Vero Beach and the Kennedy Space Center, Dec 12-20, 2005

We moved 120 miles south on I-95 to Vero Beach and after maneuvering through narrow roads we ended up with this large campsite:

There was as much room in back to park the car as in front.  We were close to I-95 and were glad the motorhome is well insulated.  The back-in spaces are all for 30 days or more, us daily and weekly rate campers get these huge pull-through sites.

The next day we drove south 120 miles on I-95 and came north on A1A to Fort Pierce just to see more of the coast line we hadn't seen before.  We didn't take any decent pictures, but we did notice that the most expensive houses were all repaired and the cheaper ones still had some hurricane damage.

Here are some pictures of the beach area with a wind surfer:

On the 14th we went an hour north to the Kennedy Space Center and paid for two days and a tour called, "Then and Now".  The highlight of the Then and Now tour was getting shown some of the history by Bud Conti (I hope I got his name right), someone we could have talked to for hours, days or weeks and we had 30 minutes:

Here are some pictures of what Bud showed us:

Then we moved on to the Apollo 1 launch site, which documents the fire than killed the three astronauts:

These few pictures just give a small flavor of the place, which was "abandon in place".  We lost three incredible men in the fire but it forced a complete review of the Apollo design making it safer and better for the later astronauts.  To explore requires risks and unfortunately people die, but you have to move on and keep exploring.

The Space Center has lots of wildlife, the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge is included in the grounds.  We saw a lot of birds and gators, but the pictures are not very good through a bus window.  Here is one good shot of an alligator:

Then we ended up at the Apollo/Saturn5 center.  Here are four pictures of a Saturn5 attempting to show how big the thing is:

We ended our day touring the Rocket Garden by the visitors center:

The next day our friend Lawrence drove about 100 miles from Sebring, FL, to visit and we had a good time visiting.  Together we had the best restaurant meal in our stay in Vero Beach, a place called Mr Manatee where Bill had the signature "onion crusted dolphin (mahi-mahi) sandwich".  It turned out we might be seeing Lawrence again when we are in Florida City, but it's not certain so we appreciate his making the trip.

We went back to the Space Center on the 16th, having had our two day admission tickets specially validated so the two days were not consecutive.   We started at the memorial garden with this plaque of our fallen heroes, those that died in our space program:

We are both long time Science Fiction readers and engineers, so we really want the space program to succeed and be well funded.  People and groups need larger goals than just feeding themselves and having a place to sleep.   I could go on and on for hours over why we should be pursuing space travel.

We took the tour included with admission, which stops first at the International Space Station Center.  Here is the Leonardo module, Italian made, and a view of Space Station models for us tourists to look at:

We then got more of a bus tour of the Space Center, here is the Vehicle Assembly Building where the Space Shuttle is readied for launch:

We took more pictures, revisited the Apollo/Saturn5 center and came back to the visitors center by bus.  Then we moved to the Astronauts Hall of
Fame for a while.  A large, loud, and active school group came in and we retreated, but here are some pictures to give a small flavor of the place:

We will have to come back to the Space Center camping closer by and buying an annual pass so we can go more than two days.  It was very interesting and quite emotional for us to visit this area.

As we wandered around this area Bill was always keeping an ear and eye open for the very small chance he would see or hear the voice of an old friend, Pat.  Pat (or Patrick) worked with Bill in Richland, WA in the early 80s and the last place Bill knew he lived was in Palm Bay, FL. If you know a redheaded engineer guy, maybe white haired now, named Pat who comes from Raleigh, NC and lived in the Space Coast in the 80s let Bill know.  Bill does know Pat's last name, but is keeping it private on the internet so as not to get the "for pay" people bombarding him with email.  If you need a clue, Pat has a brother named Clyde who was an expert fencer.

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