The other day we went to the warbird museum. It was very cool, they have 45 vintage aircraft in their collection and are restoring many others to put on display. The museum itself had a lot of artifacts and stories from different war periods, but the best was the three hangers full of aircraft. Most do not fly any more but a good many of them do fly and a few are on loan that fly all the time. when we got there, there was a tour already in progress, so the lady told us where to find them. When we got there, we could not find any one but heard voices coming from inside this 20 foot long nose section of a B-52 bomber. We waited a few minutes and they came out and the guide wanted to know if we wanted to join the tour and take a look in. so we did, this is an actual 20 foot section of the famous B-52 bomber from the late 1950′ to early 60’s. When you got in the lower part it was crammed with all kinds of electrical gear and two seats. This is where the Engineer and navigator sat. No thanks for me. No bigger than 4 square feet. If they had to bail out the hatch below them would blow out and they would eject seat and all out the bottom of the aircraft. We then went up a ladder about five feet up to the pilot and co- pilot seats, wow tight as all get out. There are eight engines on a B-52, ,so many gauges, throttles and hardly a windshield. If they had to bail out the top hatch over them would blow out and they would be ejected out the top of the plane. Melissa got to sit in the pilot’s seat. After we got out of there the rest of the tour lasted about two hours. We saw aircraft from WWII to Vietnam era and the present. It was really awesome. The photos below are of some of the planes we saw.


A replica of the Red Baron’s plane, it flies.


P-51 Mustang WWII


B-25 Mitchell WWII, flies and privately owned. Made famous by the Doolittle Tokyo raid in 1943


Killer B, actually flew in combat in WWII


TBF Avenger Dive bomber, early WWII being restored. These flew off of an aircraft carrier, notice the folding wings, so they could get more planes on the ship. Took three men to fold the wing. Had a three-man crew with about a 20′ torpedo underneath. These were decimated early in the war, to slow, but at the battle of Midway they did their job and sank four Japanese aircraft carriers. George W. Bush Sr. Piloted one of these and was shot down but rescues later by an American Submarine.


F4F Hellcat, another carrier aircraft with the folding wings. This was the best fighter the U. S. had at the start of the war in the Pacific. The Japanese Zero was much faster and more maneuverable , but this had more armor in it and could take more damage where the Zero had none and if you could hit it usually burst into flames. I also learned that these planes in the early days were started, with a one foot cylindel, with eight shotgun shells in it. They put it into a compartment in the back of the engine and after the engine was primed with fuel, they did that by turning the propellar by hand. The pilot they flipped a switch and the engine started to turn over, which in turn shot off the shells into each cylinder of the engine and it came to life. No thanks.



Korean Era early helicopter


F-86 Sabre, Korean war, and the first jet fighter the U. S. Ever had. This flies and was really neat to see. The black part at the tip of the aircraft is an early type of targetting system. The pilot saw a small circle in his windshield and when it lined up with an enemy aircraft he know he could fire his six cannon up front .


Second generation Super Sabre, Korean War, Painted in Marine colors though.


Late Korean War into Vietnam Troop carrying Helicopter, could carry 10 men. Used a lot in Korea for Rescueing downed pilots.


Vietnam era


Vietnam era Ugly duck ,big bulkly meduem bomber notice floding wings launched off an aircraft carrier. Also notice the little arm coming off the front wheel. This locked into the catapult system in the deck and the steam catapault would send them at high speed off the deck into the air.


Vietnam era, only prop plane uesed ,but they had three tyes, one had a bubble mounted above and it was ued to jam enemy radar, one hade a round disc above it to be used as a far out reach radar to find enemy planes. And the one here was called the hopper, it was used to bring in extra supplies and men, but especially the mail to the men on the ships.


The tomcat . Later 1980’s as seen on the movie top gun, wings were straight for low speed and swept back to go to high speed .


F-18 Hornet, top fighter, now flown by the Blue Angles.

The best for last, this is a WWII  C-47 transport. It flies and is privetly owned. This particular aircraft is famous, it flew three missions on D-Day. It’s first mission was late at night on June 5th 1944, when it carried 32 paratroopers, over the English Channel to Normandy. It came back and flew 32 more paratroopers over, came back and towed 2 gliders with 24 men each over to there landing zone in Normandy. It is shown here painted in it’s invasion colors, with the three stripes, representing Victory. It is mostly original ,but has new engines and a few other improvements. It also took part in the Belin Airlift of late 1945.










