Mid-Winter Florida Escape
February in Nova Scotia is bitterly cold, windy and dark. In Florida, it’s warm and sunny. And when your parents have a place down there, its any easy getaway to escape the cold. Short on vacation time, we left work Friday after work. We spent the weekend with my parents, and flew home on the holiday Monday. Direct flights and only a 1 hour time difference made this the perfect little getaway.
Our flights were into Tampa, near my parents place in Clearwater. We were on the Gulf coast side of Florida, but had hoped to to catch a SpaceX launch from Cape Canaveral. We left early the first morning to head to the NASA launch facility on the Atlantic Coast. Dayna was hoping to see some alligators, and on the drive across the causeway to the Cape we could see them in the ditches.
Kennedy Space Center
We decided to try and catch the launch from the Kennedy Space Center. There are free places to view the launches from, but the Space Center also sets up live feeds on big screens and you get to experience the actual center itself. We got to the viewing area about 45 minutes before the launch to get the good seats. They had two NASA employees doing a presentation about the Falcon 9 rocket, the Dragon Resupply Capsule, and the International Space Station, the Dragon capsules destination.
At around the T minus five minute mark, the NASA guys wrapped up their talk. Audio was switched over to the control station so we could listen in to the count down. You could feel the excitement in the air as the countdown progressed, and then a second voice on the radio… “Hold hold hold…”. All that excitement turned to disappointment as you could hear them aborting the launch over the radio.
Space Shuttle Atlantis
It was disheartening. We tried to make the best of it though and explored the rest of the center. Our first stop was to the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibition which was very nicely done. As you work your way through the exhibition you start off in a multimedia area. You cannot proceed until you watch a short documentary on the development of the shuttle. Usually these museum documentaries are as dry as can be, but this one does a good job of keeping you entertained and was quite informative.
Atlantis itself was amazing to see. The Shuttle is huge, intact, and suspended banked on its side with its bay doors open. The Canada arm is fully visible, extended out of the bay. As you was around the back of the shuttle from the second story balcony your on eye level with the massive engine bells in the rear. From below you san see the heat shield and the wear it took from repeated re-entry. A set of its tires are also on display that would get worn down to the wires after only two landings.
Beach hopping Florida’s Gulf Coast
We headed back to my parents place in Clearwater, and decided to check out the beaches. The weather in Florida was great, getting up to the mid to high twenties in the afternoon, but cooled considerably in the evenings. By the time we got back it was too late to go swimming but decided to check out Indian Shores Beach. By late afternoon the beaches were almost empty and we had a fairly large chunk of it to ourselves. We got to test out our new drone and freak Dayna out by sending it way out over the ocean.
The following morning we woke up with one plan, find some warm water and hit the beach in the middle of February. We left first for Clearwater beach, but parking was a nightmare and we found a quiet spot just a bit further down the coast. The water was amazing, like a warm bath, and we soaked up some of the Sunshine states rays. From there we worked our way down through to St Pete’s beach, making it to the end of the peninsula again stoping to hop in the water.
The next morning we only had a half day, needing to be at the airport by 1. We decided to check out the local flea market, where you’ll find your usual junk and knick knacks, but also a huge food market. The placed smelled amazing, with venders cooking fresh foods. Most of the stalls were centered around fresh fruits and veggies from around Florida. You’d also find fresh fish, and locally made salsa’s and corn chips.
We did another quick driving tour of the area stopping to check out the walking path along the Tampa Bay. We enjoyed another 30 or so minutes of the bright warm Florida sun. This evening we’d be back in Nova Scotia, scraping the ice off our car to drive home…