Tag Archives: Sea World

July 2017 Road Trip

One of my project trips got postponed, which unexpectedly opened up my agenda. What does one do with an open agenda? Once checks out something to do, and texts some friends to go on a road-trip. Goal: Attending the July 2nd Space-X rocket launch at Cape Canaveral, about 8 hours of driving away.

I decided to leave for the road trip and was on the road no more than 2 hours later. We decided to do a quick visit to Savannah, booked a hotel between Savannah, GA and Jacksonville, FL while on the road and it was quite nice (and hot). Savannah has a lot of (slave) history and being one of the largest ports on the east coast, there is quite some activity there. No high-rises, lots of parks and feels old and nice.

Day two, on our way to Cape Canaveral (Rocket Launch window opened around 6:30 pm) we made a detour into St Augustine, which is supposedly the oldest Spanish town in the USA. Including a fort with a daily cannon shooting exhibition around 2:30pm. It was so hot, reminded me why Americans don’t typically visit Florida in summer time. Quite nice town, again, but I was filled with anticipation for the rocket launch later that day. Every hour I was more excited to finally see a rocket launch… the timing was great, weather was good, what could possibly go wrong?

By the time we arrived at Cape Canaveral, parking on a small island between the lakes, with a great view on launch pad 39A, we realized we did not think this through. We did not bring decent cameras (other than phone), no binocular, no chairs or anything to bring some shade while waiting in the Florida heat. The closer we got to the launch window, more cars arrived and there was quite a crowd (~40-50 cars) by 7:30pm. We started following the livestream and the countdown began… Everything going well, 15,… 12, 11, 10, 9,… 0? Nothing… the computer aborted at 10 seconds into the launch. After waiting another 15 minutes, with thunder storms coming in from the north-west, it was clear the launch would be scrapped and very disappointed we drove off towards Orlando where we planned to visit Sea World the next day.

Sea world is always nice. The killer Whales (Orka’s) are awesome creatures, so are the Penguins (the only place to get closer to Penguins must be in the wild). While we were at Sea World, Space-X announced that there was a new launch window this day, July 3rd, at the same time as yesterday. Since the launch was the primary reason to make the trip to Florida, we decided to drive back to Cape Canaveral. This would add another 2 hours to our trip, but so be it. July 4th is a holiday so no issues arriving home deep into the night. While driving to the launch site, we got into a pretty bad storm… unfortunately the storm seemed to be going the same direction as we were… When we arrived at the same place we were the day before, the storm looked pretty bad, and Space-X decided to move the launch about half an hour. People started to come in again, and an even larger crowd then the day before gathered. While we turned in disbelieve to sky, thinking “oh don’t let this stop the launch!”, our weather apps predicted the storm would simply evaporate. Not move in any direction, but evaporate. Ground control moved the launch to the very last minutes of the launch window. Then something amazing happened… the sky started to clear up. Where a storm was just 10 minutes ago, now there were beautiful clear blue skies! We started getting excited again… this was finally going to happen!… The webcast started, countdown started, 1 minute, 45 seconds, 15 seconds, 10, 9,…. NOTHING. ****** NOTHING again!!! The computer aborted again at 9 seconds into the countdown. The launch being at the very end of the launch window was automatically scrapped. We jumped into the car and started driving back to Atlanta.

It was a long drive back, arriving home around 4:30 am. Nice road trip, but we missed the spectacle. The only consolation being that by the time we hit the Georgia state boarder, Space-X had already scrapped the launch on July 4th to further investigate. We ended up watching a successful launch and 1st stage recovery on TV July 5th.

Next potential road trips:
- August 11th: Space-X launch from Cape Canaveral Launch pad 39A
- August 21st: 100% Solar Eclipse just 2 hours north of Atlanta (Atlanta should be 90%)
- November TBD: First Falcon Heavy launch from Cape Canaveral Launch pad 39A with attempted recovery of 3 first stage boosters. (Low chance of successful launch, but a spectacle no matter what!*)

*If it launches

Orlando, FL

A quick trip to Orlando Florida, just because I can. Decided to visit Orlando for 2 days, needed a quick trip for my miles (I know for those who are not traveling all the time, this sounds totally ridiculous, but trust me, this is going to save me hours in check-in and makes travel for work a lot more comfortable for 2017.

Perfect start in a plane packed with children, with an upgrade to 1st class. Always nice, even if only an hour long flight. I left Atlanta with ice on my car windows, I got off the plane in Orlando around 68F (18C). Ticking off another state from my travel map, and fairly certain I will be back. Decided to check out Sea World. Wanted to see the Killer Whales in action before they stop having shows, due to haters who dislike people enjoying experiences they could typically not have. Travel tip for  people visiting Sea World: During the last weeks of the year you can buy a “fun pass” at the same price of a normal ticket that allows you access to the park for the next year (this year even 18 months). So basically during the holidays you can visit every day, for the price of 1 day. Also good to know, is that literally everything is in the Christmas spirit. My mind can only handle so much Christmas songs a year, and I got well past that mark this year. The lines were not that bad, and I could visit every attraction I wished and see every show I wanted (actually saw the Killer Whales twice, once in a “normal show” and once in the “Christmas” show).

The second, and last, day I went to Universal Studio’s. Didn’t really know yet which park to visit (there are 2 parks, and they are building a 3rd one next to the others as we speak). From my friends I heard the 4D experiences are awesome, so I chose “Adventure Island” seeing Spider Man and Jurassic Park were in that park. It’s pretty expensive, but an amazing experience! Visiting the park alone, I was able to do all the rides I wanted to do, even with as many people in the park as there were. Even did Spider Man and the Tower of Doom twice! Without a doubt, “Kong” is the greatest attraction around. very much worth the wait. Talking about wait times. Universal has this very interesting concept of “single rider” lines. These are used to fill rides with just 1 seat left. In some cases (like with “Kong”) they take probably as much time as the “normal” lines, but certain times you win a LOT of time. Especially when waiting times are rather short (<30min), the single rider queue was very interesting reducing times to ~10-15 min. Not the same amount of fun when you are in  a group, but when you travel alone, a perfect alternative as fast as the (expensive) “preferred” lines.

I’ll be back to Orlando. It’s a crazy expensive, but Oh so much fun!