Tag Archives: Travel

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 5A

15 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 5 – 7/16/2021

This morning I headed northeast, from Roanoke, on I-581 & I-81 toward Staunton, VA.  About 55 miles up the road I stopped to visit the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) Museum located in Lexington, VA.  This museum and its 15,000-artifact collection are dedicated to the history of the first state sponsored military college (1839) and its alumni.  Founded in 1856 by then Superintendent Francis H. Smith, the museum now resides in the Jackson Memorial Hall there on the VMI campus.  I passed up a cadet guided tour as it didn’t start for another two hours.

Photo Credit: https://www.vmi.edu/

I continued north on I-81 another 35 miles to visit the Jumbo Antique Fire Engine Museum located in Staunton, VA.  This museum is located in the Staunton Fire & Rescue Station #1 and has the distinction of displaying the oldest motorized Robinson Fire Engine (1911) in Virigina along with other firefighting artifacts and exhibits dating from the early 1800s.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Before leaving Staunton, it was only a few blocks to where I visited The Camera Heritage Museum.  This small museum displays a unique collection of antique cameras and camera equipment dating from the early 19th century to the present.  Many of the cameras were used by well-known personalities, which makes their history even more interesting.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed northeast about 10 miles on US-11 to visit the Augusta Military Academy (AMA) Museum located in Fort Defiance, VA.  The museum is housed in the original 1869 home of Charles S. Roller and displays artifacts and representations of 1800s AMA cadet life as well as the accomplishments of many of the AMA alumni. 

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I continued northeast another 10 miles on US-11 & I-81 to visit the Harrisonburg Fire Department Museum located in Harrisonburg, VA but neither Greta (my Garmin) nor I could find the museum.  Not too far down the street I tried to visit the Virginia Quilt Museum, there in Harrisonburg, but it was closed.  It was too warm for a quilt today anyway.  Ha!

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

As I was leaving Harrisonburg this historical marker caught my eye and I had to stop for a photo.  After reading the marker, I was shocked and amazed at the story it told.  As it turns out, the barn of Mr. Henry Sipe, a prominent Rockingham County citizen, was burned down on February 28, 1878, and Charlotte Harris, a black woman, was accused of instigating the deed.  After being apprehended, Harris was given a preliminary hearing, before local magistrates, and was ordered taken to the county jail in Harrisonburg, 15 miles away, for trial. That night an angry mob of armed local citizens stormeded the building where Harris was being held, dragged her out of town and hanged her.  Not the kind of thing I would think a town would be proud of, much less prominently display on a historical marker there on Main street.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I continued northeast another 20 miles on I-81, to visit the Virginia Museum of the Civil War located at the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park in New Market, VA.  This museum sits in the middle of what was the New Market battlefield and displays historical artifacts and assorted memorabilia related to that famous 1864 battle.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Next on my list of places to visit in this area was the Route 11 Potato Chip Factory located another 10 miles northeast on US-11 in Mt. Jackson, VA.  I got a quick tour of the factory and was surprised to learn that they only got about 10 pounds of chips out of every 100 pounds of potatoes they processed.  The free sample I selected to munch on was their Onion & Chives flavored brand.

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

Random Memories of Germany-Trips to Italy Part 5 B

12 Sep

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

Still thinking about our trips to Pisa, Italy…

We still concentrated our visit to Pisa on the Cathedral and it’s Leaning Tower.

The Cathedral with the Leaning Tower (bell tower) Picture by Fred Wills

I’ve mentioned previously that we stopped in a shop in Pisa that specialized in marble, alabaster, and “composition” figurines.  Here are pictures from a brochure from that very shop.

Last time I presented pictures of the marble lampstands we purchased,

as well as the composition tumbling angels, 

and the composition figures of Moses and the discus thrower.  

Here is a picture of some alabaster “fruit” they had. 

We have enjoyed all these things, ever since 1968.

I noticed in the brochure that they had marble stands that look very much like the one I inherited from my Aunt Jessie.  However, I KNOW she never went to Italy, and am not sure where she acquired hers.  She had it a long time – as here is a picture of her in 1949 standing by it in her house in San Antonio, Texas, 

and another of her living room in Albuquerque in 1954.

And here it is in our living room, in Orlando, Florida.

