Kennedy Space Center and Disney World

Summary: Really big.

Kennedy Space Center

I stayed at Manatee Hammock, a county park near Titusville, Florida to visit the Kennedy Space Center. The park is on the Indian River right across from Cape Canaveral.

Kennedy Space Center
First look, the Kennedy Space Center, about 14 miles across the channel from the Manatee Hammock campground.

That building on the Cape is the Vehicle Assembly Building, which Wikipedia lists as the sixth largest building in the world.

The Vehicle Assembly Building (NASA Photo - my photos of the VAB weren't any good).  Standing alone, it's hard to get perspective, but the flag is 209 x 110 feet - the stripes are about 9 feet wide (wider than my RV).  The VAB is one of the largest buildings in the world - it is almost twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty, interior volume is 2/3 larger than the Pentagon or 3.75 times as much as the Empire State Building.
The Vehicle Assembly Building (NASA Photo – my photos of the VAB weren’t any good). Standing alone, it’s hard to get perspective, but the flag is 209 x 110 feet and the stripes on the flag are about 9 feet wide (wider than my RV). The VAB is one of the largest buildings in the world – it is almost twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty, interior volume is 2/3 larger than the Pentagon or 3.75 times as much as the Empire State Building.

It takes more than a day to see the main attractions at KSC. The complex is huge. Some of the sights you’ll visit, like the launch pads, are a 35 minute bus ride from the main visitor complex.

Apollo 14 command module
Apollo 14 command module
Saturn 5  on display at the Kennedy Space Center, 360 feet long
Saturn 5 on display at the Kennedy Space Center, 360 feet long

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The Crawler-Transporter, which moves assembled space vehicles to the launch pad, With some objects like an 18 wheeler in the frame for perspective.
That’s not a building, that is the Crawler-Transporter, which moves assembled space vehicles to the launch pad, With some objects like an 18 wheeler in the frame for perspective.

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A mural of the International Space Station
A mural of the International Space Station
Rocket Garden at KSC
Rocket Garden at KSC
The Kennedy Fountain
The Kennedy Fountain

Walt Disney World

I’ve been to Disneyland, but this is my first time at Disney World. All I knew was that it was bigger than Disneyland.

Bigger is an understatement. Disney World covers 43 square miles – twice the size of Manhattan. I stayed at a campground onsite, Fort Wilderness, which, despite being on site was still a 20 minute bus ride on Disney freeways to the theme parks like Epcot or Disney Hollywood Studios.

First look, walking up to Epcot.
First look, walking up to Epcot.
Disney Hollywood Studios
Disney Hollywood Studios

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The start of World Showcase - more than a mile of international themed restaurants and souvenir shops.
The start of World Showcase – more than a mile of international themed restaurants and souvenir shops.
The World Showcase continues, wrapping around a lake inside Epcot.  It's like the world's largest food court.
The World Showcase continues, wrapping around a lake inside Epcot. It’s like the world’s largest food court.

A special appearance during the stunt driving show Lights, Motors, Action.
A special appearance during the stunt driving show Lights, Motors, Action.

At Disney's Animal Kingdom
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom 2

Rhino at Animal Kingdom
Rhino at Animal Kingdom
Street scene at Animal Kingdom
Street scene at Animal Kingdom

Flagstaff to Bowling Green

Just a few snapshots on the trail from Flagstaff, Arizona to Bowling Green, Kentucky.


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Flagstaff, Arizona

Huck a 37 foot 165 lb telephone pole
At the Arizona Highland Celtic Festival in Flagstaff – Caber Toss: Huck a 19 foot 165 lb telephone pole

Amarillo, Texas

World famous Big Texan steakhouse in Amarillo
World famous Big Texan steakhouse in Amarillo. Eat the 72 oz rib eye in 60 minutes and it’s free.
Dinosaur in cowboy boots at Big Texas steak house.
Dinosaur in cowboy boots at Big Texan steak house.
Horns on cars
Yep, horns on cars, really a thing

Joplin, Missouri

Grand Falls in Joplin Missouri
Grand Falls in Joplin Missouri
Tortoise on the road in Joplin MO
Tortoise on the road in Joplin MO

St. Louis, Missouri

Construction and renovations in the park surrounding Gateway Arch
The park around the Gateway Arch is undergoing extensive renovation and construction.
Downtown St. Louis from the top of the Gateway Arch
Downtown St. Louis from the top of the Gateway Arch

Elkhart, Indiana

Elkhart is the RV capital of the world. I was here to look at new captains chairs and a new couch, but the delivery and installation times didn’t work on this trip. Went to the RV Hall of Fame and a Thor factory tour.

An early motorhome at the RV/MH Hall of Fame museum, Elkhart, Indiana.
An early motorhome at the RV/MH Hall of Fame museum, Elkhart, Indiana.
Mae West's "House Car"
Mae West’s “House Car”

St. Joseph, Michigan

A beach stop on beautiful Lake Michigan.

