Tag Archives: Travel Series

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 15B

5 Jan

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 15 – 7/26/2021 (Continued)

Now I headed east 20 miles on US-82 to visit the Old Engine No. 100 Museum located at Jeffords Park in Sylvester, GA.  This small museum is situated in the old restored 1895 Georgia-Ashburn-Sylvester-Camilla (GASC) Railroad line depot that serviced Worth County from 1895 to 1972.  Old 100 is a 1930 Baldwin Mikado 2-8-2 Steam Locomotive that was one of the many that were used to service the GASC line, which included Sylvester (first called ‘Isabella Station’ in 1893), during that time period.

Continuing another 20 miles southeast on US-82, I visited the Tifton Terminal Railway Museum located in Tifton, GA.  This museum is housed in the old 1910 Atlantic Coast Line station and displays railroad artifacts and other exhibits related to the history of the railroad’s influence on the city of Tifton and the surrounding Tift County area in the early 1900s.  The original depot served passengers on the CSX line from 1910 until 1986 when passenger service to this area was discontinued.

Photo credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed east on US-319 out of Tifton and traveled east 20 miles to Ocilla, where I picked up SR-32.  It was another 25 miles on SR-32 to where I visited the Heritage Station Museum located in Douglas, GA.  This small museum is situated in the old renovated 1905 Georgia and Florida Railroad Depot and has on display artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of Douglas and Coffee County dating from 1905.  The depot stopped serving passengers in 1949 and operated only as a freight office until 1985 when it was closed.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

It was just a few blocks to where I wanted to visit the WWII Flight Training Museum located adjacent to the Douglas Municipal Airport there in Douglas.  The museum was closed, but their website informs me that the Training Base was built in 1941 by the USAAF as a primary flight training school to teach young cadets how to fly.  Thirteen of the original buildings have been renovated to show visitors how cadets lived and worked during their basic flight training at the base.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

While I was in the vicinity of the Douglas Municipal Airport I stopped to visit my friend Tom Reilly at his restoration facility there at the airport.  Tom was good enough to take time from his busy schedule to give me a tour of his current projects.  Tom has restored many aircraft to flying condition over the years, but he is best known for recently finishing the 12-year restoration of the only flying XP-82 Twin Mustang in the world.  By the way, the airplane is For Sale, so if you are in the market for a superb one-of-a-kind warbird, give Tom a call and he will be glad to tell you all about the airplane.

Tom and his crew are currently restoring a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress to flight configuration for one customer, while at the same time they are restoring the wings of another B-17 for another customer’s current restoration project.  Tom loves his work and gives his customers the very best product for their money.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

After that amazing tour with Tom, I told Greta (My Garmin) to take me to my motel for the night there in Douglas.  On the way to the motel, I noticed a sign for the ‘El 1800 Mexican Restaurant’ just across US-441 from the WWII Flight Training Base and decided to give them a try.  I ordered their Enchiladas Plate, which came with refried beans and yellow rice.  It was delicious and there was enough for two dinners, so I’ll get to enjoy it again tomorrow.

—–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

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 15A

29 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 15 – 7/26/2021

After a nice breakfast at the motel this morning, I headed southeast out of Columbus, 50 miles on US-280 to visit the Plains Train Depot Museum located in Plains, GA.  This small depot was built in 1888 and served the Plains, GA community from 1888 to 1951 when passenger service to the town was discontinued.  The depot was restored in 1975 and used as the headquarters for the 1976 Jimmy Carter Presidential Campaign there in Plains.  The museum displays photos and artifacts focusing on the activities held in the building during that time period.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

