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All of the images below are thumbnails and can be clicked on for a larger image.

MONDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2010:

My 15-day cruise on the beautiful Island Princess came to an end on Monday morning.
We arrived at the World Cruise Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida before dawn.
We were in port with our sister ship the Grand Princess.
World Cruise Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida The Grand Princess at the World Cruise Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The video below is 1 hour and 3 minutes long and covers all shipboard activities
from sailaway in Los Angeles to disembarkation in Fort lauderdale.

It was a very cool morning as I visited Fort Lauderdale's Flamingo Gardens.
Flamingo Gardens in Fort Lauderdale, Florida Flamingo Gardens in Fort Lauderdale, Florida Flamingo Gardens in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

60 acres of lush gardens showcasing rare, exotic and native plants.
Flamingo Gardens in Fort Lauderdale, Florida Flamingo Gardens in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The Flamingo Gardens video is below and it is 15 minutes long.

Before leaving Fort Lauderdale I took an air boat ride through the Everglades.
The Florida Everglades The Florida Everglades The Florida Everglades

We saw a few alligators during our excursion.
The Florida Everglades The Florida Everglades An Alligator in the Florida Everglades

The Alligator below was at Everglades Holiday Park and not in the wild.
An Alligator in the Florida Everglades An Alligator in the Florida Everglades

The Everglades video is below and it is 21 minutes long.

In the afternoon I drove about 150 miles north to Melbourne, Florida.
Below is Indian River which is part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.
Indian River in Melbourne, Florida Indian River in Melbourne, Florida

I spent the night at the Doubletree Hotel on the Atlantic Ocean.
The Doubletree Hotel in Melbourne, Florida The Doubletree Hotel in Melbourne, Florida The Atlantic Ocean


The video below is my hotel report on the Doubletree Hotel in Melbourne, Florida.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON DECEMBER 20, 2010
Hello Everyone,

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.

The Grand Princess at the World Cruise Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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.

Flamingo Gardens in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Next I took an airboat ride through the Florida Everglades.

The Florida Everglades

We saw four alligators. That is an alligator in the saw grass in the picture below.

An Alligator in the Florida Everglades

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.

An Alligator in the Florida Everglades

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.

Until later,

Tim
Click on email photos for the large full-size photograph.



TUESDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2010:

On Tuesday I continued traveling north up the coast of Florida.
I spent most of the day at the Kennedy Space Center.
That's Space Shuttle Discovery on the launch pad.
Florida's Kennedy Space Center Florida's Kennedy Space Center Space Shuttle Discovery on the launch pad

Below is the huge crawler-transporter vehicle.
It slowly moves the shuttles from the Vehicle Assembly building, which is seen lower right, to the launch pad.
Crawler-transporter which transports the shuttle to the launch pad Space Shuttle Discovery on the launch pad The Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center

The Apollo/Saturn V Center was very interesting. Lots of things on display from the Apollo moon missions.
A real saturn rocket in the Apollo/Saturn V Center Command module from Apollo program

Space Shuttle Explorer is a full-scale replica of the space shuttles.
Space Shuttle Explorer, a full-scale replica of a Space Shuttle Space Shuttle Explorer, a full-scale replica of a Space Shuttle The Rocket Garden at the Kennedy Space Center

30 minute video of my visit to Florida's Kennedy Space Center.

After leaving Kennedy I moved further north to St. Augustine.
I stayed at the Hilton in the heart of the historic district.
The town was nicely decorated for Christmas.
Hilton in St. Augustine Florida Historic district of St. Augustine, Florida decorated for Christmas Historic district of St. Augustine, Florida decorated for Christmas


The video below is 11 minutes long. You can hear church bells playing Christmas carols as I
walk through the historic district of St. Augustine during the Christmas season.

The 4 minute video below is my hotel report on the Hilton St. Augustine.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON DECEMBER 21, 2010
Howdy all,

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.

The Doubletree Hotel in Melbourne, Florida

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.

Florida's Kennedy Space Center

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.

Space Shuttle Discovery on the launch pad

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.

The Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center

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.

A real saturn rocket in the Apollo/Saturn V Center

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.

Space Shuttle Explorer, a full-scale replica of a Space Shuttle

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.

Historic district of St. Augustine, Florida decorated for Christmas

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.

More later,

Tim
Click on email photos for the large full-size photograph.



WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2010:

I had a rather foggy start to my day on Wednesday. The fog lifted late in the morning.
St. Augustine, Florida town square Lightner Museum and City Hall Flagler College/The Ponce De Leon Hotel

Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European-established city in the continental US.
Memorial Presbyterian Church Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine Historic district of St. Augustine, Florida

The Bridge of Lions is a drawbridge that spans the Intracoastal Waterway in St. Augustine, Florida.
Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine, Florida Drawbridge up on the Bridge of Lions View of St. Augustine, Florida from the Bridge of Lions

The Bridge of Lions connects downtown St. Augustine to Anastasia Island.
Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine, Florida Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine, Florida

The Castillo de San Marcos site is the oldest masonry fort in the United States.
Construction began in 1672 by the Spanish when Florida was a Spanish possession.
The Castillo de San Marcos The Castillo de San Marcos The Castillo de San Marcos

The St. Augustine Light is an active lighthouse on the north end of Anastasia Island.
I climbed the staircase to the top of the 165-foot tower built in 1874.
St. Augustine Light Station St. Augustine Lighthouse View from the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse

The view from the top of the lighthouse is spectacular.
View from the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse View from the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse View from the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse

The Museum keeps the light burning as a private aid-to-navigation in America's oldest port city.
St. Augustine Inlet as seen from the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse Lens of the St. Augustine Lighthouse Bridge of Lions as seen from the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse

The lighthouse and surrounding buildings have a long history of supposed paranormal activity.
The Great Cross, at the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche View from the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse The 1876 Keepers' House

The video below is 25 minutes long and covers my walk through the historical district,
the Bridge of Lions and the lighthouse.

After leaveing the Lighthouse in St. Augustine it was a short drive to Jacksonville.
I stayed at the Crown Plaza Hotel along the St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville.
Crown Plaza Hotel in Jacksonville, Florida Jacksonville skyline along the St. Johns River Jacksonville skyline along the St. Johns River

The video below is my report on my stay at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Jacksonville.

I walked across the Main Street Bridge and visited Jacksonville Landing.
Main Street Bridge in downtown Jacksonville, Florida Jacksonville Landing Downtown statue of Andrew Jackson

The 37-story Modis Building, with its distinctive flared base is the defining building in the Jacksonville skyline.
The tallest building is the Bank of America Tower with 42 floors and a height of 617 feet.
Jacksonville Landing Jacksonville skyline along the St. Johns River Jacksonville skyline along the St. Johns River

As the sun set I got a nice view of the downtown skyline from my hotel room balcony.
Jacksonville skyline along the St. Johns River Jacksonville skyline along the St. Johns River Jacksonville skyline along the St. Johns River

Consolidation gave Jacksonville its great size and placed most of its metropolitan population within the city limits.
As a result it is the most populous city proper in Florida and the thirteenth most populous in the United States.
Jacksonville skyline along the St. Johns River Jacksonville skyline along the St. Johns River Moon over downtown Jacksonville, Florida

The Jacksonville video below is 11 minutes long and feautures views of the Jacksonville skyline
and the St. Johns River during the day, at sunset and at night.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON DECEMBER 22, 2010
Hello,

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.

Flagler College/The Ponce De Leon Hotel

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.

View of St. Augustine, Florida from the Bridge of Lions

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.

The Castillo de San Marcos

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.

St. Augustine Lighthouse

I climbed to the top of the lighthouse for a great view.

View from the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse

The picture below was also taken from the top of the lighthouse. It shows the downtown area and the Bridge of Lions.

View from the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse

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.

Crown Plaza Hotel in Jacksonville, Florida

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.

Jacksonville skyline along the St. Johns River

The picture below is Jacksonville Landing. It is located to the left of the Modis building in the picture above.

Jacksonville Landing

And the last picture of the day was taken just moments ago from one of my balconies after it got dark.

Jacksonville skyline along the St. Johns River

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,

Tim
Click on email photos for the large full-size photograph.

I also visited Florida in 2005 and 2015.


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