, I came across the Nassau County Firefighters Museum & Education Center. What a surprise that was!

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Next I continued about 15 miles east on Long Island to the American Airpower Museum located in Farmingdale, NY which is about the size of our Valiant Air Command Museum in Titusville, Florida. Most of their WWII aircraft housed in their large hanger are in flying condition, while their later era (more modern) planes, make up an impressive static display collection outside.

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—–To Be Continued—–

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