April 30, 2011

Road Trip Endeavour-Day 9-Cocoa Beach

This is our last morning in Daytona, so one more chance to strap on the feed bag!  It should be our last day in Florida, but due to the unlaunched Endeavour, we've decided to move on to Cocoa Beach.
good morning, sleepy head

our last Daytona sunrise


When visiting Cocoa Beach, the obvious first stop is Ron Jon Surf Shop.  I'm not sure why, since I don't surf, but I always loved going there as a teenager.  It must be because I love to shop and it's a huge store.  But, this time we are actually on a mission.  We needed to buy new sun hats for Lincoln & Spencer.  I packed them both hats that fit them, and I packed two hats for Jackson.  He is 17 months old and the hats I packed were for 3-4 year old size.  However, since his head is in the 98 percentile bracket, they weren't fitting quite right.  I figured the other two would out grow theirs soon, so it's better to buy for them and give Jackson theirs.  John has also been on a mission to find a hat he likes for years.  I figured this is the place and I was right!

Ron Jon Surf Shop

testing out the hat choices

While we were in Ron Jon, we asked for a good lunch recommendation.  We were told about Sandbar Sports Grill.  It was perfect--within walking distance (no loading & unloading three kids in their car seats), beachfront, casual, delicious.  We weren't sure what to expect, because it was so casual.  But, I think it was one of the best mahi mahi we've had.  (and you know how much I love our Lighthouse Landing lunch)  The kids meals were pretty basic, but they came on frisbees, so they thought they were the best ever.  

mahi mahi sandwich
mahi mahi soft tacos

Next, we need to check in to our new diggs.  We were staying right  on Cocoa Beach.  After being in the same place for so many nights in a row, it was kind of nice to have a change.  I think Cocoa might be my favorite Florida beach.  We used to go there a lot when I was younger.  It's so pretty and soft and clean.  After we got situated we went on down to the Cocoa Beach Pier.  It was such a beautiful day, we wanted to enjoy it to the fullest.

new Ron Jon hats
launch pad 39A--from Cocoa Beach Pier
Cape Canaveral Lighthouse--from the pier

When we got back to the hotel, John took Jax up to bed and I took the big boys to the beach. You just can't get enough of the beach in April, especially coming off of the never ending winter we had in Michigan.  Don't get me wrong, I love our great state, but winters can seem endless.

Cocoa Beach

our new diggs

April 29, 2011

Road Trip Endeavour-Day 8-Endeavour-failure to launch

Launch day -- the day our entire vacation was built around.  We were watching the weather all week. The Endeavour was scheduled to launch the last day of our vacay.  It was already rescheduled once, which is how we ended up getting the tickets.  We knew it was a risk and we were willing to take it.  But, obviously, we were hoping for a launch.  It was a pretty cloudy morning with a chance of rain. We were cautiously optimistic.  We were watching NASA TV during any and all down time in our hotel and it looked like it was a go.  We got there early, claimed our spot and set up our chairs.  We had a great view.  They said the weather would cooperate and not hinder the launch.  You could feel the excitement in the air.  They had a stage set up with former astronauts speaking about past missions and answering questions, mostly from kids.  We saw the Endeavour crew taking their final elevator ride, getting on the bus and heading to the launch pad.  We stayed there for while, then took a walk to get some food.  We weren't gone that long.  When we came back everyone was packing up and heading out.  We immediately felt the entire mood change.  Mission scrubbed, due to a technical issue.  There was some sort of electrical issue on one of the auxiliary power heaters.  Obviously, we were happy they caught it before something dangerous happened, but what a let down!  John & I were trying to stay calm and not let the kids know what a HUGE disappointment this was.  We decided to immediately divert and start having fun.  We only spent one day at Kennedy Space Center so far and barely scratched the surface.  

ready to see some history being made
astronaut speaking before the launch

building Lego space ships
The first thing we did was tour the Early Space Explorations exhibit.  It is full of artifacts from the Mercury and Gemini space programs.  Some of the stuff is so archaic looking it is amazing that it was actually manned and in space!  We've come a long way.  Then on to Lego building.  That sure did get those boys attention diverted.  After that we walked around the Rocket Garden. That's really cool, it is loaded with actual rockets that were launched in space and you can climb in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules.  Just being in them for a second makes you feel claustrophobic.  You're just constantly amazed at what the astronauts were willing to do to get up there.
nap time
Rocket Garden

inside an actual space capsule

Mercury Spacecraft-
I can't believe people actually squeezed in there!

the robot from "Lost in Space"
cooling off

Space Station 3D
this kid is a glasses hog!

They have two 3D Imax movies-Hubble and Space Station.  We already took them to see Hubble last year in Tennessee, so we did Space Station this time.  They loved it.  We also managed to work in some time for the children's play dome.  All in all, we has another great day at Kennedy Space Center.  Now we've had two full days and still haven't seen everything.  We would love to go back one day and see a rocket launch.  We were talking about how fun it would be to send the kids to space camp, too. 
So, between everything we've been hearing and checking our phones for updates it looks like the problem can be fixed within the small time window they have to launch in the next two days. The experts will be working on it all night and have a better answer tomorrow.  The Endeavour was already fired up, so they couldn't actually get to it until the long cooling off period was completed.  Since this is our last night in Florida, we have some decisions to make.  The first thing John did was call work to see if it was even possible to extend our vacation.  It was.  So, we grabbed dinner, headed back to the hotel and started making some calls.  Our hotel was booked, but we managed to get a beach front on Cocoa Beach.  We used to go to Cocoa a lot when I was younger.  I love it there.  It's still a pretty big gamble though, since they still haven't fully assessed the situation and I'm sure there will be a lot more testing.  We decided the worst that could happen was having a couple extra days in Florida in April.  How could you go wrong with that?
big granite ball by the play dome
making a NASA dog tag for Lucky
We saw this mama & her two babies in the
parking lot on the way out!

April 28, 2011

Road Trip Endeavour-Day 7-Daytona Harley

Tomorrow is supposed to be the Endeavour launch, so this is our last full day in Daytona.  We can't leave without showing the boys the world famous Bruce Rossmeyer's Harley-Davidson store.  It's the largest Harley dealer in the world!  The boys LOVE motorcycles.  John can't wait to start them on dirt bikes.  He thinks they need to wait until they're seven.  I think seventeen.  We might need to compromise.  They finally just started saying motorcycle the right way this year.  They've been calling them "moanin cycles" until recently.  I guess they are growing up.  Anyway, back to the shop.  They have an unbelievable amount of bikes, a huge maintenance department that you can watch from a window and  tons of clothing and accessories.  If Harley makes it, you can find it here!  It's also like a museum.  There are tons of vintage bikes and lots of cool decor inside.
Elvis statue

Spencer's favorite
Lincoln's favorite

Elvis's autographed bike
"pretty little maidens all in a row"

heading upstairs

watching the maintenance department

Now we need to finish out this action packed day with a picnic on the beach.   We will miss you, Daytona!!