5-4-3-2-1 Lift Off!
Sounds like a space shot, doesn’t it. Well, it was!!! Ann and I saw the launch of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN probe (MAVEN). And I’ll tell you, it was exciting. You should have seen those little green men … oops, they told us not to talk about them. Besides, I am supposed to write in chronological order, so you are just going to have to wait until we tell you about the launch.
After St. Augustine we headed down the river a few miles to Fort Matanzas. “Matanzas,” of course, is the Spanish name for “massacres” or “slaughters”. It seems that, in September 1565, the Frenchman Jean Ribault, with a group of fellow Huguenots, sailed from the French base at Fort Caroline to destroy the newly-established Spanish colony at St. Augustine. But what happens in September in Florida? Hurricanes. Just such a storm carried the French south of St. Augustine to a point between present-day Daytona Beach and Cape Canaveral where they were shipwrecked. As they marched north to get back to Fort Caroline, they were intercepted by a force of seventy or so Spanish. Although the details vary from storyteller to storyteller, of the 127 men captured, 111 were killed for allegedly for refusing to renounce their faith and accept Catholicism. If that wasn’t enough, two weeks later another 134 were killed near the same place. The location of this massacre? You guessed it. It was a place that became known as Matanzas Inlet. One-hundred eighty-five years later a fort was built by the Spanish near the site of the massacre at Matanzas Inlet to guard the backdoor to Augustine – and that is how Fort Matanzas got its name.
Just as was the case in 1565, there is, today, an inlet that leads from the ocean to the Matanzas River and subsequently to Saint Augustine. Just in front of the fort, the river is 10-15 feet deep – plenty of water to anchor. So, we waited until just before high tide to sneak into the inlet, then dropped the hook. Although there is quite a bit of current through the Inlet, our anchor grabbed the bottom and held us for the two nights we stayed. We also went ashore to see the National Monument itself. (Do you remember that I told you that Ann likes to get stamps in her new National Park and Monument Passport? Well, she sure wasn’t going to miss this opportunity.) Although the fort is kind of small, the rangers were very knowledgeable – and that is what made the tour interesting.
Our next stop was only four miles south of the Fort; it was Marineland Marina. On the day we arrived at Marineland, they were having a Farmer’s Market at the marina. It was a lot of fun and allowed us to get some fresh fruit and vegetables (so we don’t get scurvy, you know … ARGH!), some bread, some of this and some of that.
We had stopped at Marineland during our trip north and had really enjoyed it, even though we didn’t have time to see the aquarium itself. Actually, when it was built in the 1930s, it wasn’t supposed to be a simple aquarium; it was, as you might recall from last spring’s Blog entry, the world’s first “oceanarium,” in that it was intended to be the ocean in microcosm. That was important because, in addition to being a kind of an ocean-theme park, it was intended to be THE location for movies with an underwater setting. And it was – at least for two memorable films – Creature from the Black Lagoon and Return of the Creature. It was also the setting for Sea Hunt, which starred Lloyd Bridges. For those of you who have not reached “that certain age” where you know what Sea Hunt was, Lloyd is the father of Beau and Jeff Bridges.
This time we not only went to the beach (though we stayed only a few minutes because the wind was blowing so hard we were getting sandblasted) and the gift shop, we actually took the tour of the ocreanarium and got to see the dolphins up close. They have 12 dolphins, at various stages of maturity, but Nellie, at 60 years old, is their oldest – and the oldest in captivity.
|Octopus in the Ocaenarium at Marineland|
Although we had planned on staying a couple of days at Marineland, the fact that there was supposed to be a blow coming from the north/northeast made us glad we had picked this particular time. When we arrived on the 12th, the weather was nice and pleasant. Shortly after midnight, however, the wind picked up – and boy did it pick up. All night long and for part of the next day the wind was steady at 30-35 MPH and gusting to 40+. We had secured the boat to the dock very well, and had placed several fenders out, so, for us, the wind was almost a non-event, but it sure was blowing.
