Friday, May 4, 2012

May 4th - Titusville, Florida

This week we're spending a little time here at the Titusville Municipal Marina. We have a car rented and are spreading ourselves out a little enjoying the local attractions, beaches and doing some site seeing.

So, when in Titusville where do you start ...? NASA and the Kennedy Space Center. This place is so huge and prominent in the area. It really is unfortunate that when NASA shut down the shuttle program it virtually destroyed the economy here when they laid off 25,000 employees. We are seeing homes selling for $30K.

Back to NASA .....
We arrived at the KSC visitors center to begin our tour. The first thing you observe is the immensity of these rockets that are being shot into space.

The capsule that the astronauts lived in when they went to the moon is just a small little spec at the top of this atomic bomb. You can see how small it is at the top of the next pic..... the tiny black part is so small there wasn't even room to roll over.

I got the chance to squeeeeeeezzzzzzzzzeeee into the capsule and it's very small.

We are unsure whether these guys were heroes or just adrenaline junkies. Whatever the case, you have to give them credit.
Our fist stop on the bus tour was the huge Vehicle Assembly Build where they assembled and stacked these monsters. It's the largest single story building at 575 feet tall.

One of the space shuttles (actually just the orbiter) could be seen parked outside. Atlantis and Endeavour were inside their hangers.

Next stop ..... the launch pads. They are huge too. Here's pad 39A where most of the shuttle launches took place. You can't even make out the trucks that are parked at its base.

They said that a shuttle launch shook all the houses in Titusville.

Our last stop of the day was the magnificent Saturn V display. The Saturn V rocket is the one used to launch the Apollo missions and there was one on display ... and on .... and on .... and on. This giant never ended.
I would have loved to have seen this get launched.

This is a full scale replica of the rocket.

You know, the people at NASA are very proud of what they accomplished and after seeing the immensity of these rockets and of the space shuttle components, they have a right to be proud.
Inside this display building is a vault containing such items as moon rocks, Neil Armstrong's space suit complete with moon dust, the re-entry capsule used and much more.

Today was supposed to be special as they were launching a "communications", read that as "spy" satellite, using a huge Atlas rocket from Cape Canaveral and we had front row seats. We could see the Atlas sitting poised for launch out on the pad. This 161 ft baby was going to fly.

T minus 4 minutes and holding for final checks ..... Damn, a cooling valve won't open and we have a delay. After 45 minutes, the launch window is closing and they decide to cancel until tomorrow.

So back we went to the visitor's center where we got to experience a life-like shuttle launch inside the simulator ..... and folks, your whole body shakes like hell and the skin on your face really does peel back when you're pushing 3G's .... even in a simulator.

A couple IMAX movies and some more very interesting displays and it was time to leave. We can always watch the launch from the boat .... or can we?

On the way back along the NASA Causeway (we went under it the other day on the boat) we passed the Astronaut Hall of Fame where they display a mock-up of the shuttle orbiter. We didn't go in.

Like I said .... We'll see the launch tomorrow from the boat.

So, as we sit on the park bench in the cool shade (remember it's 90 degrees down here) and we have 10 minutes to go, I told Jan that I was going to run down to the boat to get the camera and a cold beer for us.
As I came outside I heard the rumbling ..... the flame was immense ... the rocket was launched while I was inside ... and damn ... I missed it .... AGAIN!!!
I did however get a good picture of the smoke trail as it passed through the clouds.

So what's to do now .... All the excitement of supersonic speed and the space race is over.
As we sit on the boat, the guy next door is washing down his deck. I look down and see the complete opposite of speed ..... here we are, five manatees jockeying for position to get the most of that fresh water running down the side of the boat .... They are huge but very slow and clumsy.

We have a few more days to kill down here in Titusville while we wait for my brother Day to arrive in Florida on May 12th. He said he'd rent a car in Orlando and drive up to St. Augustine to see us for the day. We'll take the boat up there around the 10th.
Well, it's another car rental for us and we decide to drive up to , where else ... DAYTONA BEACH!.... and what do you do there? You drive on the beach, go for a swim, and take in a little more sun.

Daytona Beach itself is amazing. It's huge and the sand is packed down so hard that it's like cement. You could just sit back and imagine the old cars of the 50's as they raced out here on the beach. Now there are very defined roadways with a strictly enforced 10 mph.

Ok, enough of this. Besides we didn't bring our chairs or umbrella and it's pretty hot here on the beach. By the way, all the people are actually down the other way behind me.
So, it's back in the car, and since we're so close, let's check out Green Cove Springs. This is supposed to be where all the Canadians store their boats for the summer while they return home.
AND IT'S TRUE ... As reflected in this picture.

We took a drive around inside and saw all the boats we'd been travelling with including TANGO, WET WINGS, and CASTELLO. We also saw Randy & Susan's boat NANCY DAWSON that we knew so well from Dartmouth Yacht Club.
The yard is being expanded to allow for many more Canadian boats, so business must be good.

Well, it's getting late and it's time to head back to the boat. A quick jog into Jacksonville then on to I-95 for the run home.

This has been a busy day. Tomorrow we water up and get the boat ready to start the run north. "What's that Jan? What do you mean we're this close and you're not missing HARRY POTTER"? Oh well, I guess Monday means a trip down to Orlando to Universal Studios for the day. We've been to Disney a couple times before so maybe we can do that again n our next trip.

It's been a long day .... Good night folks.

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