27.01.2010 - 09.02.2010 28 °C
We know....we haven't written for awhile but we did not have internet access on the cruise ship for the past week. Time has just flown by. I will try and recap our past 10 days.
We managed to get to San Juan, Puerto Rico. We had to fly from Calama Chile/Santiago Chile. Santiago/Lima Peru. Lima/Miami. Miami/San Juan Puerto Rico. It was a long 30 hour day and we were exhausted after the flight. Darwin woke up the next morning and realized he was in Bacardi Capital. So off we went and had a great afternoon touring the factory. Darwin even got to meet Jacquin Bacardi - the CEO and president. He was thrilled.
Next day was cruise day and we spent the morning on segways touring the city. We checked into our suite and then we went back into town and bought some new clothes for our cruise. We enjoyed the first night at the disco. Our first port of call was Tortola, British Virgin Islands. We did not book an excursion and spent the day touring marinas. This is a key place to charter boats in the Caribbean. We quickly found out that catamarans are the favourite choice. They offer more space for couples and because there is minimal draft, it's easier to pull up to remote beaches during your sailing adventures. Moorsings is the most expensive at approx $12K/week (we were looking at 45ft boats with 4 queen beds and private heads)and has boats less than 2 years. Sunsail is roughly $10K/week with boats 2-4 years and Footloose rentals run $8K bareboat and are 6-8 years old. We enjoyed talking to the renters as they boarded their charters for the week. It certainly sounds like an adventure we want to try.
Next day off to St. Maarten. Kim recommended the America's cup sailing race so we booked it and glad we did.... What a hoot. We actually raced in an America's cup format race. We were on the Canada II and I was selected by the skipper as the honorary captain. We raced the Stars and Stripes. What an adrenalin rush for the next hour. We won the race and I got to sail the boat back to it's mooring ball. What excitiement.
Next day was Antigua. We didn't do much here. Just walked around
St. Lucia was the fourth port of call. We hired a cab for the day and headed off to the islands active volcano where you actually drive through the caldera and get to smell the lava flowing. It was gross smelling (h2S - hydrogen sulphide gas) but interesting to see. From there off to the main attraction the peytons. We heard from most passengers this island has great beaches and was spectacular. We spent most of the day in the taxi and then the captain ended up crusing past the peytons for a sunset. So we were a bit diappointed we wasted a good beach day. Oh well.
Last port of call was Grenada. We went on a snorkelling tour on a catamaran with 2 other couples we met from Minnesota. It was a hoot and a great way to end the island tours. Last day was a sea day and we relaxed by the pool.
We flew from San Juan to Orlando and checked into our condo on Saturday. While waiting for our car rental, Darwin overheard some folks chatting up the Shuttle endeavour launch that was scheduled on Sunday morning at 04:39. We decided we had to try and see the launch. So we checked into our room and immediately starting surfing Google Earth. Darwin found a spot he thought would be a great viewpoint and then we napped for an hour. Off to Titusville Florida to watch the launch. We did not know what to expect and Darwin ended up taking us to Space View Park, a very popular destination for launches (thank you google earth).
We arrived around 02:00 and napped in the car until 03:30. Then we headed out to find our viewing spot. There had to be over 100,000 people in this area camped out with family to watch the launch. With T-9 minutes we heard through the crowd the launch was cancelled due to the low cloud cover. We were VERY disappointed by this and drove back to Orlando (about an hour). We slept for 5 hours and then checked the internet and it was confirmed the launch was rescheduled for Monday morning at 04:14. Our friends Bill and Alice were making their way towards Orlando but we did not know where they were. We left them phone/skype messages to see if they wanted to join us. they called around noon and when we explained the opportunity they said we're in. So Bill called us around 8:00 to say he was 4 hours away from Titusville. So we set up a meeting place. Meanwhile we watched the Saints win the Superbowl which was REALLY cool. Since we know the team's mascot "Da Pope"...we were very excited to see them win. We were too pumped to sleep, so headed off to Titusville. We met up with Bill and Alice around 00:30 in a parking lot. It was funny meeting up with friends you have not seen in months in a parking lot at midnight.... Caught up with them and then we made our way over to our viewing spot. There was perhaps 70% less people viewing than the night before. I'm sure the Superbowl and a worknight had alot to do with the minimal attendance. Oh well, better viewing for us. At exactly 04:14 we could see a great light appear. Then the shuttle took off. As they say here....you see it....then hear it....then feel it....and boy is that true. The sound was deafening and you could feel your chest pounding as the sound wave drove across the water.
What an incredible sight. Our pictures do not do this justice and this should be one of the 7 technology wonders of the world. An absolute thrill to see and one of our trip highlights.... I know we keep saying this, but this one is a definite.
Today we headed off to Kennedy Space Center for a tour to better understand what we witnessed the day before. It was a great day. the most interesting tidbit we learned was that during a launch the animal kingdom is also affected. If you are near water during a launch, watch out for the jumping fish, dolphins and aligators. They are not sure what is happening so they all react in flight. Never thought of that before.
We went to the Astronaut Hall of Fame and went in a 4G-force simulation ride and regretted it afterwards. Boy does that get the stomach turning. How astronauts can handle 16G force is beyond us.
We are all tired tonight as we have not really slept the past 3 days, so off to bed early. We are travelling to St. Petersburg tomorrow to Derby Lane dog track. My dad loved watching the dogs here, so we are going to enjoy an afternoon of gambling.
Good night... Happy Birthday Mom Durnie