Wikipedia also states that there are several medieval palaces in Pisa.  Wow did we miss a lot!  I don’t remember visiting any palaces in Pisa!  

Also from Wikipedia:   Pisa was the birthplace of the important early physicist Galileo Galilei. It is still the seat of an archbishopric. Besides its educational institutions, it has become a light industrial centre and a railway hub. It suffered repeated destruction during World War II.

Since the early 1950s, the US Army has maintained Camp Darby just outside Pisa, which is used by many US military personnel as a base for vacations in the area.

I believe we stayed on Camp Darby when we visited Pisa.  It was a nice place to “base” our explorations of the area.

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

Judy is living in Central Florida with her retired U.S. Air Force husband of 50+ years. Born in Dallas, Texas, she grew up in the Southwestern United States.She met her husband at their church, where he was attending the university in her town. After college and seminary, he entered the Air Force, and their adventures began.They lived in eight of our United States, and spent six years in Europe, where their oldest daughter was born. She was a stay-at-home mom for many years .

  Judy has always been involved with music, both playing the piano and singing. Always interested in exercise, she was an aerobic dancing instructor, as well as a piano teacher for many years, and continues to faithfully exercise at home.

After moving to Central Florida, she served as a church secretary for nearly nine years.Her main hobby at this point in time is scanning pictures and 35mm slides into the computer. She also enjoys scrapbooking.She and her husband have two married daughters and four grandchildren, including grandtwins as well as a great-grandson. She and her husband enjoy the Disney parks as often as possible.

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 4B

8 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 4 – 7/15/2021 (Continued)

Leaving Burlington, NC I headed north on US-87 toward Roanoke, VA.  On the way I crossed the border and stopped in Ridgeway, VA long enough to take a photo of the famous Martinsville Speedway.  Built in 1947, this ½ -mile oval track is home to the NASCAR Cup Series races and is referred to as “The Paper Clip” by many drivers.  I’ve watched a lot of NASCAR races that have taken place at that track, over the years, and wanted to at least be able to say I saw the track.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Another 10 miles north on US-220 I visited the Rucker’s Antique Emporium located in Martinsville, VA.  I wanted to check-out the Telephone & Telecommunications Museum which I was told was on the 2nd floor of the Emporium.  This museum uses antique artifacts displayed to allows visitors to walk thru the history of the telephone and other telecommunication devices dating from the early 1800s to the present.

Photo Credit: https://didyouknowscience.com/top-technology-breakhroughs-in-the-1800s/  

Now it was another 50 miles north on US-220 to visit the Virginia Museum of Transportation located in Roanoke, VA.  This large museum is housed in the old 1918 Norfolk & Western Railway freight depot and displays many 1940s era steam locomotives and other rolling stock.  The museum also has on display several restored 1800s antique cars, in addition to the Big Lick; a 1940s era passenger station replica and much more.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Just a few blocks away I visited the O. Winston Link Museum, there in Roanoke.  This small museum is located in the restored 1852 Norfolk & Western Railway passenger station and displays the photographic works of Winston Link, who is said to be considered the 20th century master railroad photographer.  His railroad themed photographs are nationally known and have appeared in many books and magazines over the years.

Photo Credit: https://hddsite1.com/

In another few blocks, there in downtown Roanoke, I visited the Virginian Station which is the old 1909 Roanoke Passenger Station.   Renovated after a fire in 2001, the station now displays historical exhibits, artifacts, and memorabilia as they relate to the influence 

of the Virginian Railway Line on the early city of Roanoke and the surrounding Roanoke Valley area.  Passenger service from this station was terminated in 1956.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Before leaving downtown Roanoke I stopped to check-out the Roanoke Pinball Museum located at #1 Market Street, in the Market Center, on the 2nd floor of the Center in the Square building.  This museum has 60 fully playable pinball machines and other interactive displays dating from the 1930s to the present.  And yes, I remember spending a lot of time playing pinball machines as a teenager.  But Snooker was really my game of choice.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I was running out of daylight, and by now it was time to locate my motel, there in Roanoke, and get checked.  Once I got everything in my motel room, I ask the motel clerk for restaurant recommendations close by and he said he liked the El Cazador Mexican Restaurant down the street.  I had their Chili Verde plate with Spanish rice and refried beans.  It was wonderful, and I had enough left over for tomorrow night.

