Our Travels

Our retirement began February 3rd, 2006. This is an account of our travels. We hope you enjoy them. You can click on any of the pictures to enlarge the picture. Please leave a comment for us...we love to read them.

Monday, November 10, 2008

2008 - October - Daytona Florida

Our trip to Daytona Beach, Florida, with brother Bill and Janet was quite an experience as you will realize if you read this blog. Over 600 pictures were taken by Tony and Sharon. Next time you visit, be sure to ask to see all of them.

Both couples have entered into the age of GPS technology – having two talking GPSs in one car can be interesting. Janet’s GPS beeped every time we passed a church or school – she was soon convinced to kill that sound – later in the week she changed it to have a siren when Bill went over the speed limit – that was immediately killed also. Tony’s girl "recalculated" a lot when we chose not to listen to her or she took us a way we didn’t want to go.

We stayed in Dennis and Jeanna’s condo and it was great. Anyone that chooses to take them up on their offer to visit the condo will have a great time. To see the condo go to this site, select Daytona Beach as a location, and look at #3-240. It was on the top floor (19th) with a great view from the balcony.

The first full day we spent in Disney World – this was a great time to go – no lines, fewer people than normal, no television political ads for the last week before the election, and Disney was all decorated for Halloween.

Pictures are of the famous Disney World castle with Walt Disney and Mickey. As soon as we got in the gate Tony and Sharon were mesmerized by all that there was to see….and immediately stopped to watch the performance in the street. Bill and Janet, the seasoned Disney goers, were wanting to race to one of the famous rides to beat the line but had to wait for us two old folks. Luckily it was not crowded that day. Another picture is a shot of Goofy with some strangers.

Tony’s favorite ride (after having a roller coaster experience – only because he didn’t know what he was getting into) was the train and talking to the engineer. Another tame ride was the steamship.

We saw a great performance by Mickey and his friends, saw Mickey and Minnie as topiary art, and these strange birds everywhere.

Some "just for fun" pictures of Tony and Sharon

More clever shots were of what we think was a grandpa that had had enough and a glass blower that we could have watched for hours.

We stayed long enough to catch the light parade.

Thursday was a slow down day in order to be ready for Epcot on Friday. Some of the pictures we took were sunrises, our view to the north from the condo deck, Tony on an exercise machine in the condo weight room, and watching painters on scafolding painting the second set of condos. There was a little competition going on in the weight room with the machine you see Janet on with barefeet. Bill put the weights to 200 pounds and did it with what seemed like little effort. Janet tried it and couldn't even budge it. Then Sharon tried - moved it as far as possible, but was a little afraid to let it come back....so then the competition began - Janet got on again, and immediately, with no problem moved it. Bill says you should have seen Sharon's face. Sharon says you should have seen Janet's face when she did it. But...the rest of the story is that Bill had taken out the pin and Janet was pushing with no weights. Probably one of those stories that is funnier if you were there!!

We walked to a candy store where they had a taffy pulling machine - something I haven't seen in years, and to a National Landmark - the Seabreeze United Church.

We drove thirty miles south to visit the Ponce Inlet lighthouse. This was a tourist attraction that we would recommend to everyone. It is one of the tallest lighthouses in the Nation - the tallest in Florida - 175-foot with 22 steps in between each landing. We did walk to the top!! The lens exhibit building was most impressive and we learned all about Fresnel lenses (Tony took a video of the lens, see below). The virtual tour on the site is very interesting. We finished off the day by looking for a geocache with no luck - mosquitoes were unbearable - cache was hidden near a swamp so we gave up. Picture shows the staircase looking down after we were almost to the top.

Friday was our day to go to Disney's Epcot Center - a hint for anyone and everyone - somewhere in the Epcot Center there is an interactive demonstration about recycling - DO NOT GO THERE unless you have children below 10 years old - and even then I don't think I would go. We had the experience, we received the certificate, and we are now warning everyone. :-)

The China Pavilion - we were entertained by a Chinese girl on a Chinese harp, saw China's depiction of tomb warriers from the Qin Dynasty 221-210 B.C. - "tomb warriors intended to be the protectors of the emperor beyond the grave." Because nearly all of the faces of the tomb warriors are unique, some archeologists believe that the figures were modeled after real soldiers.

