Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Infinity and Beyond

DSCN0708July 20, 1969.  Every eye was glued to the television to watch the first astronaut, Neil Armstrong, walk on the moon and plant the American flag.  We watched John Glenn circle the Earth, but the moon…Wow!  My little brother, age 5 at the time, also named Neil, was doing cartwheels—he was convinced he was named after this famous astronaut.  Mom?

IMG_2322Much of this activity took place at the Kennedy Space Center on the central Atlantic coast of Florida and we visited there yesterday.  To preserve and share the excitement of the Space Age, the Kennedy Space Center has built a fantastic place to visit.  It ranks right up there with famous cathedrals and museums and even some of the natural wonders, in our opinion. 

IMG_2323With the purchase of a general admission ticket, we loaded a bus from the main visitor center to be taken to two locations on the sprawling Kennedy Space Center complex.  The first stop was the “The Gantry” with spectacular views of the launch complex that shot the shuttles into space.  Next stop, the building housing the massive Saturn V (rocket boosters in the picture on the left) and the original control room (above, left).  Whoever designs the displays is a genius—the control room comes alive with an interactive movie—lighting up each console as the voice of the operator prepares the launch.  Another movie presentation is of the journey to the moon incorporating a staged landing (actually moving the craft from the “sky” to the “moon surface”), with a mock-up of the astronauts and real gear all within view of a distant earth and stars beyond.  Back at the visitor center there are three museums of original equipment, suits, log books, the actual rockets staged outdoors, interactive displays and two IMAX 3D movies of the Hubble Telescope and the Space Station.

DSCN0705In one of the museums we met a current astronaut, Tom Jones.  He asked where we are from and after learning we were from the Pacific Northwest, he wanted to know all about the Tillamook museum and blimp hanger built during World War II (we visited two summers ago).  He wants to visit there someday.  Too funny.

IMG_2313Although the current Space Program is a mere shadow of its former glory, especially with the end of the shuttles last summer, it still launches rockets on a monthly basis.  The launches deliver satellites into space orbit for the military and for commercial purposes.  We had the fortune of witnessing one of the rocket launches a couple of weeks ago.  Promptly at 7:38 p.m. there was a brilliant light heading for the heavens with an impressive vapor trail following, up and up it went, until there was a blink and it was gone.  If we were impressed with a rocket, the shuttle launches must have been unbelievable.

The recommendation of the book “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” was spot on with the Kennedy Space Center.  The description of “AWESOME” is over used, but this place was simply AWESOME!

Saturday, January 28, 2012


IMG_2306Winter in Florida also means citrus—lots of oranges, grapefruit, and tangelos.  After doing a quick Google search we found a near-by well-known local citrus grower and distributor—Harvey’s.   Walk into Harvey’s and you are immediately offered some of the most delicious freshly squeezed orange juice—no different from when the business opened in the 1920s.  Sunshine in a glass.  How can you walk away from that without buying a few oranges?

Roy and Blanche Harvey opened their first roadside fruit stand in Rockledge, Florida back in the 1920s. Fresh orange juice, hand-squeezed by Blanche, sold for 5 cents a glass at the original fruit stand on old U.S. 1.  The Harvey family now have a large store in Rockledge (which is not so new—same store as the one shown below in 1949) which is a short drive from our park.  So much of Florida has been developed with condos, shopping, theme parks and roads to move all the people living here, it is nice to find a little of piece of old Florida. 

Harveys_1949Florida’s Indian River region has long been considered THE place in America to grow luscious, juicy, sweet citrus.  (I am sure our California friends will disagree….but, I like Florida oranges the best and California for their lemons and limes.  I made a ton of lemonade from freshly squeezed lemons last year in California.)  The Harvey family grows their citrus on Merritt Island, located right in the middle of the Indian River.   Rather than mass produce oranges for all the chain groceries, they focus on orders sent in by individual customers and mail the package direct.

