Saturday, 24 January 2015

Mellbourne and East Coast Florida

Melbourne turned out to be an interesting city.  Just down the road is Avalon Hydroponic Farms (why “Farms” when there is only one?).  This is a vertical hydroponic U-pick farm of strawberries. 
These are so easy to pick, and delicious
Winter time and the picking is easy (and tasty); too bad they were picked out last Saturday when we went after the gym.  Melbourne has quite a few main streets with miles of strip plazas, including one mall, lining them; this is not a walking city.  An automobile is a necessity here.  Melbourne has a downtown historic district which is interesting to walk around checking out the shops
Unique little shops
and homes. 

Many of the residential neighbourhoods are gated


and most residences have lanais (screened in areas of the yards or patios, or porches)

which speaks volumes about bug season.

We usually go down [east] on Eau Gallie, over the bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway,

Melbourne, Pineapple Park

to the beach strip.
One of many beachfront condos
This whole area from Melbourne to the Kennedy Space Center is called “The Space Coast”. The beaches are fabulous, sand as far as you can see. One afternoon, we took dessert, store made cheesecake, to the Centennial Park and ate watching people jog, walk and play in the water. Another day, we took lunch and ate it at a picnic table beside the beach.

Centennial Beach
One day just before we left, it had turned cool and windy, so after lunch, we drove down to the beach at the foot of Eau Gallie Ave. to see the ocean. There was a few brave souls in the water and the usual fisherman,

Fishermen are out in all weather

...even if few others are on the beach

and only one couple walking on the beach.

Pelican Beach became a favourite of ours.

We first discovered it on our way up the Coast.
Cocoa Beach is the site of a lonnnng pier-


the famous Cocoa Beach Pier, where many a rocket launch from the nearby Kennedy Space Center has been viewed. There is beach as far as the eye can see including lots of nets for beach volleyball.


The pier, with restaurants and shops, goes out into the ocean with a bar right at the end. It costs $1(the price triples during a rocket launch), but you can go right to the end.  There were lots of folks fishing, [it costs extra to fish from end of the pier]. You can see right up to the launch pads at Kennedy Space Center. Our first trip was a check-out to see how long it took to get there. There was a launch from Kennedy Space Center while we were in Melbourne and we had heard that this was a good place to view it. The launch was to be at 6:20 am, so we were up by 4:00, and on the road by 4:45. We arrived dark and early at the parking lot by the pier with just a few cars in the lot. 

This time, it cost $3 to go to the end of the pier, but we had a clear view to the launching pad. There was a group of Aerospace Engineering Masters’ students from Phoenix beside us. We had some interesting conversation while we waited. They were following the launch on a live feed, as well as through binoculars, like we were. The countdown got to less than 30 seconds to go, and the launch was aborted. There was a possible malfunction in some part of stage 2. We were really disappointed because, it was being rescheduled for the weekend we were to fly to Toronto!  By this time the sun was just starting to come up.
Sun just starting to rise over Cocoa beach

Since we were there, we decided to wander around Historic Cocoa

and along Boardwalk beside the Inland Waterway.

Cocoa Harbour

The boardwalk around the harbour


We spent a day at Vero Beach with friends. We drove all the way from Melbourne across the bridge to Indialantic, then right down the A1A.
We saw similar signs in a number of places along the drive.

It was a beautiful drive. In places, we had the ocean on one side and the inland waterway on the other. Our friends traded their time share for a couple of weeks in Vero Beach. It is a beautiful town. There are restaurants and both big and small Inns and condos along the beach. After a delicious lunch, we talked as we walked along the water’s edge. It is a beautiful wide white beach.
Vero Beach

 There were loads of families and groups enjoying the warmth and surf. The main street along the water has interlocking brick sidewalks, with lots of angled parking. We walked along part of the street, wandering in and out of wonderful boutiques and interesting little stores.

One day we drove the other way, north to the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. It is an incredible facility,
Our first view from the parking lot

but expensive. Parking is $15, then General Admission is $50.00. This does include a bus tour up to the launching pads and admissions to the Apollo Missions and Saturn V exhibits building, the Atlantis exhibits building, to the Rocket Garden and to the IMAX Theatre. After we paid our admission
Christmas at Kennedy

Click on this to enlarge it...

we went to the information to ensure we had all relevant information, and to get the audio tour guide. This allowed us to get added information at various spots all around the park and buildings.
The Rocket garden beside Information

We decided to start with the bus tour. The guided tour went out to the launching pads past the Vehicle Assembly Building,

the various media buildings and the buildings now leased to private corporations for a variety of space projects.
Leased to an outside corporation

Then the bus dropped us at the first building. We were led into a room, given a short introduction, then into a theatre with the control room for the Apollo moon launches.

