Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Celebrating the New Year

The celebration of the new year came a day early for us. Rick and Lynnie Tierney caught up with us in Titusville yesterday and we celebrated the new year aboard their boat last night complete with silly hats and champagne. We didn't ever get to the champagne due to a surplus of martinis, so they're saving the bottle of champagne for mimosas when we meet up again. We dined on quarter pound hot dogs they got from Stewart's market in St. Augustine which lived up to their reputation as being scrumptious. We missed Rick and Lynnie - it was fun to get nutty with them again.

Today we traveled almost to Vero Beach and are docked at Jones Fruit Dock from which the 89 year old owner used to sell fruit. In fact he and his wife delivered two grapefruit to us when he came to collect the $20 for the night. We had a lovely conversation with him - we can only hope to be as engaging as he at 89. The Jones' have been selling fruit on this farm for generations. Mr Jones tells us that he has sold fruit to the Queen of England and to many US Presidents. He has had Walter Croncite (sp?), an avid sailor, on his dock and other celebrities. He even had the presidential yacht "Sequoia", a very old Trumpy here. This is a lovely place and perfect for bike riding too. Our dock was surrounded by palm trees full bloom with coconuts. Next time we'll arrive early and go touring.

Tomorrow's run is to Stuart where we'll dock near friends Steve and Di Koch. Steve will help Norm install the watermaker and other fun maintenance items and Vicki has a bunch of projects planned. Stay tuned for the blow-by-blow.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Spaced Out

Kennedy Space Center is spectacular! We rented a car in Titusville and went for the day. There’s a ton to do there – it’s one of the best attractions we’ve experienced.

Astronaut Winston Smith gave a presentation about going into space. He went on the Space Shuttle and Apollo. Interesting tidbits… each crew of six designs its own patch and selects its own shirt to wear. Winston’s space shuttle crew selected the second ugliest shirt in the Land’s End catalog because the first ugliest was sold out. You can see him here trying to get Vicki in his clutches. By the way, that suit weighs 350 lbs. (On most computers, you should be able to click on the photo for an enlargement. If not, call your handy IS geek.)
The Space Shuttle Launch Experience is a new simulation at the park. They’ve done a good job making it seem authentic. After belting into your seat, the seat tips back to simulate the starting position for astronauts which is on their back with feet in the air. Take-off involves a lot of noise, shaking and bouncing around, and the seat-back simulating g-forces. The ride gets a little smoother when the rocket boosters detach, and then when the big fuel tank jettisons, they are able to simulate the feeling of floating in space. Way cool!

We saw…
*The launch pads for the shuttle. The pic on the right is launch pad 39A where the shuttles take off from. Launch pad 39B is being prepared for the new replacement shuttles, which we were not able to get information on.
*The shuttle processing building where the shuttle is prepared for its next flight in 90 days. The mammoth shuttle assembly building (see on the left) where the rocket boosters and the fuel tank are attached and then the shuttle attached to those – they have cranes which can move horizontally 1/52nd of an inch for positioning. This building is so huge that there are 6 feet between the stars on the American flag painted on the building and the stripes are 8 feet across.

*The crawler which takes the whole assembly to the launch pad - it travels max 1 mile per hour and gets 42 feet per gallon of fuel. That's almost as good as Tide Hiker.
*The processing facility for the international space station where everything that goes to the space station gets tested to make sure it will work once it arrives.
It was all maximum cool and our grandsons Jake and Evan will love this when they are old enough.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Where's the Drama?

It may seem that since we left Annapolis for the winter part of our journey, there has been much less drama than in earlier chapters. That is true, thankfully. Less drama, however, does not equate to NO drama. There have been a few near misses ….

We almost plowed into a 20-foot iron ocean buoy earlier in the trip. The boat was headed straight for it and the person driving the boat (who shall remain nameless to preserve marital harmony) was not paying attention to business. After veering away from the buoy, we discovered that we were headed out to the ocean when we wanted to stay in the Intracoastal Waterway – we were lost for a few minutes until figuring out our bearings.

The dinghy went in the water yesterday without the plug in the bottom. Norm noticed right away and rescued it before much water got in. Whew!

Tidehiker touched bottom twice while checking out potential anchorages. That always freaks out Vicki who pictures us stranded there. Norm got us into deeper waters each time.

Please keep saying those prayers to keep us safe! We need them.

OK-OK-OK - this is really wierd. Yesterday as I was writing a draft of this blog, the generator shut down unexpectedly. So far, Norm has not been able to re-start it. He's trying some things this morning and we're hoping for the best. I guess I spoke too soon about having less drama!

And.... not 5 minutes after publishing this blog, Norm successfully started the generator. Whew! We like our electricity and really didn't need another maintenance bill. Thanks to Steve Koch, Jim Roberts and Rick Tierney for their consulting advice on the problem. As Vicki's Dad said, Norm is a great problem-solver... and having wise friends helps a lot.