Sunday, September 23, 2012

Family Vacation, Day 4

Linus is obsessed with rocket ships.  All day, every day, you’ll find him gripping a toy rocket and rehearsing launches. He watches NASA documentaries in lieu of cartoons and spends his reading time intently perusing books about astronauts, rockets, space and shuttles. It’s become something of a game in our house to ask Linus, “Are you a baby?” because without fail he always answers, “No, I’m an astronaut.” So our visit to Kennedy Space Center was extra special.

We started out in the rocket garden. Linus couldn’t be contained. He ran between the models excitedly pointing to each one and declaring, “Another rocket ship!”.


Here’s Veda sitting in a capsule with Nana. Poor Veda, she was pretty uncomfortable that day (see Day 3 parking lot incident).


Running through the rocket garden.

Veda being carried through the rocket garden on Granddad’s shoulders. This photo is terribly blurry, but I love it.

Linus studying some models with his dad.

Two subjects I’ve learned a lot about from my son: construction equipment and NASA. Before Linus turned into our resident rocket man, I never thought much about how space vehicles get to their launching pads. I’ve since learned that they’re transported on a huge vehicle called a crawler that moves at a creeping 1 mph. Think a flat top mounted on tank caterpillers. All this I knew from the many library books we’ve studied, but until our KSC visit I didn’t realize just how big all of the involved equipment is.  Here we’re driving by a crawler track. The grass you see is a median between wheels. The rocks you see on each side are where the caterpillers sit. WOW.



This is a building that existed for the purpose of assembling the Saturn and Apollo crafts, and fully assembled, those vehicles took up just about every bit of it. These spacecraft are taller than I ever imagined.  It takes 45 minutes just to raise the hanger door.

Despite not feeling the greatest, Little Miss enjoyed her day as well.

This next exhibit was great. Here’s the control room from the Saturn V launch (Man’s first journey to the moon). It’s the actual equipment as it appeared on that day.

The countdown clock was set to 3 minutes before launch, and we got to hear the recording of the countdown in the control room, with the seat of each member lighting up as he spoke. With all of the documentaries we’ve been watching, it’s gotten pretty easy to be sucked into the emotion of a launch. Even though we already know how each one ended, it’s incredible to imagine being there.


Even after seeing the assembly building, even after seeing the crawler track, I still couldn’t believe how HUGE the actual Saturn V was. This is the real thing – not a model!


Here Veda is touching an actual piece of the moon.

A capsule

Lunar rock

And Veda pointing to a space suit while requesting to eat it. *Sigh* It was time to go.
Pin It

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Family Vacation, Days 1-3

Our much-anticipated family vacation has come and gone. Here’s the story in pictures.

Day 1

We dropped Mimi off to have her own vacation at a non-kenneling facility and drove for about a total of 5 ½ hours. I had wrapped car surprises. I had four movies to choose from for the portable dvd player. I had lots of snacks.  It was still a little on the miserable side. Before I had children, I never would have believed how rotten a car ride with little ones can be.  The highlight of the day was our lunch stop at Figo’s, which is a pasta place we don’t have around our parts. My primavera was delicious. Also at Figo’s, the pretentious order-taking youngster cautioned my husband not to throw Linus into the ceiling fan. (um....... okay???)  Hotel sleep. Bringing Nana along meant that I was off bath duty, which was pretty sweet.

Day 2

On the road again. We logged several hours in the car again, but things started looking up with a stop at Little Talbot Island. My only vacation regret is that I completely failed to take any beach photos. I know. I know. But it was a pretty long trek to the beach from the car, and we had two kids, the world’s largest beach bag, kiddie life jackets, a tent, and chairs… it was just too much. And I also hate exposing my camera to all the sand that gets kicked up on a windy day.

Anyhoo, we finally rolled into the driveway of the house we rented for the week in St. Augustine, Florida. House rental = great for families, especially when you’re traveling with grandparents, as we were.

Day 3

Our vacation was packed with plenty of lessons in history and science. Our first St. Augustine excursion was to the Castillo de San Marcos, an old Spanish fort. Two of the many interesting facts we learned about San Marcos: It was the queen of Spain’s idea to construct it out of stone because its wooden predecessors (the king’s idea) had repeatedly been destroyed by fire and weather. It’s still standing, so score one for the queen. Interesting fact #2 – it’s made of coquina, which is a natural material made of bonded ancient seashells.


I didn’t have the right lens on my camera to get the ideal shot of what I’m about to show you, but check out the beautiful texture of the interior walls.


The kids. Veda demonstrating her new favorite pose.


Little handsome climbing the stairs to the top of the fort.


Veda on the way up

Linus at the top of the fort with the Matanzas Bay behind him.


It was hot. Soooo hot.


A canon firing drill. It was in Spanish, so I didn’t understand most of it. But fuego – I knew that word. Even with our ears covered, it was deafening. Another interesting fact – those old, old canons were capable of accurately hitting a target three miles away.


After we left the fort, we headed to the pirate museum. We weren’t there long, though, because Linus was absolutely terrified of the place (and we left before he ever saw the talking severed head of Blackbeard).

Our next stop was at the Hyppo, which sells gourmet $3.50 popsicles. But they’re worth it. Man, those were some fantastic popsicles. The kids both had Straight Up Strawberry. Ray went with Key Lime, and I settled on Pink Grapefruit.


Between the heat, the walking, the terror at the pirate museum, and the adventure at the fort, the kids were CONKED OUT for their afternoon nap. No kidding, I think Linus slept about four hours. When they finally woke up, we ventured out for dinner. We were hoping for some nice local seafood. What we got was this:


In the parking of the restaurant, Veda tried to run away from my mom and was headed for the road. They both tripped over a huge crack in the pavement of the parking lot, and Veda fell flat on her face. She had a bloody nose and mouth, but she really didn’t look too bad. Then as I laid her out on my seat in the car for further inspection, the enormous bruise on her forehead began to show, and I started wondering if we would be using the GPS to find the closest emergency room. She looked pitiful, but there was no permanent injury.  I was a little worried that the fine strangers of Florida might call the CPS people on me, but only a few people gasped and asked, “What happened to her face?!”.

 So, yeah, needless to say, we did not enjoy fresh local seafood that night.


Pin It