Photo Credit: http://elcazadortaqueria.com/menu.php?cat=19&item=46&loc=5

—–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

Random Memories of Germany-Trips to Italy Part 2

8 Aug

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

In 1970, Fred and I were able to take in the Oberammergau Passion Play (please see my previous posts – Oberammergau – November 25, 2012, Wiesbaden – Part 3 – February 7, 2021, and Wiesbaden – Part 4 – Italy)   According to my pictures, we did not go to Pompeii on that trip.  However, we did take a bus trip from Heidelberg in 1982 to Italy with our girls, and we did make it to Pompeii then.  Here are some pictures from that time in Pompeii.  Mt. Vesuvius is quite present in some of the pictures.

Karen and Janet, ruins of Pompeii, with Mt. Vesuvius in the background

Pompeii – ruins of the Forum

More ruins of Pompeii

And more ruins of Pompeii

And, of course, we spent time in Rome.  WOW!!  What a place!  I believe we were told that a lot of Rome had been covered over with centuries of dirt, and was not discovered until someone began digging for a foundation for a new building.  What to their surprise did they find….RUINS!  That stopped the building, and the excavation began.

Seems like I remember we didn’t take the car on our trip in 1968, so we got around Rome with either a bus or train in the city.  I remember a bus tour that took us to the Roman Forum ruins.

The Roman Forum

But I remember just walking around the city, as well.  Perhaps it was an on-and-off tour.  In any case, I remember when we found the Trevi Fountain, we were a bit disappointed that it was literally surrounded by buildings!  In order for Fred to get this picture, he had to stand in a shop doorway across the street in order to try to get the entire fountain in – and even that wasn’t too successful!  Remember the old movie, Three Coins in a Fountain in 1954?  I fell in love with that movie, and so insisted that we find that fountain!

The Trevi Fountain – from a store’s doorway across the street

While in Rome, we found the obelisk by St. Mary Major Church,

The Obelisk by St. Mary Major Church

we saw the Pantheon, 

we saw St. Paul Outside the Wall church, 

St. Paul Outside the Wall

we saw St. Peter’s Square and Basilica, 

and we saw the Victor Emmanuel Monument, that we were told the Roman’s call “The Wedding Cake” which amused us.

Victor Emmanuel Monument

When we made our Thanksgiving bus trip to Italy in 1982 with our girls, we covered Rome in more detail than Fred and I had done earlier.  We not only took in St. Peter’s Square, but we actually sat in on an “audience” with the Pope.  The Roman people loved him so much – I remember so many of them standing and shouting “Papa!!” just trying to get his attention.  That is nearly impossible, as there were thousands in attendance in the room.  We were waaayyy back , and this is the best picture we could get of that event.

Our “audience” with the Pope

Here’s a picture of the Swiss Guards that guard St. Peter’s and the Pope.

We also joined a group that toured the Vatican – the parts we were allowed to see.  We saw some gardens, and some of the inside.

The Vatican Gardens

This sign was before we went inside, and unfortunately, I don’t remember what it was of – whether it was some ceilings or something else of importance to the Vatican.  And, I don’t speak or read Italian, so am not sure just what it tells.

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

Judy is living in Central Florida with her retired U.S. Air Force husband of 50+ years. Born in Dallas, Texas, she grew up in the Southwestern United States.She met her husband at their church, where he was attending the university in her town. After college and seminary, he entered the Air Force, and their adventures began.They lived in eight of our United States, and spent six years in Europe, where their oldest daughter was born. She was a stay-at-home mom for many years .

  Judy has always been involved with music, both playing the piano and singing. Always interested in exercise, she was an aerobic dancing instructor, as well as a piano teacher for many years, and continues to faithfully exercise at home.

After moving to Central Florida, she served as a church secretary for nearly nine years.Her main hobby at this point in time is scanning pictures and 35mm slides into the computer. She also enjoys scrapbooking.She and her husband have two married daughters and four grandchildren, including grandtwins as well as a great-grandson. She and her husband enjoy the Disney parks as often as possible.

