A Day at (Driving by) the Beach!

Trip Start Sep 20, 2007
Trip End May 16, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Friday, December 7, 2007

The shuttle launch was postponed today due to some faulty fuel tank sensors. So, after lunch, I decided to hit the beach and do some reading. I haven't done any reading lately. I have Charles Darwin's Origin of Species to read now. I figured I'd drive along the Space Coast on Highway A1A until I found a suitable spot to stop and grab some rays of sunshine. From the campground I head south down Highway 1, turn left at NASA Parkway to head over the Indian River. I'm not going to the Kennedy Space Center so I turn right again to head south, this time on Highway 3. At any other time I wouldn't have had to turn here...I could have continued straight thru towards the NASA Causeway then south...but with the Shuttle launch that road is restricted access. The NASA Causeway is the #1 spot to view the launch, but the tickets sell out within a few minutes.
After a few turns and Causeway crossings I'm heading south on Highway A1A. I get to Cocoa Beach and decide to stop and take a look. It's the town's main beach. There are a couple of bars on each side of the road towards the beach. Think I'll skip this one. Continue on down the road. Take a look at the map. Aaaah.....the line for the highway on the map is wider than the real estate...must be a bridge. No bridge...the land is just wide enough for the road and a row of hotels along the beach. Drive thru the Patrick Air Force Base...Satellite Beach....Indian Harbor Beach....Indialantic (what...no beach in the name?)...Melbourne Beach (stop for a coffee...all this driving is making me thirsty).....Floridana Beach....and Micco. I've driven a hundred and twenty-five kilometres...maybe I should turn around? It's almost 4 by now.
Guess I won't be stopping to read. I turn around. I had seen numerous beach parking lots as I was driving south. Heading back now it was a choice of where I would stop and take a few pictures. I noticed heading south that there isn't much real estate along this highway. Water is close by on both sides of the highway. Cocoa Beach is very commercialized. Mostly hotels along the beach and other commercial on the opposite side. Then Patrick Air Force Base takes up a lot of real estate with runways, housing and hangars. South of that there's a lot of trailer parks, condo developments, seniors residences and housing. The housing varies from older single story bungalows to new high end villas. The road runs along the ocean side with an easement for the hotels or houses along the beaches. The west side real estate varies from a hundred feet to a thousand yards or more.

I also saw a biker bar. Maybe I should clarify that statement...I saw what looked like a biker bar in Florida....4 Honda Gold Wings parked in front of an establishment that looked like a bar and 4 grey haired retired guys (looked like accountants) walking into the place. There were no cars parked in front of the place...so I'm assuming it was a biker bar. Either that or the guys had to use the washroom.
My drive back was a little more eventful then the drive south. A wrong turn and I ended up at the Space Center security gate. Ooops! I tried convincing the security guard that I wasn't a security risk and to let me take the shortcut back. The guns they held convinced me not to push the issue. I wasn't the first and I definitely won't be the last to have to make a U-turn there. 250 kms after the start of my drive to the beach and I'm back at the campground.
After arriving at the campground yesterday I had gone for a drive to scout out the best location to view the shuttle launch. I've already mentioned that. What I didn't mention was that I had stopped in at the Space Walk of Fame Museum in Titusville. There I met some wonderful old ladies who were unpacking some Space junk.....oops...I meant...Space souvenirs masquerading as kids toys that will fall apart within 5 milliseconds of the packaging coming off. Every museum needs a souvenir shop. The museum itself is filled to the rafters with memorabilia of past space missions that are on loan from the space workers who built the spacecraft that took America into orbit and to the Moon. There's even a functional rocket launch computer system (without the actual rocket launch). It lights up like a Christmas tree...100s of red and green lights.
I did the self tour as the volunteers did their unpacking. As I was leaving one of the women decides she wanted to chat. She wanted to show me a (miniature) model of the Russian Space Shuttle. After the Russians tested the full size model with a flight around the earth they ran out of money and mothballed it. Since then they've been flying super-rich space tourists in their Soyuz capsule, 3 at a time. The Russians have been keen in learning the capitalists ways. If you can make a lot of money flying 3 people at a time, then you can make even more by flying 7 at a time. They've cleaned out the cobwebs and polished up their mothballed Space Shuttle to point her back into space. There seems to be an unlimited number of people out there with $20 million in pocket change to spend on a space flight. I checked my pockets and all I can find is a spare quarter and if I'm really lucky there might be a dollar under the seat cushions. Then I hear the story of how the Chinese are on their way to the Moon. They have a 5 year planning budget. Contractors jump at the chance to work on something that's guaranteed for that long. I've been trying to avoid the political conversations but every so often the anti-Bush tirades come out. This is where the anti-Bush comments came in. NASA hires contractors on 1 year contracts. The Government, in this case Bush, is spending so much money overseas on the war that NASA has to fight for its budget. Then corners are also being cut. The Challenger accident never should have happened according to a certain engineer who retired just months before that launch. They knew the specs on the O-rings that failed couldn't take the cold that morning. That engineer never got out of bed that morning to watch the take-off because he automatically expected it to be scrubbed because of the cold. Money pressures and bad decisions.
The nice lady gave me a pile of stickers and stuff for me. I told her I would be back in a couple of weeks when the kids are in town and we go visit the Kennedy Space Center.
Looks like the launch has been delayed until Saturday afternoon. Guess I will be sticking around for a couple more days. Key West will have to wait a few more days. Now do I hit the beach tomorrow or head north towards Daytona Beach and St. Augustine (considered the US's Oldest City)?
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