Blogging Driving Travel

Weigle House Museum

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. This week I’m writing about the Charles F. Weigle House Museum near downtown Sebring Florida – located at 1989 Lakeview Drive.

My first visit to the museum almost didn’t happen. It was back on Wednesday February 17TH 2021, and I had just arrived in the local area from neighboring Avon Park – disappointed that the Depot Museum there was closed due to COVID restrictions. (I wrote about that last #TravelThursday.)

So I drove to the local area, and I went to the city pier to hang out and absorb God’s nature on Lake Jackson – a 3,212-acre mostly-clear and fairly-shallow freshwater lake with a sandy beach-like shoreline.

After several minutes of lake-viewing I decided to explore the area just off the pier. I saw a sign nearby leading to the Sebring Historical Society, so I went to the door, and it was locked-shut even though they were supposed to be open. So I walked around to the side of the building (which is actually up a hill and on the 2ND floor). I thought I was walking-in to the upper-part of the museum, but as it turns out I walked straight into the Sebring Public Library !

I walked around the library pretending that I was actually interested in everything there. (I actually was not. As a kid I was regularly dumped at the local public library for many hours at a time. As a result – public libraries turn me off and bring back negative childhood memories.)

I eventually walked-up to the front desk, and I asked the librarian on-duty about the museum downstairs. She said that it should be open. I told her that it is locked-shut. She called someone that she knew who worked there. They talked for a minute or two. After she got off the phone she said that the guy in charge was running late, and that he would be there soon to open it up. In the meantime I should go check-out the museum across the parking lot in the bright yellow building. So I did !

I walked-in, and a friendly docent greeted me at the door. She showed me all around the museum. She was fantastic. After the personal tour we just talked for another hour or so. She lived in Miami for many years, and then she retired to Sebring many years ago. I told her that I’ll be doing the same. I’m getting ready to retire and move from Miami to Sebring. I also told her that I’m interested in serving at the museum. She told me that I must talk to the guy in charge of the Sebring Historical Society on the ground floor of the building across the parking lot directly below the public library. I took her advice. I walked back over to where I started, and the door was unlocked. The guy in charge was there, and we talked for an hour or so – all about Sebring.

What almost didn’t happen on that day turned out to be the highlight of that short trip to Sebring in February of 2021. It may also be the start of some great experiences in the not-too-distant future.

Earlier this month on Wednesday June 08TH 2022 I drove back to the parking lot, and I walked-in to the museum expecting to take a tour of it again and enjoy some friendly conversations with the docent on duty. I walked right in to a regularly-scheduled Wednesday morning “social” with coffee and donuts and several local residents just sitting in folding chairs in a circle and enjoying fellowship with each other. They invited me to take a seat as well, so I did. I enjoyed their company for a couple of hours. It seemed like many of us had a military connection – as well as a South Florida connection. I learned about some of their life experiences / war stories, and they learned about some of mine. (I never toured the museum.)

I am now absolutely sure that if this Wednesday morning “social” with coffee and donuts is still active when I’m retired and living there full-time that I will definitely be a part of this community. I also plan to join the Sebring Historical Society as a member and as a volunteer. I’d like to do some social media work for them, and maybe even take over their blog.

Next #TravelThursday we’ll return to South Florida and Miami-Dade County and a museum in a historic house that overlooks scenic Biscayne Bay. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

Blogging Driving Home Travel

Avon Park Depot Museum

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Last week I wrote all about my recent 2-day visit to my future retirement area – Highlands County Florida – located about 3 hours from my current home of nearly 35 years.

I plan to visit the area on a fairly-regular and increasingly-frequent basis going forth, and every time I visit I’ll think about my upcoming purchase in my future gated neighborhood less than 3 miles south of Avon Park, (but with a Sebring address). I’ll also visit some of my favorite places that I’d like to volunteer at during my retirement life.