A real treat this time of year is the HoneyBell tangelo.  They have a very short season; so you need to pay attention when they are ready.  Especially sweet and juicy.  We bought a large bag and sat outside eating the drippy things.  We will be enjoying the rest of the bag in the next few days.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Atlantic


Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

“from sea to shining sea”

(Part of the fun is taking pictures of the great places we are visiting)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Selecting Your RV Location

TGOSelecting a place to call home while you are on the road with the RV is a very personal choice.  Everyone has their own criteria.  Some want the cheapest, some want all the bells and whistles with no regard to cost, and others a combination of the two depending on the length of stay and attractions.  We tend to fall into the last category (except we do not visit the top dollar locations at $100+/day, i.e, it is cheaper to visit Key West in a cruise ship than stay there in your RV). 

If  it is just overnight, we want the cheapest (but safe).  If it is two or three nights to visit a specific attraction, a place nearest the attraction is in order—the cost will depend on where we are.  For example, if we want to stay ‘in’ a national park (usually without full hook-ups), the price generally is low.  If we are staying in Daytona Beach during a NASCAR race or bike week, the price will be very high.   When we want to “sit a spell” for a month or more, we find most monthly rates are reduced; and we can get more amenities for our money.  (Plus, we are not driving as much which helps tremendously with fuel costs.)  Since we are staying for a while, we want our site to have plenty of room (large, clean concrete pad for table/BBQ/lounge chairs and space between RVs), quiet at night, and lots of activities both onsite and off.  Even with the monthly discount, this type of spot can be a little pricey.  We can put up with cramped for a night or two, but a long-term stay with full-hook-ups, plenty of elbow room, and consideration for the fun factor justifies a higher price (for us).

rotation-pic3Right now, we have put down roots (albeit shallow ones) for a month and a half at the The Great Outdoors RV and Golf Resort in central Florida (Atlantic side).  They have swimming pools, hiking trails (next to a wildlife preserve), nice golf course, two onsite restaurants, lots of planned activities (entertainment brought in, exercise classes, and educational classes).  We are within 14 miles of the Kennedy Space Center, the beach, and Daytona Beach is less than an hour away.  And yes, we now have tickets to the Daytona 500 race scheduled for February 26.  I would say that is a real big fun factor.

Every one has a different criteria for their temporary RV home, but this is what works for us.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Disney World–The End

3174416000031577740000Maybe a little too much time with Mickey Mouse.  Two weeks in Disney World was just a bit of overkill.  The Disney parks, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Magic Kingdom, are all imaginative and fun; but too much of the world at large knows about this place.  It is crowded.  We thought after the holidays it would calm down and about halfway through our stay it did reduce some.  Neither of us do well in crowds.

But, the visit was not without smiles.  Disney makes the whole package, not just a roller coaster ride.  For example, when you walk to the Mt. Everest roller coaster ride, the park takes on a Nepal look with prayer flags whipping in the breeze and Yeti sightings.  Remember when Indiana Jones finds Miriam in the remote tavern in the movie, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”?  It looks like that.   It really is a hoot.

Mike is the dude in the back seat in the Splash Mountain ride.  And that is us above, in the Test Car ride at Epcot.  Yeah, we had fun.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Little Princesses

imageSomething fun for us to see at Disney World are the little princesses everywhere.  The cutest little girls (mostly pre-school age, but some are older and just as cute) are costumed at the  Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.  This is a beauty salon where young Guests are magically transformed into little princesses—Cinderella, Belle, Snow White, Tinker Bell, and many more that are adorable, but not recognizable (at least to us!).  The little boutique is owned by Cinderella's Fairy Godmother and operated by Fairy Godmothers-in-training. Pampered little girls can choose from 3 hair styles—Fairytale Princess, Disney Diva and Pop Princess—as well as nail color, make-up (love the sparkles in their hair!).

So darn cute!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Disney World

castle_dream_lights_crTwo days into our two week stay at Disney World Florida and we have been going non-stop.  Our first visit was to the Magic Kingdom which  is the original Disney theme park, first built in the original Disneyland in California.  We jumped on our favorite attractions including The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean.  We will go back and catch two of the roller coaster rides, Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain.  We noticed the theme park was slightly smaller than one in California missing rides like Indiana Jones.  More than likely because there is so much more in the other Theme Parks located here in Disney World, Florida.  The park is still incredibly crowded due to lingering holiday vacationers, especially from Italy.  Seems like 50 percent of the visitors are speaking Italian.  Interesting.

