January 20th, 2012

Travel

Road Trip – Miami

15 January 2012

Disembarkation from the cruise was pretty damn easy. Wait with Mary Rose for our section (#10) to be called on the boat, then head off. Insert Sail & Sign card one last time to let the computers know I wasn’t on the boat any more. Wait by the carousel to pick up my bags. Wait in line at customs. Wait on the curb for the shuttle back to the parking lot. Only the last was much of a pain, as there was mess of people milling around the shuttle pick up area, and at least three shuttles run by the lot drove by without stopping. Finally a coordinator of some sort put us on a shuttle that was run by a different company, but they work together or something. That meant the van went by a different lot first, which wasn’t an inconvenience.

Mary Rose wanted coffee, but there aren’t a lot of Seattle style coffee shops in Miami, so I’d looked one up in Fort Lauderdale. It was a 30 minute drive, but Mary Rose’s flight was out of Fort Lauderdale anyway. Unfortunately, Brew Urban didn’t have any food except a couple of pastries, and they were out of soy milk to boot. We got brunch at the nearby Old Fort Lauderdale/O-B after a 40 minute wait instead. Food was pretty good after the crap Carnival served.

Then we headed to Hollywood Beach to walk the boardwalk, where I figured we’d find a cafe or coffee shop we could hang out at and people watch or surf the web. But the boardwalk was really windy, and there weren’t any coffee kinds of places. So after an hour or so, I drove us to downtown Hollywood Beach where there was a Starbucks. Incidentally, filled with people camping at tables not drinking coffee.

After a bit, we checked in at the Holiday Inn Express and waited for my friend Lenei, a resident of Fort Lauderdale, to show up and take us to dinner. Lenei picked a place she’d heard good things about called Aruba, but when we arrived it had switch to night club mode, so we ate next door at the Village Grille. Mary Rose ate a giant chicken sandwich on her own.

Then, rest…

16 January 2012

First thing on waking up was to deliver Mary Rose to the airport for her flight home. That was easy. 10 minutes there. 10 minutes back.

Later in the morning, I headed to Lenei’s place. The plan was to toodle around Miami and that’s what we did.

First stop, breakfast at the Floridian in Fort Lauderdale. Tasty huevos rancheros style breakfast. Then down to Miami to drop off a tire at Lenei’s mechanic. This is the cool part. King Automotive is right in the heart of a mural art district. Dozens of murals decorated the buildings around there. So we walked around and I got snapshots with my camera. Click through for bigger versions and more pictures.

Mural in Miami

Mural in Miami

Mural in Miami

Next stop, a little video store to pick up bootleg DVDs for Lenei to watch later.

Next stop, Little Havana after driving by the Miami-Dade Library so I’d know where it was the next day. At Little Havana we stopped by a small park where old men (mostly Cuban) played chess and dominoes. A few more blocks brought us to a market with a restaurant called Nuevo Siglo. Lenei ordered for me, as I know zero Spanish. A big hunk of cooked meat and a garlic dipping sauce. Delicious. Also stopped by the nearby Casa De Los Trucos House Of Costumes where I found a couple of masks that would be perfect for next year’s sparkle party.

Last sight of the day was on Virginia Key, where Lenei took me to see Jimbo’s Place. I don’t really quite know how to describe Jimbo’s. Lenei said it wasn’t what it was 6 months before, the last time she’d been there. There were a couple of bulldozers there and a big empty place where a bunch of shacks apparently had been. No sign of Jimbo.

After that, Lenei treated me to a home cooked meal, and I crashed on her couch.

17 January 2012

Lenei had to go back to work. My plan was to spend some time at the Miami-Dade library looking up obituaries. A few people in my family tree retired to Florida, so I wanted to dig up some information. The library only had obituaries from Dade county newspapers, and none of the three people in my tree who’d died in that county had obituaries published there. Struck out.

Instead, I drove to Fort Lauderdale and hung out in a Starbucks for a bit and then headed to the Broward County Library. There I started writing these travelogue posts and did a bit more research online into Florida relatives to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.

For dinner, Lenei and I partook of the fine food served at El Guanaco Taqueria Y Antojitos, a Honduran place in Oakland Park. I may have had the best enchilada I’ve ever had. Juicy and spicy without being drenched in enchilada sauce. If you are ever in the area, go to this restaurant. It’s super cheap to boot.

For our last task of the evening, I helped Lenei transport a kayak she’d stored at a friend’s house. Getting it strapped to the top of her Jeep can probably be done with only one person, but my presence makes it easy. Her friend travels for a living promoting Geico insurance, and also sells belts. For helping her fix her printer, she gave me a very sparkly belt buckle which I will gift to Keenan on my return to Seattle.

