Tag Archives: Travel Series

America’s North Country Trip~ Part 16

3 Jan

A Slice of Life
 Bill Lites

 

 

Day 16 (Saturday)

This morning’s activities centered on getting ready for my flight home. After a great complimentary hot breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage links, a biscuit & gravy and orange juice, there at the motel, I took my remaining snack items out of my cooler, and left it with a note for housekeeping that the cooler and everything in it were for them. I finished packing, checked out of the motel and headed for the Eppley International Airport, there in Omaha, to turn in my rental car.

 

 

The rental car return went like a breeze, and now I had 1½ hours to kill until my flight left. I ate a granola bar and my last banana before I headed for security. At security I discovered that I not only didn’t have to remove my shoes (over 75 years of age) but when I told them I had an electronic device wired to my back for pain ( a tens unit), I didn’t have to remove that either. They did an individual body scan and that made the process a lot quicker and much easier for me.

 

 

My 2-hour non-stop Southwest flight to Orlando was very restful, and here again the peanuts and pretzels were fresh. DiVoran picked me up at the airport, and we had dinner just north of the airport at Sonny’s BBQ, right there on SR-436.

 

 

Then we made the short trip home to Titusville. Boy did it feel good to pull into our driveway and know I was going to be sleeping in my own bed tonight. I love going on these trips, and getting to see all the different parts of our wonderful country, but it is always nice to get home where everything is familiar and I don’t have to live out of a suitcase.

 

 

I hope you have enjoyed reading about this trip as much as I have writing about it. I invite you to join me to read about my next trip to new and different places, and where I may even meet some new and exciting people.

 

“Take me on your next trip Daddy”

—–The End—–

One of the many sites I was looking forward to seeing were the large herds of Buffalo that I had seen portrayed on TV documentaries in recent years. As it turned out, after driving almost 4000 miles through these six states, I never saw the first live Buffalo. Not even when I visited the National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown, ND! I saw a lot of stuffed Buffalo in museums along the way, but not a single live one. What a bummer!

America’s North Country Trip~Part 12

6 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

 

Day 12 (Tuesday)

 

This morning I headed east on I-80 to visit the Wyoming Frontier Prison located in Rawlins, WY. Construction of this facility began in 1893 as a replacement for the old Wyoming Territorial Prison, in Laramie. Even though new, the first 104 cells (cell block “A”) had no electricity or running water, and very inadequate heating when first opened. Over the years, Cell blocks “B” and “C” were added to handle the ever growing number of inmates. The prison employed several different means of discipline, including a dungeon, solitary confinement and even a “Punishment Pole” where men were secured and whipped with a rubber hose. Just one more remnant of the grizzly past of the “Old AmericannWest.”

 

 

While I was in Rawlings, i decided to check out the Carbon County Museum. This was a small museum, very nicely displaying historical artifacts and memorabilia associated with the surrounding southwestern Wyoming area.

 

 

Now I headed east on I-80 again to visit the Laramie Railroad Museum in Laramie, WY. This museum turned out to be located in the old Union Pacific train station (designated “The Overland Route”) of the Union Pacific System. Unfortunately the museum was closed today. So, I took a stroll around the small Railroad Heritage Park adjacent to the museum, where I took a photo of the restored Union Pacific locomotive # 535 pushing a snow plow and pulling a 6-man crew-bunk car and a caboose.

 

 

As I passed thru downtown Laramie, I pass the St. Matthews Episcopal Cathedral and just had to stop and take a photo of that majestic old structure. Built in 1892, it somehow reminded me of the Laramie city historical marker, I had just seen, that informed me that Laramie was founded in 1866, and was named after the fur trader Jacques LaRamie. Interesting how civilization and architecture had a way of pushing its way west, even in those early days of territorial life.

