– photographs and messages from inside the Sausurrean Bar –

Posts Tagged: usa


Posts Tagged ‘usa’

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

St. Augustine

Castillo de San Marcos

I continue making my way northward along the Florida coast and thus spent the day in St. Augustine, the oldest continuous European settlement in the USA. It was, as the name might already reveal, founded by the Spanish in 1565 and changed hands a couple of times between the British and the Spanish throughout its history, before becoming a US territory (and then part of the state of Florida, when that became a state in 1845).  Suffice to say, people seem to be proud of their history here, and there’s an entire historical district with old buildings and people dressed in period costumes, selling all kinds of touristy gee-gaws (those are generally not historical, but rather of the 0815 tourist trap variety).

But for the American flag this could also be the skyline of a town in Spain or Italy, no?

Still, wandering around the city was nice, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with gawking at touristy kitsch (I bought none of it). Also took a cruise on the harbor and out to the Atlantic, so that was a good thing to while away the afternoon with. Right now there’s a bit of a thunderstorm going on outside (though not as bad as the one I was caught in in Tampa), so I am glad to be inside – it’s going to be an early night for me, as I plan on an equally early start tomorrow.

Spanish Moss (which is neither a moss nor Spanish :-) )

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Titusville, FL

the Discovery!

Today I saw the Discovery! She’s currently in the Vehicle Assembly Building, being made ready for her future home in the Smithsonian, and the “KSC close up – now & tomorrow” tour takes you inside the VAB – and there she was, about 3m away from us! Definitely the best moment of my visit to the KSC, although there were a lot of good and interesting moments – but its hard to beat a space shuttle still housed in the building where they were actually put on their launching pads.

Launch Pad 39A - all of the Apollo missions except #10 and 81 shuttle missions launched from here.

Seeing the different launching pads was interesting, too, as was touching a moon rock (yay moon rock!) and seeing all sorts of different Apollo memorabilia and gadgetry. Also another really good IMAX movie about the assembly of the ISS. And, you know, just various and manifold space program things.

the Discovery!

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Titusville, FL

 

Apollo 8 mission control

So, today was day 1 at the Kennedy Space Center – I went on the first of the two specific tours they offer – “Cape Canaveral, then and now,” and we got to see a lot of the old launching pads for unmanned Air Force and NASA rockets, as well as for Gemini, Mercury and Apollo missions, as well as some of the command centers for the specific missions and programmes. After the specific tour there was time to do some more looking around (I’ve seen far less than 50% of the center so far, eek), and saw another Saturn V rocket, among other things. (More photos, as always, are in the USA 2012 photo album.)

Cape Canaveral

Went to Cape Canaveral itself after the KSC closed at 6pm, and shall head back to the KSC tomorrow early morning right for the moment they open. Will I need three days there? Who knows! Come back here to find out :-).

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Orlando, FL

Yes, I went to Seaworld today. :-) I had not planned on it, really, in the way that the Kennedy Space Center is clearly slotted into place for tomorrow, but I left Florida City earlyish this morning and so was close to Orlando by the early afternoon and had these hours to while away before I was supposed to meet M at 7pm for dinner etc … and so I browsed my guidebook for things to do in Orlando, and there was Seaworld in there, right between Disney Land and some Harry Potter thing … and the lure was too great to resist. We went to Seaworld in San Diego these many years ago on a family vacation and I *loved* it. Loved loved loved it. And here was another Seaworld, about 20 minutes away from where I was supposed to be 6 hours later. I skipped all the rides but got to see the shows, and it was a lovely afternoon, even if not as magical as it was back on the other coast more than a decade ago. As you grow older you spend more time thinking about habitat size and unnatural behaviour and things like that, maybe. I certainly could not escape from these thoughts, in between “oooh, orca!”

Made it to K&M’s house on time (where I am writing this from, actually), and M & I went out to dinner and then she took me to Target, where I bought something crazy for the DFDF auction and Sharpies in 26 different colours!

 

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Florida City, FL

Key West, upon the 'Sarah'

I spent pretty much the entire day at sea, sailing, kayaking and snorkling, and a fantastic day it was, but not conductive to photography, as my camera is not waterproof at all, and there was a lot of water contact going down today. I took the waterproof one-use camera along, we’ll see what those pictures turned out like in a couple of weeks. For now, two photos from aboard the Sarah.

Tank Island / Sunset Key

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Key West, FL

Key West

I made my way to Key West today, meandering along the key islands, which offered some nice views and an unexpected interesting and lovely conversation on Islamorada (I think it was Islamorada) (hi B, if you’re reading this! :-) ). Key West is an interesting place, great for people watching, and I am typing this sitting outside at 10.30pm in quite balmy weather (it reminds me a bit of Singapore – most likely because I also spent balmy nights outside there [no Singapore Sling today, though!]) on the side of a swimming pool. (Yep, life if good, right now!).