American Adventure Pavilion - We heard the Spirit of America Fife and Drum Core, and a group of Western singers and cloggers while waiting for the President’s show (which included a robot for every U.S. president from Washington to Bush) – this picture catches the girl right in the middle of clogging. The President's Showcase was by far the best thing in Epcot in our opinion.

1683 Japan Pavilion – Taiko drummers

There was live entertainment at the Morocco Pavilion Entertainment – including a belly dancer (didn't get that picture - possibly Tony was too involved in watching the show).

United Kingdom Pavilion – they had a thatched roof cottage – we stopped to see a live performance (King Arthur's Quest for the Holy Grail) but Tony wouldn’t stay too long. He was afraid they were going to pick him out of the audience because we were so close to the front….guess he thought he looked British.

French Pavilion - Looking back, we just happened to see the Eifel Tower in France section – we never saw it while we were there.

This is an unusual picture of Snow White, one of the Seven Dwarfs, and a little girl in the same costume as Snow White, with the Epcot signature ball in the back ground .

Other sites we saw at Epcot were the beautiful landscapes – must have very expensive landscapers; China and Canadian Pavilion had great circle vision movies about their respective countries; we walked through the Italy and Germany Pavilions.

In the Norway Pavilion we went on the Maelstrom - a boat ride back into the Viking times. In the Mexico Pavilion we went on the River of time boat cruise. In the Spaceship Earth Pavilion - the geosphere (Epcot's trademark picture) we went on a journey through time and space; another ride was at The Seas with Nemo and Friends Pavilion. The boat ride around the park was a nice break from walking everywhere. Close to the American Pavilion we watched Serveur Amusant - a waiter doing a balancing act.

Saturday – a leisure day, we spent in Daytona Beach - we saw this while walking on the beach and wondered if this was a result of a previous hurricane – car and fence look in need of repair. Also noticed a little beach history – French Admiral wrecked here in 1565.

Got a cute shot of pelicans, and saw lizards everywhere we walked on sidewalks scurrying away.

Noticed Steak 'n Shake restaurants around. We had never heard of them – it ended up being a glorified hamburger fast food place – they gave you a knife and fork to eat your hamburger (they called it chopped steak). It was still just hamburger.

We didn’t believe this cheap way to go shopping - an electric wheel chair with wagon behind – click on picture to see it better.

Guys playing cricket on the beach – Tony was able to tell us all the rules and how it’s played.

Clock tower on Beach with letters instead of numbers "D A Y T O N A B E A C H"
We walked to what used to be the Daytona Beach High School – now an arcade and swim place…Deal or No Deal arcade game – and the craziest new thing we saw was the jumping rope arcade game….stand on the platform and jump when the lights come round to increase score…whatever next!

On Sunday we visited the Kennedy Space Center. We arrived early – because all four of us had forgotten about Daylight Savings Time. That's what you call being on vacation!! Our first stop was a talk by an employee at the Rocket Garden – mostly he told us human interest stories instead of dates and statistics. He was very interesting - one of his stories was about the monkeys they used in early space exploration - each monkey only went into space once - if they tried to put them back in a capsule, they balked and consequently were sent to a "not too busy" zoo. In the Rocket Garden you could see the very same Redstone, Atlas and Titan rockets that first put NASA astronauts in space or climb aboard Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules to get an idea of the cramped quarters the astronauts endured. Bill got in the Mercury spacecraft – Gordon Cooper's quote "By the time the spacecraft was filled with instruments and controls, it was like going into space while sitting in a small bathtub"…..Bill admitted it was very tight.