Not the ocean. Silver Beach in St. Joseph on Lake Michigan.
Not the ocean. Silver Beach in St. Joseph on Lake Michigan. Miles of soft sand and crystal clear water. No ice this time of year.

Bluffton, Indiana

Wabash River, downtown Bluffton, Indiana
Wabash River, downtown Bluffton, Indiana

Louisville, Kentucky

The Kentucky Derby Museum, Whiskey Distillery Tour and a day at the races at Churchill Downs and some crazy underground ziplines.

Entering the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs
Entering the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs
Kentucky Derby Museum - Secretariat in the Winner's Circle
Kentucky Derby Museum – Secretariat in the Winner’s Circle
The main gate at Churchill Downs
The main gate at Churchill Downs
Churchill Downs - Race 4 - On the Turf
Churchill Downs – Race 4 – On the Turf
Mint Julep - had to try one. I'll pass next time, bourbon doesn't need sugar and water.
Mint Julep – had to try one. I’ll pass next time, bourbon doesn’t need sugar and water.

Bowling Green, Kentucky

At the National Corvette Museum, now recovered from the sinkhole that swallowed 8 cars in February 2014.

National Corvette Museum
National Corvette Museum
National Corvette Museum
National Corvette Museum
National Corvette Museum
National Corvette Museum
The outline of the sinkhole and cave that opened up in February 2014 is marked off in tape in the hall of fame / spire room at the National Corvette Museum.
The outline of the sinkhole and cave that opened up in February 2014 is marked off in tape in the hall of fame / spire room at the National Corvette Museum.
These cars were damaged beyond repair in the sinkhole collapse of 2014.  They are on display right were they were before the collapse.
These cars were damaged beyond repair in the sinkhole collapse of 2014. They are on display right were they were before the collapse.
Wrecked Corvettes on display.  These were recovered from the sink hole disaster and were beyond repair.  They are on display right where they were before the disaster.
Wrecked Corvettes on display. These were recovered from the sink hole disaster and were beyond repair. They are on display right where they were before the disaster.
Lost River Cave entrance, Bowling Green, Kentucky
Lost River Cave entrance, Bowling Green, Kentucky
On a boat tour in Lost River Cave, Bowling Green, Kentucky
On a boat tour in Lost River Cave, Bowling Green, Kentucky

Two Years

Time flies. It’s now more than two years since I launch on the roamward bound journey. 25,000 miles in (seems like 10,000 in construction zones), it feels like I’m 10% of the way there. Maybe the country is to big to explore.

Been There

From Phoenix to Elkhart (where you are obliged to say “the RV capital of the world”) in just 124 steps, plus a couple I missed.

Map
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States Map

Map

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Key: 2015 2014 2013

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States Visited

The states I’ve visited on the Roamward Bound journey – just those with an overnight stay. Not even close to seeing the lower 48 after two years.


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Two of my Favorite Things

Two of my favorite things – lakes and salt – it should be great!

Just 25 miles from camp (38 including wrong turns) is the Great Salt Lake. It was well over 100 degrees when I arrived at Saltair, the third attempt to build a resort on the shores of the lake. The abandoned building now hosts just a tiny gift shop and the lake is now a mile and a half away.

The third incarnation of Saltair is all but abandoned. All that remains is a small, sad gift shop.
The third incarnation of Saltair is all but abandoned. All that remains is a small, sad gift shop.

The odor coming off the lake was near suffocating. I’d say it most resembled rotten chicken. I walked out about 15 minutes toward the lake before giving up and taking this shot:

The Great Salt Lake, over a mile from the closest parking. Be glad you don't have smell-i-vision.
The Great Salt Lake, over a mile from the closest parking. Be glad you don’t have smell-i-vision.

The signs say the lake is an important habitat for birds, however on the walk out and back I saw not a single living thing except a couple of flies that couldn’t fly and a few humans trekking toward the lake (on the other hand, I didn’t actually check them, they could have been zombies).

This shot, from the state marina. There were over a hundred boats parked in the lot, but only one car. There's a small channel that connects to the now distant lake.
This shot, from the state marina. There were over a hundred boats parked in the lot, but only one car. There’s a small channel that connects to the now distant lake.

Of course the other mandatory stop in SLC is the highly manicured Temple Square.

Temple Square, Salt Lake City
Temple Square, Salt Lake City

Run for the Border

Gotta get to Canada Before …

er, before … well, I don’t know. Maybe I need a taco before they run out.

Now, I know it doesn’t sound like much of a run – two weeks for about 830 miles, but it’s RV time. You might make the drive in a day or two by car. In the RV time slows down and the journey is the thing. This one was fast, definitely a run.

I left Reno on May 29th and went to Susanville, California on the recommendation of my good friend Ray. This place had plenty of small town charm. My neighbor had a BMW RL1200 and knew the area really well which led to some great rides through the mountains.