My sister has long been after me to “develop” some of the characters we meet on the Waterway. (I should point out my sister was an actress, so she does use phrases like “develop characters”). I have always been a bit hesitant because many of these “characters” are you – friends we meet during our travels – and I don‘t want to say anything that might be taken the wrong way. That said, at Marineland I met a character. I had taken a short walk to check out the shores of the waterway and to stretch my legs. On the way back, I saw a guy debark from his boat to take his trash to the dumpster. I slowed so I could at least introduce myself. I told him my name was which boat was ours. For their next 20 minutes, I couldn’t say anything else; Lance Long was in the transmit mode. I believe he took a couple of breaths during his monologue, but I would not swear to it.
I learned that Lance had a Ph.D. from the University of Florida in 19th Century Literature, that the title of his dissertation was something like Sea Captains in Nineteenth Century Literature (Even my best friends who know I have a Ph.D. don’t know anything about my dissertation). But apparently Lance – his name is Lance Long – thought his newest best friend (me) would certainly be interested. I also learned that Lance taught Literature at the Merchant Marine Academy, where, he said, he was a navy lieutenant commander and at Maine Maritime Academy. (This is the first place I realized Lance might have a tendency to exaggerate. He might have been the equivalent of a navy Lt Cmdr, but I doubt that he was one. Moreover, I am not sure why the navy, vice the merchant marine, would have given him any rank). Oh, but I learned more.
Lance left academia and came to Florida where he started a handyman business which evolved into a construction/real estate development business. I learned that he bought 65 acres on the ocean near Marineland which he later sold to a developer who built 360 condos on the land. One might have thought Lance would have made a bunch of money from this transaction, but apparently not. I learned that after the ’89 real estate crash (I didn’t even know there was a crash in ’89). Lance wrote a book on success, that turned into an infomercial, and that turned into a presentation series, of which he gave 3000. (Hmmm. If he would have netted just $1000 for each of his presentations he would have a nice bundle of $3 million. Do you suppose Lance was exaggerating here, too?) Oh, but I learned even more. He is currently in the process of getting rid of the several properties that he owns so he can become a full-time cruiser. He had just sold two of his properties in St. Augustine that very day (for which he received a cash settlement) and that he had three or four more. He recounted where these properties were and the likelihood that they would be sold in the near future, but by this time I was suffering from “listener’s remorse” and I was kicking myself for getting roped into listening to this guy. I could tell you more. I could tell you his son’s height and weight (6’4” 230 pounds), that his son was a football star in high school, that 50 schools wanted him, that he chose Florida – then decided not to play football. I could tell you that Lance has written and e-published two books that he sells hundreds of them per month. Oh! He is 69 years old and he has been married for 43 years. He is now a “prepper” meaning that he is preparing for doomsday or something, that he is going to survive doomsday on his boat (a very nice 49’ North Pacific – but it ain’t the boat of a multimillionaire), etc. etc.
AND those are the things that I remember!!! AND I learned all that in 20 minutes, tops. I tried, on two different occasions to get Lance to ask me a question so I could enter into the conversation. One time, when we were talking about his son’s football career, I pointed out that neither my alma mater, nor my graduate school alma mater was doing well in football. I thought he might ask me where I had gone to school. Nope. He wasn’t interested.
Need I develop this character anymore? Lance Long. What a talker.
After Marineland and Lance, we went to Titusville, which for those of you who aren’t aware, is very close to Cape Canaveral. We stayed on a mooring ball for two days and then went into the marina for two days. I am going to tell you about the Mars shot in a minute, but first I need to tell you about Bill and Regina. We first met Bill and Regina aboard their boat Meant2B in Nassau last year. Bill was the former Navy submarine guy who helped me put in my new inverter, and Ann and Regina just hit it off. Bill and Regina now live on their boat in the Titusville Marina.
Well, I gotta tell ya that they went well beyond the call of duty helping us. Titusville seems to be a nice place, but doesn’t have many stores in the neighborhood. So, when Bill and Regina offered to take us somewhere, Ann needed to go to Bed, Bath and Beyond and I needed to go to West Marine. That was not a problem for Bill and Regina, they first took us 40 miles in one direction to Bed, Bath and Beyond and then 40 miles in the other direction to West Marine. The next day they had us over for steak and shrimp on their boat and the following day they took us to the beach so we could see the MAVEN launch. Regina is having a few medical issues right now, so I am sure you will join us in wishing her a speedy recovery so we can repay their kindness in the Exumas!!!!