We took a bus tour for about three hours to the International Space Station Center, 60-foot-tall LC 39 Observation Gantry, and the Apollo/SaturnV Center. Tony got this picture when we were at the observation gantry - over three miles away from the launch pad of the next shuttle flight (STS-126/Endeavour) scheduled for November 14th launch at 7:55 p.m. EST. At the Gantry we got a behind-the-scenes briefing on what it takes to launch and land every NASA Space Shuttle. All press, family and Kennedy personnel are at least 3-1/2 miles away from the launch pad at all times during blast off. Somewhere along our way during the day we learned about the massive amount of water used during blast off to dispel the audio energy from the rocket motor exhaust and the importance of the huge lightning conductor on the top.

At NASA Central of Kennedy Space Center (KSC) they had this billboard, constantly changing with live launch updates and latest news from NASA. This is the seven member crew that will be going into space on November 14th. Astronauts were in Houston when we visited KSC. Two IMAX films were shown with rarely seen NASA footage, and live-action renditions of the lunar landscape, realistic 3D special effects with dramatic footage shot by NASA astronauts during actual missions.
This is the actual preserved command center used for the moon landings .

A picture of a model showing the shuttle being transported on the back of a modified jumbo jet back to the Kennedy Space Center after an alternative earth landing in California.

Our next stop, the International Space Station (ISS), is "the most ambitious space program since the Apollo moon landings" per the Kennedy Web site. This is where NASA is preparing the real components of the ISS - the largest most complex structure ever to be placed into orbit. We went into a full-scale mock-up of the Habitation Module to see the facilities that Space Station crew members will use for living, sleeping and working quarters. Picture is of a module being prepared for the ISS, showing the equipment positioned all the way around the tube with enough space for astronauts to float or glide to equipment or through it to the next module.- probably about ten feet in diameter.

This is a picture of a picture showing the International Space Station (200 miles above earth) with all the latest add-ons and the shuttle docked on one side.

Next stop was the Apollo/Saturn V Center - a spacious facility featuring a massive, real Saturn V rocket. The picture shows people walking underneath Apollo 11. Three of these were produced: one went to the moon in 1969 and landed two astronauts; this one, never used, and on display; and we suspect the third one was to have been used for an emergency recovery should it have been needed.

Apollo 14 Command Module, flew to the moon and back January 31 – February 9, 1971; Commander Alan Shepard

A picture of a picture showing a shuttle and booster rockets being transported to an open launch pad on the crawlerway. All the steel work is attached to the launch pad on one side and sits on a radial railroad track on the other side so that it can be swung open or closed as the need arises.

We then went on to the Astronaut Hall of Fame just a few miles down the road – picture is of a coke machine and food taken into space.

Monday was another day of leisurely discovering what Daytona Beach and the surrounding area had to offer. We spent a good share of the morning in the Condo outdoor pool, hot tub/spa, and playing in the ocean. Pictures are of Sharon in pool under incoming water that felt like a vibrating shower head; Sharon coming down the slide, and a picture of the slide itself.

Later in the day we toured the local chocolate factory, Angell and Phelps. Picture is of the owner Mr. Smith in the factory. Their chocolate was very good, but very expensive. Click on the web site Chocolate factory tour for more information - they even have a very short virtual tour, and a testimonial from some person raised in London, England that was not impressed with American chocolate until she discovered Angell and Phelps.

After having lunch at Krystals hamburgers, we toured John D. Rockefeller's home in Ormond Beach. They were using part of the house for the election the next day. Picture shows the room all set up with the voting areas.

Another picture of a 1900 wicker beach chair - keeps you safe from the wind but had portholes to look out of and a nice soft cushion. Also a picture of the wooden floor in the foyer - very nice. Interesting story about Rockefeller buying this home at this site - now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Web site also explains why it was called The Casements.

We made a tourist stop at Ormond Beach, the birthplace of speed - obviously after looking at their web site we were not there at the prime time of the year when it is a happening place.

Our last tourist attraction was the Cold Stone Creamery located in the Ocean Walk Shoppes within walking distance of the condo. If you haven't ever had Cold Stone mix up a flavored ice cream for you, you should try it once. It's a fun experience.
And last but not least, the competitive video with Janet, Tony, Sharon, and Bill.

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