Went to Fort Christmas Historical park here. It is an exact recreation of the fort built here in 1837. In 1837 the army sent 2000 men and equipment down this way to build an outpost. They hacked and chopped there way building roads and fording streams and the swamps. They came to a small creek near here, and on December 25th they started to construct there outpost. They finished on Dec 27. Took two days to construct the fort about 80 feet square, with 12′ high walls, and two blockhouses. Had one building, inside for storage ,all the men stayed outside in the elements. A company of about 80 soldiers remained encamped at the fort. They named it Fort Christmas, as it was the day they started construction on it. So that’s how the little Hamlet here of Christmas Florida came to be. This was during the second Seminole war with the Indians. As the war progressed south most things started to be shipped by sea. As a result of this the fort was abandoned 3 months later in March of 1838. It sat that way for over a hundred years, when it was found in decay they made drawings and photos of the fort. There is no evidence of the fort anymore. In 1976 a replica of the fort was built at this park to honor its past. It was pretty neat to see, and to think they had no roads or anything as they made there way down here.IMG_0191



Also at the fort were 10 old houses, if you could call them that from the late 1880’s to early 1900’s. They all have been moved here from there original locations. They show how hard it was to live down here is isolation and eeck out a living.


This is the post office from the late 1880’s, it was added on to the small house where the postmaster lived . The building to the right side is the kitchen and dining room, a luxury in that day ,most kitchens were out side, under the porch or just outside.


Melissa handing over a letter to the post office, telling me how much she love’s me.


Hard to see in this photo but the middle is open on both ends, this is where the cooking and eating was done. There are 2 rooms on either side, one is a bed room, one is a parlor, one is a mans seating area, and one is for the women where there is all her knitting and household items


This house is about 14’x14′. A bed and a few dressers on one end, and the small fireplace and seating area on the other. This house was a little bit of luxury as to the covered carriage area. This was a neat place to visit and learned a lot of the history down here in Florida.


Today we went to the beach. Cocoa beach, which is on the Atlantic coast here. It was hot today about 86, but felt nice on the beach . We spent about 3 hours or so there and walked about 2 miles on the sandy beach getting our feet wet with the waves washing ashore. The Cocoa beach area proper is very busy and a tourist trap, so we drove further down to where there was a park ,and the parking was free. One thing we really noticed was that there were quite a lot of fisherman on the beach, not sure what they are after, but one guy said he caught a 3 foot shark once. We left and drove down historic route 1, (We have been on it a lot lately) and stopped at the Twistee Treat, for an ice cream ,boy was it good with the heat.



Also last night we saw a rocket launch ,well part of one as we are about 25 miles away. But when the sky lit up I knew it had lifted off, and waited a few seconds for it to come above the trees. The photo isn’t the best but it was neat, we could see it go up and up and then out of sight.IMG_0201


Yep, we are in Christmas Florida now. It is located about 30 miles east of Orlando ,and about 10 miles, west of Titusville, by the space center. The park here is right off the main road going east, west. It is an older park, with some permanents residents, but has been updated with new bathrooms, showers, pool and the like. It used to cater to just airstream trailers, back in the day but has expanded to allow big rigs here. They have full hook ups with 50 amp, sewer, water. It is in kind of pine woods area, with sand roads and grass sites. They have had a lot of rain here and it is quite muddy. From here we will be visiting the Titusville area, space center, warbird museum and some of the wildlife preserves. Will be here till the 28th of February.




Before we left in September on our journey I bet my brother-in-law Doug, that I could go without a hair cut till May. Well I made it 5 months, and lost the bet. I literally could not stand it any more, especially with it growing over my ears, so early this week I said that’s it, going to the barber. I went to Solid Rock Barber shop here in Clermont. Had to wait a few minutes there, but when the barber put me in the seat, he said just a cut above the ears. I said no, want 2 fingers on top, and 4 blades on the side just like i always get. He seemed a little lost and asked again, and that’s the way he cut it. When he was just about done he said i never figured you as a guy with this short of a cut. I told him about the bet and he finally understood. Boy did i feel better, he did a good job and all for $15.00 so i gave him a twenty and was on my way. It may seem like a trivial thing but man was it getting to me. So now Melissa says i look back to normal and not hippy looking. How much was the bet, never going to tell.IMG_0144



