Day 8: Today we went to visit the Kennedy Space Centre (or should I write Center). This of course was part of Gary's dream for the trip but I must admit I was very excited as we drove towards the NASA building - it's the one you see on a lot of movies and TV shows, it has the NASA symbol on the right and the American flag on the left. The building itself is huge and although not as tall as the Empire State Building, if you broke the Empire State building into pieces it would only fill a third of the NASA building. The Yankee Stadium would fit on the roof of the building and still allow for an acre sized car park!! This huge NASA building is known as the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) and until recently has been closed to the public. We had the opportunity to go inside and even take photos, it was amazing. We visited the launch pads of Apollo and the shuttles. Visiting these areas and the Astronaut Hall of Fame was quite surreal, especially reading about those who have lost their lives. I was amused that with all the advanced technology that is around they still make a lot of things quite simply - for example, to clear the gravel road way after the crawler moves a rocket or shuttle somewhere they drag fence wire by chains behind a truck to even out the gravel again. It was quite interesting learning about the shuttles too. Did you know they install a Coke machine on them so that they can drink some liquid coke, or that they have designed a special make-up kit for female astronauts to store their make-up in. Wow, the little trivial things we learn along the way.
The size of everything is absolutely amazing and mind blowing!! Roy, I waved to you across the water.
We had dinner at 'Cracker Barrel' - Tiahna's first visit and it was nice having real food again.
Decided to have a change in plans, as you do on a road trip. Despite the plan to head up the East Coast we all voted to drive West and visit New Orleans - How exciting!!!
Day 9: Woke up early and left to head West at 7am. We headed up to Jacksonville, passing through Daytona Beach (yep, we drove past the speedway to check it out) and St Augustine, the oldest town in the States. The drive from Cape Canaveral to New Orleans is a tiring 10 hours so Gary and I took turns driving whilst Tiahna alternated between sleeping and watching movies in the back seat. I listened to quite a bit of Bon Jovi (yes, I'm a fan) and then Gary switched to Michael W. Smith when it was his turn to drive. We all sang a long and must have looked like quite a jovial car to those passing us by. Finally got to leave Florida and experience Alabama and Mississippi before entering Louisiana where we were staying at the Garden District (just next door to the French Quarter) in New Orleans. One of the first things we noticed as we crossed a very long bridge into New Orleans were the large buildings that still had windows destroyed and a lot of damage from Hurricane Katrina. Most the the City has been repaired but in some places you can still see the results and imagine the horrific impact this hurricane must have had in this area. We were very surprised at the size of New Orleans - as you drive in it just looks like another HUGE city, but we were interested in the French Quarter and the areas known for their Jazz.
We arrived at our hotel which we knew was a quaint registered historic building that had been restored, but were not prepared for how small and cold our room is. Tiahna is sleeping on a sofa bed that is in the room you enter through the door and Gary and I need to navigate our way up a tight spiral staircase to an area about 4m x 4m which has a queen bed, a bedside table and nothing else. There is a small bathroom next to Tiahna and that's the whole room. Quaint, hmmmm?
After checking in we headed down to Bourbon St which we had been told would capture the heart of New Orleans. Oh My!!!! It was worse than Las Vegas. We were all expecting lots of eating areas and music (in particular - Jazz). Well there was lots of eating areas, lots of music, lots of alcohol, lots of drunks and lots of very crude pictures - even Vegas wasn't that bad. The place smelt of booze and I couldn't believe that we had exposed Tiahna to a place like this. We were all sorely disappointed and couldn't believe that we had driven all this way for something like what we were experiencing. Luckily a friend had suggest another particular street (Frenchman St where the locals go)so we drove there and at least got to experience a little bit of the heart of New Orleans there. Picked up some yummy pizzas and headed back to the hotel for a well deserved rest.
Day 10: Well, thank goodness. Day 10 has restored my impression of what New Orleans should be. We caught the streetcar into the middle of the Garden District and visited the Lafayette Cemetery. Just what you would imagine it to be like. Did you know that in a lot of areas in Louisiana people have to be buried in vaults because if they are buried in the ground their bodies rise to the surface (freaky)? After that we took the streetcar to the French Quarter and walked down Royal St which is filled with antiques and artwork. We went past the St Louis Cathedral just as a bride was arriving, walked through Jackson Square where people sell artwork and perform and then went to the French Market place. On our way back the bridal party were leaving the Cathedral marching down the street with a Jazz band. The bride and bridesmaids all had parasols, the cathedral bells were chiming and all of the guests were waving white cloths in the air following the band walking along the streets. Very much like you would imagine a traditional African American New Orleans wedding to be except that everyone was white (there, I said it, may not be racially correct but I'm not sure how else to explain it).
We then took the streetcar back to the hotel, jumped into the car and drove past the City Park (not sure why it received such a high rating on trip advisor - hope we were at the right place) and dropped Gary at the Louisiana Music Factory whilst Tiahna and I sought out a haunted house.
Then back to the hotel for an early night and blog updating.