Before crashing for the night, Lenei popped in one of the DVDs she purchased the day before, Attack The Block. This was a pretty damn good movie. Fairly short, but that made it better. One story with very little to distract. Just after mugging a woman, a gang of London teens finds themselves in the center of an alien invasion and under attack. The Block being their project-like apartment building with something like 19 stories.

crossposted from King Rat.

Travel

Kennedy Space Center

18 January 2012

Wednesday morning I woke up, hugged Lenei goodbye as she went off to work, caught up on my internets, then packed up and headed out the door.

First destination? Royal Palm Cemetery in West Palm Beach, where a relative was supposedly buried according to the Veteran’s Administration National Gravesite Locator. However, according to the cemetery office, he was not. Strike #1.

Then, a block away from the cemetery, I was waiting to turn right when my car got rear-ended. Fellow behind me was watching the light and not me. I was watching the crossing cars. In Florida there often seems to be one car at every light that blazes through the red just after it turns. I did not want that car to hit me. The car behind me did. Minor damage to my car. I’ll have it looked at when I get home and if a shop determines it’s a safety hazard, then I’ll get the guy or his insurance to pay to replace it. I’ve got other dings on the bumper, so I’m not going to fix it if there’s no safety issue.

Fender bender damage

Fender bender damage

Planned stop was the Kennedy Space Center. But on the way, I followed a fire truck in I-95 for about 20 miles. It was running with its lights, but under the speed limit. I wondered what was up, but after a few miles I noticed a giant smoke cloud in the distance. There was a 20 acre brush fire in one of the towns near the K.S.C. Police had all roads nearby closed, so I couldn’t use them as a shortcut to K.S.C. The smoke cloud was immense though.

I arrive at Kennedy Space Center around 1:30. The approach is via a long straight causeway from the mainland. The parking lot wasn’t very full, but I still arrived after the last up close tour had sold out. So I had to settle for general admission, which includes a tour to an observation gantry and to an on-site exhibit covering the Apollo program.

The bus drives past the assembly, but doesn’t stop. Still, it’s closer than we got to anything else that wasn’t an exhibit.

Assembly building

Assembly building, view 1

Assembly building

Assembly building, view 2

LC 39 Observation Gantry was pretty meh. Basically you can see the assembly building and a bunch of launch towers in the distance.

Shuttle launch site

Shuttle launch site

Heading back to the bus to go to the Apollo exhibit, I ran across a cup laying at the bottom of the tower.

The Stanley Cup

Mislaid cup?

Why the Stanley Cup was being shown at the Kennedy Space Center I don’t know. Cool for hockey buffs I suppose, but it seems kind of a non-sequiter at the space center. The Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto makes more sense. I checked out the event page for the Stanley Cup at the Kennedy Space Center. The C.E.O. of the company that runs the K.S.C. visitor complex is the owner of the Boston Bruins, the 2011 winner of the Stanley Cup. They were also letting some folks try on an actual N.H.L. Championship ring and get photos with it. One guy was really really chuffed about that!

The Apollo/Saturn V Center was really awesome. There they have what they claim is the actual equipment from the Apollo 8 launch set up in a theater. The exhibit plays the audio from the final 3 minutes of the Apollo 8 countdown with spotlights on the seats where the person speaking each part would have sat. Also, the auditorium rumbles with what I assume is the same amount of motion that accompanied the Apollo launch.

Apollo 8 launch simulation

Apollo 8 launch simulation

In the main part of the center is a full size Saturn V rocket suspended from the ceiling. It is immense. It took me about 3 minutes to walk the entire length of the rocket.

Saturn V rocket

Saturn V rocket

The center also had a treasures exhibit with a number of items including prototype and actual moon space suits and other tools. There are some moon rocks there, including one visitors can touch, though it felt to me like it was encased in a thin film of plastic. Pretty cool.

After the center, I returned to the main visitor center. I was tiring by this point, so the only exhibit at the main visitor center that I hit up was the rocket garden. I have no idea if these are actual rockets or mock-ups. I didn’t spend a lot of time there because it started to rain and I didn’t want to ruin my camera.

Rocket garden at the Kennedy Space Centery

Rocket garden

And lastly, I saw that the visitor center had one unusual item.

Space suit Hello Kitty

Space suit Hello Kitty

I didn’t feel like driving very far afterward, so I only got as far as Titusville, about 15 minutes away. When I checked in, the woman at the front desk looked at my identification and noted I was from Seattle. She knew someone from Seattle. He was a DJ. He DJs goth/industrial. And it just so happens I knew who he was because DJ Turbo had added me on Google+. I may even have heard him DJ once or twice, though I wouldn’t swear to it. I don’t go out as much as I used to.

I did have one goal that night though. Extract everything from my bags and repack it so as to be more useful for the next couple of weeks of travel. I needed to get the stuff I wanted to wear in my small suitcase so I don’t need to carry both in every time. And find all my electronic stuff and get it into my electronics backpack so I know where it is. Also, laundry.

And then bed.

crossposted from King Rat.