Day 2 – 6 January 2018 – Kennedy Space Centre (KSC)

After a healthy breakfast of egg whites and fruit 🍇, we Ubered out to KSC which is about a 30 minute trip from our hotel. Our driver, Amber, was great and full of information about the local area. The trip was very pleasant for $30 USD.

We arrived at KSC about 30 minutes after opening and opted for the special interest tour add on to our ticket which gave us closer access to the shuttle/rocket launch sites. It was the first time we got asked if either of us were seniors 😫😫 as 55 and over got an entry discount. Hubby received the discount 😊. We headed straight over to the waiting area for our 2 hour tour.

During the tour we saw the Shuttle and Saturn V launch pads and learning about these launches was very interesting. Did you know that there has to be a 3 mile clearance radius for a launch? The heat and vibration is so intense they use water to dampen it down a bit. There are huge big water tanks which are apparently depleted within 20 seconds! We had plenty of photo opportunities which was great but it was so cold and windy, getting off the bus to take the pics was rather miserable. It was a bright sunny day but the wind chill must have been only a few degrees Celsius. We saw where the SpaceX rocket is launched from and there was one of its rockets on the back of a semi trailer ready for the next launch which happened to be within the next 24 hours. SpaceX is the company owned by Elon Musk (Tesla).

Some trivia – apparently the movie Apollo 13 is 98% accurate and our tour guide pointed out Armageddon and I Dream of Jeannie filming locations.

In the photos above, hubby is in front of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). The doors on this building are the largest doors in the world at 456 feet high. The doors take 45 minutes to open. Space shuttles were prepared in this building. The inside of this building has now been configured for the Space Launch System (SLS) which will take off (insert pun here) with manned missions in 2019.

At the end of the bus tour we were dropped off at the Saturn V exhibit. That rocket is gigantic and the one on display was the real thing and the Apollo missions were launched with this rocket. The pod that held the astronauts is very near the top of the rocket and quite small compared to the rest of it. The rocket was displayed in a horizontal position and everyone was gobsmacked at its size. Lots of oohing and ahhing and ‘holy shit’ 😁. In this pavilion there is also a memorial that had footage of the recovery of Challenger. Footage I have not seen before of them collecting and trying to put all of the pieces they had found back together.

Given the distance from the main part of the space centre, we had to shuttle (pun intended) back and along the way got to see some of the wildlife. We saw a bald eagle, wild pigs and a few alligators which are quite small and very dark grey compared to Australian crocodiles. Apparently they are not as aggressive as our crocs and are quite happy to sit and sun themselves. I am surprised they even made an appearance given that it was so cold. Below are a few more pics.

Once we were dropped off, we headed over to see the space shuttle Atlantis. After watching a short video, the back wall of the room rose to reveal the shuttle. This was the 3rd shuttle we have seen up close and it was just as impressive. It is displayed on an angle with its payload doors open so you can see inside. Apparently some guy? said let’s make a reusable rocket that takes off vertically and lands like a plane. They scoffed and said it could not be done. Twelve years it took before the space shuttle program took off 😉.

We visited the rocket garden which housed a number of, you guessed it, rockets but it was too cold to stay outside very long.

We shopped in the largest NASA store in the world and picked up a few souvenirs. There was even a female astronaut in the store signing autographs.

After an exhausting day (we used a lot of energy trying to stay warm), we caught an Uber into Cocoa Beach so we could visit CVS pharmacy and pick up a few things (pain medication is so cheap in the USA). After a Starbucks coffee, we Ubered back to the hotel where we enjoyed another bowl of the awesome clam chowder and the local Florida Lager. We missed happy hour ($2 Budweisers) but the beer is cheap anyway so I didn’t mind.

Next post – Oasis of the Seas

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Day 1 – 5 January 2018, Port Canaveral

I slept in this morning, which I never do, and Hubby had to wake me up to go to breakfast. We are now back in the land of breakfast potatoes 😁. The Americans do like their carbs and syrup in the morning. I had a 3 egg omelette which was huge (must have been ostrich eggs!,) and I got 4 slices of toast with my egg. Oh let’s not forget the potatoes. Breakfast is included in our stay and the meals are huge.

We went for a walk along the port today and checked out the area. There are quite a number of cruise terminals here and there was one Royal Caribbean ship just about outside the front of the hotel. Cruise lines that dock here are Disney, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Carnival. Three ships were in today but the Disney Dream looked to be the biggest out of the 3. I so wish we were going on that one 😫😫

We found an observatory and did a tour for $5.50pp. The Exploration Tower looked like a mini Burj Al Arab Jumeirah that is in Dubai. Pics below.

I bought a beautiful glass plate as a souvenir. It’s the same pattern as the bowl shown below.

