Saturday, June 8: Day 5: Kennedy Space Center



We woke up fairly early this morning, had fairly decent hotel breakfast around 7 am, and went for a 45-minute walk up and down the beach, since sunrise had been rather nice and now the sun was peeking out from in between the clouds. Then we drove to the Kennedy Space Center, which turned out to be as nearby as promised, although our Apple-maps app was completely confused and would have sent us way out of our way by trying to get us to the middle of the launch pad rather than to the Visitor Center!

At the Kennedy Space Center, we did almost everything that they had to offer except the stuff for kids, and a lot of it was really interesting. We went to the “early space exploration” exhibit, walked through the rocket garden, saw the Imax movie on being inside the space station (somewhat older), and went into a couple of the kid exhibits But the best part was the so-called “Mega Tour” we took that included a lot more than the regular tour, specifically one of the major launch pads for the Apollo and Space Shuttle launches and the so-called VAB—the 500+ foot high “vehicle assembly building” for the various rockets and the shuttle. The bus tour had a very competent and enthusiastic guide and took about 2 ½ hours, with various stops and photo ops, and it ended at the most interesting final exhibit. That is where they simulate the launch of Apollo 8, complete with a view of the old command center, and with vibrating seats (a little hokey but fun nonetheless), and where you walk around an enormous actual Saturn 5 rocket that was never used for the Apollo program. They also have a film/slide/replica-based account of the nail-biter manual landing of the lunar lander on the first moon mission. 

The displays and films and presentations and what not were of course geared toward a general audience, and so I’m not sure how much Mark enjoyed the somewhat pedestrian pace, and he did typically supply me with extra information whenever I was curious about something. It was a sort of space equipment petting zoo, but only “sort of” because there was so much we couldn’t touch / climb / get near too. But overall it was a lot of fun, and Mark clearly found it very intriguing (more than I did) to actually see and photograph the tech stuff and the massive machinery. I am always most intrigued by the early days of the space program, not the more recent shuttle stuff, but there was plenty of information and I had a good time. It helped that it was not the least bit crowded. We had no waiting lines (although the center is clearly equipped for that) and no probably seeing everything we wanted to. We stayed until about 4:30, when it got dark and stormy enough (after a nice sunny day) that they issued a couple of warnings over the loudspeaker. But we were on our way out anyway and even got back to the hotel before it started raining. 

We braved the rain to go out and have Thai food across the street (pretty decent curry and “drunken noodles”), then spent some time looking for a few things at Ron Jon’s Surf Shop (I ended up buying a sarong cloth rather than a beach dress as intended; at least we can sit on that if I can’t figure out how to tie it into a dress!). We also went in search for UV-resistant shirts for Mark (for Madagascar), but both Ron Jon’s and the second surf shop next door had only hideous styles to offer. We wrapped up the evening with some frozen yogurt (from the same place as yesterday), and then retired to our lovely, quiet rooms for the night. 


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