Kennedy Space Center – Cape Canaveral, FL

Zeph standing in front of the iconic NASA 3D logo

Zeph standing in front of the iconic NASA 3D logo

Cape Canaveral was a place that had been on my radar since we were in Orlando in January. Mom and I had talked about driving out there from Orlando while Chris was working in Vegas, but the two hour or so drive out there never materialized at that point. I knew Chris was interested in space as a little kid so I figured the hometown of the Kennedy Space Center was a no-brainer. But by the time we were heading up the east coast of Florida it seemed like an unnecessary stop… until we were about five miles from the exit and we changed our minds. We just couldn’t pass up a chance to see what was out there. Not to mention Cocoa Beach – home of the greatest surfer in the world, Kelly Slater – was just around the corner. While I followed Zeph around to wander, Chris bought tickets to get into the space center. He found me and Zeph by the iconic water fountain dedicated to President John F Kennedy, a huge supporter of space exploration, and told me that if we came back to the park tomorrow we could see a rocket launch into space from the space center. The employee who told Chris about the rocket launch recommended if we wanted to see the rocket launch the next day to buy an annual pass to the space center ($16 more than a one-day ticket) and stay at the local county campground called Manatee Hammock (which we nicknamed “Manatee Banana Hammock”) just down the road from Kennedy Space Center. We walked around the space center that afternoon knowing we could come back the next day before the rocket launched at 5pm so we felt no rush that first day to see everything. There’s a really cool rocket “garden” when you walk into the park that hosts about ten or so rockets standing hundreds of feet high. There’s a room set up just like “Houston” as in, “Houston, we have a problem” made famous by the Apollo 13 crew that orbited earth before a man had walked on the moon, with the operation desks you see in the movie named after that doomed rocket. And the shuttle Atlantis is on site at the space center, although the building that houses it doesn’t open until sometime this summer.

KSC rocket garden

KSC rocket garden

The bus ride to the area where you go to watch the rocket launch takes you past the building where these rockets and shuttles are built. It’s an iconic view, one we’ve seen on the news since we were kids watching shuttles like Discovery and Challenger launch. We were about four miles away from the platform that the rocket launched from. They don’t let anyone get much closer than that. It was kinda surreal to see this big smoke cloud build from below the rocket slowly flying further up into the sky. Even though it wasn’t in our plan to stop, I’m so glad we made Cape Canaveral a last minute visit. Oh, and we did drive into Cocoa Beach one night, no sighting of Kelly Slater and not much else to see besides Ron Jon, the world’s biggest surf shop open 24 hours a day. It was spring break while we were there and the shop, although decent-sized, was filled in every nook and cranny with college kids so we basically walked in and walked back out. The hotel across the street (a Hilton maybe?) had a great little restaurant with delicious wood-fired pizzas so the drive to Cocoa Beach was worth it. After just one night in Manatee Banana Hammock campground we made our departure to head north again… next stop: St Augustine, Florida – our final Florida destination.

The launchpad we saw the rocket launch from is in the center of the picture, way off in the distance across the water

The launchpad we saw the rocket launch from is in the center of the picture, way off in the distance across the water

  • Allie

    What a cool stop! You and Chris look great as astronauts- I love those pictures. And zeph’s being cute pose. Aww. Love you guys!

  • THIS. PIC. oF. ZEPH. the one under the big nasa logo. THIS PIC IS EVERYTHING.