Florida: Epic SpaceX Falcon Heavy Launch!

Author Pam with Bill Nye “The Science Guy”

Apollo / Saturn V Center

Space Shuttle Runway

Commemorative Launch Brochure

3-2-1 Ignition Take-off

Falcon Heavy Launch into Space

Close-up of SpaceX Rocket

Twin Side Boosters Returning to Earth

SpaceX Tweeted Photo of Tesla Roadster in Space

On Tuesday I watched an epic SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  It was incredible!   I had purchased the “Feel the Heat” package to view liftoff from the closest public viewpoint at the Apollo/Saturn V Center at KSC (only 3.9 miles from launch pad 39A across the Banana River).  We could hear and feel the rumble of takeoff when the engines ignited and everyone wildly cheered!

While we waited in the viewing stands, we were entertained by Bill Nye “The Science Guy”.  Earlier we got the chance to walk on the shuttle runway.  The runway is so long (~3 miles) that you can’t see from one end to the other because of the curvature of the Earth.  Locals call it a “gator tanning facility”, because alligators like to warm up in the sun on the concrete. 

This launch was the historic demonstration flight of the world’s most powerful rocket.  It launched from the same pad used by the Apollo moon missions.  Nestled inside the rocket was Elon Musk’s personal red Tesla roadster, including a dummy driver named Starman in a SpaceX astronaut suit.  Usually demonstration flights include demo payloads like a block of cement as weight, but Elon Musk wanted to make it more interesting.  And he certainly did, based on camera images beamed from the roadster!  My favorite one, which simply looks unreal, is a picture of the car after payload release showing Starman driving the bright red cherry roadster through space with Earth in the background.  Until the batteries give out, the song “Space Oddity” by David Bowie will play on the car’s stereo.  A display panel in the Tesla says “Don’t Panic” – a reference to the sci-fi classic book “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”.  Ultimately the Tesla roadster will endlessly loop around the sun for billions of years in an orbit past Mars and the Asteroid Belt.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, just as thrilling was to see the twin side boosters simultaneously descend to Earth and land on target at Cape Canaveral.  Their speed was so great they generated double sonic booms.  The third core stage was set to return to the drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” in the Atlantic Ocean offshore.  Unfortunately the core crashed into the water near the platform.  But that was a minor hiccup in an otherwise flawless and amazing spectacle.  WOW!

The space center seems to be booming lately with private enterprise, and it is exciting to see new projects in the works.  Hopefully these launches capture people’s imaginations about future possibilities!  A great article about the launch is at: https://spaceflightnow.com/2018/02/07/spacex-debuts-worlds-most-powerful-rocket-sends-tesla-toward-the-asteroid-belt/

If you would like to visit Kennedy Space Center (highly recommended), learn more at:  https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/

Click on any of the pictures to enlarge for more detail.

Florida: Mama Owl is Nesting!

Eastern Screech Owl

Yellow Rose

Mama screech owl has been in her nest box all week – she is here to stay.  Nesting season has arrived – it is spring in Florida!

Florida: Backyard Wildlife at Christmas

Deer and Raccoons

Deer Eating Corn

Two Deer Together

Deer Looking at You

Turkeys Inspecting Deer Statue

Male Turkey with Wattle

Sandhill Crane Portrait

Ducks Waddling By

Bunny Snack Time

Raccoon Gathering

Smiling Raccoon Family

Mama Raccoon with Tiny Triplets

Mama Raccoon Baby Kisses

We’ve been seeing lots of wildlife in our backyard this Christmas – deer, raccoons, sandhill cranes, turkeys, and bunnies.   We hope you have a wonderful holiday season full of great surprises!  Best Wishes!  Pam and Richard

Florida: Merritt Island Holiday Boat Parade

Boat Parade 1

Boat Parade 2

Boat Parade 3

Boat Parade 4

Boat Parade 5

Boat Parade 6

Boat Parade 7

Boat Parade 8

Boat Parade 9

Boat Parade 10

Boat Parade 11 – Nativity

The Merritt Island Holiday Boat Parade was the best in its 30 year history!  It was held on December 16, 2017.  There were over 200 boats!  The lights and reflections on the water combined with the joyous holiday spirit are a fun time.

Florida: Fall Around the Garden

Pink Rose with Rain Drops

Fragrant Yellow Rose

Floating Flower Bowl 1

Floating Flower Bowl 2

Bat Flower

Banana Magnolia (strong fragrance – a favorite!)

Mahoe (Sea Hibiscus)

Tapioca Plant (used to make pudding)

Dwarf Buddha Belly Bamboo

Stapeliad (Starfish) Flower

Blue Dragonfly at Pond

Kingfisher at Pond

Female Quail

We are starting to get our first cool breezes of Fall here in Florida, which makes it great for walking and working in the garden.  Plants love this time of year and grow like crazy!  Click on pictures for more details about the flowers.

Dragon Fruit Cactus

Dragon Fruit Cactus Flowers

Huge Size of Blooms

Pink Ripening Dragon Fruit

Sliced Dragon Fruit Ready to Eat

Sphinx Moth Pollinator (day and night)

Our dragon fruit cactus finally produced fruit! It opened two dinner plate-sized flowers at night in early September.  Each bud was over a foot long!  In the tropics the plant is pollinated by bats, but here in Florida it is pollinated by moths.  Happily I did see two Sphinx moths flying around the flowers in the dark.  

This week we enjoyed eating its beautiful pink dragon fruit.  It tastes something like a slightly sweet pear with poppy seeds.  Our home-grown fruit was much sweeter than the commercial fruit available in the market.   Some great looking recipes are at:  http://www.tfgsf.com/?page_id=546, and an especially promising chocolate cupcake with dragon fruit buttercream frosting recipe is at:  https://sugarandcharm.com/2013/09/chocolate-cupcakes-with-dragon-fruit-buttercream.html

Florida’s Space Coast: Beaches OK after Hurricane Irma

Path to Sebastian Beach before Hurricane Irma

Sebastian Inlet Calm Waves Before the Storm

Shell Bits on Beach

Beach Morning Glory and Hamburger Bean

Bunches of Sea Grapes

Melbourne Beach Waves

Melbourne Beach Dune Erosion after Irma

I am very happy to say that our beautiful beaches here on Florida’s Space Coast still look great after Hurricane Irma!  We were all nervous staring down a Category 5 hurricane  – at times the projected track went right over our coastal area east of Orlando.  There certainly was damage in Brevard County, but nothing that can’t be fixed.  Our house itself is fine, although we do have an enormous amount of yard work to do.  It is such a luxury now to have use of power, water, internet, gas, and grocery stores – makes you appreciate what surrounds you every day.  It was also nice to see people helping one another.  All our animals and birds are back too.  Great to get back to normal!

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