June 2012 Archives

KSC Visitor Center

This morning I was so excited to go, I woke up my kids by my typical dad 'squish'. I was kinder and gentler to my wife, but we were up and on the road by 8:20, which is a full two hours later than yesterday.

The drive took an hour to get there, but the whole thing was so relaxing. The whole center has a very relaxed feel to it. The rocket garden doesn't have an 'order' to it, and the area isn't in arranged to funnel you from one attraction to another. 

We started out with the Future of space travel building. My sweetest moment was when Anna was viewing the next generation crew vehicle and said: "I'm gonna take that to Mars". She has it all planned out. when they start selecting astronaut candidates, she will be just the right age. That building was interesting but, not as cool as the rest of the day.

From there we visited the rocket garden where we all sat inside a mockup of an apollo capsule, and we saw each of the different rocket types that we strapped somebody on top of and launched down range. (the gemini rockets had ejection seats!).

From there we tried the Shuttle launch simulator, which was pretty cool. Especially how they simulate the G's on your body, by changing the 'squishyness' of your seat behind you.

From there we went to the early day's history building for lunch with Winston Scott. He flew two missions on the shuttle, both as a mission specialist. He got to do 3 EVA's and had some really exciting moments in space. Winston Scott was a real treat to meet and get to know. We did a photo op later, and I shook his hand. I didn't make it to the giftshop for an autographed copy of his book, but that's OK.

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After lunch we finished the early years building, and then went on the bus tour, where we got to see Atlantis from about 30 feet away, while inside the vehicle assembly building. The Vehicle Assembly Building is HUGE. The statistics are staggering. It covers 8 acres, and is 528 feet tall. You can see it clearly from five miles away, and you think its only a mile or so. (Florida is that flat). 

I also got to meet Terry White, (the white guy on the left). Terry was extremely interesting, as he was in charge of all 3 orbiters that were being reprocessed at a time during the 80's and 90's. I cannot tell you how much I would love to have him come over for dinner and tell stories, and share his experiences.

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From there we went around the two launch pads (up to the fences), and then they dropped us off at the Saturn V facility. We went through a launch room that has the same hardware as the first saturn V launch facilities, with a simulated launch that even shook the windows behind us. Inside there is an unflown Saturn V rocket on its side. it was amazing to see how long the rocket really is. it just kept going and going and going.

We ate dinner next to the rocket, and underneath an actual lunar lander that would have flown, if they hadn't decided to redesign it to include the rover.

I could have stayed all day, but my kids were REALLY tired, as was Katie, and I didn't want anyone to get crabby at the end of such a nice day. The tickets were worth every penny we spent.

I need to sleep now, but this was a *good* day.




Delta IV Launch Friday

We got up early so that we could watch the Launch of the Delta 4 rocket that was scheduled for 6:15 am. We were on the beach waiting, and then learned that the rocket was delayed. 
so we waited 25 minutes. 
delayed again. 
We then drove up to dunkin donuts which was closer to the launch pad.
delayed again.
After much waiting, the rocket did launch at 9:15.

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It was a bit anticlimactic. It was cool to see, but it was just a plume of smoke with an orange dot at the end. after about 90 seconds, we couldn't see it. We didn't hear it until about two minutes after launch, and didn't stop hearing it intill 6 minutes after launch, which means, we could hear it for much longer than we could see it. I wonder if I would feel differently if I had been closer to the launchpad.

During this time, though we did see the sun rise over the atlantic ocean. Not something us midwesterners can all say we've done. 

We enjoyed another day swimming, and had lunch with Alan Bunch at Max and Porky's. Afterwards we had a quiet afternoon around the house where we cleaned and relaxed. I cooked some steaks, chicken and fish for supper, and then the kids went swimming while I flew my kite on the beach.

We must be up early for the space center tomorrow, so not a lot here at this time.

Thursday

airboat.JPGToday we went on an airboat ride. The kids didn't know what to expect, but boy was Katie excited. Before we even left the Dock, we saw an aligator only a few feet from the boat. There was plenty of wildlife to see, and several water lilies, some of which we got to smell, as our driver picked them. They smelled so sweet, like citris oranges.

Afterwards, we went to sebastian inlet and swam the rest of the afternoon in the quiet peaceful waters that are sebastian inlet. Debbie is pretty much gone now, but the waves are still big, so we parents took a break and went swimming where the water is really quiet.



Wednesday

This morning, we all slept in a bit, and I felt that we had to get out of the house, and go for a walk or something, even if it was raining. I found a Geocache that was about half a mile from our house (yes there are a lot near our house). This one was in the middle of a residential area, and interestingly enough, my wife saw it before we started looking, but thought it was a moth trap, so didn't tell anyone. When she asked me if that could be it, I looked up and said, 
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"yes, but I can't get it". As a result, she climbed the tree, I signed the log, and Noah left one of the shark teeth he bought the day before at a small souvenir shell shop. We walked back to our neighborhood had lunch at Max and Porky's. What a unique little restaurant. We love the stories of his dog.

We also stopped at Java Surf where we have been getting slushies from. Let me tell you about their unique flavors. I try a different one every time, and only once didn't like what I had.