A few blocks down the road I stopped to take a photo of Billy Carter’s Service Station Museum.  I learned that Billy Carter gave up managing the family peanut business in 1972, and bought this service station, where many of the 1976 Jimmy Carter presidential campaign celebrations were held.  Billy continued to run the station until 2008, when the station was renovated for use as a museum.  The museum displays artifacts and family memorabilia covering mostly the life and times of Billy Carter.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I continued east 10 miles on US-280 to visit the Windsor Hotel located in Americus, GA.  This hotel should be a museum, as it is one of the most lavish hotels I’ve seen.  Built in 1892, it was designed for many of the same reasons the Alcazar Hotel in St. Augustine Florida, to attract rich northern winter visitors.  This 100-room Victorian masterpiece served the community until it closed in 1972.  It was renovated in 1991 and modernized in 2010 to its present grander when it became part of the Best Western Group.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I drove over to the Jimmy Carter Regional Airport, there in Americus, Georga, to see where Charles Lindbergh made his first solo-flight in 1923, at age 21.  As the story goes, Lindbergh rode his blue Harley Davidson motorcycle to Southern Field in Americus to purchase a surplus WWI Curtis JN-4 ‘Jenny’ airplane for his barnstorming career.  He was able to purchase a new ‘Jenny’ (still crated in its shipping container), from a Mr. Wyche for $500.  

That price included the cost of mechanics time to assemble the plane there in one of the hangers at the field.  When the plane was ready to fly, and after several hours of instruction by Glenn Messer, Lindbergh took his first solo-flight in that airplane there at the field.  As you might remember, that young man went on to world fame, by being the first to fly non-stopped (solo) from New York to Paris in his ‘Spirit of St. Louis’ airplane and winning the coveted Orteig Prize ($25,000), in May of 1927.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I continued southeast 15 miles on US-280 to visit the Georgia Rural Telephone Museum located in Leslie, GA.  This museum is housed in an old 1920s cotton warehouse, across the street from the Citizen’s Telephone Company, and displays antique artifacts, photos, exhibits, and memorabilia explaining the history and advancement of telecommunications from 1878 thru the 19th and 20th centuries.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Continuing south 30 miles on US-195 I visited the Thronateeska Heritage Center located at the Heritage Plaza in Albany, GA.  This center, situated in the old restored 1913 Union Station, is dedicated to the preservation of the history of Southwest Georgia, and displays photos, exhibits, and artifacts related to the development of the southwest Georgia area dating from the 16th century.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

—–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

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip-Part 14

22 Dec

A Slice of LIfe

Bill Lites

Day 14 – 7/25/2021

Leaving Birmingham this morning, I headed south 30 miles on I-65 to visit the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum located in Calera, AL.  This museum actually utilizes two restored railroad depots as part of their displays.  One served the Southern Railway line and the other served the Louisville & Nashville (L&N) Railroad, both of which were moved to this location over the years.   The museum has restored steam locomotives, and other rolling stock, that are used to take visitors on short excursions, during the year, letting them experience real 1900s train travel.  

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Both of the ‘Heart of Dixie’ museum’s depots display antique railroad artifacts, photos, and memorabilia relating the history of the railroad’s influence on the Shelby County area dating from 1890 to 2005.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Another 60 miles south on I-65 I wanted to visit the Maxwell AFB Air Park located in Montgomery, AL but the park was on the base and was closed to the public without a special pass.  So, I headed downtown to visit several places on my list.  The first was the Old Alabama Town, which is a collection of 50 restored 19th and 20th century structures that show how the early pioneers of central Alabama lived and worked.  This is an amazing attraction!

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Next was the Hank Williams Museum, where this small store-front museum displays original artifacts and memorabilia from the singer’s short life.  The centerpiece of the museum’s displays is Hank’s 1952 Baby Blue Cadillac convertible.  The car is surrounded by many of his guitars, costumes, and photos as visitors are serenaded by some of his famous songs.  Brings back a lot of memories for me. 

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

It wasn’t far to where I stopped to check out the Riverfront Park there in Montgomery.  As it turns out, this is a wonderful city owned and operated recreation compound that provides an amphitheater for musical and other events, a baseball stadium, a riverboat for rides on the Alabama River, and the restored Union Train Station shed.  This compound is a great place for locals as well as visitors to enjoy a day at the park. 