I Love to Travel Part 1

28 Jul

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

I guess I must have gotten my “Travel Genes” from my father as he was on the road a lot, for his work, when I was growing up.  Then as a teenager I worried my parents when I made several long trips on my motorcycle.  When I joined the U.S. Navy they took me all over the world, and by the time I got out, I was hooked on travel.  After my wife, DiVoran, and I were married, and I was going to college in California, it didn’t bother me a bit to travel across the “Great American Desert” to visit my parents living in Albuquerque, NM or to drive to northern California to visit DiVoran’s parents in Livermore, CA.

After I finished college we moved to Florida for my work on the Apollo Manned Space program.  Over the years I ended up working for several of the major aerospace companies and traveled quite a lot for those jobs.  I had been shuffled around various areas of the country during all that time and I was ready for a change.  I was working for Lockheed (LSOC), in Florida, when NASA decided to change their Space Shuttle processing contractor.  I was going to have to change who I was working for again, and that was the last straw for me.  I retired from the Manned Space program in 1996, after 35-years, as what I called myself, “An Aerospace Nomad.”   I was just 58 years-old when I retired, and  I felt like the “Aerospace Hassle” had made an old man of me before my time.  I was ready for a rest from the fast pace and constant pressure from the NASA schedulers.

Image: https://favpng.com/png_view/design-cartoon-computer-download-png/Wr40rMyb

I’m sure my first year of retirement was like a lot of men; wondering if I could adjust to all that time with nothing in particular to do.  I also wondered if I would be called back to the job like many men I knew had been.  If that happened, what would I do?  I would just have to wait and see how I felt about that, if and when I was called back.  As it turned out, I was able to adjust fairly well.  It took a while to take care of all the repairs around the house (Honey Do’s), but I managed.  A couple of years later I started volunteering, one morning a week, to help at the Car Care Ministry at our church.

Image: https://www.pinclipart.com/pindetail/iTmRm_clip-royalty-free-download-car-repair-shop-clipart/

A year or so after that, a friend talked me into volunteering, as a Tour Guide, at the Warbird Air Museum here in Titusville one morning a week (that wasn’t hard).  I am interested in all kinds of airplanes, and this allows me to keep up with the warbird community as well as the on-going evolution of the aviation industry.  I love the time and the comradery I get to spent with the friends, I have made over the years, at both of these weekly volunteer occasions.

Photo: Bill Lites

Then in 2012, in addition to the volunteer work, I took up a new hobby – Travel (one of my favorite things to do) and blog writing.  While browsing thru the gift shop at our Warbird Air Museum, one volunteer day, I happened upon a book titled “GUIDE TO OVER 900 AIRCRAFT MUSEUMS.”  This guide book covers museums in the U.S. and Canada.  I thought, “WOW!  This is just what I need to help me find aviation museums to visit.”  As you might have guessed, I have developed a love of going to museums.  All kinds of museums.  Airplane Museums, Auto Museum, Train Museums, Maritime Museums, or any other kinds of museums I happen to come across.

Photo: http://www.aircraftmuseums.com/28book/pasteditions.htm

Using that guide book, I have established a method for my travel plans.  I usually try to make one (two week) trip in the spring and one (two week) trip in the fall of each year.  My 2020 and 2021 trips have been interrupted by a hernia surgery and a shoulder replacement surgery and Covid-19.  I have had to postpone one of this year’s trips, because of Covid-19 travel restrictions, but I am determined to get at least one two-week trip in before the end of the year, in spite of the ridiculous, ongoing national phrase of….

—– 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

Our Trip to St. Kitts Part 2

21 Jul

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

On the next day of our trip to St. Kitts we took a long stroll along the beach, picked up a few shells, and did some exploring of some of the old ruins not too far from the hotel.  We learned that St. Kitts has the oldest written history of any island in the Caribbean, and that Sir Christopher Columbus was the first European to see the islands and the Island Caribs (natives) during his second voyage (1493) to this area.  He named St. Kitts San Jorge (Saint George) and Nevis San Martin (St. Martin) and claimed the islands for Spain (see Wikipedia for island name changes).  We stopped to take a picture beside a small submersible of some kind that was just sitting there on the beach.  There was no one around, to ask what it was used for and why it was just sitting there.  Later that day we visited the hotel’s garden area and ran into some of the other folks from our group and went to dinner with them.