 

 

Next I visited the Wyoming Territorial Prison located west of the city on the Laramie River. Built in 1872, the prison was problem riddled with fires and jail breaks from the beginning. Of the 44 prisoners accepted in the first two years of operation, 11 escaped. Butch Cassidy was a prisoner there from 1894 to 1896. Prisoners were transferred to the new Wyoming State Prison located Rawlins, WY in 1901, the prison was closed, and in 1903 and the University of Wyoming used the facility to conduct experiments in livestock breeding until 1989. The facility was opened to the public in 1991 as the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historical Site. If this prison was opened 11 years before the Wyoming Territorial Prison in Rawlings, I can just imagine what horrible things the prisoners had to endure in this prison.

 

 

Leaving Laramie I headed east on I-80 again to visit the old Cheyenne Depot Museum (AKA: Wyoming Transportation Museum) located in downtown Cheyenne, WY. This museum was located inside the reconditioned Union Pacific Railroad terminal which was built in 1886. The Union Pacific Railroad serviced its last passenger from this terminal in 1971, after which it was closed. The terminal was subsequently re-opened (after much renovation) to the public as a museum in 1990. The two-story museum displays exhibits related to the history of the Union Pacific Railroad, and its role in the development of the city of Cheyenne.

 

 

Across the street from the depot, is the Cheyenne Depot Plaza where you will see a number of 8’ tall painted cowboy boots. These boots are each painted to show a different part of the history of Cheyenne. You can take a cell-phone audio tour (looking for other Big Boots), that guides you to 19 different locations of interest in the city. Pretty cool idea, if you have the time and want to see the city.

 

 

Just a few blocks from the park, I visited the Nelson Museum of the West. This was a small museum, beautifully displaying artifacts and memorabilia from the surrounding Wyoming plains area, dating from the early frontier days to the present.

 

 

On my way to my next museum, I passed the Wyoming State Capital building and stopped to take a photo of that beautiful structure.

 

 

I hadn’t gone far before I saw another beautiful structure. This turned out to be the St. Mary’s Cathedral. I am always impressed with the architectural beauty of the various churches, cathedrals, and government buildings I see on my trips in different parts of this country of ours.

 

 

A little ways north of town, I decided to visit the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum located there in Cheyenne. This is a frontier town type museum, with restored buildings set up to represent “Main Street” in the early 1800 days in the Cheyenne area. The buildings are occupied with tour guides dressed in period clothes ready to tell you all about what it was like “back in the 1890’s old west days.” I just happened to be in Cheyenne the week of the “World’s Largest Outdoor Rodeo & Western Celebration.” This is a huge annual event in Cheyenne that had a big part of the city’s streets blocked off, and I was unable to visit the CDF Museum located close to the Frontier Park & Arena because of that.

 

 

Now I headed for a quick check to see if Greta could find the Big Boy No. 4004 steam locomotive located in the Holiday Park there in Cheyenne. It was one of the world’s largest steam locomotives ever built. Big Boy No. 4004 was one of 25 Big Boy locomotives built between 1941 & 1944 for the Union Pacific Railroad. It went into service in 1941; measures 132’ long, weighs 1.208,750 lbs. & carries 25,000 gal. of water. The Big Boy locomotives were so long that their frames had to be “hinged” or articulated to allow them to negotiate curves.

 

 

I headed for the motel there in Cheyenne, and after getting checked in I relaxed and enjoyed my leftover Baby Back Ribs from last night at the Open Range Restaurant.

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

Circuitous Travel~Part 14

26 Nov

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

 

Our final day in London. We were sad to see this day approach. We have so thoroughly enjoyed our time in the British Isles, and London in particular.

Again we took the Tube into London, and we walked along the Embankment – the Thames Embankment – which includes the Victoria Embankment. The Victoria Embankment is a road and riverwalk along the north side of the Thames, from the Palace of Westminster to Blackfriars Bridge (Wikipedia). My notes say that we walked along the Embankment and the Queen’s Walk. According to Wikipedia, there is a difference between the Queen’s Walk and the Victoria Embankment. I’m a bit confused on this matter. All I remember is that we did a lot of walking along that embankment – but thoroughly enjoyed it.