Japandrummers_smNext we did a quick tour of Epcot.  Really only a walk through.  Need to go back many more times and really see the park.  Epcot includes sanitized versions of countries around the world.  There are 11 countries surrounding a large lagoon with live shows (loved the Chinese acrobats).   Our favorite ride is located in Epcot—“Soarin”.  You fly over all the special sights and locations in California—includes scents of the pine trees, ocean, and orange groves.  We’ll be back to visit more and enjoy the fireworks show staged over the lagoon.  (Pictures from the Disney website—too distracted to take pictures!)

Next, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.  Somehow we need to get to the Disney Speed Park—the Joe Gibb’s Nascar race team including Kyle Bush, Denny Hamlin, and Joey Loggiano are practicing.  The Daytona 500 is next month in Daytona Beach not too far from here!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Random Shots and Thoughts

Yesterday was our last day in Fort Myers Beach.  Today we are at an interim spot before we reach Disney World tomorrow.  We spent a month in southern Florida and enjoyed it “muchly”.  Here are a few pictures and places we visited that did not make it into the previous blog posts.

IMG_2221IMG_2211One afternoon we took a lazy boat ride near Fort Myers Beach.  In through the bay and canals.  Lots of shrimp boats.  Birds.  Many.  (Sorry about the picture quality—hard to focus in a moving boat.)IMG_2224


IMG_2203IMG_2204We spent one day with Suzie and Mike at their place on the Calahoochie River.  Did you know Christopher Columbus came up this river?  The activity along the river has a completely different pace from our beach-side location—no hurry, no worries, no traffic.  And no swimming in the water, folks…alligators and snakes.


Many days spent on the beach.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Project 2012

Warning:  This blog post tends to be gender specific (females, to be specific…).  Men, please replace the word ‘clothing’ with ‘tools’ or ‘sporting equipment’ and I am sure you can relate to this post.

minimalist-wardrobe-system-applicationsI have a New Year’s resolution.  Not the usual lose weight and exercise.  Since I need to do both, I will continue to work on my health whether it is a new year or not.  Nope.  My resolution is to stop buying clothes for one year.  And I am expanding that goal to include narrowing down my choices in my current wardrobe—down to 33 items for 3 months.

This is my personal experiment to learn an appreciation for what I have and stop wanting more. Get rid of “stuff” (in this case, clothing) that is distracting and not worthy of resources (resources to store, to care for, waiting for a special ‘occasion’).  Be content and focus on experiences, not things.

This is not a new idea.  I was inspired by several websites/blogs that are trying the same.  Project 333 (www.theproject333.com) is probably the best example and my model.   Project 333 instructs you to focus on your favorite pieces—select 33 items and wear them for 3 months.  That includes tops, pants, dresses, skirts, shoes, jewelry, and purses.  (Only excludes sport specific clothing, PJ’s, under clothing and wedding ring.)  Box up everything else and seal it up with tape—you can open it up after 3 months and reassess for the next 3 months.  You tend to wear your favorites over and over, anyway.  Right? 

colinminimalI want to see how creative I can get when I feel that I need something.  I want to figure out if I made good choices to begin with.  Will they stay in style?  Do I really care?  I do care about how clothes fit and feel.  I do care about how I look (which has more to do with the fit and quality than with the current trend).   So, my selections will consider both closely. 

I am fascinated by people who can pack up ALL their clothing in a backpack and travel whenever and wherever.  Looking stylish and ready for any occasion.  I doubt I will ever reach that point, but it is something to aspire to.  It is interesting to see who can do it and how they do it and why they do it.   (Like Colin Wright pictured at left.  His website:  www.exilelifestyle.com)

My only exception will be the profit I make from selling unwanted clothing on eBay which can be used for purchasing anything new.  Since the process to sell is time consuming and involved, a whole lotta’ thinking will go into what is REALLY needed.  Oh, and it is required to be a net sum game.  New purchases cannot cost more than the profits of the sales.

Over the next couple of days, I will make my selection of 33.  My first report card will be posted at the end of March.  Wish me luck and maybe even join me!

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