I declinded joining the – hopping – Key West nightlife. Staying out till 9.30pm is late enough for me, when the day has been full and long and tomorrow promises to be the same: tomorrow I shall spend the day sailing, snorkling and kayaking (three-in-one), and I am taking my  as of yet half-empty one-way disposable underwater camera along, so expect more less-than-sterling underwater photos at some point in the future.

On the way to Key West

I’ve also booked *all* the special interest tours that are happening right now at the Kennedy Space Center, on the theory of ‘when in Rome’/one does not get back to ‘Rome’ too often/&c. So, uh, sorry, rest of Florida. It’s gonna be the Keys and then the Canaveral region and then motor it up to Atlanta. Next time?

Obligatory photo is obligatory!

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Fowl of the Everglades

Great Blue Heron

 

Osprey

 

Snowy Egret

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Florida City, FL

Today was all about the Everglades, and turns out that they come in two basic variations – one of which is the one that one more commonly thinks about when thinking about the Everglades – shallow and narrow waterways, mangrove forests, water vowl. The second one is grasslands and scattered islands of trees – the grasslands flood during the wet season, and the slightly higher elevations on which the trees are located stay dry – right now is the dry seasons, which is why there’s no water in the grasslands, aside from some remaining shallow ponds and lakes, in which alligators spend the dry seasons waiting for the water to come back.

There’re plenty of alligators, water fowl, snakes and other inhabitants of the Everglades to be found in both locations, and we saw a lot of different fowl, aforementioned alligators and a coral snake. Eep.

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Tampa, FL

I spent the day in Tampa today, first at the Florida Aquarium where they had a lot of fish (meh, fish are fish, really, unless bizarre and/or otherwise odd), but also some other, more fascinating (to me) sea creatures, as well as some mammals. Also an interesting exhibit on the history of the aquarium. I’d never consciously pondered when people started to keep fish in tanks, but now I know! Included in the Aquarium was a cruise of the harbor, so that was nice.

The afternoon I spent on Clearwater Beach, which was apparently once voted the US’s prettiest beach, but I personally must say that, while it is very nice, it isn’t the one I’d consider prettiest. It’s too uniform to be pretty, really. But still, very nice – and full of spring break activities, so observing those was interesting, too.

Tomorrow I keep heading south!

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Tampa, FL

Manatee!

I don’t have many photos from Wednesday that I can share, as I did not take my camera on the “swim with the manatees” adventure, on account of swimming with manatees involving rather a lot of water (and a snorkle, a wet suit, flippers, …). I did buy a disposable waterproof camera in the dive shop, and I took some photos with it (both of manatees, but also, I’ll admit, of myself), but that film will need to be developed, and wether the pictures turn out any good … who knows. Things I discovered about myself: I really like snorkling in clear water! And I want to learn how to take underwater photographs/get gear to do that (I’d previously really only snorkeled once [other than as a kid], and then visibility was … not good and it felt kind of claustrophobic, what with the wet suit hood and all…).

I spent the afternoon in Homosassa Springs, where there is a state park dedicated to animals native to Florida (where the above photo was taken), and mostly have a lot of shots of different animals to show for that … . Then I drove on down to Tampa, where I learned that yeah, showing up without a hotel room booked is great for flexibility, but might be not so good if there’s a baseball game in town on top of it being spring break. *sigh*

Found a place to stay eventually, and have learned my lesson in so far as I’ve booked hotels on through the weekend. After that, we’ll see. What this means is that Key West is definitely on the itiniary, and places other than Floriday out, due to a lack of time … I’ll have to do Charleston and Savannah some other time.

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Crystal River, FL

St George Island

From St George I kept wandering down the coast today, with some side-stops in Steinhatchee and Cedar Key (more in Cedar Key than in Steinhatchee), and saw a lot of pelicanes and some dolphins and manatees, as well as herons and birds that I cannot identify. Tonight I am in Crystal River, as you can see, and I’m going swimming with Manatees tomorrow in the am, before I keep wandering south.

Photos, as previously, are in the photo album for the trip.

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

St. George Island, FL

(I am naming the postings after the places I am overnighting, by the way.) I headed south from Dothan and had my first glimpse of the Gulf of Mexico at Panama City Beach, where spring break was in full swing. Panama City Beach itself is a mix of beaches, high-rise hotel chain buildings and fast-food chain places, and was filled with scantily glad college kids, some of them wearing funny and/or unfortunate headgear.