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I drove past the Capital Building on my way to visit The First White House of the Confederacy.  It is said that President Jefferson Davis and his family lived in this house during the time Mongomery was the capital of the Confederate States of America (1861).  The capital of the Confederacy was moved to Richmond, VA later that year.  The house was built in 1835 and moved to its present location in 1921, where it was restored for use as a museum, and has been furnished with many original mid-1800s period Jefferson family pieces.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Just down the street I ran across ‘The Alley’ and stopped to take a photo of that unusual entrance.  It appears that some creative folks have renovated the buildings on either side of this alley and now have all types of upscale boutiques, stores, restaurants, and bars for people to enjoy during their leisure time.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I wanted to visit the Hyundai manufacturing plant there in Montgomery but they had discontinued their tours because of Covid-19, so I headed east 40 miles on I-85 to visit the Tuskegee Airman National Historic Site located at the Morton Field in Tuskegee, AL.  This site honors the African American pilots who fought in the air for their country during WWII.  Morton Field was the home of the Tuskegee Airman Museum I visited on a previous road trip, but it has moved or closed, as I couldn’t find it at the field on this trip.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Continuing east 45 miles on I-85, across the border, I stopped to visit the National Civil War Naval Museum located in the Rotary Park area of Columbus, GA.  This large museum has the remains of two Civil War ships, the CSS Jackson Ironclad, built in 1864, and the USS Hartford, built in 1858, plus a large selection of scale model Civil War ships and ironclads.  The museum also displays a large variety of original Civil War uniforms, weapons, and a host of other artifacts, and memorabilia.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

By now it was time to find my motel there in Columbus.  I entered the motel address into Greta (my Garmin) and she took me right to the motel.  After getting checked in, I recorded my day’s activities.  Then I heated up my leftover St. Louis Spareribs and enjoyed them for the third time.  That’s what I call stretching a good thing as far as you can.

—–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

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 12

1 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 12 – 7/23/2021

Leaving Knoxville this morning, I headed southeast 30 miles on I-40 and SR-66 to visit the Tennessee Museum of Aviation located at the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport in Sevierville, TN.  This museum has several beautifully restored WWII aircraft, in flying condition, and has other aviation artifacts and memorabilia, dating as far back as the Wright Brothers glider replica on display.  Flight demonstrations, put on by this museum’s aircraft, are a frequent occurrence, but that didn’t happen while I was there.  Bummer!

Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/TN.Museum.of.Aviation/

It was only a few miles to where I visited the Floyd Garrett Muscle Car Museum there in Sevierville.  This museum has 90+ perfectly restored muscle cars dating from the classic ’50s, ’60s, & ’70s and some of the more recent 2000s – 2010s.  To say this museum is filled with some of the most delicious looking ‘Eye Candy’ is an understatement.  That little tour took me back to my high school hot-rodding days.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

After that wonderful trip down ‘Memory Lane’ I headed southwest 25 miles on US-441 to visit the Cades Cove Museum located in Mayville, TN.  This small museum can be found in the restored 1790 Thompson- Brown log cabin adjacent to the Cades Cove Visitor’s Center.  The museum displays many family relics and family heirlooms from the generations who lived in this area prior to the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (1934).

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed 20 miles west on US-321, thru Ainwick & Friendsville to visit the Lenoir City Museum & Cotton Mill located in Lenoir City, TN.  The small museum relates the history of Lenoir City, and that of Major William B. Lenoir, who moved to North Carolina in 1810 and settled on land granted to his father.  The Mill was one of several mills built in 1821 by Lenoir to produce cotton yarns and battings.  It survived the Civil War and was converted to a flower mill in the late 1800s.  The mill continued to operate, producing flower until the 1950.  Only ruins of the mill remain, as it was burned by arsonists in 1991 and was not restored.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I headed southwest 30 miles on US-11 to visit the Sweetwater Depot located in Sweetwater, TN.  The restored 1852 Sweetwater railroad depot uses photographs and antique railroad artifacts, to tell the story of the development of the city of Sweetwater and the surrounding Monroe County area from the early 1800s.