 There was a short video on the launch of the first Apollo Mission where each station was highlighted during the launch sequence. The control centre looked exactly as if the staff had just got up and left including leaving behind reading glasses and vests identifying their contractor/employer. Then we exited into a huge room with a Saturn V rocket suspended from a large frame.

the five engines

There were story boards and audios with detailed explanations of each section. There was even a section of the gantry which supports the rocket before it is launched, with the elevator to access each section before takeoff.
the bottom section of the LUT with elevator

Model of the Saturn V with the LUT
 The Saturn V is truly staggering – the most powerful rocket ever built.  At launch, it was the most powerful man made non-atomic explosion; the 7,500,000 lbs. of thrust shook the ground for miles.  91% of the 6,500,000 lb. weight of the rocket was fuel. It was amazing to see how small the capsule where the astronauts lived was.

One room has the video of the moon launch and the first moon walk in July 1969.

The exit from this theatre led into a room with space gear from the first prototype to what was worn on the moon walks. Just outside this was a Moon Buggy

Moon Buggy!
that was used to travel away from the lunar landing module. 

Lunar Landing Module
We caught a bus back to the main part of the KSC.
LUT [Launch Umbilical Tower] and pad ready for a launch
Baby Alligators in the run-off ditch beside the road

The "Crawler" used to tow the rockets to the launch site.

It dropped us at The Atlantis Exhibits building.

You walk in and up a spiral ramp, forever, it seems. In fact, it is about three storeys. At the top is a theatre showing the first missions of the Space Shuttle, Atlantis, and some of the work they did. When you exit the theatre, there is the Atlantis

suspended from the ceiling of the building, with the Cargo Bay opened,

and the Canadarm attached.

Once again, the size of the living capsule, is incredible small! As you walk further into the room, there a model of the Hubble space telescope suspended too. You can get right up close to both, [but not close enough to touch]! It is amazing! There are a number of hands-on simulators for kids and adults alike to try, particularly using the Canadarm! You continue down a ramp to a section where you could descend the rest of the way like an astronaut or an ordinary person. To descend like an astronaut, you went down a 2-storey slide! We decided to be ordinary humans.

On the bottom floor, you are now looking up at the underbelly of Atlantis and the Hubble. Once again you could be an astronaut, and have the experience of lift-off in a simulator John decided to be an astronaut. You walked through a long snake-like cage to a long ramp. You were ushered into a bus like room with about 30 other people. Once strapped in, the room is tilted 90 degrees so you are on your back looking up like a space shuttle crew. The launch sequence countdown begins; during launch you feel all the vibration and noise experienced by the shuttle crew (no G-force though).

We spent so much time in these two buildings that we were unable to see the Early Space Museum. Part of the difficulty was that we decided to see the IMAX film. It was a film on the Hubble Space Telescope and the process of its being repaired. We did take a quick tour of a small building with some history of this area and the animals who inhabit it. We had been told when we came in that there was a laser show in the Rocket Garden every half hour from 6 to 8 pm, so we timed our return to hear the stories and view this. Unfortunately, we found out, after waiting for a while that this ended on Dec. 31, [this was early January], and the lights that we saw were all there was.

Lights on the guy wires changed colours
So we toured and read and listened in the dark to the information on the various rockets, including Alan Shepard’s first manned flight (the Redstone rocket is amazingly small). The availability of the audio for the whole Center was incredible. The detailed explanations went beyond what you read and added another dimension to the whole experience. Of course there was a gift shop in every building, and just to be sure when you exited the gates, there was another one! Our bus driver and guide said he thought it was now Florida law that you had to exit every building through a gift shop!

In early January, we flew back to Toronto for a weekend, to reset our Extended Health Care coverage. We spent a lovely couple of days visiting with family, and even had a family Christmas dinner. So I got my turkey! I think our blood has thinned, though. It was really cold!  We were glad to fly back to Orlando, and put on our shorts and tees.

We had several more fabulous lunches from the Green Turtle. We’d like to clone this place and take it with us everywhere we go. Land Yacht Harbour invites a definite revisit.

Our time in Melbourne, Florida has ended, so we are on our way west towards Arizona!


No comments:

Post a Comment