Trip Start Nov 19, 2007
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Arrived in late afternoon to a KOA campground in Mims, FL. This location offers us easy access to Cape Canaveral, Kennedy Space Center; a long time Poughquag buddy, Doug Rittz; and Cocoa Beach to meet up with an long time Whaley Lake buddy, Phil DeRosa.
We take the morning to clean the RV and do laundry. Take showers and do some emailing and calling to set up plans with our buddies! Then we head out to explore the area and check out the beach. WINDY! Merrit Island is where Cape Canaveral is and the Kennedy Space Center. We can see the launch pad ready for the expected February 7th launch, all the way from the beach. it must be BIG!
Wake up early and it is cold! Off to Kennedy Space Center. This place knocked our socks off! We saw both IMAX 3D movies that were so well done they moved us to tears. The sense of belonging to a greater and better world than the fighting and bickering that goes on daily was magnified by seeing Earth from the moon on a 5 story screen in 3D. The attitude of the Center is global and has a mission to increase the well being of humans. Everyone working there, the ticket takers, bus drivers and exhibit monitors were full of energy and pride in being part of this NASA team.
We took the bus tour stopping at many areas all around the Center. The space center takes up about 10 thousand acres of the 163 thousand acres of Cape Canaveral. Our bus and all visitors are not allowed any closer than three miles from the launch pad. The shuttle rocket is set in place a month before its projected launch date for the last checks and loading that gets done.
The shuttle takes three days to reach the shuttle research station in orbit. The accommodations for the three passengers is surprisingly cramped. Knees to chest position for three days travel! Thirteen countries are cooperating in the research station. The shuttle is like a cargo plane loaded with air, food, water and any research items needed. Once unloaded it then loads from the research station all used items, waste and accomplished research.
Back on Earth the crews that build, load and carry the shuttles to the launch pads take great care and lots of united work for months for each one. The road to set the shuttle in place is 3 miles long. The tractor that carries the shuttle weighs in at 18 million pounds with the shuttle on it. It travels at about 1 mile an hour and takes 8 hours to go the three miles!!! This picture of the road shows two tracks looking like two roads. One track or road for each tank like tread. We are talking, HUGE!
The other 153 thousand acres is open wildlife refuge lands. Good old Kennedy's! In the refuge it is estimated to have over 5 thousand alligators....we managed to spot about 5. We saw birds of every type known down here in Florida. Including a 6' tall, 8 ' wide Bald Eagle nest. No pix unfortunately as we were in the bus going along. at a clip.....so much to cover.
The Kennedy Visitor Center is interesting and had very decent food in the court! We did and saw almost everything!!! We both endorse this as a special and valuable place to spend a day or two for anyone of any age.
One exhibit room is the actual Apollo 13 launching room. They modified it for our viewing experience. It was thrilling to hear the actual words and technology as they let us go through the entire last stages of the launch. When the launch happened they somehow made the windows behind us shake and quake so we all were sort of ducking and really felt like we were experiencing the real thing.
Then into a room with the actual Apollo 13 back up rocket hanging from the ceiling in separate parts so we could see the mechanics of the stages.
Actual Lunar modual.....
Me on the moon!
As we leave the Center we walk through the Rocket Garden!!
Exhausted and exhilarated from a day spent on Earth, the Moon and in between, we meet up at a Mexican/Cuban restaurant with my Poughquag buddy, Doug Rittz. Affectionately known as "Big Doug".
Up early, dressed and out the door to see the rest of the Space Center. We decided to skip the children's exhibits and others were unfortunately closed with technical difficulties....they can send rockets to space and the moon but have the usual problems we all have with regular equipment! So we went to see and experience the Astronaut Hall of Fame.
It was all very informative and interactive with Andy and I taking a simulated ride in a rover that kept being picked up and released by a flying vehicle on Mars. It was a very bumpy and vertigo tipping experience. The interesting thing for me is the following picture of a person experiencing two worlds at once. This has been a favorite of mine for years but I have not known the artist's name or where to find it again. Now I have it digitally but would still love to know who and where it birthed from.
In touch with Phil DeRosa from Whaley Lake!! Got together at an all you can eat restaurant where we talked and had a grand time catching up with each other's news. So great to be with Phil here in Florida! Felt so normal! Here are two pictures that his daughter, AnneMarie had to get and send to me as I inadvertently deleted my pics of Phil and Andy! Phil says its an Italian thing to have pictures mysteriously disappear! AnneMarie is engaged to Trebor. They live in South Carolina and Phil is encouraging them to marry soon while he still has some cash and before he buys himself some great new hog! Here they all are at a Tikki Bar on the South Carolina shores!!!
Where I stayed
KOA Campground Mims