Panama City Beach

I, however, declined to join in on the spring break fun (even though it is technically my spring break, too), and headed along the Florida Panhandle, stopping in pretty places along the way, until I finally found St George Beach, which was so pretty that I just kind of had to stay there – I spent some time on the beach at first and then went to the car to drive off once the sun started going down, but there was that Motel next to the parking lot and … so you get day and sunrise photos from St George Island – the sunrise one in the next post, however, as they belong to the next day, and the sunset at so (and no sunset photos, as I did not take my camera along).

St George Island Lighthouse

 

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Dothan, AL

Today I spent most of my day in and around the Talladega National Forest, where the weather went from sunny to overcast, and thus the scenery from colorful to much less so (a lot of the trees a still bare, with the leaves just sprouting, so there’s not a lot of greenery around as of right now). (I’ve added some photos to the photo album I linked in the last post.) From the Talladega Forest I drove southwards, stopping by in Enterprise – a little for the name but mostly because they have a monument to honor the Boll Weevil there. It’s as quirky and strange as the idea would indicate. It’s also stuck in the middle of a busy intersection with no pedestrian access to it, so taking photos of it is hard and good angles are impossible. But I crossed the street a couple of times at the pedestrian lights, probably bemusing the shop vendors next to the lights (though most likely they’re used it it, them being in guide books and all). One apparently’s gotta make do, on the quest of taking in all the details of the “My Boll Weevil, let me show you it!” monument.

I’ve also learned that there’s a lot more water in Alabama than I expected – there are lakes and bogs and puddles everywhere! Also more mountains, but those surprised me less. But definitely a lot of distinct units of water (of which I took no photos, so there are only shots of hills to be had!).

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

Huntsville, AL

shuttle mock-up behind trees in parking lot

What do you mean, no oversize parking?

Hello from Huntsville, Alabama! I made it to the US yesterday save and more or less sound (of the 10 hour flight, 7+ featured ‘fasten seatbelt’ signs and some pretty rough spots of turbulence, bleargh), and headed out this morning Alabama bound. Spent the day making my way to Scottsboro via country lanes, and from there to Huntsville. In Scottsboro I went to the Unclaimed Baggage Center, where you can basically buy everything that comes out of airline luggage left unclaimed after 90 days. In the guidebook the idea sounded kind of interesting, but in reality it turned out both more boring (they need to wipe all photos from memory cards and cameras before selling them etc) and more sad (an abandoned “Happy birthday mom!” present etc) than it was made to sound in the writeup. So I mostly felt sorry for the people who were missing their luggage – the place somehow was bad karma central. Didn’t buy anything, nor stay very long.

Onwards to Huntsville it was, where I went straight to the Space & Rocket Center and basically stayed there until they threw everyone out. Saturn V rockets are really tall (yes, something one knows in the abstract, but walking along one makes it a lot more concrete – its like flying to space on top of a skyscraper)! Their non-permanent exhibit right now is on Wernher von Braun and his life and times (“I’m learning Chinese now!”), and the two movies on at the IMAX theatre are Hubble (awesome! watch it!) and Space Junk (bad! avoid!). I didn’t get to read all the details about the development of the Saturn V (see ‘until they threw everyone out’) and spent too much money in the gift shop bying all the special collection issues of newspaper articles dealing with the Apollo program, space exploration etc. It felt a bit like cheating, given how painstakingly I went through newspapers on microfilm last year in the British Newspaper Library for my Apollo 13 – Earth Day and Space Day paper, and I have no idea what is actually inside those collections, since they were all shrink wrapped and I’ve not opened one yet (they will travel better in their shrink wrapped condition). We’ll see. I might also have bought Space Shuttle earrings, so it wasn’t all money spent on future work, though.

And, you lot, Space Camp is here in Huntsville! Who knew? (Lots of people, probably, but not I.) I hadn’t thought of the Space Camp movie in ages (before seeing the sign for the actual camp today), but I loved it when I was in my early teens. (“Max und Jinx! Freun-de für im-mer!”)

I’ve also made a photo album that I will be posting my trip photos into, you can find it right here (some of the photos that show up in there might also turn up as individual photo posts at a later date, though).

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

the Kentucky stoneway

One last photo from the road before we hit Bloomington, IN … .

A week ago I was on a plane, eastward bound. I have no idea what I did a year ago, but I know with great clarity that ten years ago I was on my way to being asleep in the small second bedroom in an aquaintance’s hotel suite in Ulm. Both seem at various times to have been a lot longer ago, and not nearly so long ago at all. Or  to have taken place in a completely different reality and time.

Time is (and definitely seems) relative, indeed.