Monday, April 28, 2014

Day Eleven - Kennedy Space Centre

So, today we decided to head over to Kennedy.
It was pretty cool seeing all the signs for Cape Canaveral, a place I remember hearing about such a lot as I was growing up.
As we arrived and walked through the gate, we spotted a notice board with a sign on it, which started 'Owing to today's rocket launch...'
A rocket launch!?! We hadn't expected that at all! What an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime added bonus!
We had a little while before we had to be at Saturn V (another part of the space centre) to watch the launch, so we had a wander round the rocket garden, and the kids tried out some of the space pods (or whatever they're called!) for size.
We jumped on one of the Space Centre buses (hence the cheesy family selfie!) and headed for Saturn V, stopping en route to spot alligators at the side of the road.
There was some fascinating stuff to see at Saturn V - various space vehicles and equipment, not to mention a piece of real moon rock that people could touch. Charlie was amazed to get his hands on a piece of 'actual' moon rock. Rosie quite enjoyed sticking her hand in the box too, but wasn't convinced about the rock's origins: 'No Charlie. Not moon. Moon in sky...'
We went outside to watch the launch - it was Atlas V, an unmanned reconnaissance satellite (basically a spy satellite, sent up by one of the US Intelligence Agencies... exciting eh!!)
We were 4.5 miles away from the launch site, which I believe is about as close as they let members of the pulls get to launches.
Having established which launch site we needed to be looking at (we've all seen that video online of a rocket launch where the person with the camcorder was pointing it at the wrong launch platform, and missed the whole lift-off...) we grabbed a good viewing spot and waited.
Right on time we saw the boosters ignite and the rocket start heading skyward.
It was an impressive sight, even from such a big distance away.
We couldn't hear any noise at first, but then, about 20 seconds after the rocket had lifted off, a wave of noise started to hit us.
It started as a low rumble which became a roar, becoming progressively louder and louder, until we weren't just hearing it - we were feeling it.
It literally felt like someone was drumming, hard, on the outside of my ribcage.
It was one of the loudest, most awe-inspiring noises I have ever heard!
We were so lucky to be there that day - and it was completely by chance too!
I have a video of the launch which I'll stick on Youtube and post to the blog separately so you can see it too! Make sure you have your speakers on so you can hear the roar (but please ignore my inane 'Wow'-ing and inane chatter in the background!!)
After the launch we headed back to the main centre on the bus and explored a bit more.
Charlie tried out some Space Dots (aka Dippin' Dots) ice cream. It was tiny little balls of fruity ice cream, which is apparently made by flash freezing the mixture in liquid nitrogen. It was kind of weird, but yummy nonetheless, and just what we needed on what was another very hot and humid day.
He was keen to have a wander around the Angry Birds Space exhibit, and had lots of fun shooting Angry Birds at targets with a massive catapult.
Rosie had a sleep in the car on the way back from Kennedy, and we decided to stop and get something to eat before going back to the hotel.
Charlie has been pleading to go to a 'real American steakhouse' (I think he's been watching too much 'Man V Food' on the telly!) and we saw a Lone Star Steakhouse which looked pretty nice from the outside, so decided to chance it.
Well, it was a GOOD choice!!
The waiter gave Chas a kids' menu, but he decided he wanted a proper, man-size steak, and ordered a whopping piece of sirloin, medium rare, with all the sides!
I don't think I've ever known him to be so quiet during a meal - other than the odd 'Yum!', we hardly heard a single word from him until his plate was clear! (And I know it has been four years since his Fontan surgery, but it still fills me with so much joy to see him really tucking in to his food! All those years of picky eating and constant puking seem far away!)
We were all pretty full by the time we'd finished our main courses, but they had homemade peach bread pudding with bourbon glaze... and it would have been downright rude not to try it! (For the record, it was truly magnificent!!)
So, very full and very happy, we headed back to the hotel.
Tomorrow, we're off to Sea World. It's one of the places that everyone mentions when they know you're going to Florida, so we're really looking forward to it.
We've been pretty fortunate actually, because the iconic orca show has been closed since the start of the year, which we only found out last week when Pete was Googling to find the opening times.
However, it finally reopened earlier this week, so all being well we should be able to see the Shamu show after all!

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