from sailaway in Los Angeles to disembarkation in Fort lauderdale.
My cruise is over. We docked in Port Everglades, Florida this morning. The port is in Fort Lauderdale and it is the largest cruise terminal in the world. The picture below was taken from the ship after we docked. You can see the Fort Lauderdale skyline along with our sister ship, the Grand Princess.
I checked the forecast online yesterday. It said sunny & 75, so I decided to where shorts and packed everything else in my luggage which was taken away the night before. It was sunny today, but no where near 75. It was so cold this morning I could see my breath. I ended up freezing most of the day.
The first thing I did after getting off the ship was go to Flamingo Gardens as seen in the picture below.
Next I took an airboat ride through the Florida Everglades.
We saw four alligators. That is an alligator in the saw grass in the picture below.
The alligator in the picture below was part of the show they did after the airboat ride. A man put his head in this alligator's mouth.
Next I picked up a rental car and drove to Melbourne, Florida, which is about 160 miles north of Fort Lauderdale. When I got to Melbourne I needed to stop and get a few groceries. Since I'm not on the ship any more I actually have to pay for food again. I was in the left lane waiting for traffic to clear so I could turn into a Winn Dixie when this van behind me plowed right into me. He gave me a pretty good jolt but I wasn't hurt. He said his brakes went out. The rear end of the car I was driving was demolished, but it was drivable, but the cop had to use a crow bar to get the trunk open so I could get my luggage out.
This pretty much shot my evening. Took about 90 minutes at the accident with waiting for the cop to get there and then the time he took to complete the accident report. I drove the wrecked car to my hotel which was about seven miles away. Got all my stuff out of it and then drove it to the Melbourne airport to swap cars. Took another hour or so there to fill out their paper work and swap cars. And then when I got back to the hotel it was another half hour on the phone reporting it to my insurance company. The accident happened at 4:30 and it was after 8:30 before I was done dealing with it.
My hotel here in Melbourne is right on the beach. It's too dark to actually see it but I can hear the waves hitting the beach from my patio. I will be spending the next two days driving up the Florida coast. On Thursday I will fly to New York City from Jacksonville. I will stay in NYC until after Christmas and then fly home.
BTW, congrats Jenny, I'm watching your Bears slaughter the Vikings on Monday Night Football as I'm writing this.
I'm hoping for a less stressful day tomorrow.
walk through the historic district of St. Augustine during the Christmas season.
Woke up this morning in Melbourne Beach, Florida. I managed to get a few winks of sleep last night. It wasn't easy. The person in the next room was snoring so loud I could hear him over the TV. Below is a picture of my hotel on the beach.
It was a beautiful day today. I spent the day at the Kennedy Space Center. The first thing I did was go see the IMAX 3D movie about the space station.
After the movie I journeyed out to the launch pads. Space Shuttle Discovery was on the launch pad. It's not due to be launched until February at the earliest. There are only two shuttle missions left.
We passed the Vehicle Assembly Building a couple of times today. This building is as tall as the Washington Monument. It used to be the largest indoor space on earth, but it has fallen to #4.
Next it was over to a building which houses a Saturn rocket from one of the Apollo missions. Here we saw various exhibits and movies about the Apollo missions. I got to touch a real moon rock. Below is a picture of the Saturn rocket, what will fit in the frame.
Below is Space Shuttle Explorer. It is a full scale mock-up of the shuttles. It was here I did the Shuttle Launch Experience. It is a motion simulator which lets you experience what it feels like to be on the shuttle during launch.
I spent a lot more time here than I anticipated. It was nearly dark by the time I left and I still had a 125 mile drive to St. Augustine where I am spending the night.
I'm staying in the middle of the historic district here in St. Augustine. They have really decorated the area nicely for Christmas. They must have used about a billion lights. I could walk right out from the hotel into this beautiful area. There were lights everywhere, people singing Christmas carols, church bells playing Christmas music, horse drawn carriages in the street and kids sitting on Santa's lap. It was really neat. Below is a picture of the lights and the gazebo on the town square. The picture doesn't do it justice, but my tripod broke and it's the best I can do.
I managed not to get in any accidents today. Tomorrow I will drive the short distance to Jacksonville. I will probably spend most of the day here in St. Augustine.
the Bridge of Lions and the lighthouse.
and the St. Johns River during the day, at sunset and at night.
The bad thing about traveling this time of year is that it gets dark so early it's hard to squeeze everything in before it gets dark. I got up early today so not to miss any sunlight. But it did me little good because the fog didn't lift until after 10:00. It was a nice day after the fog cleared though. The first thing I did was walk around the downtown historic district of St. Augustine. Below is part of Flagler College. This picture shows the courtyard of Ponce de León Hall, my favorite building in the historic district.
After my walk through the historic district the fog had lifted. I took a walk across the Bridge of Lions. This historic draw bridge crosses the Intracoastal Waterway. The picture below was taken from the center of the bridge. You can see the fort on the right and my hotel is to the left of center.
After I checked out of the hotel I visited the fort, Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. This would be my third visit to the fort so I didn't spend much time there. It hadn't changed much since my last visit.
Next I drove across the Bridge of Lions out to the lighthouse and museum. It was a beautiful lighthouse but you couldn't get far enough away from it to get a decent picture.
I climbed to the top of the lighthouse for a great view.
The picture below was also taken from the top of the lighthouse. It shows the downtown area and the Bridge of Lions.
There was more I wanted to do here but in order have any daylight left in Jacksonville, I had to leave. It was only a 45 minute drive to Jacksonville. I checked into my hotel along the St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville. They upgraded my room to the presidential suite. I have a living room, dining room, 2 balconies, 2 50-inch HD TVs and a Jacuzzi. All for the price of the normal room I booked. Below is a picture of my hotel.
I walked along the river and across my second draw bridge of the day into the city center. The picture below shows the bridge and the Jacksonville skyline.
The picture below is Jacksonville Landing. It is located to the left of the Modis building in the picture above.
And the last picture of the day was taken just moments ago from one of my balconies after it got dark.
I have to get up early tomorrow as my flight to New York leaves at 7:30am. Today was my last day of warm weather. The forecast for my three days in the Big Apple doesn't look too bad. Temps in the 30s and partly sunny.
More later from the city that never sleeps,
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