Saturday, February 28, 2015

Farthest north and east we are going.

Today's drive was 140 miles from Jacksonville, FL to Savannah, GA which is the farthest north we plan to go on this trip.

Welcome to Georgia.

Sooooooo, what do do we do after we are set-up in camp, we go for a ride. Yup! We drive around the area to see what is here. In this case we drove about 30 miles farther north to South Carolina, we stopped at the Welcome Center, picked up more literature and maps and drove to Hardeeville which is a wide spot in the road. 

 So we have the GPS on while we drive around Hardeeville but it shows no roads. The red line is I-95 but no local roads show. Wierd!

But, they do have a Dairy Queen. So of course we had to stop for a small one.

We also found a Camping World store so stopped and I bought a new sewer hose extension. Some places on this trip have the sewer connections so far back in the sites that I can't always reach it with my present setup. I bet you just wanted to hear all that didn't you?

It rained last night and this morning. Not hard but a little miserable to disconnect everything this morning. We did drive in a lite mist most of the way today and I suspect it will last over night. 

Site seeing in Savannah tomorrow. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

A short drive today.

We drove the sum total of 41 miles today. From St Augustine to the west side of Jacksonville, FL.

After getting set up at the Elks Club we took a drive to Ponte Vedra Beach and wandered along Pone Vedra Blvd stopping at a few beach lookouts. It was cold and windy so beach time was very limited.

Beach at Ponte Vedra, FL

Nice house on the beach.

Budd playing lifeguard at Clyda's request.

Clyda and Ed, cold and windy.

We also drove through the Jacksonville Beach area. It is just too nasty to be outside so we stopped at Trader Joe's and Costco for some needed supplies for the trip west.

All roads in Florida have evacuation signs.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Toring "Old Town St Augustine".

Today was “tour old town St Augustine” day for us. We had decided that we would do a walking tour of old town.

By the way - we are at the Elks Club which is only about 2 miles from Old Town. Our first stop was the visitor center for map and orientation. We had a good docent who filled us in on all the best ways to see things and where to have lunch as had Clyda requested a Greek Salad for lunch. The city has a large Greek population which was brought in as indentured slaves to work producing Indigo.

St Augustine will celebrate 450 years of city hood on September 8th of this year. It is the oldest established city in the US.

We started walking St George Street with its small shops, old school house and narrow streets. It is well preserved but modern tourism has taken over. Too may shops like you find in any tourist area in the US.

Many of the buildings are made from blocks of Coquina (ko-kee-na) a locally quarried soft shellrock. Coquina is compressed sea shells about a million years old.

St George Street.
Old school house.

We walked into the Spanish influence area where the buildings reflect the Spanish style with tile roofs.

Catholic Basilica under renovation.

St Augustine was the home of Henry M Flagler, co-founder of Standard Oil Co, a real estate developer of Florida Coast property, and founder of Florida East Coast Railway.

Flagler built the Hotel Ponce de leon, Hotel Alcazar, the Memorial Church and more.

Hotel Alcazar swimming pool with balconies on 2 levels where people danced.
Swimming pool is now a resturant.

The Ponce de Leon Hotel is now the home of Flagler University while the Hotel Alcazar is now the Lightner Museum.
 Entrance to Flagler University.
Fence detail near university.

All of the Flagler properties are now under exterior renovation in preparation for the 450th birthday celebration.

We later toured Castillo de San Marcos the old fort on the water front near old town.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

KSC and St Augustine.

This blog covers 3 days activities. I apologize for it's length.

On Monday the 22nd, Budd and I drove to the Kennedy Space Center for a day of sight seeing. This sight seeing cost us $10 to park and $48 each for a senior discount ticket. The ticket included 2 IMAX movies, a bus ride around the launch complexes, a visit to the Apollo museum, and a tour of the space shuttle Atlantis museum.

A little background here. I had been involved with some aspects of the space program during much of my career at General Motors. I worked on many of the projects on display at the Kennedy Space Center. It was a thrill to see all the hardware that meant so much to many of us during our working years.

We arrived shortly after 9 AM when the visitor center opened. The first building we toured was dedicated to the Early Space Exploration. It gave us a good background on all things related to space.

From there we went to the IMAX theater to see a 3D movie about the Hubble Space Telescope program and the Hubble accomplishments which are many and still ongoing today. This is a really remarkable movie and program.

The next 3D movie was was about the building of the International Space Station narrated by Tom Cruise. Again, it is a really well done movie about the building of and operation of the Space Station.

After lunch we got on a bus that gave us a narrated driving tour of the Kennedy Space Center. Of course, the main building you see anywhere from Cocoa or Cocoa Beach is the Vertical Assembly Building (VAB) which towers over everything else.

VAB with control building on the right.

We drove by the VAB, Launch Complex 39A and 39B which were the shuttle launch pads. We drove along side the crawler /launcher roadway and saw a crawler parked on the roadway. Pad 39B has been refurbished for future launches. A new launcher is ready for the new Space Launch System (SLS) which will be the new launch system for the Orion manned capsule which can carry up to 7 people.

Orion capsule.

Tower for new Space Launch Syste,
Crawler with launch platform on top.
Pad 39B just rebuilt.
 Partially melted blast shield panel after 50 years of use.

As we drove back we met the second crawler/launcher coming towards us. It is really huge and what a thrill to see it up close!

Our next stop was the Apollo/Saturn building. What an awesome machine was the Saturn! We again enjoyed several movies showing the complete Apollo program including the moon landing. The highlight was the simulated landing on the moon of a lunar lander. The lander dropped out of the ceiling onto the stage. A movie showed the astronauts walking on the moon. The final event was the upper stage leaving the moon to return to orbit. The whole sequence was awesome!

Saturn V engines.
Complete Saturn V on its side.

Lunar module.

We again got back on a bus to go back to the Visitor Center and entered the Shuttle building where a series of movies led us to the Shuttle Atlantis. This again is a well done display with the shuttle hanging from the ceiling in such a way so you can look into the payload bay.

By now it was time to call it a day. We did not get to see a couple of the buildings as we just ran out of time. It really would take about another day to completely see and read everything.

On Tuesday, the 24th, we drove north on Hwy 95 to St Augustine, the oldest city in the USA. It celebrated it's 450th birthday. We are at the Elks Club for 3 days.

After getting the RV's setup we drove around the nearby area including the St Augustine lighthouse. We also went wine tasting at San Sebastian Winery. They do things differently here in Florida. The grapes are picked by machine by shaking the vines so that the grapes fall off the vines into a hopper. They are then processed at the winery. Some of their grape juice comes from the Napa Valley.

Hand made fiberglass figurehead on house. We stopped to photograph it and the artist who made it came and talked to us. He was a wooden boat builder also.

Ed, Budd and Brenda sampling wine.

Today we drove down the coast on Hwy A1A to Daytona Beach. It was a really nice drive under cloudy skies. 
Lunch near the beach.

We drove around the Daytona Nascar Race Track where the Daytona 500 was held on Sunday. They are expanding the grandstand to hold 101,000 people.

There were hundreds of golf carts in fields near the granstand.

We drove back to St Augustine via Hwy 1. A really nice day but overcast day.