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June 12, 2006


Woke up around 8:30am today. I actually woke up earlier, but realized that it was raining so I decided to go back to sleep and hope it stopped. It did. I packed everything up - some things were wet (surprise) and headed off for Williamsburg. The ride wasn't too bad. It was grey and a little chilly but okay. It never really rained - every once in a while there would be some dense mist though. I got to Williamsburg around 3pm and found a place to pitch my tent for $20 (ugh). Once I'd setup my campsite I drove into Colonial Williamsburg. It's actually pretty interesting to see a town close to as it would have been in colonial times. Though most of what was going on cost money (think giant tourist blackhole), I was still able to see quite a bit for free. They also apparently have a small college (I forget its name) that people attend. It's really kind of weird. Though as I said, it's interesting to see what a town would have looked like back when we were England's Bitch.

Sadly, I did not see any bears in Shenandoah before I left. Oh well. Anyway, tomorrow it's off to Charleston.

June 13, 2006

Today sucked in terms of driving for the most part. It started out okay - everything was nice and clear and sunny, but then it got progressively worse. Everything save my pillow managed to stay dry this time though, so it wasn't really terrible.


Once I got about 15 minutes outside of Charleston I started looking for campsites. I stopped on Isle of Palms at their county park, but they didn't allow camping. Then I found a KOA that wanted $30, and I was sick of being raped by ridiculous prices. So I continued driving around. Then I found this really great biker place - called "Kick 'N Horse." It was awesome. The people that own the place let me setup my tent in what was kind of like a permanent concession stand thing - it had concrete for a floor and a tin roof that worked well. The best part was that it was free.


The entire place is really interesting - there's a bar/tavern inside a building and then they have a stage and a bar outdoors with pool tables and stuff. I hung out inside for a couple of hours and had dinner and some drinks. Then I went to bed. Or rather tried to go to bed. It was really, really windy. Oh earlier while sitting in the bar I discovered that I had basically ridden into whatever tropical storm is currently going through the southeast. Ugh. Regardless, I didn't sleep much until around 4:30am, then I got a couple of hours in. So it's now morning. I was able to take a shower, which was nice (I haven't showered since Baltimore). I think I'm going to pack everything up and head out soon. I still haven't decided whether I should visit Vaske in Atlanta, GA or just head onto NASA. We'll see.

June 14, 2006 10:49 pm


I decided to go to NASA. The weather was great today - it was sunny the entire time and really warm, which made riding my motorcycle pretty enjoyable. I dropped by Charleston on my way out, which was interesting though really "just another town." It was on my route mostly because of Bill Kissinger. Which reminds me, earlier during my trip I heard a bunch of Doo-Wop music that reminded me of Doc. So, the first "leg" of my journey (up to and including Williamsburg) is now known as the Leppla leg. The second "leg" from Charleston to the western edge of Florida shall be called the Kissinger leg. Which also reminds me, upon entering Georgia I witnessed a sign that said something similar to "We're glad that you've 'Got Georgia on Your Mind'" - a play on the title of a song by Ray Charles. Baaahreeeeeeee. (Thanks Bill ;-)).


If that previous paragraph doesn't make sense to you, you're either not a member of the Purdue "All-American" Marching Band, or you are and you're not old enough. Moving on... as I mentioned I decided to go to Cape Canaveral. It turned out to be a great decision. I got in just as the sun was setting - which made the sky and the ocean look really impressive. I road out to the Kennedy Space Center visitor area, which though closed had a guard posted. I asked him if he knew of any nearby places to camp and he pointed me to one that was really close by, not terribly expensive (not terribly cheap either) and pretty nice. So I setup my tent, went to get some dinner and finally returned to go to bed. I should also mention that I met a young kid named, if I recall correctly, Daniel. He's in the campsite across from me and apparently in third grade.

The kid is really interesting and assertive. He apparently lives in a camper with his Dad (possibly his Mom too). It's an interesting setup, for sure. Nevertheless he enjoys talking and so I've told him about my journey up to this point.

The drive down to Cape Canaveral was uneventful, but I made it here in a reasonable amount of time especially considering that I left Charleston pretty late. All in all it was a good day.

June 15, 2006 10:50 pm

Today was *awesome*. I saw so many things today, and it was great. NASA is truly one of the top scientific organizations on the planet. I was impressed by everything that I saw, and it actually has made me consider applying for a job with NASA. To work for such a great administration devoted to science would be an honor like none other.


Cape Canaveral as a whole is a very interesting area. The Kennedy Space Center is located on Merritt Island (possibly misspelled) which in itself is a national wildlife reserve. So, in addition to really cool rockets and stuff they have some really cool wildlife :). I saw a few gators, a bunch of interesting birds, a wild boar, and a few other things.


The tour, though expensive, was by and large worth it. We were taken to LC-39, the observation gantry for pads 39A and 39B, where the shuttle launches from. That was pretty neat - especially since Discovery is currently on pad 39A in preparation for its launch around July 1. We also drove fairly close to pad 39B - it's interesting to see those things up close. To get there we followed along side the Crawlerway for a bit - the road they use to "drive" the shuttles out to the launch pad.


We also saw the Space Shuttle Landing Facility, the Vehicle Assembly Building (the largest one story building in the world), the Apollo/Saturn V Center (where one of three remaining Saturn V rockets are located) and the International Space Station Center. The Apollo/Saturn V Center also has a moon rock on display that I was able to touch. That was neat I guess - it was a moon rock. On the other hand, it was a rock that had been rubbed smooth by probably millions of other people touching it. Regardless, I've touched a part of the moon.


At the ISS Center we were actually permitted to enter the building and walk through an observation deck where we could see people working to assemble some of the components for the ISS. That was pretty cool. We also got pretty close to the Vehicle Assembly Building - that place is *huge*. Following the tour around NASA's facilities, we returned to the Visitor Complex. There they have a bunch of old rockets in a "rocket garden" as well as a bunch of exhibits. I wandered around looking at all of this.


In addition to the exhibits they have two IMAX 3D theaters with two short (40-45 minutes) movies playing. I saw both of them (all of this was included in the admission price). They were both pretty impressive. The first one was mainly about the ISS and it had some spectacular views of Earth from space. The second was about landing on the moon, and that was pretty cool too. The way it was done made it at times seem like you were actually on the moon. It pointed out an interesting thing too - you basically have a complete lack of perspective on the moon because there isn't anything to reference for scale. One of the astronauts was standing on the edge of a cliff, radioing back to Houston that it was just a little hill. Imagine if he'd taken a few more steps...


My day at Kennedy Space Center coming to an end, I dropped by the Astronaut Hall of Fame on the way out (also included in admission). That was interesting too - it has a bunch of information about the astronauts and some pretty cool "rides." One of them is riding a exploration vehicle on mars (you and 13 other people get in this hydraulics driven thing that bounces you around). Another was basically a giant human sized centrifuge, but I didn't get a chance to ride that one.


Upon return to my campsite I wandered around and walked out to the shoreline. It's pretty cool to see NASA off in the distance. It's a nice reminder that while more and more people today seem to be embracing ignorance - turning away from science, or worse turning to "pseudoscience" - there are still groups of dedicated individuals interested in the continued existence and improvement of mankind. It's a tragedy that NASA's budget has, over the past few years, been cut to shreds.

As I continued my walk, I saw some interesting animals as well. There were some little crabs that would run into predug holes everytime someone approached, a few birds, and a bunch of lizards. (Check out the pictures). Pretty cool :) Anyway, I'm going to bed - I'll be driving quite a bit tomorrow (off to the Florida Keys!).