Photo Credit:Bill Lites

It was another 35 miles southwest on US-411, thru Etowah, Delano, and Wetmore where I stopped to check out the Chilhowee Gliderport located in Benton, TN but there was nothing going on at the airfield.  So, I continued southwest about 10 miles to Ocoee, where I picked up I-75 and another 35 miles southwest to visit the Tennessee Valley RR Museum located in Chattanooga, TN.  This museum is situated in the reconstructed 1920s East Chattanooga Depot and displays restored steam locomotives and other rolling stock.  The museum has antique railroad artifacts dating from the early 1800s and offers daily short excursions, and other special offerings, on their restored 1950s era steam-driven trains.

Photo Credit: http://have-kids-will-travel.com/index.php/2018/11/01/tennessee-valley-railroad-museum-

Now I headed northwest 80 miles on I-24, across the Tennessee River, to visit Beechcraft Heritage Museum located adjacent to the Tullahoma Regional Airport in Tullahoma, TN.  This Museum displays 35+ beautifully restored civilian aircraft, including the very first 1924 Beechcraft Travel Air ‘Mystery Ship’ and many others in the Walter Beech Hanger.  My favorite is their 1932 Beechcraft Staggerwing.

Photo Credit:Bill Lites

After that thrilling tour thru aviation history, I headed southwest 75 miles on US-64 to visit my friends Terry and Mary, who have a beautiful home in the boonies, just across the border, near Lester, AL.  Greta (my Garmin) took me on a few back roads to get me there, but I finally made it to their house.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Terry told me I was just in time to go with him to Jim ’N & Nick’s BBQ for dinner.  I ordered their St. Louis Spare Ribs plate with baked beans, cold slaw, and a cornbread muffin.  That was a great meal!  And, I had enough left over for tomorrow night’s dinner.  It was dark by the time we got back to their house, and we spent the rest of that evening reminiscing about old times, when our kids were growing up together in Titusville, FL.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

—–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

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 11

24 Nov

A Slice of Life

Bill LItes

Day 11 – 7/22/2021

Leaving Lexington this morning, I headed south 40 miles on I-75 to visit The Cabin of Old Town Artisan Gallery located in Berea, KY.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but when I arrived at the site, I discovered it was not just one restored 1813 cabin, but an entire cul-de-sac of shops displaying various types of home-made crafts.  One of the buildings looked like it could have been the old Berea Railway Station. 

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Continuing south another 15 miles on I-75 I visited the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame Museum located in Mt. Vernon, KY.  This museum is situated in the former Renfro Valley Riding Stables and was created to recognize those Kentucky artists who have made a significant contribution to the music industry.  To date more than 50 inductees of all genres have been added to the museum’s list.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I continued south 35 miles on I-75 to visit the Harland Sanders (KFC) Café & Museum located in Corbin, KY.  This is the home of the original 1940 Harland Sanders café where Sanders developed his famous Kentucky Fried Chicken receipt.  The café was expanded with a motel in 1940 and the café and motel operated there until 1956 when the Colonel started selling KFC franchises.  The café operated as a KFC franchise until 1988 when it was closed, remodeled, and reopened in 1990 as the Harland Sanders Museum.  What an American dream story!

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I picked up I-75 again and headed south 15 miles to visit the Cumberland Inn & Museum located in Williamsburg, KY.  This museum is owned and operated by the University of the Cumberlands and has many displays and artifacts including the Henkelmann Life Science Collection of specimens from around the world.  

Photo Credit: https://www.familyvacationcritic.com/cumberland-inn-and-museum/htl/

I headed south another 55 miles on I-75, across the border, to visit the Museum of Appalachia located in Clinton, TN.  This is a living history museum and Pioneer Village that has a collection of 30+ early 19th century buildings that have been restored and situated on 65 acres of pastureland, to represent early pioneer life to visitors.  The museum also hosts annual performers of traditional Appalachian music and art festivals.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I continued 25 miles south on I-75, diverting a few miles toward Powell to check out the Airplane Gas Station located in northwest Knoxville, TN.  This unusual station was originally created by Elmer & Henry Nickle in 1930 to attract the attention of US-25 travelers.  The brothers operated the station until sometime in the 1960s, when it sold and became a liquor store.  Over the years since then the airplane building has been used as a produce stand, a bait & tackle shop, and even a used car lot.  It is currently a barber ship.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Before heading to downtown Knoxville, I drove a few miles east to check out Riffey’s Hot Rod Restorations located in the Northridge Estates area.  This small shop has been in business in the Knoxville area for 27 years and Larry and his crew specialize in custom auto restorations of all types.  Their amazing work has been recognized in many national car magazines over the years.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