Here are a few pictures that we took along our walk. Unfortunately, Big Ben was in scaffolding – that seems to be our lot in life! But we did get to see it, and that is what matters the most.

 

Following our walk along the river, we took a bus to Greenwich.

 

 

We, along with quite a few other people, took our turn at straddling the Prime Meridian. Here are our girls doing just that.

 

 

From Wikipedia I gleaned: Greenwich is world-famous as the traditional location of the Prime Meridian, on which all Coordinated Universal Time is based. The Prime Meridian running through Greenwich and the Greenwich Observatory is where the designation Greenwich Mean Time, or GMT began, and on which all world times are based. That information is just in case you didn’t know where Greenwich Mean Time, or GMT came from. All time on this planet is based from this spot.

In looking at maps, I just realized that Greenwich is actually part of London! If you go down the river Thames a ways, you will come to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, which connects the north and south islands. Greenwich is on the south side. While we were at Greenwich, we toured through the National Maritime Museum which may be the largest museum of its kind in the world. Part of that museum includes the Cutty Sark, a clipper ship that was launched on the Clyde in 1869. She was a fast ship, involved in the China tea trade. Fascinating to go aboard and look around the ship.

 

 

Our last thing to do was to head back toward our B&B, but go to the Royal Botanic Gardens, in Kew, which weren’t far from there. It is a beautiful garden, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time walking through the gardens. Here are some pictures we took:

 

 

I’m not exactly sure what “Open Day 1983″ represented, but here are pictures of it in flowers:

 

 

The following day was our day to fly back to the United States. We had packed up and were ready to head to Heathrow Airport, but it was a bit of a walk, even to the Tube station near our B&B, especially carrying our luggage. So we asked our host if they would mind giving us a ride to the station. Much to our surprise, they volunteered to take us directly to the airport! We were quite glad for that! And appreciated the British hospitality shown to us.

We made a safe flight back to the U.S., but were so very thankful that we had the opportunity to explore England, Scotland and Wales.

And so ends our Circuitous Travel tale. It was a great deal of fun – and I hope you have enjoyed the journey with us!

 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~The End~~~~~~~~~~

 

America’s North Country Trip~ Part 10

22 Nov

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

 

 

 

 

Day 10 (Sunday)

 

Since the airshow gates didn’t open until 9:00, and it was located on the other side of the airport runway, I decided to check out the Red Barn Hanger there at the Idaho Falls Reginal Airport first. Built in 1930, the hanger served the city of Idaho Falls, during the early pioneering years of aviation, helping to provide a link between the eastern and western parts of the country. They hadn’t opened all the hanger doors yet this morning, but I could see a couple of modern twin-engine aircraft parked inside.

 

 

People were already beginning to stream thru the airshow gate by the time I got there and got parked. I showed my ticket, got my hand stamped and strolled over to one of the courtesy carts and asked for a ride to the flight line. It was a good ¼ mile to where the Blue Angles aircraft were parked. However, there were not too many people at the flight line fence yet, so I was able to get a clear shot of all the planes.

 

 

The visitor viewing area for the airshow was shaped like a triangle with about ¼ mile sides, and by the time I got back to the gate I was ready to sit down and rest. Did I mention that the temperature in this area had been really high, and today it was forecast to be 94 (feels like 104).

 

 

 

By the time the airshow activities started the temperature had gotten up to about 90 degrees and everyone was looking for some shade. But, there wasn’t any!

 

 

I ask the courtesy cart lady, who originally had given me a ride to the flight line, if I could sit in her cart when she wasn’t busy, and she said, “Sure.” This turned out to be the best seat at the airshow; I had a place to sit, the cart had a roof for shade, and I had someone to talk to about the show. Best of all, every time her support people came by to give her a bottle of water, she got one for me. Then when they came by and gave her a big sub-sandwich for her lunch she said, “I can’t eat that much.” and offered me half. What a deal that turned out to be!

