Episode Eight : From Krazy Kite-Flyers at Kitty Hawk to the Florida Keys
Destination: Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
Who would they be, really, two aerospace engineers traveling the country who don’t go and visit the birthplace of manned powered flight? And during the centennial celebration no less. So off they go, traveling to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, a beautiful stretch of thin, sandy beaches. It is a place with enough wind to blow someone down, or up, if they have the right equipment that is. Here they are, that crazy duo, paying tribute to Wilber and Orville.
Roberts and Macy at the place where it all began
The front of the monument overlooks the hill where initial flight was achieved back on December 17th, 1903. The words surrounding the monument speak to the two educated men. Not to imply anything, but …
(Need more be said?)
But just seeing the monument and reading the words and looking down the hill is not enough. They have to participate in it all, somehow. So Dan deploys his kite and plays with the wind.
Dan flying his heavier-than-air craft with the Wright Brother Monument in the background … how appropriate
From Kitty Hawk, Dan and Greg head further south to the Frisco campground. It is a sandy place with a warm wind, and just a two minute walk to the beach. That evening, the two sat next to the water in the dark of the night and watched an exciting electrical storm dance around somewhere far out above the ocean. Oh, and Greg got hit by a stray lighting bolt, so now he can read minds and bend spoons and stuff.
The following morning, they head down the road to catch a free thirty minute ferry ride to the last island among the Outer Banks. From there, they head south to another ferry ride, this one lasting about 2 hours, that takes them back to the main land. To entertain themselves, D and G get in touch with their musical selves. Actually, there are small goblins living somewhere in the trunk that poke and prod when there isn’t enough music, so they are forced jam, and jam they do.
“Jammin’ on the A Ferry” , a Duke Ellington tribute
Once on the road again, Greg drives the car deeper into the south.
Destination: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
The town of Myrtle Beach is reached in the early evening. The entire town itself consists of a nine mile long strip mall, full of beach shops, restaurants, and lots of mini golf. Needless to say, the two travelers drove right on through and towards the Myrtle Beach State Park camp ground. Before the sun goes down, the beach is explored, and perfect wind conditions exist. Once again the kites must be flown.
Greg and his kite (tail included) on Myrtle Beach
But then Dan is like, “You suck, Greg. You’re flying a stunt kite, lameoid. That’s no stunt.” And Greg is all, “Oh, yeah, let’s see it then, fancy pants.” And then Dan was like… and Greg was all…and he’s all…(this went back and forth for some time). Then Dan does this:
Dan does a super fancy spinny move …ooohh, agghhh.
The following morning, the two awake and then jump in the car and race southwards towards the southeastern most state, Florida. They pass through Georgia, however, and then spend a night just outside of Jacksonville before making it to the next destination of interest.
Destination: Kennedy Space Center; Cape Canaveral, Florida
The Kennedy Space Center, or KSC, consists of some educational exhibits, a rocket garden, and a full size mock-up of a space shuttle and liquid fuel tank with SRBs (Solid Rocket Boosters, for the non-rocket jargon savvy). Here Dan checks out a full size model of one of the two Mars rovers that are on their way, right now, to the Red Planet.
MER (Mars Exploration Rover) and DAN (Dancing Astronomical Nerd)
The MER is also accompanied by a 6 minute long computer animated video of the entire spacecraft mission, from launch to landing and operation. It even has Lenny Kravitz background music…very cool.
The full sized space shuttle model is super duper cool. Here the two geeky engineers are with the behemoth glider.
Dan, Greg and their ride home …yeah right, as if
And the liquid fuel tank with the SRBs (we all know what those are now), here Greg poses with them. Note the shirt Greg is wearing, purchased at the same location but in 1987.
Greg, a NASA shirt from the 80’s, and life sized SRBs
Lastly, the rocket garden is enjoyed. Dan is a little disappointed when he realizes that it is not a series of shrubbery shaped into rockets, but rather the rockets themselves. Still cool, but not really.
Dan gazing at some other rocket while a Saturn III sneaks up behind him and proceeds to scare the crap out of him
A two day trip is required, traveling down the east coast of Florida, until the next destination is reached. All the while, it is still raining.
Destination: Key Largo, Florida
The Florida keys are a beautiful stretch of islands within a tropical-like environment. And it is still raining. The two find themselves a campsite at the John Penecamp campground. Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, it is raining. So, they go and see a movie, Pirates of the Caribbean. A decent flick, entertaining nonetheless. That evening, it just so happens to stop raining, and it remains dry all through the night. Thankfully, tents can be erected without much trouble.
The following morning, Dan and Greg head to the visitors center where they sign up for an eight mile boat ride out to the national coral reef. It is here that they don their rented snorkel gear and explore the ocean floor. Dan looks like one cool dude, don’t ya’ think?
Dan, snorkel gear, and his specially requested life vest
The snorkeling adventure reveals a coral reef full of life. The first creature spotted is a four foot wide ray as it feeds off the smaller creatures within the sandy floor. A couple barracudas are seen, but they are too small to pose any threat. There are also some cool squid things found swimming around, probably because Greg made the water a little warmer than usual, if you know what I mean.
That same day, after the ocean journey leaves the two feeling satisfied that they saw the Florida Keys, they make the next big turn in their road trip extravaganza, and begin heading north and then westwards towards ….
... stay tuned for Episode 9, a view into the New Orleans night life, the caverns deep under the New Mexican soil, and beyond ...
See the intro again.