It was about 10 miles into downtown Knoxville to where I visited the James White Fort located on the banks of the Tennessee River.  Built in 1786 by James White, who is considered the founder of Knoxville, the fort was actually built to keep wild animals away from his cabin, as White was friendly with the local Cherokee Indians and negotiated several treaties between them and new settlers to the area.  White’s many descendants played prominent economic and political roles in the development of Knoxville for more than a century after his death in 1821.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

While I was in the downtown Knoxville area, I stopped by the Southern Railway (Old Smoky Railway) Museum to see what they had to offer.  This museum located in the 1903 Southern Railway Depot has restored mid-twentieth century steam locomotives and other rolling stock for visitors to walk thru.  The museum also has artifacts and memorabilia related to the railroad’s influence on Knoxville and the surrounding Knox County area during the early 1900s.

Now it was time to find my motel, there in Knoxville.  Greta (My Garmin) took me right to my West Knoxville motel, where I got checked in and recorded my days activities.  Then I warmed up my leftover Cracker Barrel Sweet & Smoky Glazed Chicken Tenders and enjoyed that great meal again.  Yuuuum!

—–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

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 10

17 Nov

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 10 – 7/21/2021

Leaving Charleston, WV this morning I headed west 15 miles on US-60, along the Kanawha River, to visit the C&O Depot Museum located in St. Albans, WV.  This small museum is housed in the 1906 Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Depot, and displays rare railroad exhibits and artifacts related to the influence the railroad had on the city of St. Albans and the surrounding Kanawha County area, from the early 1900s until 1963 when railroad service to the depot was discontinued.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now it was only a few miles west on SR-25, across the Kanawha River, where I visited the Nitro War Museum located in Nitro, WV.  I learned a very interesting story at this museum.  The building that houses the museum was the focus of a 1917 U.S. Government project to build “Explosives Plant C” and a town for 24,000 to support its operations.  From 1917 to 1919, the plant manufactured 350 tons of gunpowder per day until the end of WWI.  Nitro is short for “Nitrocellulose.”

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I took SR-25 north out of Nitro to pickup I-64 and headed 20 miles west, across the Kanawha River again, to visit the Blenko Glass Company located in Milton, WV.  The Company is known for its artistic hand-blown glass among other types of colorful glassware products.   The story goes that William J. Blenko (1853-1933) emigrated to America in 1893 to start a stained-glass business.  However, after three failed attempts he formed the Blenko Glass Company which has grown over the years to an internationally known and respected company.  It is said that even the White House has a collection of Blenko tableware (circa 1930s) which is used periodically.  

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I continued west 20 miles on I-64 to visit the Huntington Railroad Museum located in Huntington, WV.  This museum is situated in the Ritter Park Area and displays Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Railroad artifacts and memorabilia, including one of the last Class 1 steam locomotives (#1308) built in 1949. The museum also has other restored rolling stock that was used mainly by the coal industry, some of which date from the early 1800s, until retired in 1956.

Photo Credit: https://visithuntingtonwv.org/company/railroad-museum

I jumped back on I-64 and drove approximately 65 miles west, across the Big Sandy River (Border), to visit the Rowan County Veterans Museum in the Freedom Park area of Morehead, KY.  This small museum displays military artifacts honoring the men and women who have served in all five branches of U.S. military services dating from WWI to the present.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Continuing west another 45 miles on I-64, I stopped to visit the Bluegrass Heritage Museum located in Winchester, KY but they were closed.  However, their website informs me that the museum is housed in the former home of Dr. John Ishmael, built in 1895, which displays exhibits and artifacts and the history of the Bluegrass area (not music) from the early Eskippakithikl (‘blue licks place’) Indian settlements (circa early 1700s), thru the Civil War era, and to the present.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