 

 

Since this airshow was being held in a location where there weren’t any vacant surrounding areas where pyrotechnics could be used, it limited the activities of the show somewhat. They started the show with parachute jumper who came down with the American flag while the National Anthem played.

 

 

Then there several single plane aerobatic displays, where the pilots did some of the most amazing things with their airplanes.

 

 

There was a 4-plane AT-6 demonstration team that performed some really smooth formation flying.

 

 

And one of my favorites, Matt Younkin flying his Twin Beech 18, always puts on one of the most amazing and beautiful aerial flight demonstrations with a twin engine airplane.

 

 

There was a three-plane demonstration team consisting of a Mig 15, Mig 17 & F-86 Saber that was the first of its kind I had ever seen.

 

 

And there was a F-35 flight demonstration that was amazing. The pilot did things with that airplane that were just hard to believe any modern jet could do. All in all, they put on a good show, even though there was some really long “no action” periods between events. Of course everyone was really there to see the Blue Angles put on their airial demonstration. I had seen the Air Force Thunderbirds perform at our Valiant Air Command Airshow last year, but had never seen the Blue Angles perform. They put on a really impressive demonstration and I didn’t see anyone leave during their performance.

 

 

Since I was watching this while sitting in the courtesy cart close to the entrance gate, I was able to thank the lady driver who had been so kind to me throughout the entire airshow, and beat the crowd to my car and out to the street. The police had many of the streets blocked off to help clear the airshow crowd from the area. This didn’t help me in my effort to get to the Museum of Idaho there in Idaho Falls for a visit. By the time I got to the museum it was closed, so I just took a photo.

 

 

I had planned to stay in Idaho Falls for two nights, so by now Greta was familiar with how to get me back to the motel. A shower felt really good after a full day out in that blistering heat (even though I was shaded most of the time), and then I enjoyed my leftover Casa Ranchero Mexican dinner again. All that hot open air exposure, a cool shower, and delicious meal (and there was nothing good on TV) made it very hard to stay wake. So it was very easy to go to bed early tonight.

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

Circuitous Travel~Part 13

19 Nov

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

 

Today’s adventure in greater London was a bus tour to Windsor Castle.

 

Credit Google Search and Wikipedia

 

Fred and I had visited this magnificent castle back in 1970, and I shall present some of the pictures we took at that time in this post.

We were told that Windsor Castle is Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite castle. While I don’t remember going inside anywhere, I can still see why she loves it so much.

We saw many beautiful parts of this castle. We saw the King Henry VIII Gate.

 

 

We saw King George’s Chapel (here with a corner of the barracks).

 

 

We were allowed to be and see the inside courtyard, and took several pictures from different angles.

 

 

 

 

I really loved the stoneworks that make up this castle. It’s just lovely.

Back in 1970, as we were walking toward the castle, we were told by the guide to be very careful during the changing of the guards. Especially as they headed toward the barracks. He said that, because they had been on duty and were tired, that they stopped for no one on their march to the barracks!! So watch out!! Don’t get in their way, or you will be run over!

Outside the castle itself, we saw the castle from the distance, along with a bronze statue of Queen Victoria – in the middle of the street! It is well kept.

 

Credit Google Search and Mapio.net

 

While we enjoyed our tour of the castle grounds, Fred and I had the pleasure, back in 1970, of seeing a part of Windsor that is seldom seen by the general public. We were told, back then, that we would be able to see the Queen’s Apartment Gardens – but only because she was not in attendance at Windsor at that time. We were thrilled!! That was a once-in-a-lifetime event for us. Here are the pictures we took – of the Queen’s apartment, and the gardens she saw when she looked out her windows. Beautiful!

 

The Queen’s Apartments from the gardens

The Queen’s Gardens

 

Back in 1970, from one point in Windsor, we were able to see Eton College. Here is a picture from then.