We walked quite a way today and the wind was freezing. We came back to the hotel and sat at the bar and had some beers and I had a margarita as well. Buffalo wings and sliders did the trick.

To keep the food from my belly and butt, we went for a walk along the beach. It was very pretty but so bloody cold. We heard the distinctive horn of the Disney ship (Disney Magic) as it departed.

The birds on the beach are like none I have ever seen before. The local seagulls? Love their Mohawks and orange beaks.

More beach pics at sunset.

Extra pics from today.

Tomorrow we will be heading off to Kennedy Space Centre.

Arrival day – 4 January 2018

Well we didn’t get the upgrade to business as we had hoped to but we were actually pretty lucky compared to some. They had overbooked the flight in business class so a number of people who paid for business were downgraded to premium economy and some in premium economy were downgraded to economy. Thankfully we weren’t on a cheaper ticket so we stayed put. This was the first time we had flown premium on the newly revamped Virgin Australia 777s and I must say it was almost (yes almost) like business except we didn’t have lay flat beds. The service was great, the food amazing and was very comfortable.

Here is me enjoying a glass of bubbles after taking our seats and then a beer. Lunch was served on a tablecloth with real crockery and cutlery (none of that plastic stuff). Below are pics of my lunch – roast veg and chicken salad for starters followed by pasta and the sauce was divine. If I was at home I would have licked the plate 😉

Leaving Australia and flying into the sunset heading towards the northern hemisphere was beautiful.

The premium economy cabin seats 24 and there were 2 staff looking after all of us and service was excellent. Mid-flight we stood in the galley talking to our flight attendant while she heated up samosas for us. There was self-serve drinks, chocolate, wraps, chips and anything else could be requested by the press of a call button. PE cabin below.

Below are a few shots of coming into LA

Above is our plane at the Tom Bradley international terminal.

After some confusion with how to make our Delta connection to Orlando and going through security twice (😖) we finally made it to the right place and the Delta Sky lounge for a very quick drink. The flight to Orlando was just over 4 hours and below are photos leaving Los Angeles.

The terrain was very dry looking and brown. Below photos are coming in to Orlando.

In the above photo you may notice a number of roofs with blue tarps. There were quite a few we could see and I wonder if they were damaged from the hurricanes a few months ago and not yet repaired??

After landing we had to catch a shuttle to the main airport to collect our luggage. I organised a private shuttle and he was there waiting with my name boldly showing on his iPad. Having a private transfer after 19 hours was welcomed. We were loaded into an oversized SUV which was very clean and comfortable. However, about 30 mins into our trip we realised he had a different hotel in his notes about us and we were heading in the opposite direction. It was all sorted out but we lost time getting to the hotel.

We arrived at the Holiday Inn just after 8pm and after checking in and dropping our luggage, we had something to eat in the restaurant.

Next blog, Day 1

Departure day – An early start…

…up at 4:00am!

Today is finally here after a much rushed Christmas and New Year.  We are anxiously waiting news of whether we receive an upgrade to Business Class on our flight – nothing yet. I am still hoping and trying to remain optimistic.  The flight to LA is long (13+ hours) and then another 5 or so to Orlando arriving at 6:30pm 4 January.  A lie-flat bed for that amount of time would be welcomed.  If we don’t receive an upgrade then premium economy will have to do.  We haven’t tried premium economy since Virgin Australia have upgraded their 777s so I expect that it will be at least as nice as the old PE.  I will let you all know how that goes 🙂

Upon arrival in Florida, we will be heading to Cape Canaveral for 3 nights before embarking on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas for 2, 7 night, back to back cruises – Eastern and Western Caribbean.  Our shore tours are booked and paid for and a last minute addition of the all-you-can-drink drinks package should keep us out of mischief (saying that doesn’t seem right somehow)!

 

Juneau

Arrived in Juneau about 6:30am and as we hopped off the ship we had to meet Coastal Helicopters to take us on our helicopter/air boat tour at 7:30am. Such an early start. As we arrived at the heliport we were weighed and seated in the helicopter according to our weight. We suited up with waterproof pants and special boots that slid over our shoes that had cleats on them for walking on the ice. There was 4 people including us in the ‘copter and I got to sit in the front seat – score 😀

This was my first time in a helicopter which was pretty exciting and after taking off our pilot flew us straight over the mountains. There was so much snow and it was truly breathtaking. 


We then landed on a platform which was on the glacial lake where we boarded the air boat. We had to put on a water and wind proof jacket. 


We had to wear earphones on the boat due to the noise and it was absolutely freezing. The driver took us to a glacier but we couldn’t get too close as it was still calving into the water. We then went to another glacier which we could go right up to and touch. The ice is amazing as it is so dense it takes absolutely ages to melt. It also weighs just about nothing. 


