Kennedy Space Center

Last Thursday was spent at the Kennedy Space Center – This trip has been on our Florida bucket-list since we moved here 2.5 years ago.  We were lucky enough to see …

… the vehicle assembly building (VAB), which was used to put together shuttles and other manned rockets from the 1960s up until just a couple of years ago.  This building has only been open to the public since 2011 and was closed again this past weekend for asbestos removal and other updates.  It’s amazing that we happened to visit during this tight window where we could actually see the inside.

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… the crawler used to carry assembled shuttles to the launch pad.

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… launch pad (LC) 39-A where most shuttle and manned moon mission lift offs took place.

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… the Atlantis space shuttle and “rocket garden”.

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Unbeknownst to us, our planned trip perfectly aligned with a Delta IV rocket launch (!) – Photos tomorrow :)

Hontoon Island State Park

We drove about 20 minutes from Blue Spring to another state park on Hontoon Island.  It’s the only free state park in Florida and can only be accessed by boat!

We hiked a 3-mile trail there and crossed paths with 2 armadillos (an invasive species here … but that didn’t make them any less fun to watch!), heard an owl, was glared at by a Southern Black Racer snake and walked around on an ancient Timucan Indian shell mound.  Wading birds such as the limpkin and sandhill crane entertained us at the boat dock.

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Blue Spring State Park

Manatees make their way up the St. Johns River to retreat to warm spring waters during the cooler winter months here in Florida.

When Jim and I were camping up here this week, there were nearly 50 (!) manatees basking in the spring!  Some other wildlife encounters included a bald eagle swooping down to catch a fish, twinkly-eyed spiders on the shower path and a noisy opossum rustling around outside our tent for a good portion of the evening ;)

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