Sunday, November 11, 2012

Day 7 - Saturday November 10th - New Smyrna Beach, FL

Knock Knock ...

Well, it happened at 4:47 AM.   I was roused with a couple of authoritative raps on the door of the van by a uniformed officer .  This was not hospital security.  Even though he was armed I probably frightened him (which would be normal if you’ve ever seen me in jammies, no make-up, and all bleary-eyed).  I was honest with him rather than lying about a sick relative in the ICU etc .... but I did mention that I’m a nurse.  He asked if I was by myself, I responded that I was, he said I could stay till 6 AM.

This is the hospital location.  You can see it was worth a try!
So as I pulled out at 6:02, feeling only slightly humiliated.  Actually more just disappointed that my first stealth-parking experience was only a partial success.  But, here’s the thing: it worked out great!  I got a very early start and saw the sunrise over the Atlantic.

I also got to Kennedy Space Center before the parking attendants so I didn’t have to pay $15 to park!  (I did fess up when the employees got there but was told it was OK).  So I had coffee and cookies and chilled out till they opened the gates at 9.  When I left in the afternoon, the lot was full of cars, RVs, and tour buses.  It may be the only time in my adult life I’ve been first in line for a tour!

And what a tour!  Absolutely thrilling!  I’ve always been a space junkie so seeing artifacts such as the actual consoles used during the Apollo missions was a real rush.  Admission was $50 but well worth it.   That included a 2-hour tour of the launch facilities and all the museums in addition to a 3-D IMAX film about the Hubble Telescope.  It was as though you could reach out and touch the galaxies.  Just breathtaking. 

Another film shown on screens above the mission-control area is viewed while sitting on bleachers.  You see the launch of Apollo 8 from the perspective of Mission Control. 

The launch countdown clock starts.  At blast-off, the seats shake and the building rumbles.  It’s quite an experience. 

Other highlights include a Saturn VI rocket with all the stages, personal memorabilia from the astronauts, and several capsules which never cease to amaze. 

I believe this is the Apollo 8 capsule

Jim Lovell's suit from the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission

I was thinking that when one goes to an historic site, the hyperbole starts.  I think this is one subject – the U.S. Space Program – that would be impossible to over-hype. 

It was interesting that there were so many international visitors.  The tour guide asked how many of us were Americans, as half of us raised our hands, he said that was the typical demographic breakdown.  Of course, what the space program symbolizes and has achieved touches all mankind.  I could feel that today. 

We also spotted an alligator and a Bald Eagle's nest (the size of a king bed!).  Another bonus was seeing Atlantis.  This is the shuttle that, most notably, serviced the Hubble in 2009.  It has come “home” and will be permanently housed in an enormous structure and future museum that is currently under construction.  We got a sneak-peek today.  Icing on the cake. 

I’m parked at New Smyrna Beach RV Park in (what else?) New Smyrna, FL for the night.  I’ve got full hook-ups including cable so I can watch Auburn vs. Georgia tonight.  Best internet I’ve had on the road too.  The house batteries have done their job today.  No, it’s not an Astronaut van but ......

Alan Shepard's Good Deal Bus
..... I love my little home.

Tomorrow on to Canaveral National Seashore, just a few miles down the road, where I expect some serious beach and bird-watching time.                      


  1. Wow! $50 admission. You really did want to see that, didn't you? I'm glad you feel you got your money's worth. I think I'll settle for having enjoyed Houston's Space Museum.

  2. Oh, I would SO do that tour - absolutely fantastic! I'm sorry the boondocking didn't work out. It's may be due to the very fact that it is such a prime location. Beautiful! Well worth it, but they are probably hypervigilant because of it. Most other hospital "stays" have been inner city - they probably don't care one way or the other. LOL. Thanks for sharing the awesome tour!

  3. That's so awesome. :) Sounds fascinating!

    It's interesting, but on the times that I've taken my van out and slept in it, I always have a cop check on me at around 2am. In my RV, I haven't once had someone bother me, even though I've slept in some weird, kind of iffy places. :/

  4. I found that Cocoa Beach Walmart was a good location last Friday night. But, 2:30 am parking lot sweepers woke me, not to move just noisey. Several other RV's came in late in the park. The NASA display never fails to amaze me how much was accomplished in the past 50 years. Be sure to have lunch at Dixie Crossroads Seafood 7275 Garden St Titusville

    1. Hi Bill,

      I wondered where you ended up for the night. I checked out that Flying J at Cocoa and it looked pretty dicey. More than usual, I mean.

  5. Kim:
    I too was at Flying J to see if you had landed there ( pun intended) Glad you chose the hospital. I asked Camping World, they suggested Wal-Mart either in Cocoa or Melbourne. Manatee Hammock SP looked OK but pricey. Take care.

    1. I almost stayed at Camping World. They said it was OK and they even have a security patrol but .... they close the gate and lock it up. I didn't want to be locked in! I watched the sun come up at Manatee Hammock after I was evicted from the hospital. It was too crowded for me. BTW, I used your coupon for $2.50 off at Kennedy. Thanks!

  6. Kim, I really appreciate your honesty... to the cop at the hospital parking lot and to the gate attendants. That is so rare.

    It's a pleasure to share your adventures. :)

  7. Nice of the guard to let you stay until 6:00. When I first had my rig, I was staying at the beach during the weekend days and in a parking lot at night, but I set my alarm and was long gone by 6 a.m. I, too, had a guard knock on my window on my first trip, but it was right after I parked, and he would not let me stay. It was the LAW in the city and he said I'd have to move along. So I did, but I was soooo tired. :(

    You're seeing a lot of very interesting things. Thanks for the photos! :)

  8. What absolute fun! Just love it, Kim ;)

  9. Having just found this site, I wanted to read it from the beginning, but having to scroll through countless unknown pages to find the beginning of it is just ludicrous! You need to add a widget for archived posts by date, so that a person can see how far back these posts go and be able go directly to them. We readers don't have time to play guessing games.

    We also have been to Anastasia, back in January of '94. Nice park but wasn't ready for a 34-foot class A at that time. Scratched the siding with branches trying to follow the twisting path to get to our site. Still, I hope to get back there again some day. There was too much we missed in trying keep up with selling ads for the maps. If it hadn't been for the necessity of doing site maps for them, I wouldn't have tried to get our rig in there. You have the right idea with a Road Trek. Smaller is MUCH better!


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