It was another 25 miles west on US-60, around the city of Lexington, to where I visited the Aviation Museum of Kentucky located adjacent to the Bluegrass Airport in Lexington, KY.  This museum displays several restored aircraft dating from 1908, aircraft engines, as well as other aviation artifacts.  The museum also has a restoration and repair shop and is the home of the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now it was time to find my motel there in Lexington and get something to eat.  On my way to the motel, I noticed a Cracker Barrel restaurant and decided to stop for dinner.  Their special was a new item called Sweet & Smoky Glazed Chicken Tenders, served with green beans and fries.  I was impressed, and I’ll be trying that meal again soon.

Photo Credit: https://togo.crackerbarrel.com

With a full tummy, Greta (my Garmin) found the motel for me, where I got checked in, recorded my day’s activities, and proceeded to try to  watch some TV.  Of course, there was nothing worth watching, so I just went to bed in hopes of getting a good night’s sleep.

—–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

Mount Rushmore Road Trip Part 8

16 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 8 Wednesday 

9/16/2020 

This morning I had to back track thru Lusk on my way to the Black Hills National Forest in SD.  At Mule Creek Junction I turned off US-85,  onto US-18 and headed east.  In its day, this interrsection served as the north-south Cheyenne to Deadwood stage route, and the east-west Oregon Trail Route.  

Another 20 miles east on US-18 and I visited The Gun Vault located in Edgemont, SD.  This turned out to be a sales and service shop dealing with all types of new and used guns.

As I was leaving Edgemont, I was surprised to see hundreds of diesei train engines lined up in the rail yard.  I stopped to take a photo so I could tell my son, Billy, about them.  This railroad worker came up to my car and ask who I was and why I was taking photos.  I explained and he said, “You need to be careful who sees you taking photos of these engines.”  He went on to explain how the sale of these engines was very contriversial and some ‘people’ could misintruperate what I was doing.  I made a hasty retreat. 

On my way to visit the Crazy Horse Monument, I passed thru Pringle, SD and stopped to take a photo of the “Bicycle Sculpure.“  This is nothing more than a huge pile of rusting bicycles that some people call art.  The pile has evedently taken various shapes over the years (since 1980), but it just looks like a junkyard to me.  

I continued another 15 miles north on US-385 to visit the 4-Mile Old West Town Museum located in Custer, SD.  This old west town and museum consists of 50 buildings assembled in such a mammer as to show guests what life  was like in the 1880s Dakota Territory.  It is a treasure trove of early western pioneer life historical artifacts and memorabilia.

It was only another 5 miles north on US-16 to the Crazy Horse Memorial.  This monument is being carved out of the Thunderhead Mountain (since 1948) to honor the Oglala Lakota warrior, Chief Crazy Horse, who is known for leading the attack against US Army troops at the battle of the Little Big Horn (1876).  A model of the finished monument is shown below, with the unfinished moument in the background.

As I wound my way north thru the Custer State Park, I spotted people stopped along the road and saw that they were taking photos of some buffalo grazing in a medow.  Believe it or not, this was the first free-range (live) buffalo I have ever seen in all my travels!  The next thing I knew some really jagged rock formations appeared.  They looked a lot like the rock formations I had seen at the Garden of the Gods area in Colorado.

I was still headed north on US-16 toward Hill City, but the road was slow going (25 mph) as it twisted and turned thru the park.  Then I came around a curve and the road went thru the Needle Eye Tunnel.  I just had to get a photo of that tunnel.  Luckily, when I came out of the tunnel, there was a turn-off where I could stop and take a picture.

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Another 10 miles north on US-16 and I found the South Dakota State Railroad Museum located in Hill City, SD.   The museum is located at the old 1880s Hill City Depot and displays local railroad artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of the railroad in the Black Hills area dating from the mid-1800s.  The 1880 Train is also operates out of  the Hill City Depot.  This original steam operated train offers a 3-hour (roundtrip) daily ride in their restored vintage 1800s train cars from Hill City to Keystone.  The 1880 Train also offers special train ride events, including student field trips, during their annual season of operation.

