Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hotel Shower Heads

Shower heads are not what they used to be -- particularly in hotels. Granted, the hotels are probably trying to save on their water bills, but the last few hotels that I've stayed in -- I could hardly get the soap off my body with the amount of water that was coming from the shower heads. Ultimately, you wind up staying in the shower longer, using more water.

These are mainstream, mid-priced hotels. At least one of the hotels was a four-star.

I used to always ask to see the room in advance just to check for cleanliness and bed comfort, but I think I am going to add "check the water flow in the shower head" to my future checklist.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Florida's Gold Coast

 The sand is so white on stretches of Florida's panhandle that you could easily mistake it for snow. I've seen a lot of beaches, but this stretch of beach near Panama City is one of the most beautiful. Unfortunately, there is a lot of development around it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sunrise at Cocoa Beach, Florida - February 9, 2011

Happily Lost in Space

I spent part of the day this week at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and it is a great way to get totally consumed by space. From the moment you leave the car -- you delve into the space program.  First, I spotted some of the early rockets in the 'rocket garden,' next, I went to a short talk by a former shuttle astronaut, Bob Springer, and then it was over to the Space Shuttle Simulation ride.  Pretty cool ride, by the way.  As a bonus, Shuttle Discovery was sitting on launch pad 39B -- reminding me of the days when I covered the shuttle launches for the AP. There's nothing like watching a shuttle lift off the pad -- from about as close as you can get, safely -- about three miles. The sheer power of seeing, hearing and feeling it -- left me almost speechless the first time I experienced it.

Everything around is about space -- and, of course, that's the whole point -- but I found myself getting completely lost in space and forgetting about everything else. I felt like a kid again -- and dreaming about flying in space and traveling to places like Mars and the Moon.

The whole visitor complex is well organized and I don't mean for this to be a plug for KSC, but they've done a great job -- making the exhibits interesting and informative. For instance, I had forgotten how close Neil Armstrong came to not walking on the moon that July day in 1969 -- after technical problems almost fouled everything up.

By the end of the day, I had felt as though I'd traveled to outer space and back -- and, to a degree, thanks to the exhibits -- understood how, technically, it is accomplished.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ten Gators

I spent two years in Timor-Leste and heard lots of stories and rumors about crocodiles, but I never saw a single one the whole time I was there. The closest that I came was photographs. Er...and the zoo in Bali.

I have to say I didn't mind it so much -- my biggest fear was to find myself face to face with a Mr. Croc -- while snorkeling.

Today,  I spent a few hours at Florida's Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge near Titusville and spotted ten alligators -- safely from a distance of about 10 feet. All ten critters were sunning themselves along a canal -- enjoying the warm 57 degrees Fahrenheit. Some were pretty hard to spot -- and it was a lot of fun -- creeping along the dirt road at 10 mph -- trying to spot them.

 Can you spot the gator in the photo below?