Photo by DiVoran Lites

The next day we rented a car and took a drive around the island.  It only took us about two hours to do the whole island, and we were amazed at the difference between the resort area where we were staying, and the way the island people lived.  At the time, the majority of the island was devoted to the raising and processing of sugar cane.  There were cane fields everywhere we looked, and the method for harvesting all that sugar cane seemed very primitive.  

Photo by Bill Lites

The road was very narrow and cluttered with all manner of animals, children, and trash.  We saw open communal toilets alongside the road, and people carrying water jugs to collect (what we assumed was) drinking water running from a pipe that came out of the side of the hill, right there on the side of the road.

Photo by Bill Lites

Once we left town, we were not sure we had made the right choice to drive around the island by ourselves.  We didn’t have a map and were concerned about what we might run into if we got off the main road.  However, all the locals we encountered during our little trip were friendly and willing to help us whenever we took a wrong turn.  

Photo by DiVoran Lites

Back at the hotel we had a nap and then walked the hotel property, collecting a few more souvenirs, before heading back to the hotel for dinner.  I’m sure we did more relaxing and pleasurable things on that trip, but the details escape me now.  Overall, we enjoyed the restful atmosphere, and it was a memorable trip.  The flight back to Orlando was uneventful and after we got home and unpacking we were ready to head back to work on Monday. That trip to St. Kitts was one of the most enjoyable adventures we had experienced in some time, and it left us with some wonderful lifelong memories. 

Photo by DiVoran Lites

Epilog:  My creative artist wife, DiVoran, took many of the souvenirs we collected, during our trip to St. Kitts, and arranged them in a beautiful collage that hangs in our studio to continually remind us of our one and only ‘Caribbean Island Adventure’ all those many years ago.

Collage & paintings by DiVoran Lites

—–The End—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 63 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

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

A Balloon Ride for Ivan

2 Jun

A Slice of Life

Bill LItes

For those of you who have followed my most recent blogs, you will be familiar with the major players in my wife, DiVoran’s family.  For those of you who are just joining me, her father is Ivan and her mother is Dora.  Her younger brother, David, rounds out the family members.  I became a member of this wonderful family when I married their daughter, DiVoran, and have enjoyed the pleasure of their company for over 60 years now.  I would like to share with you one of the more delightful times we had with this family. 

Sometime in early June of 1985 DiVoran and I flew to California to take part in this family’s celebration of Ivan’s 70th birthday.  DiVoran’s father, Ivan, her mother, Dora, as well as her brother, David, and his wife, Susan, all lived in Vista, CA at the time, so that turned out to be the gathering place for the major celebration activities.  As part of the celebration, on one of the days, David had made arrangements for us all to take a balloon ride.  None of us had ever been up in a balloon, and the southern California area is one of the many locations where the weather is favorable for flying balloons; cool clear mornings with little or no wind.  

Photo by Susan Bowers  (No, we didn’t dress like this to go ballooning)

We were all up early that day, rushing around in order to have our breakfast and still have time to drive north some 50 miles to the launch site in Paris, CA.  We met our pilot, Steve, and he asked us to help him unload his balloon from its trailer.  It was a beautiful clear crisp morning and the unfolding of the balloon was very interesting.  Steve was very particular about how we handled every part of the balloon and its hardware.  He had us position each part of the balloon, basket, guy ropes and burner in a systematic way so he could assemble everything quickly and correctly.  Once everything was ready to begin the inflation process, he had us hold the bottom to the balloon open and he used a large fan to start filling the balloon with air.  In the photo below, you can see Ivan supervising the initial inflation operation.

Photo by Dora Bowers

At some point Steve fired up the burner, pointed it toward the partially inflated balloon and blasted hot air into the balloon, and it began to rotate off the ground and rise to an upright positon.  Once the balloon was vertical, we each had to hold onto a rope, attached to the basket, to keep it from ascending before Steve was ready.  He climbed into the basket and asked us who was going to be first.  We all pointed at Ivan and said, “The Birthday Boy!”

We helped Ivan climb into the basket.  Steve went over the operation and safety rules for Ivan, loud enough for all of us on the ground to hear.  I was amazed how Steve was able to keep applying the burner just enough to keep the balloon upright and still keep the basket sitting there on the ground.  When Steve was ready, he told Ivan to hold on, and he applied a long blast from the burner; they slowly lifted off the ground, and they began their ascent.