As I was leaving the museum, I overheard a couple of guys talking about the diesel locomotive sales.  Finally I asked them about how many locomotives were involved and they told me there were about 1000 at Edgemont and another 2000 in other rail yards in the state.  I was amazed at the enormity of it all.

On the way to the motel I stopped and picked up another “Heat-&-Serve Broccoli Chedder Au Gratin to eat in my room.  It was yummy and I was satisfied to record my days activities and talk to DiVoran for a while.  Then it was off to ZZZ-Land for me after a really long day.

—–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

My 2019 Great Lakes Road Trip Part 12A

1 Jan

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 12 – Saturday August 3

My first museum this morning was the John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum there in Waterloo, IA.  This is a large museum filled with tractors, all kinds of farm equipment, and engines of all types and sizes dating from the mid-1800s.  Starting with his first steel farm plow design in 1837, John Deere improved his plow and farm equipment designs, and expanded his company, to include farm tractors beginning in 1907.  The company has continued to grow and expand its product line, over the years, to include all types of farming and harvesting equipment.  In 2019 the company was listed as being ranked the 87th American company in the Fortune 500 list.

Before leaving Waterloo, I swung by the Grout Museum to see what it was all about.  This small museum honors the military service and sacrifice of all Iowa veterans from the Civil War to the present.  The museum has an impressive display honoring the five Sullivan brothers, who hailed from Waterloo, and who were all sailors on the USS Juneau (CL-52) during WWII.  Unfortunately their ship was sunk during the Battle of Guadalcanal in November of 1942 with the loss of 687 crew members, including all five Sullivan brothers.

The story goes that at the time, a standing naval policy was in effect restricting siblings from serving in the same unit.  However, the Sullivan brothers had refused to serve (I don’t know how they got away with that) unless they were all assigned to the same ship, and the policy was overlooked by their commanders.  Following this family tragedy, the U.S. Navy was mandated to strictly inforce the policy for all siblings.  

Now I headed southwest on U.S. 63/30/65 to visit the State of Iowa Historical Museum located in Des Moines, IA.  This museum’s Historical Collection of over 80,000 items includes artifacts, memorabilia, and displays, related to the state of Iowa dating from the early 1900s.  These items are housed in the large State of Iowa Historical Building, along with the State Historical Library Collection and the State Historical Archives Collection.  Way too much for me to see in one visit.

As I was passing thru Des Moines, on my way to the next museum, I drove by the Iowa State Capital Building and decided to stop for a photo of this beautiful edifice.  I’ve learned that the building’s location in Des Moines was the third location considered for the Iowa State Capital after Iowa City and Monroe City.   The building was constructed between 1871 & 1886, and is the only 5-domed capital building in the U.S.  The building houses offices for Iowa’s Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Treasurer, and Auditor, as well as the State Senate and State House of Representatives.

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

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  

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

My 2019 Great Lakes Road Trip Part 8A

20 Nov

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 8 – Tuesday July 30

I headed west 20 miles on I-90 this morning, to visit the Deke Slaton Museum located in Sparta, WI.  This small museum is situated on the second floor of the Sparta Public Library, and was conducting a Space Camp meeting today. 

 When I asked for a brochure about the museum, the curator said she would have to check upstairs for one.  When I happened to mention that I had worked on the rocket that sent Deke Slaton into orbit, I became an instant celebrity, and she couldn’t do enough for me.  She said if we were very quiet, she would take me upstairs to the museum.  She showed me some of Deke’s space related artifacts and memorabilia, including one of the spacesuits worn during his Murcury-7 training, and two home-built airplanes that he owned.  Deke worked as chief of the American Astronaut Corp who selected astronauts for the Gemini, Apollo and Skylab missions.  Deke flew on the 5-day Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission in 1975, which turned out to be the last Apollo mission. 

While I was in Sparta, I tried to find the Little Falls Railroad Museum, where I expected to see the largest collection of railroad art in the US, and the not so interesting, Madame Alexander’s doll collection.  The address I gave Greta (my Garmin) took me to a section of railroad tracks, at the dead-end of some street, but there was nothing that looked like a railroad museum in the area.  I later discovered that, even though the museum had a Sparta address, it was actually located 13 miles north of the city of Sparta.   No wonder Greta and I were so confused!  But, Oh well, I also found out this museum was not open on Tuesdays.   