Main Street, downtown Susanville, California
Main Street, downtown Susanville, California
The Susanville City Hall (left) and the Masonic Temple. Downtown Susanville, California.
The Susanville City Hall (left) and the Masonic Temple. Downtown Susanville, California.
Antelope Lake
Antelope Lake

Ray said the drive north out of Susanville was really something – it did not disappoint. I really need a dash cam. As you’re winding through the tall pines, every once in a while you come to a a little gap and all of the sudden there’s

Mount Shasta
All of the sudden there’s this giant bright, bright white mountain, overwhelming everything else, and then it’s gone

I spent a few days in Mount Shasta City at the foot of the dominating peak. All the locals know it’s an active volcano. They all know the geologists say it will likely erupt again (in the next 200 years). And they know the lahar and pyroclastic flow could relegate Mount St. Helens’ eruption to footnote status. Still, there they are, in the foothills, captivated by the majestic peak.

Roadside Oregon

A short mountain ride from Gold Hill, Oregon is the Oregon Vortex roadside attraction where people and things appear to get taller or shorter depending on where they are standing. Now the science guy in me wanted to chuckle, but I’ve got to admit the outdoor demonstrations were pretty impressive. I’d also note that my phone’s GPS could not get a fix within 2 miles of this spot (queue Twilight Zone music).

Which one is taller?  The ground is level, checked by a carpenter's level and I checked it with my phone also.
Which one is taller? The ground is level, checked by a carpenter’s level and I checked it with my phone also.
The ground really is level.
The ground really is level.

Speaking of Twilight Zone

Two days later, with a stop to see one of my favorite authors, Neil Stephenson, speak, I was at the border – Port Angeles, Washington.

Port Angeles is a small city (pop. ~19,000) across the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Victoria, British Columbia. It does have quite a bit of charm.

Downtown Port Angeles
Downtown Port Angeles
Port Book and News (movie location) Port Angeles
Port Book and News (movie location) Port Angeles
Bella Italia (movie location) Port Angeles
Bella Italia (movie location) Port Angeles

Victoria

6/16 – Victoria, BC. You get to Victoria by ferry – it’s on Vancouver Island and there are no bridges. Taking the RV across was prohibitively expensive. I also decided not to take the motorcycle across since I still don’t have a reliable GPS I can use offline. So, I boarded Keira for a few days and took the ferry to Canada.

The MV Coho, loading in Port Angeles for trip to Victoria, BC, Canada
The MV Coho, loading in Port Angeles for trip to Victoria, BC, Canada
Port Angeles from the ferry to Victoria
Port Angeles from the ferry to Victoria
Approaching Victoria
Approaching Victoria
Victoria Harbor
Victoria Harbor
BC Parliament
BC Parliament

Victoria is a maze of twisty little two lane streets, very densely populated, vibrant and cosmopolitan like New York, but it’s uber clean and the people are way nicer. It is the capital of the province and a hot spot for tech and design professionals.


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And Now …

It’s back to the desert.

Monterrey Bay to Reno

I’d spent a good long time hanging around the Colorado River and it was time, time to move on. Through Barstow, Bakersfield and Santa Nella to Monterrey Bay, just 10 miles south of Santa Cruz.

The area is spectacularly beautiful, but also spectacularly expensive.

Manresa State Beach, Monterrey Bay, California
Manresa State Beach, Monterrey Bay, California. Not from a quad copter, this shot is from 2/3 of the way down the steps from the cliff.
Point Santa Cruz Lighthouse
The lighthouse at Point Santa Cruz. The black dots in the water off the point are surfers.
Santa Cruz Boardwalk
Santa Cruz Boardwalk, viewed from the Wharf.
A trail near the campground at Monterrey Bay
A trail near the campground at Monterrey Bay

From there I went to Sacramento to have some routine maintenance on the RV, plus a repair of a hydraulic jack (same problem as in 2013, but a different jack). Since it looks like 3-4 weeks to get the part they need, I headed on, through Donner Pass, to a pretty nice spot just 7 miles outside Reno.

Morning, Outside Reno

Ruffing it Outside Reno

Snowbird

At the end of October I went back to the valley for some crazy expensive dental work, a vet appointment, RV repairs (had an overheating issue and another oil leak), a poker game with the gang, and of course that all important smog test I need to keep the RV registered.

No stop in Phoenix is complete without Carolina's
No stop in Phoenix is complete without Carolina’s

Afterwards, while most of the country settled in for another crazy cold winter, I went full snowbird, starting with a stop in Quartzsite with a quarter million other RV’ers, then on to the Colorado River.

Couldn’t completely avoid the snow, we had flurries blowing around New Year’s Eve in Laughlin.

If only I had a Tesla, I’d know just where to charge it up.

No waiting for a spot to charge your Tesla in Gila Bend, Arizona
No waiting for a spot to charge your Tesla in Gila Bend, Arizona

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