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Published: June 23rd 2017
Geo: 30.6699, -81.4636
DH has to be one of the great Pen Pals out there. She will put a good deal of effort into maintaining contact with just about everyone she befriends along the way. This pays dividends as we travel given that we never seem to be too far away from interesting friends and acquaintances and it's always been great to catch up on the various life adventures led by all- in some cases it's been years between face-to-face contact and that was certainly the case as we headed for a multi-day stop in Lake Worth.
In a former life (1988), DH found herself as a solo traveler going to a Club Med beach resort to meet men/beefcakes, and she found herself in cahoots with Pat W who was on a similar quest. Irresponsible drinking cemented the friendship. Despite having seen each other only twice since then, they have stayed in touch and apparently a full day at the beach in a rented cabana was required to catch up on all of the necessary details (while I was dispatched to one of a dozen neighbouring golf courses to keep me out of the way- Florida has over 1,250 courses!!). We also managed
to score a home-cooked turkey dinner which was presumably in celebration of yet another hot,sunny day in Florida (apologies to our friends in frigid Canada).After Lake Worth we headed further north to Jupiter with plans to visit what I saw as a must-see- the Burt Reynolds Museum. I just love the idea that someone out there saw this as a significant need and opportunity, and you just can't drive by something that pays tribute to a stage artist who was legendary within his own family, and who topped his career with the very cheesey Smokey & The Bandit movies. Unfortunately, not only is the museum closed but they tore down the building- seems a tad excessive, he wasn't that bad an actor.
After a suitable mourning period we kept on going to Cocoa Beach which was a great spot from which to plan our visit to nearby Kennedy Space Center- the Kennedy Space Center has been the launch site for every US human space flight since 1968 and currently operates as a launch site for unmanned rockets. The focus of the visitors complex is on the Apollo missions and the Space Shuttle era.
It is a fascinating, and sometimes heartbreaking, journey through all of the evolutionary steps of the U.S. space program including the moon landing (fun for us because later in the month we're going to be in the Atacama Desert of Chile which is where some conspiracy types believe the 'moon landing' was filmed). I had thought that the U.S. was mothballing much of their current space efforts but apparently after retiring the reusable space shuttles, they are retooling the Kennedy Space Center to be able to serve a mix of government and private space vehicles with ambition plans to go back to the moon and to put a man on Mars by 2037.
Despite our recent Key West bi-plane qualification, the officials at the Space Center did not seem particularly interested in what we might do as astronauts (at current pricing, apparently you have to have about $30 million laying around in order to buy a seat- and you need to go to Russia- but there are plans underway to lower seat sale prices down to $500 thousand (our financial guy, Martin W, has his work cut out for him).
Our next big stop was the American Police Hall Of
Fame. Despite my cautions that the Hall of Fame was strictly for Americans, DH was somewhat hopeful that her award-filled Toronto policing career might just be on display. There really wasn't a lot of detail on any police officers, American or otherwise, and, unfortunately in my view, a lot of time was given to the scumbags that make policing necessary. It has always seemed odd that we almost make mystic heroes out of the Ma Barkers, Al Copones, and Bonnie and Clydes, while the guys that have to catch these dirtballs seem to get substantially less recognition. The Hall of Fame was well worth the visit nonetheless, with a somewhat scary clock that was tracking crime frequencies across the U.S.- makes you want to hide in your basement!
Rather than hide, we went further north along the eastern coast to Amelia Island and the town of Fernandina. This was another social call which saw us looking up with a couple of fellow passengers from a boat transfer from Thailand to Laos along the Mekong River. Becky and Alan B were living in Thailand at the time, although we never did determine how legal this arrangement. Subsequently (perhaps with Thai authorities encouragement?)
they have relocated their base of operations to Fernandina. Good fortune for us as we were able to catch up with them and score yet another home-cooked meal. Amelia Island is one of the southernmost of the Sea Islands, a chain of barrier islands that stretches from South Carolina to Florida. When we say "southernmost", we do need to clarify that it is at the northern end of Florida, and dangerously close to the outer fringe of Arctic weather that is plaguing our Canadian friends. We had talked about sneaking a little further north to Savannah to hook up with some friends we had met in Costa Rica but when we woke up to some strong and cold winds we knew it was time to turn tail and head for the warm embrace of South Florida.
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