Note:  I forgot to mention this was one of the smaller balloons and the basket was only large enough to carry Steve, the pilot, and one other person.  And because there were several of us that wanted to take a ride, the duration of the flights were a little shorter than usual.

Photo by Dora Bowers

Steve had instructed us that they wouldn’t be flying more than 1000 feet high, and for us to follow their flight path, so we would be there when they landed, to hold the ropes.  This would allow the passenger to exit the basket and the next passenger to climb aboard (a quick and easy transfer).  If it looked like the wind wasn’t going to carry the balloon far, we would all run to the next landing spot.  DiVoran said, “There goes my 70 year-old white haired mother running after a balloon!”  Dora told DiVoran later that the running was fun, as she hadn’t done that in years.  When the wind picked up, we would all jump into Ivan’s pickup truck and follow the balloon to the next landing spot for the next passenger exchange.  When it was my turn, I couldn’t believe how quiet it was when the burner was off.  I love to fly, but I had never had the opportunity to fly that low in all my flying experiences.  I could just imagine how thrilled the two French brothers, Joseph Michel & Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier, known as the aviation pioneers who launched the first confirmed piloted ascent by man with their hot air balloon, Annonay, in France on June 4, 1783 must have felt.  It was a really wonderful experience!

DiVoran remembers, “During my ride we flew over a junk yard, and when Steve applied a blast from the burner, to keep us high enough to clear an obstacle, I saw hundreds of rabbits running from their hiding places in all directions!”  When everyone had a turn, we helped Steve deflate, disassemble, fold and load his balloon onto his trailer.  We thanked him for an exciting morning of sight-seeing and headed back to Vista, where we each had something to share that was special to us that morning.  That was a wonderful ‘Birthday Gift’ that we were all able to enjoy.  It didn’t dawn on me until years later; that I had scratched off another item from my Bucket List and hadn’t even realized it at the time!

—–The End—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 63 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

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

Random Memories of Germany

21 Feb

Wiesbaden-Part 5

Italy

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

I don’t remember the exact route of our trip…I just remember places where we were along the way.  Remember from last week, I mentioned that the other Americans in our B&B in Oberammergau was the pastor from a Baptist church in Kaiserslautern?

First Baptist Church-Kaiserlautern, Germany

Well, believe it or not, we ran into that same group when we were in Pisa, Italy!!  Small world, indeed.

I was fascinated by Pisa and the Leaning Tower.  I was amazed that it was still standing, especially at the angle it is leaning.  And to think that it is STILL standing in 2021!! 

Judy in front of the Leaning Tower – 1970

I realize a lot has been done to shore it up and keep it upright, but still…..  We made another trip to Italy with our girls in 1982, and our Janet climbed up to the top of the tower!  But she always was the more adventurous of all of us.

1982 – Janet in the pink jacket at the top of the Leaning Tower

I was nearly as amazed by the Baptistry near the cathedral, as I was the Leaning Tower. 

1982 – The Baptistry next to the church – Janet in the foreground

It is an amazing building.  And according to this picture we took, the Baptistry seems to be “leaning” a bit, as well!  I guess the ground in that area is not very stable!

We had been told about a shop in Pisa that had marble pieces, and we found it.  We purchased two marble lamp stands that we still have with us today. 

1982 – The Baptistry next to the church – Janet in the foreground

I found some marble “fruit” that I liked and have today as well – along with an alabaster “egg.” 

Marble fruit – quite realistic looking, I think

 And I found some “tumbling angels (or should I say cherubs)” that are made out of some kind of composition material.

The tumbling angels (cherubs) – from right to left

I have enjoyed having all of these things.  And so our trip to Pisa was a grand success!

Again, I don’t exactly remember where we traveled in Italy.  I just remember that we hit Venice,

St. Mark’s Square
The Bridge of Sighs

and Florence (my favorite!!), and Trieste.  

