Florida’s Space Coast

We went to see the Kennedy Space Center last week. I have seen parts of the complex in Apollo 13, The Right Stuff and of course, I Dream of Jeannie, but never in person. The surrounding area is beautiful and includes a national wildlife refuge on this barrier island along the Atlantic Ocean. The weather was sunny, yet cold, so we didn’t have crowds to deal with and were able to check out all the exhibits.

Merritt Island

We both loved seeing the Rocket Garden and the Apollo / Saturn V Center. It was really cool to see the logos/badges that were designed for each mission and to see the crew names and remember watching those broadcasts as a kid. I was disappointed with the Early Space Exploration Museum, not because of what was there, which was good, but because it could have been so much more.  I, of course, would have started from early man’s interest in space with depictions of asterisms from cave paintings, charts of the movement of planets and stars, inventions like the astrolabe, etc., but the curators chose to limit the museum to rocket science starting with Goddard’s experiment.  The rockets are named for the gods, Saturn, Juno, Gemini, and Apollo, and the centerpiece of the lobby floor is a map of the planetary spheres, with their corresponding astrological signs no less, yet there is no mention of the development of astronomy, flight or any of the other technologies that are necessary for space travel. For example, some of the early spacesuit prototypes looked just like old hard hat diving gear and I would have enjoyed reading about how the suits evolved as more was learned about real space conditions.

The tour bus narrator assured us that we would not see any alligators because it was too cold. I figured that since it was cold, they’d be looking for some heat. We spotted two just lazing in sunbeams. I spotted the one above as the bus headed into the shuttle complex and we walked back along the road to take pictures with my cell phone. Having heard that gators can get up to ten feet long, I sized it up and declared him to be little and unlikely to be of any trouble. Somewhat incredulously, Spouse-man explained that the tail is included in the length and that this fine specimen qualified as full size. But as I looked into its eye, I sensed the same comfy vibe I used to get from Angus, our big orange cat, and I knew that as long as we kept our distance, it was quite content to stay put and bask in the sunlight. The next day, I showed the pix to the security-dude, a local Floridian, who was fixing the alarm in the condo and he noticed just how close I got to take the shot. He looked utterly aghast and was probably thinking of the nightly news — “Yet another tourist has been munched by an alligator while taking its picture.”

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