It is a bit intimidating, standing in a location that could be called Mankind’s Gateway to the Moon. Our trip to Kennedy Space Center was pretty uneventful. Streets were agreeably filled with other cars, no big rush, no huge cavalcade of vehicles. What struck us as odd was the fact that we actually entered a wildlife refuge. On the other hand, it kinda makes sense. And, let’s face it, it’s a pretty decent deal for them. Once every so often there will be a start, and if you are a sensible manate instead of a dumb croc, you know that when there’s a lot of activity at one of the launch pads, you nibble on your greens a bit further away until there’s that big noise, fire, lit sky and everything quiets down again….
I was a tad slow-ish that particular morning, that’s why we missed the ‘NASA – Now and Back Then’ tour, they offer that one only once a day and it usually is either that special tour or the ‘NASA Up Close’ which is the one we settled for. Basically, it’s the same tour like the normal tour but with a tourguide, who, hands down, can tell you more about the whole area than any book you can read while taking the tour.

Did I just say basically? Well, yeah, that is true…if you don’t take the ‘Up Close’ part into account. You get *really* close to the launchpads, get stops, good photo ops and park just outside the Vehicle Assembly Building where they actually have the Atlantis ‘on standby’ right now, plus we drove past the…hangars…of the other shuttles (three in total, Endeavour being in space right now, Discovery taking a break). You know, a building of this size is rather impressive. They have ‘doors’ at the sides. Six height levels of opening for them…when they get out a shuttle, they only need two of the levels open. For the Saturn Vs? They used all six of them and had a whooping six feet space to spare. Which is not much, considering that the building’s the third biggest structur in the whole country. I have pictures. Damn straight I have pictures, you think I’d take that tour without my camera? 🙂

We were really close to the pads that started the Apollos to the Moon. Man, I grew goosebumps, but I am a spacenut, so that was to be expected, eh? Standing in front of those giants though, I have to shake my head. You sit on 500.000 gallons of reeeeeally nasty stuff, if the fuel in the tanks blows up, you have an explosion radius of three miles. We’re talking explosion here, we didn’t go into a blast radius yet. There has to be a certain level of insanity in sitting on top of that. Still…impressive.

Sadly, there wasn’t much to be found about the engineers, it’s all just about the astronauts who, in my eyes, reap the laurels sowed by the guys coming up with the technology in the first place. Yeah, it’s always like that, who cares about the pit crew of Jeff Gordon, still…anybody can learn to drive, but who among us could build a car from scratch? And a working one I am talking about, one you can win races with? Anyone? Didn’t think so.

Anyhow, the day was exciting, yet I was a bit worn out still from Disney the day before, so I was glad when we headed back to the car and made our way towards Orlando. Another dinner at the House of Blues where we could see the outstanding work of the waitstaff. I’ve never seen something like this. They worked the most crowded room I’ve ever seen with an efficiency and speed….it’s rare to see teamwork like this in the service industry. When I asked our waiter about this and complimented him on their work, he smiled. Apparently, most of the staff has been there for five years plus, so it is a familiarity with each other that allows them to work on that level of effectiveness. Five years in the same place, that’s a rare thing in Germany…and I guess even more so in the US. And we are not talking five people here. We’re talking a waitstaff of at least thirty people only in one shift. That’s one of the things I’d like to get more information about.

Some last minute shopping was accomplished, christmas baubles (yes, we got ’em and are crossing our fingers that we manage to transport them home alright) and some artwork (nope, no Disney artwork for a change) and, sadly, we waved Disney goodbye. Have I mentioned how great our hotel is already? Seriously, next time we come here, we’ll either stay in one of the REALLY posh Disney places…or the Regal Sun Resort again.

More news tomorrow.

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