As I said, Bill and Regina took us to the National Seashore where we could get a good look at the Mars bound spacecraft as it took off. The mission is to determine how the Martian atmosphere transformed the world into the desolate wasteland it is today. The robotic spacecraft, called the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution probe (MAVEN), launched atop an Atlas 5 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 1:28 p.m. EST, and began a 10-month journey to Mars. And we were there.
|It is that little bright spot. If you look closely you can also see the plume|
A few impressions:
· It was a magnificent sight. But at the end of the day, it was a small spacecraft, taking off from a small planet to travel through interplanetary space to a planet nearly 440 million miles away. Amazing.
· Although we could see the entire missile for a few seconds, soon all we could see was the plume. But, my god, the sound that followed the launch was indescribable. While the launch took place 5 miles away, when the sound waves got there, you couldn’t hear the voice of the person next to you.
· It was good to see that, even on a Monday afternoon where you had to travel several miles by car and then, maybe a mile on foot, there were still quite a few people who wanted to see the launch. Apparently the people care and understand the importance of the space program more than the politicos do.
Ann`s Notes: We have had a very nice time cruising down the ICW. The weather has been good and when it does turn yucky we seem to be in the right marina at the right time. We have met some really nice cruisers and exchanged places to visit in the Bahamas and Exumas and good places to anchor on the way. I did miss the Lance Long conversation even if it did take place outside my galley window. I was preparing dinner so I had better things to do than witness the conversation. I did get to read the brochure he gave everyone on the dock so we all could order his yet-to-be-famous E-book. The brochure went out with the morning trash.
The “behind the scenes” tour of Marineland was interesting. I learned a lot about the dolphin’s habits and social groups. It seems like the moms and babies make up the larger pods I see. The ones that swim in groups of two or three are generally an older male and one or two teenagers. The dolphins in the wild live about twenty-five years. They only breed twice a year and the females are pregnant for a year before giving birth. Also each male dolphin takes the whistle of his mother and then adds his own unique sound at the end. That is the dolphin’s way of protecting the gene pool. They are such beautiful animals and I just love watching them. They make my heart happy whenever they come and play with our wake.
Fort Mantanzas was really just a well built redoubt, very small but in a good location. The park rangers knew their history and made the fort come alive. I am just glad I did not live back then, just a lot of work to stay alive. I did get my Park Stamp so I am a happy boater.
Titusville is an interesting place, very close to Orlando but one would never know it. Everything is spread out like Michael said, the sort of place that you have to have a car, or good friends to get anything done. Regina and Bill went way above and beyond to make us feel welcome. We enjoyed their company very much and look forward to spending more time with them in the future.
The space launch was exciting. I remember as a little girl watching all the Apollo launches with my dad. He was a space nut, I think the splash downs were my favorite, just knowing those brave men made it back to earth safe and sound. I did feel very proud seeing that rocket in the air, I also know what 671 million dollars looks like when it goes up in a cloud of vapors.
Sunday 10 Nov 2013
· 3 Dolphins in the mooring field
Monday 11 Nov 2013
· 3 sets of 2 dolphins….probably male
· 2 Single Dolphins
Tuesday 12 Nov 2013
· 1 set of 2 Dolphins
· 2 Single dolphins
· 1 Jumping Dolphin
· LOTS of Cannon Ball Jellyfish…look them up…they look like floating mushroom caps…big mushrooms
Friday 15 Nov 2013
· 5 white tail deer under some trees
· 2 very playful dolphins, jumping ,swimming upside down in the side wake of the boat
· 6 sets of 2 dolphins
· 10 Single dolphins
· A pod of 5 dolphins rounding up fish toward the shore into shallow water for lunch is my guess
· Pod of 7 jumping and just having fun
· Pod of 3
Sunday 17 and Monday 18
· Manatees, lots of them in the marina, hanging out to get a drink of fresh water from people washing their boats. These animals are huge, some 6 feet long and I could not even guess their weight. Pretty cute in an ugly sort of way. Don`t know what the universe was thinking when it came up for the design of this animal but I am certain it does have a place in the grand scheme of things.
Thanks for reading…