We were then picked up by the helicopter and taken to another glacier where we landed. The colour of the ice is amazing and when you look down the cracks they go down as far as the eye can see and the sound of the water running below is very loud. 


Here are a couple more photos of our ride. 


After the helicopter ride we got dropped off in town so we could explore a little. The weather was rather warm in town and seeing as we were in Alaska, I wanted to find somewhere to order Alaskan king crab legs. We ended up going to Tracey’s crab shack and I ordered one king crab leg and a massive claw for $34.00. It was awesome. Shame hubby doesn’t eat crab as you could get a whole bucket of legs for $99 but it was way too much for me to eat alone. 

Next stop -Ketchikan

Skagway

Upon arriving in Skagway it was quite cold and we were quickly loaded onto a bus to take us to the White Pass train. The train goes up the mountain to the summit and down again. Close to the top there was still lots of snow on the ground and it was even colder.  We went over some very high bridges. A few pics of our day below. 


We also saw a steam train which hubby was quite excited about
Next stop – Juneau.  

Cruise to Alaska (Disney Cruise Line)

This cruise was fabulous!  The ship is amazing, the food is great and the service impeccable.  It’s a floating Disney hotel.  Best thing is, once onboard everything is included, well almost everything. You have to pay for your alcoholic beverages but all soft drinks, tea, juices, most coffees, milk etc. are included. Room service is even included. There is one restaurant called Palo that has a $30 surcharge but it is fine dining and so worth it. 

Below are some pics of the food and drink we experienced on our cruise…

The pretzel in the photo above was sugar coated with a cream cheese filling. It was divine. I only had one which I now regret. Sigh. 

Here is what our cabin looked like.  Disney even have their own toiletries. It was small but comfortable and we were only ever in it when going to bed. 


Here are some other pics from the ship. 


Watching Alice through the looking glass in 3D

The beautiful glassworks in the atrium

 

Every night when we got back to our cabin we had a towel animal. Here are a couple. 


Many people decorate their stateroom doors and they go OTT. Here is just one of them.  The doors are magnetic so you can only stick magnets to them. No tape or they make you pay a repair fee. 


One of the restaurants we dined at is called Animators Palate. I had 2 lobster tails and king crab legs here one night. 

Hubby lying in one of the portholes leading into the restaurant. 

Vancouver (pre-cruise) 22 May 2016

Off to Vancouver on what happens to be my 50th birthday.  Got picked up at 4:20am to go to LAX. I hate flying within the USA. They always seem unorganised. If ever you want to complain about an Australian airline, then don’t!!  We have it way better and much more organised. Overhead lockers fill up really quickly so if you have hand luggage then you need to get on the plane asap or you risk having it checked at the gate. Also our seats were not even assigned until we boarded as they don’t do it at check in. Well not on Delta anyway.  We were told they over-booked the flight so there was no way we were going to miss that sucker as we were going on our cruise the next day. 

We arrived in Vancouver on time along with three A380 planes from China!  I think the whole population just arrived. Getting through immigration was a nightmare.  Many of them needed an interpreter so they had to go to a different line but didn’t understand that they had to do that and they held up the whole airport. I wonder if border security was filming at the time as I expect they would have had some good fodder for their show. 

We were collected by a guy holding up his iPad with our name on it and loaded into a huge Lincoln. We could have had a party in the back of that thing there was so much room. 

We arrived at the Fairmont Waterfront hotel around 1pm and the lobby was crazy busy. Many people had just arrived and were leaving on cruises. 

Thankfully we got into our hotel room straight away. And below is the view from our room. 


When we checked in the hotel gave me a voucher for 2 complimentary glasses of champagne for my birthday. After dropping our bags we headed out for something to eat and went to a pub called The Steamworks. We weren’t sure what beer to have so we ordered 2 flights of 8 different beers. 


My family organised a bottle of champagne to be sent up to the room which was delivered around 5:30pm. After drinking champagne we ordered room service as I was too lazy to go out.

Disneyland

We stayed at the Grand Californian hotel which is right inside Disney California Adventure (adjacent to Disneyland) and this hotel is quite spectacular. 

Here is a photo of the outside of the hotel. 


Here is a photo of the door leading into the lobby and the lobby. The photos really do not show its true beauty. 



Our room. 


We had quite a good view of the nightly fireworks from our balcony. They are very loud and the first night they whole us on the dot of 9:30pm. 


Here are just a few random photos 


The weather was pretty good. There was a chill in the air but not too freezing. Certainly needed jeans and a number at night. 

One of our favourite bars is in the Disneyland hotel called Trader Sams.  The drinks are good and very colourful. 


We ate some amazing things while we were here. Below are just a couple of pics.