One such place is the historic Avon Park Depot Museum – operated by the Avon Park Historical Society. It’s located about 4½ miles from my future neighborhood. I actually visited the museum on a previous trip to the area in February 2021. I arrived at the museum. I took a couple of exterior photos. I walked-up to the front door, and it was locked shut. #COVID

What a disappointment. I immediately returned southward to Sebring. That disappointment actually led me to a big “reveal” with the Sebring Historical Society that will lead to additional volunteer opportunities. I’ll write about that experience next week.

So I finally entered the main door of the Avon Park Depot Museum. I and 2 other guests who arrived just before me were greeted together by a friendly volunteer docent. She stopped everything she was doing, and she went out of her way to give the 3 of us an extensive tour of all of the rooms of the museum. She knew her material, and I was eager to absorb it all as she was telling the history of the once-bustling Avon Park train station from the late-1920s through the mid-1970s. (It’s been operating as a museum since 1981.)

She even gave us a bonus exclusive behind-the-scenes tour inside this railroad dining car (acquired in 1986) that last saw action as part of Amtrak’s Auto Train. It’s now used for special catered dining events by groups of 16 to 36 (by reservation only).

After the tour, and after the other 2 guests went on their way I stayed behind just to talk with our docent – Elaine. (She’s the Museum Curator.) I thanked her for the wonderful job that she’s doing. She made history come alive inside that historic building. She was a model docent that I’ll use as an example in my future docent opportunities. I told her that I’m interested in serving at the museum once I move up to the local area next year. I believe that I can help the museum out and contribute in many different ways. I’ll definitely visit again the next time (and probably every time) I visit the area. I told her that I’m a blogger (which she didn’t really understand), and that I’d be writing about the museum (and her) on a future blog post. Next time I visit I’ll share this blog post with her.

Next #TravelThursday I’ll share my unexpected experiences with the Sebring Historical Society – both in February 2021 as well as this most recent visit to the area. Looks like I’ll be very busy working inside Historical Society museums during my upcoming retirement life. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

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My November Vacation 2021 Road-Trip

#TravelThursday continues now with Part 5 of my 7-part blog series on my recent 18-day road-trip between South Florida and North Texas.

Last week I left-off on Day 9 within the eastern portions of the Dallas Texas Metroplex (Collin County). I visited the Military Heritage Collection Of North Texas military museum, and then from there I visited the “Dallas” TV series museum – the Southfork Ranch. It was an interesting combination of military history and television history, and it was very appropriate in that I discovered the “Dallas” TV series in England in 1986 with my military dormitory buddies. It was “must-see-TV” for us back then.

Here’s what’s even wackier. During our guided tour of the Southfork Ranch, one of our tour guides went around the room and asked where each person or couple was from. I responded “Miami”, and a couple on the other side of the room did the same. We eventually met up outside on the front grounds of the mansion following the conclusion of the guided tour. The couple were actually from Homestead (same as me), and the guy worked at Homestead Air Reserve Base (same as me) for the same Wing. He left / retired a few years ago, and he and his wife moved to the Dallas Texas area. We actually knew some of the same people on base. #SmallWorld

After I returned back to my brother’s and sister-in-law’s house on that Friday afternoon I did not drive my car again until the following Friday morning. I enjoyed the day-to-day routines with my family, and we did the normal things that we always do during the week leading-up to #ThanksChristmasGiving – our traditional combined Thanksgiving and Christmas. One of my favorite things to do is something that goes back some 40 years, and it’s as simple as shopping with my brother. It’s also a good workout keeping-up with my brother in the stores.

On Day 16 of my road-trip – Friday November 26TH 2021 – I departed my family’s house for the start of the long drive home, but first I had to let my defroster melt the coat of frost off my windshield and rear window so that I could see. On that frigid morning I took the backroads of the local area over to U.S. 69, and I took that to I-20. On the south side of Shreveport Louisiana I got in one last meal at Whataburger.

Fun Fact: The nearest Whataburger is about 380 miles from my home.