 

 

From Windsor, we went to Hampton Court Palace.

 

 

This is another lovely piece of English history. The building was begun in 1515 by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. In reading some articles on Google, it seems that King Henry VIII more-or-less confiscated it from Wolsey following a falling-out between them, in 1529. Henry then enlarged the palace for his own pleasure.

 

Anne Boleyn’s gate with clock tower

 

 

 

 

Hampton Court is a great place to visit if you are ever in the London area. And I would like to say here, that if you ever come to Orlando, and go do Disney World, and EPCOT especially, when you get to the country of “England” – look at the front of the store and you will see Hampton Court. The store front looks like Anne Boleyn’s Gate. But also look up at the brick chimneys – they remind me so much of Hampton Court! I hope they were built at EPCOT with that just in mind. Delightful!

~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

 

Circuitous Travel~Part 12

12 Nov

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

 

We are getting close to the end of our week in London – much to our sorrow. We love all things England, and the greater London area in particular.

However, we were excited about the day ahead of us. Our first venture was a bus tour to Warwick (pronounced War-ick, not War-wick) Castle.

 

Gatehouse

 

We were eager to able to visit this beautiful castle. We were told that many motion pictures that involve castles are filmed at this site. Makes sense – it is a beautiful site.

 

Castle grounds and gardens

 

From “Primary Facts” I gleaned: …..facts about Warwick Castle, located near the River Avon, in the county of Warwickshire.

 A motte-and-bailey castle was built on the site of Warwick Castle. This early castle was built in 1068 by the Normans following William the Conqueror’s victory in the Battle of Hastings.

The motte-and-bailey castle was upgraded to stone during the reign of Henry II. A curtain wall was built with buildings up against it.

 In the 14th century, a gatehouse was added and several towers were constructed.

 In 1469, during the time of the Wars of the Roses, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, imprisoned King Edward IV in Warwick Castle.

 Richard III ordered for two gun towers to be added to Warwick Castle in the 1480s. These were called Bear Tower and Clarence Tower.

 During the 16th century, Warwick Castle started to fall into disrepair. In fact, when Queen Elizabeth I visited, a separate building had to built for her to stay in.

 

Caesar’s Tower

 

We were pleased to see the Red Knight on display for us.

 

 

When Fred and I visited back in 1970, the castle was in private hands. At this point in time (1983) it was owned by the Madam Tussaud’s company, and the company had added animated figures in some of the rooms. Quite interesting.

Following our visit to the castle, we went on to Stratford-Upon-Avon, and we especially wanted to see Anne Hathaway’s Cottage.

 

The town gate

 

Again, when Fred and I had visited in 1970, the thatch on the roof of the cottage was being repaired. Seems that a young man in the village wanted to impress his girlfriend, so he set fire to the roof! We were fortunate to be there at the time the roof was actually being repaired. It gave us a true insight into how a thatch roof is constructed. Most interesting and entertaining.

 

1970 – Anne Hathaway’s Cottage with Reconstruction sign

 

 

Wikipedia provided the following: Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is a twelve-roomed farmhouse where Anne Hathaway, the wife of William Shakespeare, lived as a child in the village of Shottery, Warwickshire, England, about 1 mile west of Stratford-upon-Avon.

We also found the town of Stratford-Upon-Avon to be quite entertaining. While we knew, of course, that it was the birthplace of William Shakespeare, it had other interests as well.

 

Shakespeare’s birthplace

 

The official Stratford-Upon-Avon website states:   Stratford-upon-Avon, a medieval market town in England’s West Midlands, is the 16th-century birthplace of William Shakespeare. Possibly the most famous writer in the English language, Shakespeare is known for his sonnets and plays such as ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Hamlet’. The Royal Shakespeare Company performs his plays in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and adjacent Swan Theatre on the banks of the River Avon.

 

The Old Weaver’s House – built in A.D. 1500

 

So much history in England…and we thoroughly enjoy it!

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

 

America’s North Country Trip~Part 8

8 Nov

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

 

Day 8 (Friday)

 

After a short drive west on I-90 this morning, I visited the World Museum of Mining located on the outskirts of Butte, MT. This museum is located on a 22-acre site of what is an inactive silver & zinc mine named the Orphan Girl. As part of the museum, there is a 37- building reconstruction of a typical mining town called “Hell Roarin’ Gulch” which displays thousands of articles common to the miner’s way of life in the early 1890’s. I didn’t try to walk on the cobble-stoned streets, and stuck to the boardwalks on either side of the street.

 

 

I-90 makes a swing northwest, thru the mountains as I headed to visit the Old Montana Prison located in Deer Lodge, MT. I discovered that the Powell County Museum & Arts Foundation (PCMAF) operates what they describe as a museum complex, with several museums within a three block area. This included five of the museums I had on my list to visit there in Deer Lodge. I started with the Old Prison Museum. This is a massive prison complex, said to have been built using prison labor. This early 1800’s Montana Territory prison is now being maintained by the PCMAF but is not restored. As a result, there are only certain parts of the prison that can be toured.

 

 

Since one ticket gets you into all of the Museum Complex museums, I now walked next door to the Montana Auto Museum. This museum consists of over 150 beautifully restored automobiles dating back to 1903. It’s hard for me to walk thru an auto museum like this and not want to stop and take a photo of each and every auto, as well as read all about them.

 

 

Across the street I started with the Powell County Museum which consisted of local early Montana artifacts and memorabilia. Another store next door included handmade items (mostly leather goods) that inmates have made at the Montana State Prison and are brought here for sale.

 

 

The Cottonwood City park was a collection of restored early 1850’s Montana prairie structures including a church, a one-room schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop and a gazebo.

 

 

Next door was the Frontier Montana Museum which consisted of mostly pioneer and early Montana artifacts and memorabilia, including a covered wagon and a sheriff’s office and jail cell, and the Capa’s Cowboy Collection. This building also housed the WWII Exhibit which included U.S. Army and USAAC artifacts, and memorabilia. I was surprised to see a display for the memory of Bud Anderson, a B-24 pilot during WWII. I knew of a Bud Anderson who was a P-51 fighter ace during WWII, so couldn’t correlate the names with the planes they flew.

 

 

Now it was back onto I-90, heading west to visit the Smokejumpers Visitor Center located in Missoula, MT. This was a very informative facility, located adjacent to the Missoula International Airport. I was informed that Missoula is home to the largest smokejumper base in the U.S. The Visitor Center also has a smoke jumpers loft that allows visitors an opportunity to learn about firefighting procedures, smoke jumping history, and other fire related issues.

 

 

At the other end of the Missoula International Airport I visited the Museum of Mountain Flying. This museum turned out to be situated in a one large hanger with several beautifully restored aircraft, including the original DC-3 used to drop the Mann Gulch smokejumpers in August 1949. Unfortunately 13 jumpers were overcome and died in that fire. The museum also displays artifacts and memorabilia related to the Rocky Mountain flying history.

 

Now I went looking for the Boone & Crockett Club located on the Clark Fork River there in Missoula. Here again Greta had a hard time locating the address. She would tell me I had arrived at the requested address, when actually the building was below that location on the riverbank. This turned out to be a private club, founded by Theodore Roosevelt and other visionaries in 1887. The idea behind the club was basically wildlife conservation for future generations. Since I was not a member, and wasn’t a guest of anyone, I wasn’t invited in. That was just as well, since it was time to head for my motel there in Missoula for the evening.

 

 

 

As luck would have it, on the way to the motel, I came across a Fuddruckers’s Restaurant (one of my favorites) and stopped in to experience one of their “Elk Burgers” for the first time. No. it didn’t taste like chicken. It tasted like venison, in case any of you has ever eaten venison.   As usual, it was delicious, and I went to the motel with a full and happy tummy.

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

 

 

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