The rain was leaving today, and most of the day we had good patches of sunshine. however the surf was still very high and slightly dangerous. Both Noah and I got knocked around a bit, and I have the scars to prove it.

We lit the grill tonight had some burgers and had a quiet evening.

Tuesday

Today marks 13 years since I was married to my beloved bride. We re-arranged our visit to Discovery Cove to later in our vacation, and instead we decided to visit the  Brevard Zoo.

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I expected the Brevard Zoo to be small and uninteresting to adults, and therefore, not hold the kid's attention for very long. Boy was I wrong. If the photo looks like I was four feet from the giraffe, its because I was.

We had the opportunity to feed the giraffes, as well as actually entering an exhibit with a number of non-dangerous animals. Via a train.

The train was fun, because half way through, we had to stop and wait for an ostrich to get out of our way, and she had to wait for the camel to move out of her way ... if it sounds complicated, it was. 

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The train ride was enjoyable, however the best part of the day (in my opinion) was visiting the aviary. Now, the aviary has a warning, out front, that says that the birds may land on your, and my try to take your shining things etc... I figured someone sued the zoo, so they put up a sign. No, when you entere the aviary with the nectar cup for them to eat, the birds flock to you to land on you, fight for your nectar, screech in your ear, and in general, the birds get very personal. 

It was so much fun feeding the birds while they flew around us, and landed on us. I have video of the initial experience, including birds landing on my head. It is an experience that I will remember for a long time to come.

The zoo also had a small park area with an 18" deep wading pool and some other attractions oriented towards younger kids. It had been raining on and off all day (20 minutes on, 20 minutes off), but the rains were getting more intense as the afternoon went on. We saw the last bits of the zoo, but then we wanted to get home, so that if the weather got bad, we wouldn't be driving in the worst of it. As it turns out, the weather wasn't bad at all, we just had some rain to deal with, but otherwise it wasn't so bad.

Once we got home, the kids swam in the ocean yet again, and then after rinsing them off, we went into the hottub, and finally to bed after a long, but good day.

Monday

On Monday we went to the McLarty treasure museum. The kids were all impressed, and IMG_0322.JPGwanted to come back after Tropical storm Debbie left. While we were there, it was rainingand generally miserable outside, but that didn't stop us from looking at the observation deck and seeing the reef that took out one of the 1715 Spanish treasure ships. On our way out, we passed the Sebastion Inlet state park where there was a small wonderful area that was protected from the waves and would be nice to swim in, once the weather clears.

When we arrived back home we walked around our neighborhood, and did some geocaching and we logged two finds at a park really close to our house. Afterwards, we at at Bizzaros Pizza, which offers the most unique pizza by the slice.

We also visited the turtle center  while walking through our neighborhood, before letting the kids swim for a bit, even if the water and waves are rough.

We spent a lot of time watching the weather radar looking for the best place to go to avoid Debbie's 'arms'.

Sunday

purpleDress.JPGOK, so I am playing journal catchup. With a bit of help from my wife:Today was low key, with the Tropical storm pounding the panhandle of Florida. We have been watching the weather, as the 'arms' of the storm reach across florida and rain on us in stripes. I didn't mind so much just going out in the rain, but I think Katie did a little bit, but she didn't mind. She wore her pretty purple dress today and looked beautiful all day.

Today we discovered a cute little place called max & porky's. Maximus was the owners beloved golden retriever who lived with him and his son for 9+ years before dying of lung cancer. There is an entire wall of photos dedicated to the dog, with some great photos. To hear him talk about his dog is heartbreaking.

We did some Geocaching near our house, but didn't find them right away. Its a fun hobby that is simple and cheap and can involve the kids. It was a bit rainy out so we will have to go again later when either it is dry, or we can be prepared to get dirty.

We finished up our day with shelling on the beach. We have already collected more than we should bring home, and its only the first day.

Florida!

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on_airplane.JPGOur trip started out on early Saturday morning when I woke each of our kids to get ready. It was fun, because they each reacted with the same "leave me alone" body language, until I said "It's time to go." then suddenly they would wake up, once they realized it was time to go.

Chris Monge dropped us off at the airport, and we were on our own. It was early, and we had time to kill at the airport, but the kids were so excited to fly, we didn't need to keep them busy.

Seeing Anna look at the ground from 40,000 feet was fun. During the flight I fired up my GPS to determine how fast we were, as well as our altitude. To see the miles click away so fast seemed unreal to Anna.

After we landed, picked up our bags, got our rental car, and got out of the airport, we had a nice dinner at Denny's and then drove the hour to our beach house.

What nice accommodations we have! Everything we need is here, besides our personal affects. there's a pile of sand toys, and body boards for us to use, as well as a fully equipped kitchen. The Patio is wonderful with a gorgeous hammock, a hot tub, and a banana tree that we may eat from, once the bananas are ripe.

After unpacking, we went across the street to the beach where the kids jumped into the ocean and realized that the ocean was salty and were busy wiping the salt water from their eyes.

We were tired on Saturday, so we didn't spend much time on the beach, so we all went back home, watched an episode of star trek, and went peacefully to sleep.

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