Tag Archives: Travel Wednesday

My 2016 Mid-West Trip~Part 2

13 Jul

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

My 2016 Mid-West Trip Part 2
By Bill Lites

Day 2 (Sunday)

I was expecting today to be a long day, but that huge storm that hit Houston the day before was getting ready to make today even longer. That storm must have been moving slowly west while I was enjoying a good night’s sleep. I hadn’t been on the road more than a half an hour this morning when I started running into the rain. And it was solid rain from then for the next six hours. It was coming down so hard at times that I couldn’t hear my audio book on the car speaker system over the pounding of the rain on the car.

traffic_in_the_rain

Of course no one expects to have an accident just because it’s raining, but as you might expect, someone did. Just look at the car in the left lane, in the picture above, and tell me that is adequate separation for driving on an Interstate in a driving rain! How can people expect to arrive at their destination in one piece when they drive like that? Over the course of the day there were two major accidents which caused I-10 westbound traffic to back up for miles each time.

2

 

During one of those stop-and-go episodes I was lucky enough to be able to pull off the Interstate for gas and to use the restroom. I was thinking that while I was accomplishing those tasks the traffic might hopefully clear. Well, not only did the traffic not clear up, but there were so many people stopping for gas, that there were lines at all 10 pumps, and people were using the covers over the pumps to stay out of the rain. When I finally was able to snag a pump, my credit card didn’t work. I asked the attendant why my card didn’t work and he said with all this rain his satellite connections are not working. Good thing I had some cash or I would have really been stuck. The light at the end of this very dark tunnel was that the weather in Houston was reported to be clear and dry.

3
I finally made it to Houston and got to the Space Center Houston Museum around 2:30 in the afternoon. It was a large facility with a tram tour that included the NASA Human Spaceflight Training Center, the Manned Flight Control Center and the NASA Rocket Park. I ended up spending about 2-1/2 hours there, with the tram tour and walking through the museum.

4
By then I was getting pretty hungry and it was starting to rain, AGAIN, so I decided to take my supper at Fuddruckers, which was just down the road. I had one of their 1/3 pound Southwest Specialty burgers. Supper was wonderful and relaxing. Then after a couple of wild goose chases around the northern part of Houston, by my friend Greta, she finally got me to my motel for the night.

5
After I got settled in at the motel, I remembered I wanted to pick up a couple of items from Walmart. I asked the desk clerk for directions and found it with no problems. But, as I exited the store I realized I had forgotten to bring Greta with me so I could find my way back to the motel easily. Even with a lot of prayer, and several stops for directions, it still took me an hour to find my way back to the motel. Boy, am I ever glad this day is over. I told myself, “Never leave home-base again without Greta!”

6

—–To Be Continued—–

My Colonial States Trip~Part 20

1 Apr

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Bill Rocket Plane

 

I started my last day of this trip with another attempt at visiting the First Baptist Church in America. I drove the 15 miles into Providence, RI and this time had no trouble driving right up to the church. I parked and walked across the street to take a picture of the church and read the plaque out front. Of course the church was closed at that time of the morning, so I just moved on to the next place I wanted to visit before leaving Providence.

1
It wasn’t far to the Roger Williams Museum and National Memorial where I learned what a dedicated individual Roger Williams really was. He originally came to this country in early 1631 with a group of Puritans, who landed in Boston, MA hoping to find religious freedom in the newly formed Massachusetts Bay Colony.

2

 He left Boston later that year to accept a ministry position offer in Salem, MA whose inhabitants believed more along the lines he did. When Salem withdrew their offer, Williams accepted an offer in Plymouth, MA for the same reason. By 1633 Williams was still at odds with local clergy over his “radical” beliefs (the separation of church and state) and the Massachusetts Bay Colony wanted him gone.

3

In 1636 his persecution as a “separatist” came to a head when the Massachusetts Bay Colony convicted him for his “new and dangerous opinions” with plans to deport him back to England. He fled south from Plymouth, some 50 miles or so, to spend time with the Wampanoag Indians, and later traveled to the headwaters of Narragansett Bay where he founded the colony of Providence (later to be called Rhode Island), on land deeded to him by the Narragansett Indians.

4

Williams established a trading post just south of Providence in 1637 and was instrumental in founding the First Baptist Church in America (which I referred to in Part 19 and above) in 1638. He returned to England in 1643 to secure a charter for the colony of Rhode Island, and again in 1651 to defend that charter against another grant that would have split the colony. In his later years Williams would succumb to ill-health, brought on by a lifetime dedicated to the colony he had founded and his struggling to keep it together, along with his constant battle with the “establishment” for religious freedom for all people everywhere. Below is a photo of the monument in Providence, dedicated to Williams with the figure of Clio (the muse of history) who is shown inscribing Williams’ name and the date (1636) when he founded the colony of Providence, which would later become the state of Rhode Island.

 

 

5

                                   

 

—–To Be Continued—–

My Western Trip~Part 6

11 Jun

 A Slice of Life

By Bill Lites

Bill Small Red Plane

 

Next, it was over to Simi Valley, CA for a tour of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum. I was impressed with the 24 different galleries, which traced Reagan’s life from his early days as local hero, college standout, glamorous Hollywood actor, then as governor of California, and ultimately to the presidency of the United States. There was even a full-sized replica of the Oval Office in one of the galleries. But, of course the thing that impressed me the most was Air Force One (S/N 27000), also known as “The Flying Whitehouse” and the Marine One helicopter (S/N 150611), both of which Reagan used while President. I asked one of the Docents how they got the plane in the building, and she said, “They built three sides of the new building, took the wings and tail assembly off the plane, so they could bring it in through the fourth opening, and re-assembled the airplane inside. Then they finished the fourth all glass wall. For the full story of how the U.S. President’s airplane got its name, Google “Air Force One.” It’s a fascinating story I think you will enjoy knowing.

1

                                   

Before leaving Simi Valley, I stopped at the Santa Susana Railroad Depot & Museum to get the history of an early California railroad depot and its operations. This was one of the most unusual and interesting small museums. The depot is an example of what the Southern Pacific Railroad called their Standard No. 22 Depot in 1903. The depot has been meticulously restored with many original furnishings and working equipment, that the Docent uses to explain to visitors how the depots operated in the early 20th century. Today, on what was the old Southern Pacific rails, Amtrak’s Coast Starlight trains head up and down the coast, and the daily Surfliner and Metrolink trains ferry commuters in and out of Los Angeles.

2

                                   

Now, because of a time constraint, I headed west to Oxnard, CA where I quickly visited the small Mullin Automotive and Murphy Auto Museums. I also visited the Channel Island Maritime Museum, there in Oxnard, where I learned something very interesting about some of the early 17th century Dutch Maritime painters. It seems that some of them painted in such detail that (with a very strong magnifying glass) one can see that each of the distant subjects in the painting has been given details such as a pipe in the mouth, some with a mustache and all with a nose, ears and even eyebrows. The kind of details you might expect in a close-up portrait painting, but not in a battle scene at sea. And, then there were the fabulous model ships, many of them crafted by the Curator/Docent that took me on a tour of the museum. The model ship detail was outstanding! What a great tour.

3

                                   

Then, to round out the day, I visited the CAF WWII Aviation Museum in Camarillo, CA. This museum is very similar in size and display aircraft to the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum here in Titusville, FL where I volunteer as a tour guide one day each week. They had an AT-6 and a two-place P-51 Mustang, both actively giving rides while I was there, and I got some really good close-up photos of both as they fired up their engines, taxied out with their passengers and took off. I always get a thrill when I hear the sound of a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine at full throttle passing overhead.

4

                                   

 

—–To Be Continued—–

Our Trip To The UK~Part 11

12 Feb

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

Bill

 

As it happened, our B & B hostess in York was a lovely single lady who was a dedicated Julio Iglesias fan, and had followed him all over Europe and the UK.  She had a beautiful Collie dog that followed us everywhere, and if you don’t recognize that guy in the photo, on the hutch in the picture below, I’ll give you a hint, it’s an autographed photo of Julio of course. 

1

She directed us to the Pickering & Co. Bookstore on the Shambles, which was at the top of the list of places to see for DiVoran.  Also in the York area, of historical interest to me, was the Jorvik Vikiing Center, which houses many artifacts from the 1100-year-old Viking city of Jorvík.  Well-preserved remains of that city were discovered during excavations between 1976 & 1981.  Many items, from that 900 AD time period, such as workshops, fences, animal pens, privies and wells, were unearthed.  Also found were many items made of durable materials such as pottery, metalwork and bones. Surprisingly, many wood, leather and textiles items, along with plant and animal remains were found that had been preserved in oxygen-deprived wet clay of the region.

2

                                               

After all that exploring of the York city area, we stopped to rest and have tea at the famous Betty’s Tea Room.  The place was crowded, and a delightful local accountant asked if he could sit at our table with us.  Somehow the subject of street minstrels (Buskers) came up and he informed us that many of them earned very adequate livings, since they didn’t have to report the donations they received for their Busking to the government.

3

                                   

Next we stopped at the American Air Museum in Britain, of which I had became a founding member.  The museum is part of the Imperial War Museum, and stands as a memorial to the 30,000 American airmen who gave their lives, flying from air bases in the UK, in defense of liberty during the Second World War.  Since we were there, that small annex of the IWM has grown into a huge museum with over 25 airplanes representing all of the conflicts American airman have participated in during WWII to the present day.

4

Then we travelled to Hatfield, to visit the birthplace of the de Havilland Aircraft Company, builder of many of Britain’s WWII fighters and bombers.  The Comet Hotel is an Art Deco designed building that was originally built in 1936 as the administration building for Geoffrey de Havilland’s aircraft factory.  The design was intended to reflect de Havilland’s Comet Racer aeroplane design.  At that time, the de Havilland airfield and testing grounds were located just opposite of what is now the hotel.  A statue of the famous Comet Racer G-ACS sits in front of the hotel while the original aeroplane is now housed in The Shuttleworth Collection near Biggleswade.

5png

                                   

From there we took the route around the eastern side of London to the town of Crawley, where we had our B & B base for the last couple of days of our stay in the UK.  Our hosts, Ron & Brenda Potts,  were some of the nicest people you would ever meet, and were very helpful with recommendations for site seeing and directions for the best ways to get around the London area.   They had both been part of the thousands of British children who were sent to the country during the London Blitz in WWII, and stayed there until the war was over.  They had many fascinating stories to tell us about their wartime experiences.

                                   6

 

—–To Be Continued—–

Our Trip To The UK Part~10

5 Feb

 A Slice of Life

By Bill Lites

Bill

 

Then it was up to the Moffatt Woollens Mill at Ladyknowe House, in Moffat, the most northern point of our trip, where I bought a really great Harris Tweed sport jacket and DiVoran bought a beautiful turquoise 100% Argyle sweater and matching pair of knee socks.  We both loved our Scottish items and wear them every chance we get, on those really cold (but very few) occasions we have here in Central Florida.  That is, until DiVoran washed her sweater in hot water and you know the rest of that story.  Boo Hoo! 

1

                                               

While we were in Moffat, we just had to visit the home of Dorothy Emily Stevenson, DiVoran’s favorite author.  And yes, Robert Louis Stevenson was her grandfather’s brother.  It seems that D. E. Stevenson, who was born in Edinburgh, Scotland spent many years of her life with her husband James Peploe, in Glasgow, until Glasgow was bombed, in the early 1940s.  it was then that she and James moved to Moffat.  Like DiVoran, Stevenson had started writing when she was very young, but because of family duties, and WWII, didn’t start publishing her novels until later in her life.

2

                                               

Not long after leaving Moffat, we saw the Scottish West Highland train moving across the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, and what a sight that was!  Located at the top of Loch Shiel in the West Highlands of Scotland, crossing over the viaduct offers train travelers spectacular views down Lochaber’s Loch Shiel.  The view from the road wasn’t bad either.

3

                                   

We had planned to travel North all the way to Inverness, Scotland but a huge Atlantic storm moved in from the West, and we decided instead to head back down the Eastern side of England.  This took us thru Newcastle and Durham, to our next stop in the city of York, as we tried to outrun the storm.  One of the things I learned on this trip was that a cup of hot tea will take the chill off of those cold windy English days.  And, one of the most popular teas used by our hosts in most of the B & Bs was called “Ty-Phoo Tea” brand English Blend, and I learned to drink it English style, with milk and sugar.  Of course, DiVoran already knew all this, having been the hot tea drinker in our family for years.

4

                                   

The city of York is bounded on the North by the North Yorkshire Moors and on the West by the Yorkshire Dales, which is “Harriot Country” made famous by author, James Harriot (James Alfred Wight), who lived and wrote of his veterinary practice in the countryside around the town of Thirsk.   Also in this area is the famous Robin Hood Bay, dating back to medieval times.  A 15th century English ballad and legend tells a story of Robin Hood and his band of merry men encountering French pirates who had come to pillage the fisherman’s boats along the northeast English coast.  After a brief skirmish, the pirates surrendered to Robin Hood, and he returned the loot to the poor people in the fishing village that is now called Robin Hood’s Bay.

5

                                               

We were told that a “must see” in York was the York Minster Cathedral of circa 1100, and they were right.  There is evidence that there has been a church of one type or another in this location since 627 AD.  The present cathedral now sits on the ruins of structures from at least three major time periods, and their structural differences can be seen.   There is Norman style 1070-1154, English Gothic style 1230-1472 and Perpendicular Gothic style 1730-1880.  Under Elizabeth I, there was a concerted effort to remove all traces of Roman Catholicism from the cathedral, and it became the seat of the Archbishop of York, the second-highest office of the Church of England.   It is an absolutely magnificent cruciform shaped edifice.  The outside is beautiful, but the interior is indescribably spectacular!  There isn’t room in this blog for all the beautiful pictures of the Cathedral, but you can Google the “York Minster Cathedral” and see it all for yourself.

6

                       

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

%d bloggers like this: