Friday, February 21, 2014

The Space Coast

The heavy gray storm clouds chased us all the way to Melbourne.  We were safely inside the Super Flea Market when the deluge began.  And thankfully – ended!   Our only exciting purchases were tomatoes, cukes and sweet onions.  No dishes, no gnomes and no toys.  I ALMOST purchased a super cool fire engine for the gnome village but not for the price they wanted for that cookie jar!   Oh well.   Another time, another flea market!

Wickham Park is one of H’s favorite parks because its big, lots of places to ride bikes, 2 small lakes, close to a lot of things (shopping and restaurants!) and the beautiful beaches nearby – that and he’s been coming to this park for eons!   However, each year, by the time that we’ve been there a week, the goofy set up of the park gets on OUR nerves.   We had heard that improvements had been made so we tried it again.   Their “improvements” didn’t make diddly squat difference - just allowed lots more big rigs to be parked wall to wall.   The once nice bathhouse in “A” loop was still surrounded by uneven sites like a pizza cut into way too many slices.  But – we lucked out and got a very nice site on the outside of that circle and had a good view of the little nearby pond and of the Frisbee golf field and lakes and spaces beyond!   Bobbie and Terry next door were from Tennessee and had even eaten at Golden Girls Restaurant where we usually meet Steve and family.  R&N were on the next loop over and I did get to hug n’ chat.  We passed each other as we were coming and going from the park!   N and I went to the sewing group on Tuesday and helped make pillowcase dresses with the ladies!  Twice, we parked the truck out on Melbourne Beach and ducked our heads to avoid the overhanging Mangrove trees as we crossed the dark boardwalk and entered the blazing light of the sunny beaches beyond.  My favorite beach in Melbourne has huge flat slabs of porous rock that are submerged when the tide is in.  We would start our walk near the tall skinny vertical domino of a building that is the Radisson Hotel.  

We would stroll for a while and then reverse our steps.  When we began our walk, the rock slabs were under the water.  When we returned, they were exposed and the bright white crashing waves either rolled gently over them or just tiptoed around them – sometimes leaving a small treasure of shells on the damp sand as they slip back to the deeper waters to start all over again!   One day we closed the 20-mile gap between Melbourne and Cocoa Beach and went to visit Lois and Dave at their winter condo.  A seafood buffet at Rusty’s, up on the Port Canaveral Inlet did the job of fulfilling our constant desire for seafood.  Especially since it was enjoyed while sitting on their wide deck that overlooked the blue water and the boats that cruised up and down.  There were even several mammoth cruise ships, waiting for their new influx of excited passengers, moored just up the way.    Our 4 days went really fast!
Black Point Wildlife Refuge
We moved up the coast, past Cocoa and past the causeway to the NASA complex that is out on Merritt Island.  In Titusville, our new home for the next few days was to be Manatee Hammock, another Brevard County Campground.  Once set up on our leaf strewn, rocky corner lot, we took off and headed out to Merritt Island to find the Black Point Wildlife Refuge. The single lane shell rock road curved and wound thru grasslands and swamps that were home to birds of all kinds.  Although we didn’t see many, we had a good time scouring the ponds and creeks for them. We figured it was too hot or the wrong time of day.  We stopped at the observation post and walked out to it and climbed up the flight of wooden steps to view the vast horizon.  We saw the bright blue truck parked in the lot at the other end of the long path!  

Delta 4 launch

  That evening about 8:30, we headed to the park’s dark waterfront and the long fishing pier.  Just like everyone else in the campground, we were hoping to see the launch of the Delta 4 Rocket that the Air Force was sending to space.   Its payload was a 4800 lb new GPS Satellite.  The window of launch time was from 8:40 to 8:59pm.  We all patiently waited in the windy night air with our eyes fixed on the light emitting from the launch pad across the vast black Indian River. With one minute to spare, the skyline exploded with light and the bright glow rose to the heavens, leaving a trail of wispy smoke behind it!  Not as awesome as a shuttle launch but it was still exciting, nonetheless!

More adventures to come!

OH! By the way - the spider in Moss Park was a Spiny Backed Orb Weaver!