Since the Railroad Museum was nowhere to be found, I headed southwest another 20 miles on I-90 to La Crosse, WI to visit the Dahl Auto Museum.  This museum is situated in one of the local Dahl Ford dealership showrooms, and displays a collection of 20+ beautifully restored vintage and classic cars dating from 1905 to the present.  There is also an impressive collection of vintage hood ornaments on display as part of the museum.  The museum shows a film history of the automobile’s development over the years, as well as sponsoring many special events throughout the year.

Now I headed northwest roughly 40 miles on I-90, across the Mississippi River (border between Wisconsin and Minnesota), and then north on US-14 to Winona, MN.  That’s where I picked up SR-54 and went back across the border  into Wisconsin.  Then I followed SR-35 north to visit Elmer’s Auto Museum located in Fountain City, WI.  I was looking forward to seeing Elmer’s collection of 100+ antique and classic cars, dating from 1910, plus motorcycles and bicycles.  However, upon arriving at the museum, I was informed the museum was closed because Elmer had passed away just the day before.  The museum volunteer I talked to was very kind, and even invited me to Elmer’s funeral, if I was going to be in the area until Friday.  I thought that was very courteous, of him.  I thanked him and headed for my next museum. 

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

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

 

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

My 2019 Great Lakes Road Trip Part 3B

25 Sep

Day 3 – Thursday July 25 (Continued)

Continuing today’s activities, I headed northeast on I-94 to visit the Wills Sainte Claire Auto Museum located in Marysville, MI.  This museum tells the story of C.H. Wills, who after working as a design engineer for Henry Ford, left Ford in 1919 to start designing and building his own cars. The resulting modern and stylish Wills Sainte Claire Model A-68 car and other cars he created were not a success. The price of his cars for the time, and the Great Depression, caused the company to close its doors in 1929, along with many other car companies of the time.

Next I headed west on I-69 to check out the Sloan Museum located in Burton, MI.  This museum is part of the Cortland Center Mall, and has around 30 beautifully restored cars on display dating from 1904, including 5 ultra-rare Concept Cars.  Because I took so much time at the previous museums, I was running out of time for today. So I decided to skip the three museums, on my list in the Flint, MI area, and head north on I-75.

My sister, Judy, and another friend had told me that if I got a chance, I should stop in Frankenmuth, MI to check out that unique and beautiful Bavarian city.  The downtown Bavarian designed buildings were unique but I wasn’t particularly impressed with the Abby’s of Frankenmuth tourist trap area.  I was also very disappointed that the Michigan’s Military & Space Hero’s Museum there in town was closed.

I took time to watch the Bavarian Bell Riverboat return from a run down the Cass River, and took a stroll thru what is called Michigan’s Largest Wooden Covered Bridge.  Built in the late 1977s, this beautifully designed covered bridge (Holz Brucke) is 239 feet long and is wide enough for two auto lanes with sidewalks on either side.  As a serendipity on this long day my son, Billy, called to check on me while I was standing in front of the bridge watching the Bavarian Bell Riverboat dock across the Cass River.  He looked up my location on his cell phone, and was describing the surroundings in such detail that I asked him if he could see me waving.  What fun that was.

My last museum today was to be the Saginaw Railway Museum located in Saginaw, MI.   Of course, I had planned too many museum visits for today, and it was after 6:00 before I got to Saginaw.  The museum was closed, but I got some pictures of their museum building and their rolling stock.  The museum website informed me that the museum is housed in the restored 1907 Pere Marquette Railway depot that was moved from Hemlock, MI and sits on the original 1881 site of the Marquette Union Station. 

By now I was past ready for Greta to take me to tonight’s motel in Auburn, MI. After I got checked in at the motel, I heated up last night’s leftover Baked Lasagna from Leonardo’s Italian Grill, and enjoyed that delicious meal again.

—–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

 

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

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