Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Titusville, Florida

Friday, October 9 - Wednesday, October 14, 2009
When our family and friends first got the SPOT message of our latest location, a few of them went HUH?!? The city of Titusville isn't nearly as well-known as its neighbor to the west (think "Mickey ears"), but it's a great stopover for cruisers. Titusville is on the ICW, about 45 miles east of Orlando and 15 miles north of Cape Canaveral. NASA's massive Vehicle Assembly Building can be seen from a number of T'ville vantage points, including our anchorage. If you're cruising in the intercoastal and want to stop somewhere that has easy access to Disney, NASA, Universal Studios, or any other central-Florida tourist spots, Titusville is your place. There's a spacious (albeit open to the elements) anchorage just outside the marina basin; the basin itself is too small to allow any boats to anchor (it's forbidden), but the city marina is extremely friendly to anchored boats. Some of our cruising guides have quoted dinghy and shower fees of $5-10, but we've found the dinghy dock to be free for the first week, and showers are $2pp. There's an Enterprise rental car office and a liquor store about 1.5 miles from the marina, and a good Publix grocery store and pizza place is 2-3 miles away. We've got a weekend rental so we can drive to Epcot on Saturday morning. We're meeting friends Sue & Ted at our hotel near Epcot at 8am, so we have a 6am wake-up call scheduled to get us there on time (it's supposed to be about 75min away). Who says we don't have alarms on the boat?? :-)

Having arrived in Titusville on Thursday afternoon, Friday is boat project day. Rene noticed the windlass acting up again while we anchored yesterday. Sparks started flying when he tried to use it, and it stopped working in the "anchor down" direction soon after. This isn't the first time we've had problems with it, and he figured it was likely a loose wire. Rene manages to crawl into the anchor locker to clean and reattach the wires, and voila! The windlass is working again. He's becoming quite the Mr. Fix-It! Friday afternoon we call Enterprise ("We'll pick you up!") for a ride to our rental car, only to find they don't have any drivers available. Rather than wait for another half-hour to try again, we decide to walk it. It's only a mile and a half, and we're ready to see some of Titusville's historical downtown district. Did we mention that Florida has been breaking heat records on a daily basis this week? Whew! Temps are 95 degrees, and humidity is probably just as high. It's bloody hot! We make it to the Enterprise office before we've completely melted and get upgraded from an economy (yes, we're cheap!) to a Ford Focus. We'll take it! After a quick stop by a nearby ABC liquor store, we run by the local Publix. Anytime we have a car we try to stock up on heavy stuff. It's much easier than carrying four 2.5-gallon water jugs and a couple of cases of beer on the bikes!

Saturday morning the alarm goes off at 6am and we're at the dinghy dock by 6:30. All of the hotels on or near Disney are full (we assume because it's Columbus Day weekend - who knows), but Sue has found a newly-renovated/opened hotel 5 miles from Epcot. It's a suite hotel with a bedroom, hide-a-bed, and full kitchen, and works perfectly. We spend some time catching up over mimosas and make it to Epcot by 10am. What a place! Neither of us has been here in 15 years, and they've added some great rides. Better yet, they've added a "FastPass" feature for their most popular rides that lets you get a ticket to return later in the day and bypass the long lines. A few favorites: "Soarin'", a simulated hang-glider ride that takes you over the California coast, wine country, and mountains; "Mission: Space", a geo-?? that lets you experience g-forces like an astronaut; and "Test Track", the fastest ride at Epcot. The record highs begin to get us again by mid-afternoon, but having a hotel close by means we can leave the park for a few hours to get a late lunch and a dip in the pool. Much better! We're back in the park by 6pm to wander through all of the countries of the World Showcase. We also happen to be here during the International Wine & Food festival...the lines are so long that we don't actually partake, but it's fun to see what pairings each country has to offer. We stay at Epcot for their fireworks and laser show, "Illuminations", before going back to the hotel for a very later dinner. Sunday Sue and Ted take us to Downtown Disney, a shopping and restaurant complex that didn't exist the last time we were here. It's a fun place to walk around (and no entry fee required!), and we have a final "refreshment" together at T-Rex (think "Rainforest Cafe" with dinosaurs). It's been a super weekend, and we hate saying goodbye.

Monday we're off to Kennedy Space Center. We get a late start, and only have about 4 hours to spend in the park before we have to leave to return our rental car. We hate cutting it short, because there's so much to see here! They still have a bus tour that takes you past the VAB to a viewing area near the space shuttle launch pads, but they've added two more stops: there's an entire building dedicated to the Apollo/Saturn V lunar missions, and another building that shows components of the international space station (you sometimes get to see astronauts training for missions to the station). There are also two Imax movies, the rocket garden, a Hubble telescope exhibit, a shuttle launch simulator, a "meet the astronauts" event, the astronaut memorial, and a mock-up of the space shuttle (orbiter plus external tank & solid rocket boosters). If that's not enough for you, admission includes a visit to the Astronaut Hall of Fame, located 6 miles west of the KSC visitor center. We manage to take the bus tour to the launch pads and the Apollo museum, and then see an Imax film, the rocket garden, and the Hubble exhibit. We try to extend our car for another day to finish everything, but we'd have to go to a daily rate (too expensive). Oh, well - it's still been a great visit! We get quite the surprise on returning our car: they can extend our rental for one more day at the weekend rate. We can go back to KSC tomorrow! The great thing about the KSC tickets is that they're good for two days, not just one. We assume a lot of people don't have time or don't bother with a second day, but it's a great opportunity for us. Once again, we get a late start to the park. When will we learn?! The bottleneck seems to be the tour buses, so we start by covering everything we want to see and do at the visitor's center. The second Imax film (astronaut-filmed scenes from the space station) is fascinating, and the shuttle launch simulator is a great time. After a few more pictures around the area, we board a bus at 2pm intending to see the rest of the center. We were hoping to stop in to the Apollo/Saturn V exhibit to see a few more things, but time is quickly getting away from us. No worries - we should be able to make it to the space station exhibit with plenty of time to spare...right? Wrong. We can stay on one bus from the visitor center to the launch pad to the Saturn V building, but then we have to transfer buses...which means going to the back of a very long line. An hour after leaving the visitor center, we finally board a bus for the space station exhibit. We end up with a very informative bus driver who also happens to drive 20mph under the limit, so it's 3:15 before we make it to the exhibit. Knowing we have to leave KSC by 3:30 to make it back to the car rental office by 4pm, we stay on the bus and forego the tour. Grrrr...this is NOT how we intended to spend the last 90 minutes! But as Rene said, thanks to being able to keep the car for another day, today really was "gravy". Maybe someday we'll learn to get moving earlier in the morning!

We're planning on staying for an extra day to do a few more boat projects, and will likely leave Titusville on Thursday morning. For our next anchorage, we have a couple of destinations in mind that will depend on tides and currents (i.e. what kind of boat speeds we have). After that, we plan to stop in Vero Beach and Port St. Lucie on our way to Ft. Lauderdale. We're hoping to get a watermaker in Ft. Lauderdale, so our crossover to the Bahamas will likely happen in mid-November. We still have plenty of open spots if you want to come visit! Till next time...

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