After my early-lunch at Whataburger I proceeded onto I-49, and I took that to Alexandria Louisiana. From there I took backroads and old U.S highways through the rest of Louisiana, across the mighty Mississippi River, through Natchez, and over to Hattiesburg. I pretty much traced the same route eastward, as I took westward 2 weeks earlier.

I arrived at my hotel destination on the west side of Hattiesburg right around sunset that night. On that day I drove 523 miles, so that’s 1,974 miles on this road-trip so far.

And that’s where I’ll end Part 5 of this 7-part blog series. I’ll continue with my road-trip adventures and experiences next #TravelThursday. I’ll reach Florida next week, but how deep into Florida will I get ?

All rights reserved (c) 2021 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

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My November Vacation 2021 Road-Trip

#TravelThursday continues now with Part 4 of my 7-part blog series on my recent 18-day road-trip between South Florida and North Texas.

Last week I left-off on Day 6 in Dallas Texas when I visited the beautiful 66-acre Dallas Arboretum And Botanical Garden. Next time I drive to North Texas I hope to spend another half (or full) day there to see everything. On this visit they were all decorated for Christmas – which was a lot of fun, and it put me into the spirit of the season. I’d like to visit during another time of the year when they are holiday decoration-free. I took 40 photos of my trek around the park. I’ll be posting and captioning most of them onto my Flickr site early in 2022.

Days 7 and 8 were spent hanging out with my family (brother, sister-in-law, and 2 nieces). Day 8 – Thursday November 18TH 2021 – was actually supposed to be another mini-road-trip for me. I had planned to visit the nearby Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary, Historic Downtown McKinney (self-guided walking tour), Collin County History Museum, and lunch at the Cadillac Pizza Pub. None of that happened. It was a full-day of fun planned well in advance, and it’s all deferred to my next road-trip to North Texas in a couple of years. (My next road-trip there may be my inaugural post-retirement road-trip.)

So let’s hit Day 9 – Friday November 19TH 2021. This was an action-packed day of fun on my own. It was a cold morning to get started. I headed east to the small town of Nevada. (It’s pronounced “na-VAY-da”.) My first stop was an old roadside diner that’s very popular with the locals – Watkins Country Cafe. I walked-in, and every table was full. Two guys at a table saw me standing and waiting, and they quickly finished-up and gave me their table. (That’s small-town friendliness right there.)

After my Breakfast there I proceeded a couple of miles away to the Military Heritage Collection Of North Texas. It’s a military museum that’s operated entirely by volunteers and funded solely by donations. (There is no admission.) I posted a 5-star review on Tripadvisor. This museum visit was the biggest surprise of my road-trip. This is the type of place that I would volunteer at if I lived in the local area.

From the military museum I proceeded over to the “Dallas” museum – as in the “Dallas” TV series – the Southfork Ranch. This was my 2ND visit. My 1ST visit was perhaps a dozen years earlier with my brother, but I don’t remember much of it. On this visit I took the guided tour – which starts as a tram tour behind the gift shop and museum. It continues as a walking tour inside the mansion (both floors). After that the tour is over, but you are free to roam the grounds of the ranch and walk inside many of the buildings within the compound. You can really spend a good half-day there checking it all out.

I became an unlikely fan of the “Dallas” TV series over in England of all places – over 8 years after its U.S. debut. Me and a couple of my military dorm buddies gathered each week to watch (and be mesmerized by) the latest episode that was being shown on the BBC. I ended-up watching the series until its 1991 ending after 14 seasons, and I also simultaneously caught-up on the reruns of the show from 1978 to 1986. I think I watched every single episode ever made, and I also watched the 40 episodes of the 2012 to 2014 reboot.

I drove an additional 47 miles on that Friday, so that’s 1,451 miles in 9 days of driving to North Texas and while there.

And that’s where I’ll end Part 4 of this 7-part blog series. I’ll continue with my road-trip adventures and experiences next #TravelThursday. I’ll fast-forward a full week to Day 16 – and the start of my long road-trip back home to South Florida.

All rights reserved (c) 2021 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries