Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Titusville - end of blog until January 7th

One last look at the bridge to Merritt Island and the Kennedy Space Center
We've come to that time of the cruise when Ann and I return north for the holidays. We'll eat Thanksgiving turkey, open Christmas presents and celebrate the new year. We may even see a little snow (the little the better) before returning to Titusville around January 7th or so to continue our cruise south to Key West.

We've packed the only cold weather gear we have, long pants, and will head north on Thursday. We expect a severe weather change but at least it's only for a little less than two months. It's enough for us to get our fill of winter weather and we do want to see the grandkids, it'll be fun.

So tonight it's goodnight to Titusville, they'll look after Fleetwing, it's snug and secure here and we'll meet again in January. Be sure to mark your calendars for January 7th when we expect to return and I'll restart the blog then for the rest of the trip to Key West and return in the spring. It's been fun, I hope you've enjoyed following the blog, I've enjoyed writing it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Titusville - getting ready

Fresh fish for dinner!
The area is a resource for the local people. Although the dog park is right next door to the marina, almost all of the users are from town. Ann goes over almost every day with Hoolie and sits and chats at the community picnic table. I usually throw the ball to Hoolie who runs and runs and runs, until he can run no more - he doesn't know "quit". There is always someone fishing by the shore next to the marina. I supposed it's not only free, it's fresh and tastes good. We haven't gotten into fishing yet, Ann doesn't want anything to do with cleaning a fish.

The manatees are always around and today we saw one with a baby manatee. He (or she?) was right  beside his mother with a face only a month could love! As usual, Hoolie was quick to alert us and prevented a manatee boarding... He's good at that, never been one yet.

On Wednesday I'll pick up the car we'll have for the next 1.5 months on our trip north and back. This time we've used Hertz since they had a special for $948 with all taxes and fees included for the almost two month rental. It was cheaper to keep the car than pay the one-way fees for two separate rentals. Cold weather, here we come!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Titusville - 90 degree day

You can barely see the rocket in the upper, left of the photo
We're due for a weather change on Tuesday but today it reached 90 in the afternoon. I can't imagine what it's like in the summertime, obviously hotter than 90. The event of the day was a launch of an Atlas V rocket from the Kennedy Space Center. The Atlas V is a workhorse of the NASA launch system. Today was the launch of a probe to Mars to study the atmosphere there.

Here's a closeup - Mars, here we come!
It was a cloudy day but we did see the rocket climb above the clouds as it reached out into space towards Mars. The roar of the rocket was delayed almost 1/2 minute due to the distance to the space center but eventually it reached us, impressive.

Scattered around the area are osprey nests atop power line poles, we like them, they keep the dirty birds away!
The Atlas V is the latest edition of NASA's workhorse launch vehicle and you might expect it would contain the latest in American space technology! Much to my surprise, I discovered that the primary rocket engine is of Russian make! It's called the RD-180 engine, made in Russia.  So Russia is not only ferrying our astronauts to and from the space station, they are also selling us technology. And, not just any technology, but the latest and greatest for our own space launches, kinda of sad. What a comedown for NASA and the lack of investment by the US in space technology that we once led in. I'm sure the Russians and Chinese will take up the slack. Maybe we can get back to the moon or eventually to Mars aboard a Chinese rocket as a passenger...

Another day, another nice sunset
Otherwise, things were calm and we're looking forward to a cooler day on Tuesday. We're starting to pull things together for our Thursday departure date for points north. The problem is that we have very little in the way of heavy clothing, will have to make do.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Titusville - donut day!

Happy Donut Day!
A tradition in our family is to always have fresh donuts for Sunday breakfast. As you might imagine, that's not always possible when anchoring out or in remote marinas. However, when a donut shop is within 1/2 mile of a marina, then it's fair game for Sunday morning. Such was the case this morning, only a 20 minute walk away was a "Donuts 4 U" shop which had excellent donuts as evidenced by the line up in the shop for their product.

Having satisfied the Sunday morning requirement, the rest of the day was spent enjoying the 80 degree weather. We've gotten back into Scrabble but we're using the iPad version where we can pass it back and forth after each turn, more convenient than setting up a board on a boat. Plus, it won't let you play words that aren't real words, they all must pass muster through the included Scrabble dictionary. That said, there are many "words" that most people would not recognize but are valuable additions to the Scrabble dictionary such as Qi and Za along with many others more familiar to longtime players. Needless to say, sometimes the play gets a little intense and we'll knock it off for awhile (we are such wonderful winners...)

Towards the mooring field
I have a few more chores to do before leaving for up north such as changing the oil in the outboard, perhaps on Monday depending on the level of ambition remaining.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Titusville - A Saturday Jam

Jamming at Titusville
Whenever there's cruisers staying at a marina long term, there's always get togethers on an informal schedule. At Titusville, the monthly rates are so attractive, that they've gathered a large following with some staying for the entire winter. For us, it's not far enough south, we like our winters even warmer but it's not bad for November.

Not bad at 7:30 pm down here
Tonight several of the long term crew formed an impromptu band: one singer, one guitar player and one saxophone - a band. It's always fun at such events and you meet people from all over that you often keep meeting as you continue down the ICW, a traveling family.

A sign you see often around here
On the way to town, you pass by a pond with a no swimming sign except that this sign is there for a reason you don't find up north. Namely, it's no swimming because of alligators! I know it's possible because I photographed an alligator in the marina right behind our boat last spring (the photo's in the spring blog). So you do have to watch our for a few different things down here.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Titusville - marina people

A nightly visit from our local Osprey, he keeps the messy birds away!
One thing about staying in a marina for an extended time is meeting fellow cruisers. One couple two boats over are avid racers with a 42 ft Nonsuch. We don't race but in talking to them we discovered that they previously had an Ericson 38ft sailboat, the same model that we had before we bought the Beneteau! They raced it with success, almost always winning. I always thought it was a fast boat but in good hands (not ours...) it was even faster, apparently. They are also leaving their boat here for the holidays, returning after New Years Day to go further south.

I spent most of the day installing holding tank monitors which allows one to know how full the tanks are. It's amazing how much time can be taken up with such mundane tasks! Four hours later, everything is hooked up but the readout display is not yet installed at the helm station, another chore for a later time, groan! Aboard a boat, there's never a time when there's nothing to do!

The winds are calm, the days are cool (in the 70s) and we're biding our time until we leave for the holidays next Thursday. We'll rent a car for the duration from Hertz so we can take Hoolie with us and not ship him in a crate like we would if we took an airplane. Time for a peaceful night.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Titusville - Obamacare and holding tank monitors, somehow it fits together

A calm night, what a contract from last night!
We were busy sorting through Obamacare today and it looks like we'll  be okay on costs, we think... Actually, it's not with a government sponsored health exchange, it's s private one chosen by IBM. We  couldn't get an appointment for an interview until 12/7, such crowds!

The wind abated here and it was a pleasant day with light winds, only in the mid teens. I received a holding tank monitoring kit today. It has a printed circuit board you stick to the holding tank and it measures the amount of fluid in the tank so you can tell when you have to empty the tank. Note very exciting but boy is it necessary! My old system stopped working and I won't tell you about the results... The installation of any such system is mainly a chore in running sensor lines. You have to connect the tanks sensor with the readout display at the nav station - lots of threading of electrical lines through very narrow openings, only took about 2.5 hours to do! And that's only for one of the two tanks! Somehow, such things do not make the usual highlights of a cruising experience  but you get the unvarnished truth from me! I have to complete the task on Friday, hopefully.

Ann's returned to her pastel work but it's not finished enough for publication, I'll take a photo when she's done. Right now, it's like being on land, such calmness, welcomed. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Titusville - we get 46 mph winds!

Three boats dragged ashore here
We were awaken during the night to increasing winds and a severe rocking of the boat, around 4:00 am. When I peeked out at the wind gauge, it read 35 kts! We were tied securely since we had experienced an earlier high wind condition during the week but not this much! Let me tell you from personal experience that there's a world of difference between 30 kts of wind and 40 kts of wind! 30 may sound like a lot but it's nothing compared to 40! Humm, I seem to  be using the exclamation mark a lot, but it sounds right. One must remember that the force exerted by the wind is proportional to the square of the speed. So 46 mph (the top gust we saw, equal to 40 kts) exerts twice as much force on the boat as a 32 mph gust. Let me tell you, that's a BIG difference!

Another boat hit the rocks nearby
The problem we saw today was that it wasn't just a short lived thunderstorm or line storm, the 35 to 40 mph winds lasted all day long. The Titusville crew was kept busy adjusting lines and putting in fenders to cushion boats. Almost nobody was prepared for such winds. They were not predicted by the weather service (to top out at 30 mph, ha!). Needless to say, nobody left the marina today but there were four boats that dragged into the rocks by the marina. Their ground tackle couldn't handle the winds. None of the boats on the mooring were affected, they have massive ground tackle for the boats to secure to. Plus, they have anchors that screw into the bottom, they are not moving.

The palm tree wa sin hurricane mode - all fronds to the left
The boat was moving around so much that it was not possible to do much of anything in the boat. I mainly just read some and took photos and helped other boaters secure their boats. Invariably, the lines get stretched and need readjustment. We found the rubber mooring shock absorbers to be invaluable in such conditions. The shock absorbing characteristics quiet the boat motion at lot.

And some hardy souls spent the day on a mooring.
Today we were thankful for the massive pilings and over built construction of the docks, I guess they knew what they were about when the original marina was constructed. We'll hope for a better day Thursday.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Titusville - the storm clouds gather...

No! This is not Florida! It's a view from our webcam at home in New York! Our first snow up north. 
A storm awaits us. The leading edge of the storm, the one that dropped snow in the northeast is due to arrive here around 4:00 am. We're due for winds in the 20's with gusts perhaps up to 40 mph in the marina. So we're snugged in and tied up with multiple lines, we should be okay.

We were sent a photo of our grandkids playing in the snow in Connecticut, so naturally we had to send a photo back.
Meanwhile, when we logged into our webcams back up north around our house, we saw snow!  We had enough to turn the ground white, the first of the season which is kind of early for us in Lagrangevile, NY. Perhaps there's a new ice age coming... The marina here is almost full, lots of boats came in anticipating the high winds and wanted to be secure in a marina, us included.

I'm sure Wednesday will be spent in the boat, not much outside activity planned. Unlike last time, it's only predicted to last one day and then return to normal weather of temps in the high 70's with light winds. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Titusville - Turn car in, clean boat

Looking towards the dog park - near sunset
Well, what can you say, it was housekeeping day, even on a boat. I turned the car in around 10:00 am Monday morning and got the free ride back to the marina as provided by Enterprise. We have a bunch of stuff on order but nothing is here yet since it's Veteran's Day so we just cleaned the boat, not very exciting but required now and then.

Our diving team of "Donald Brown Diving" saved us from a worn zinc!
With the extra time, we took Hoolie over to the dog park and the routine is to run Hoolie constantly for about 30 minutes - at which time he's totally exhausted, tongue hanging out, panting, etc. He'll always chase a tennis ball but seldom brings it back. So I walk around, picking up stray tennis balls and giving them a pitch in the direction away from Hoolie, he runs.

For Bill Spencer - a Nonsuch from Essex - unfortunately, don't know the name yet
I had a diver come by today to replace the zinc on the prop. It's been three months and a zinc will not only reduce in size cataylitically, it will also abrade just from prop rotation. The local diver will replace the zinc at no charge, as a service but I've only found this offer in Titusville, the usual charge is $35 to $40. Our zinc was down to less than 25 % left so it was a worthwhile replacement.

Several manatees came by to partake of the fresh water while I was washing down the boat
Tuesday is our last good day, Wednesday is due with winds up to 35 kts and rain. They're predicting 9 to 11 ft seas out in the ocean - but of course not where we're at. We'll hunker down and do inside things on Wednesday.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Titusville - a trip to Canaveral National Seashore

A pristine shore
For our last day with the car over the weekend we decided to visit the Canaveral National Seashore. It's a stretch of 24 miles of undeveloped beachfront property. What I didn't know is that it's home to nesting turtles, over 7000 nests this year, an all time record! We've been going to Ocean City, NJ for the past several years during the summer with the kids so the view of the beach here is very different. As far as the eye can see, there's nothing but sand and ocean. The sand is different here too, it is more coarse - as if the beach were still being built by the waves.

A walk to the top of Turtle Mound - a 50 ft oyster shell pile
There's a 50 ft high mound in the park called, Turtle Mound that was built up by the Indians from 800 to 1400 AD mostly from oyster shells. In a land where everything is flat, a 50 ft high hill looks huge. The park service built a wooden pathway to the top of the mound, a wonderful walk through the woods.

He was scooting across the road
At our next stop, Castle Windy, we saw an armadillo cross the road before parking the car for the walk along the trail. He didn't stay around for a photo op but Ann snapped him just before he disappeared into the brush. I never tire of the sights along a Florida trail that are so different from New York, it still mesmerizes me.

A walk just like the Indians did over 1000 years ago, right through here!
I'll turn the car back in on Monday and get down to boat work for the rest of the week, whether in a house or on a boat, there's stuff you've got to do.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Titusville - a trip to Orlando

A popular pastime in the marina - watching manatees - they like to sip from the rainwater runoff pipe
Well, we didn't actually get to Orlando, only the outskirts and that was bad enough as far as traffic was concerned. Manhattan has nothing on Orlando for traffic, terrible. Ann wanted to visit a Barnes and Noble so we went to the nearest one in a new style shopping center where the stores are arranged as if downtown in a village, there's no indoor mall as such. The new arrangement involves a lot of walking to get between stores since there are parking lots separating them.

So we did our thing and turned around and headed immediately back to the coast and our boat, enough of city traffic! The weather has turned nice with temps in the low 80's and the winds have finally abated to the low teens, a welcomed relief from the 20s to 30s of the last week. Hoolie continues to protect the boat from attacking manatees. There are about 20 in the marina and Hoolie listens intently for their sounds when they come up for air - and lets us know when the boat is threatened, good dog Hoolie.

On Sunday we plan on visiting the Cape Canaveral National Seashore. Dogs are not allowed in many areas of the park so Hoolie will cool his heels on the boat but he'll get a treat of peanut butter and hotdogs packed in a Kong, he seems to like it.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Titusville - we rent a car for the weekend

A shower had just passed by on Cocoa Beach
Enterprise has a special deal where they rent a car for the weekend at only 9.99/day, that's $40 with all taxes and fees for a pickup on Friday morning and returning the car Monday morning. For us it's a good deal at a very reasonable price.

Noe the long, horizontal branches, typical of live oaks
We headed south to visit Lori Wilson Park and found that it was located at "I Dream of Jennie Lane". Upon further investigation we found that the television series was based on being in Cocoa Beach although most of the episodes were actually filmed in California. Cocoa Beach named a street in her honor when she visited for a celebration several years ago. It was a windy and overcast day but we walked out on the beach anyway and took the hammock trail. You'll note the profusion of live oaks in the photo with the peculiar characteristic of the long horizontal branches. It's a very strong type of tree and was sought after for the building of wooden fighting vessels for that reason.

The beach has a red flag posted which was a sign that it was closed for swimming due to the high wind and waves. The danger was the potential development of rip tides due to the high surf. Needless to say, we did not go in the water, it looked rough. On the way back we discovered Harvey's Indian River groves, the best source of fresh oranges and grapefruit we've ever had.

We plan on exploring Orlando on Saturday (minus Disney World, Ann does not like theme parks...) and the beach again on Sunday.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Titusville - home maintenance

Fun to watch off the back of the boat!
Well, there are still things you gotta do even on vacation as I mentioned yesterday. Not very exciting talking about those things but we did have a nice sunset tonight. We have a bunch of DVDs on board and after finishing the two seasons of Rome (excellent!) and the first season of Spartacus (not as good ) we're now into The Sopranos, currently season two about midway. It was very highly rated, reaching the top spot on many of the all time reviews. However, we thought Rome was better as was Justified. The Rome series stopped at season two but Justified is still going strong at season five. So if we can't get a local station, which is rare on the ICW, we always have the DVDs to watch and lots of books.

Later on we saw Venus and a crescent moon in the western sky
We took Hoolie out again today for exercise, which consists of me throwing a ball and Hoolie running at full speed after it - at which time I throw the ball in the opposite direction. It keeps him huffing and puffing.  Ann decided to spring for a car for the weekend. Enterprise has a special of $40 for three days, Friday through Monday morning, so we'll continue our exploration of the Titusville area. I also reserved a car for the trip north for $979 from Hertz, not bad for a car with unlimited mileage for 1.5 months. It's cheaper to rent the car for the duration than pay the one-way charge for two rentals (one up and one back).

We're enjoying the calmer weather (less wind) but it's supposed to pipe up again on Saturday but die off for Sunday so we have high hopes on getting to the seashore that day.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Titusville - the wind finally dies down

The clouds in the distance are over the Gulf Stream, it's warmer there, more clouds there
After three days and nights of 30 kt winds, it was a relief to have only 10 to 15 kts. It seemed like no winds at all! People tell us it must be nice to be on vacation for 9 months of the year (counting the fall two months and the winter five months with two months in Long Island Sound during the summer). However, as Ann points out, you still have to do everything you would if you were home - like laundry, cleaning (the boat), paying bills, buying fuel (diesel), engine maintenance (changing oil, filters, etc.), fixing things that go bad (water pumps, joker valves, clogged raw water filters), general house cleaning (mold removal and prevention, floor cleaning, etc.) and a few things foreign to a house like taking care of an anchor and rode along with dinghy maintenance. So although it sounds idyllic, there is a lot of work involved - but I wouldn't trade it for anything!

The spit of land provides some protection for us
Today was housework which involved paying bills and investigatiing Obamacare options. Luckily, you can do everything over the internet nowadays so I spent all day doing that and in the late afternoon, I put the laptop screen up on our 32 inch LED TV and we perused the options while sipping wine. It appears we'll be okay but more study is required. At least the website worked (we have one dedicated to IBM employees).l

The wind completely died tonight which is normally a good thing but that let a few bugs come out that were blown away for the last three days. The citronella candle helps some and we have a home brew repellant that seems to work too. With the dying of the wind, we may rent a car again and explore the area some more and take advantage of the $10/day weekend rate.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Titusville - Not every day is a good day...

The "all day view" from the boat - ugh! 
This is the third day we've had winds up to 30 kts (35 mph) in the marina but today the winds were joined with a driving rain. However, it's hard to complain when we've had such nice weather for the trip down. It's just that once we reached Titusville, the weather has turned bad. But then Titusville is where we're going to winter over for the holidays so it's not so bad since we don't have to move until January.

There are several other boats here with us that had intended going further south over the last few days but have reconsidered their plans given the weather. When cruising, the weather is king so you just sit it out. We've taken to playing Scrabble using the iPad which negates the requirement for a board - we just make moves and pass the iPad between us. We have a good supply of  books to read and Ann likes to do her pastels, essentially, everything we would be doing at home we can do on the boat. We get 35 channels of TV with our boat antenna and 5 Mbps internet free from the marina, it's a great set up.

On Wednesday we start tackling Obamacare.  It's a big change for us so we'll see where it leads. So along with the bills to pay, it's back to the grind tomorrow.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Titusville - Goes to the dogs...

View from the dog park towards the marina
Titusville is becoming known as a cruiser friendly marina. Their rates are very economical at $1.44/ft (with BOAT/US) and if you stay a week it's only $6/ft. For a month's stay, it's even less at $10/ft. So you can see the attraction. Add in the dog park next door where dogs can roam free and play with others and also the free shuttle into town (Walmart, Publix, etc.), it's a first class outfit.

I think Hoolie is about done it - time to head back to the boat
Today we had 30 kt winds and we rocked a bit. The rule of physics is that a 30 kt wind is four times as powerful as a 15 kt wind (maps to the square of the velocity). I can personally attest to the 4x ratio. It's now blowing 15 kts (only...) and it seems as if we're on land, almost. But 25 to 30 kts is entirely different!!

So we made a trip out to the nearest Publix but didn't do much else except take Hoolie over to the dog park, his favorite trip whenever we're here. All the dogs play well together, no one bites or growls but boy do they ever run around! Hoolie always returns to the boat with his tongue hanging out.

I'll take the car back Tuesday morning and then tackle the accumulated mail (bills!) of two months. Time to catch up on reality again.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Titusville - a walk along the Tosohatchee Wildlife Refuge

A lake along the way - No Swimming! (alligators)
Titusville is surrounded by wildlife refuges. We had been to Merritt Island Refuge so today we went inland about 20 miles to the Tosohatchee Refuge. It has 30 thousand acres mostly preserved in its original condition. Florida has their counterpart to the Appalachian Trail called, appropriately, the Florida Trail. It goes through the heart of Florida's undeveloped regions, some of which have never been touched by development. Tosohatchee is one such part of the Florida Trail and close by Titusville so we paid a visit today.

Forest Primeval  - The Florida Trail, this is what the first settlers saw - by stop #23
First of all, it's hard to imagine a more extreme contrast between the farm lands seen as you approach the refuge and the impenetrable brush you see once inside. It's hard to see how anything or anyone could possibly navigate through the area - but of course they did, especially the indians. The Florida Trail goes through the heart of the refuge and we stopped by one parking area where the trail passed over the access road. Walking partway down the trail, we were immediately in a forest of palm trees and live oaks and greenery everywhere you looked, a jungle! It was mostly silent with just a few calls of birds but surprisingly no mosquitoes or insects of any type. After 100 ft you could no longer see the road, it was a stunning sight of every possible shade and shape of green! Photos do no justice. You kept wanting to see what was around the bend, around that corner, just pass the next tree... But we had left Hoolie in the car (alligators!) and had to be brief. It was a magical experience.

The reason for the cleared road - it's an access road for the power lines through the heart of the refuge
Pressing onward, we visit Christmas, Florida where a fort was built on Christmas Day - that was just the day the army arrived to build a fort to control the Seminole Indians, hence the name. Unfortunately, they do not allow dogs even on a leash, so we moved on. We stopped by a boat launch on the Indian River with a sign that said, "Swimming at your own risk"! Can you imagine, swimming wasn't prohibited but if an alligator got you, they didn't want to be responsible! Ann went in a fish market on the way home for fresh caught tuna which we had tonight, nothing better. The winds are finally abating somewhat. It mostly blew in the 20's all day long, glad to be tied up and secure here.

No picture of Florida wilds is complete without a live oak
We have one more day with the car to explore before having to get back to work on more mundane things. Can't complain about the weather with temps in the high 70's though, Florida's great in the fall.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Titusville - A day of change, storms come through

If you're in Titusville, do not miss Dixie Crossroads and their rock shrimp!
We saw the front come through today that came through up north earlier in the week. The skies were dark and the wind piped up out of the north. It's a dramatic change for down here with a low tonight of 59. The high on Sunday is only to reach 78! I have the heater on full blast right now (and I make fun of those down south for feeling cold in weather that northerners think is warm...)

So today was upgrade day for galley lights. I installed an LED replacement light for the fluorescent light in the galley that came with the boat. It's 24 inches long and is much, much brighter than the fluorescent light it replaced. I buy all my LEDs from Marinebeam. They come with a built in current regulator so no matter that the voltage is on the boat (12.4 on low batteries or 15v at the highest charge rate) the LEDs are protected and see a constant voltage and current. All of the lights on my boat are LEDs now.

The last time we were in Titusville, we heard so much about rock shrimp that we promised ourselves we would try them out the next time we were in town. The rock shrimp business was born here in Titusville, nobody else at the time wanted anything to do with them, they were hard to eat since the shell (hard as a rock) had to be cracked to get at the meat. So Dixie Crossroads came into being and brought rock shrimp to the eating public - and the rest is history as they say. I had two dozen tonight served with dipping butter (like lobster) and the taste is just like lobster, but even sweeter and as tender. The restaurant cracks the shells open for you so picking out the meat is easy. But it's the taste that keeps you coming back - delicious!!

With a cooler day on tap for Sunday, we'll head inland to a nature refuse by the Indian River. We're doing all the exploring now before we turn in the car on Tuesday morning and have to face up to picking a medical plan and sorting through all our back mail we just got today, probably some bills, ugh.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Titusville - We visit the Kennedy Space Center

A photo cannot capture how huge this thing is
We had visited the Kennedy Space Center in the spring where I had bought an annual pass which allows me free entry for one year and a 10% savings on anyone with me along with free parking. So my annual pass was still good and we hadn't seen the IMAX films the last time so we opted for returning for another visit.

Perhaps an aft view will help
Our first priority was to see the two IMAX films, both of which focused on space unlike the feature films at some of the other IMAX theaters. One was on the space shuttle and the other one was about repairing the Hubble space telescope. Both lasted about 45 mins and was everything I hoped for. Lots of views from space, the shuttles, pictures from the Hubble and all in 3D, thoroughly enjoyable. The last time we visited, the Atlantis shuttle exhibit was not finished but now it is. It's an amazing exhibit and worth the price of admission just to see it. It's an absolute top-notch job, we were dazzled. I never appreciated just how huge the space shuttles were, much bigger than I had imagined. Plus, they have the real Atlantis on exhibit, not a mockup like exhibits elsewhere. If you're ever in the Titusville area, do not miss the Kennedy Space Center!

As you left the exhibit (and returned to Earth), you "heated up through the atmosphere", red hot, cute.
On Saturday we due for a break in the heat wave (high today of 86) and we'll get a few storms coming through with a high on Sunday of only 79. After all of today's activities we just ordered pizza delivered to the boat so now we're stuffed. It's a mild night but storms are coming.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Titusville - We visit Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuse

Our greeting in the morning!
Well, we have a flock of birds around the marina that like to perch on the rigging of sailboats. They also like to eat some vile berry that becomes black when processed by their digestive system. It stains fiberglass instantly. The only thing I've found that gets rid of the stain is undiluted bleach. If anyone has other ideas, let me know!

Ann and I both just love wandering through the nature refuges
So after the morning's entertainment from the birds and subsequent clean up, we left for the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. It's a by product of the Kennedy Space Center since they didn't need the entire island for their launches, less than 2% in fact so they established the wildlife refuge on the unused portion. It's a great resource and we spent all day walking and driving through the area. It's a wintering over spot for a lot of northern species, just far enough south but not too far.

Now that's a large spider!
We could do this for hours, and we have at times
For those who have been following the blog for the past few months, our travels this year have come to an end. We'll leave Fleetwing at Titusville to take advantage of their $10/ft monthly rate and return north for the holidays. We'll return the first week of January to continue our cruise down the ICW to Key West to be followed by a return trip to the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club in late May of 2014. However, I'll keep the blog active as we explore the Titusville area until our departure on 11/21/2013. I do the blog for my own amusement but all are invited to read it - we're just not traveling down the ICW for awhile. For those only interested in adventures when we're cruising down the ICW, check back in early January - otherwise you're still invited to stick around.
Birds abound on all sides, notice the "watchdog" bird - one's always on lookout