A bus ride, yep. The other day we went for a monster bus swamp ride. We took a short drive to the Showcase of Citrus roadside stand, and it turned out to be a 2000 acre ranch. It was pretty neat they have all kinds of citrus products, anything you can really think of. The ranch has 1000 head of cattle and about 900 acres of orange trees, mostly for juice. Of course they have the monster bus ride, it takes you though the ranch property and it was a blast. It lasted about an hour. They are old converted school buses with their tops removed and bench seating put in. The undercarriage is all beefed up and they have 6 foot high by 4 foot wide monster tires. All turn when you turn the steering wheel. Our guide and driver told us all about the ranch and pointed out different things along the way. The bus was filled, it holds about 40 people. It was a fun time and learned a few things about this part of Florida.IMG_0119IMG_0121

Melissa as a life guard, watch out


She is eating a shark


One of the buses.


A smaller one


Our ride through the swamp


An old abandoned water truck used for whiskey in the prohibition days, the cops found them and they tried to get away, nope, truck hasn’t moved since, hence the name of the creek, Whiskey creek.


The other day I rode my bike to the beach from the campground. There and back is about a five mile ride. When I got to the parking lot for the beach, I could not find a beach. Then I saw a four foot wide walk way and boardwalk, over a swamp. So I took it, after about 300 feet or so there is the beach. Not a very big beach but very sandy and a nice view. There is also swimming there but I don’t think I will do that. There is a really old big tree there so I took a picture of it as it was pretty neat, about the only really big tree around. When I did that I noticed off to the side a monument. A monument, so I walked over to it. It is dedicated to a Lt. Dean Gilmore, who in November of 1944 was flying low level training missions in his P-51 mustang crashed into Lake Louisa and was killed, he was 23 years old.. Prior to that he was in Sicily and flew 91 combat missions, only to come home and be killed, too bad. In 2001 the wreckage of his plane was found when the level of the lake was low. It was recovered and a monument was erected in his honor.


The boardwalk over the swamp to the beach.


The beach


The big tree, moss covered.


The monument to Lt. Gilmore

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A plaque by the bathrooms with a little story


We are now at Lake Louisa State Park, which is about 25 miles west of Orlando. We left Alafia River around noon and got here at 1:40 or so. It was only 81 miles of a drive. The park here is very big and the whole area maybe 25 square miles or so is rolling hills, which is kind of weird in Florida, but  the area here was underwater sand dunes and when the ocean’s receded millenia ago it left these hills. Once we checked in it was a 3 mile drive to the campground, which has 60 sites, we have a 90′ pull through. There are a lot of lakes here, plus a lot of hiking and biking trails, that we will check out. We will be here for two weeks.The pics below our of our site.





Yesterday and today we did more mountain biking. Yesterday while Melissa took Cooper for a three-mile hike on the trails, I decided to try a few of the easy trails they have here. I made my way from the campground by way of the camp connector trail ,to the main loop trail, then proceeded to the 1.7 mile easy Soft Pine trail. It was pretty easy, pretty flat terrain, with only a few very slight inclines. Then I got back on the loop trail, and back to the camp connector. I maybe rode a total of four miles or so. When I got back Melissa and Cooper were waiting for me and I told Melissa we should do this together on Friday.

So Friday, today after we walked Cooper for a few miles, we set off again, by the connector trail to the loop trail and back to the Flat Pine trail. When we got done ,there was another 1.3 mile easy trail right there so we took it. This one was a little more hilly with a few bridge crossings. When we got done with that it ended up on a little connector trail leading back to the main loop, but I saw a sign for a 1/4 mile intermediate trail, and being the daring guy I am I decided to take it. Even though I did it and it was fun, I am not sure I would do it again, my bike is just not that rugged, the tires need to be a lot wider to grip the terrain on the better trails. I also had to pedal real hard to get up the hills , which there were a good many of with a lot of twists and turns going uphill. I was tired and winded when I got done with that. Glad I did it though. We then took the loop trail back to the parking lot and Melissa decided to take the road back, I took the trails back to camp. On my way back I passed a couple and she said watch for the gator on Black Spring trail. I said OK , glad I didn’t do that one. Today we rode aver five miles or so, and that is it, we leave here tomorrow for Lake Louisa State Campground.


The loop Trail


Start of the easy trail





A bridge crossing


The Intermediate trail.


Another pic, on the hill about 8 feet high.