Michelangelo’s David

Fred and his family lived in Trieste following World War 2, and we were able to find the building where his family lived.  They lived in the “mezzanine” of this building – just under the arches of the arcade.  Here is a picture taken by Fred’s dad in 1950,

and now one we took on our trip

As a “footnote” to this story, our Karen and her husband Brian, on one of their trips to Europe, found the same building in Trieste, and Karen was able to point it out to Brian and tell her Dad’s story.  Amazing how that works, hmmm?

I remember we drove along the Appian Way – all those trees along the way.  

We also stopped see Lake Como. Beautiful.

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

Judy is living in Central Florida with her retired U.S. Air Force husband of 50+ years. Born in Dallas, Texas, she grew up in the Southwestern United States.She met her husband at their church, where he was attending the university in her town. After college and seminary, he entered the Air Force, and their adventures began.They lived in eight of our United States, and spent six years in Europe, where their oldest daughter was born. She was a stay-at-home mom for many years .

  Judy has always been involved with music, both playing the piano and singing. Always interested in exercise, she was an aerobic dancing instructor, as well as a piano teacher for many years, and continues to faithfully exercise at home.

After moving to Central Florida, she served as a church secretary for nearly nine years.Her main hobby at this point in time is scanning pictures and 35mm slides into the computer. She also enjoys scrapbooking.She and her husband have two married daughters and four grandchildren, including grandtwins as well as a great-grandson. She and her husband enjoy the Disney parks as often as possible.

Random Memories of Germany

8 Nov

Paris Part 2

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

I think the most memorable trip was the bus trip we made to Paris with the girls in 1981 over New Year’s into 1982.  The first complaint we had was that, when we boarded the bus,

Credit Pixabay

we found that a lot of the single soldiers traveling together, had each wanted a window seat, leaving only one seat on the aisle for someone else.

On the bus

Therefore, when we found two seats together, we took that one.  The remaining two seats together were at the back of the bus.  Okay, that’s not much of a problem, except that was the “smoking section” on the bus, which was laughable.

Credit Pixabay

I mean, come-on – ANY smoking on a BUS would contaminate the entire bus.  But Fred was violently opposed to sitting among all that smoke, so I volunteered to sit in the back with one of our daughters.  The girls weren’t too pleased with the situation, and traded seats with each other quite often.  I especially remember that, being winter and cold weather, we had our coats and gloves with us.  And the girls would sit with my leather glove across their noses the entire time they sat in the back with me – they really couldn’t stand all that smoke!

Credit Pixabay

Also, on the trip home from Paris, quite a few of those riding with us, especially in the back of the bus, had been drinking.  I guess they had found a New Year’s party somewhere.  They were quite tipsy and loud – they particularly enjoyed doing the “Funky Chicken” over and over with much hilarious laughter.  I remember telling Karen, who was sitting with me at the time, that “this is real life – this is not a made-up movie to show you what drunk people are supposed to look like.”  She looked at me and stated that “they are stupid…and silly…and I will NEVER get drunk!!”  And she never did.  It was a great teaching moment.

But that story gets us away from our time in Paris.  We loved staying in the hotel, and the breakfasts they gave us of French bread, butter and jam,

Credit Pixabay

and the croissants (sigh)!  We just wished they had allotted us more than one croissant!  They were delicious!!

Credit Pixabay

We went to the Louvre, and spent quite a bit of time there.          

The Louvre with small arch

 We went up the Eiffel Tower.

The Eiffel Tower – Judy, Karen and Janet

We walked along the Trocadero and we told the girls about our 1969 visit to Paris, and the fountain with jets shooting water across the fountain.  

The Trocadero and water canons

We showed them  the statues we had seen along the Trocadero in 1969.

The Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero

 We went inside the Notre Dame and showed them the beautiful Rose Window with its stained glass.

We went to and inside Versailles, and took in all its beauty. 

 We saw Napoleon’s tomb. 

Napoleon’s Tomb

 We walked along the Champs Élysées and admired all the stores and the Arc de Triomphe.  We didn’t dare attempt to get to the Arc, as the traffic was suicidal!

The Arc in the setting sun…beautiful!

But, all in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Paris.  It was thrilling to us to know that we were in that beautiful country, and all the history that had passed through that lovely city and country.  If Fred and I ever go back to France, there are other places I would like to visit – Normandy, Marseille, Toulouse (mainly because my father stayed in Toulouse following WW1 for one year, and studied at the university there), Avignon, and just the French countryside.

Whether or not that comes to be, is anyone’s guess.  Well, I guess I should say that if it is God’s will, we will go there.  Otherwise, I’ll just be pleased God allowed us to see as much of France – and the world – that we did.  I am grateful.

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

Judy is living in Central Florida with her retired U.S. Air Force husband of 50+ years. Born in Dallas, Texas, she grew up in the Southwestern United States.She met her husband at their church, where he was attending the university in her town. After college and seminary, he entered the Air Force, and their adventures began.They lived in eight of our United States, and spent six years in Europe, where their oldest daughter was born. She was a stay-at-home mom for many years .

  Judy has always been involved with music, both playing the piano and singing. Always interested in exercise, she was an aerobic dancing instructor, as well as a piano teacher for many years, and continues to faithfully exercise at home.

After moving to Central Florida, she served as a church secretary for nearly nine years.Her main hobby at this point in time is scanning pictures and 35mm slides into the computer. She also enjoys scrapbooking.She and her husband have two married daughters and four grandchildren, including grandtwins as well as a great-grandson. She and her husband enjoy the Disney parks as often as possible.

I Love to Travel Part 1

12 Aug

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

I guess I must have gotten my “Travel Genes” from my father as he was on the road a lot, for his work, when I was growing up.  Then as a teenager I worried my parents when i made several long trips on my motorcycle.  When I joined the U.S. Navy they took me all over the world, and by the time I got out, I was hooked on travel.  After DiVoran and I were married, and I was going to college in California, it didn’t bother me a bit to travel across the “Great American Desert” to visit my parents living in Albuquerque, or to drive to northern California to visit DiVoran’s parents in Livermore.

After I finished college we moved to Florida for my work on the Apollo Manned Space program.  Over the years I ended up working for several of the major aerospace companies, and traveled quite a lot for my jobs.  I retired from the Manned Space program in 1996, after 35-years, as what I called myself, “An Aerospace Nomad.”  I had been shuffled around various areas of the country during all that time and I was ready for a change.  I was working for Lockheed (LSOC), in Florida, when NASA decided to change their Space Shuttle processing contractor.  I was going to have to change who I was working for again, and that was the last straw for me.  I was just 58 years-old when I retired.  I felt like the “Aerospace Hassle” had made an old man of me before my time.  I was ready for a rest from the fast pace and constant pressure of the NASA schedulers.

I’m sure my first year of retirement was like a lot of men, wondering if I could adjust to all that time with nothing in particular to do.  I also wondered if I would be called back to the job like many men I knew were.  If that happened, what would I do?  I would just have to wait and see how I felt about that, if and when I was called back.  As it turned out, I was able to adjust fairly well.  It took a while to take care of all the repairs around the house, but I managed.  A couple of years later I started volunteering, one morning a week, to help at the Car Care Ministry at our church.

A year or so after that, a friend talked me into volunteering, as a Tour Guide, at the Warbird Air Museum here in Titusville one morning a week (that wasn’t hard).  I am interested in all kinds of airplanes, and this allows me to keep up with the warbird community as well as the on-going evolution of the aviation industry.  I love the time and the comradery I get to spent with the friends I have made over the years at both of these weekly volunteer occasions.

Then in 2012, in addition to the volunteer work, I took up a new hobby – travel (one of my favorite things to do) and blog writing.  While browsing thru the gift shop at our Warbird Air Museum, one volunteer day, I happened upon a book titled “GUIDE TO OVER 900 AIRCRAFT MUSEUMS.”  This guide book covers museums in the U.S. and Canada.  I thought, “WOW!  This is just what I need to help me find museums to visit.”  As you might have guessed, I have developed a love of going to museums.  All kinds of museums.  Airplane Museums, Auto Museum, Train Museums, Maritime Museums, or any other kinds of museums I happen to come across.

Using that guide book, I have established a method for my travel plans.  I usually try to make one (two week) trip in the spring and one (two week) trip in the fall of each year.  Note: My 2020 trips have been interrupted by shoulder replacement surgery and Covis-19.  I have had to postpone this summer’s trip twice (from July to September) because of travel restrictions, but I am determined to get at least one two-week trip in before the end of the year.

—– 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.

Bill

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

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