I’ve been waiting for this adventure to start for a few months now. I have been extra busy at work since we are short people and training new people. Putting in close to or over 120 hours every two weeks takes a toll. I was tried and ready to get out there.
Of course, this year, just like last year. I had to deal with Covid. I just have to do what I did last year and be smart about what I do. Plus I have the vax so I shouldn’t get it too bad if I happen to get it. My daughter on the other hand is too young to receive it. So we have to be extra smart.
I was almost going to cancel this adventure since I am planning on going all around Florida from the Atlantic to the Gulf, down to the keys and up to Orlando. It would be an amazing two weeks. But with the numbers rising in Florida and no one seems to care. It was a tough choice. Should I stay or should I go?
I decided to go and bring some extra masks and hand sanitizer with me just like I did last year. Unlike last year I will have to wear my mask all over the place even if they don’t require it. It’s not worth taking the chance but it is worth taking the trip. My mind needs a break.
I needed to get away. I needed to drive. Just to drive it didn’t matter where. Even though I had an idea of where that might be.
I had the car packed a couple of days before hand. Suit cases were packed. Snacks and drinks were packed. Shirts were made. Everything was ready to go.
I planned on leaving at one in the morning. This way I could hit the three major cities (Philly, Baltimore, DC) over night and not have to worry too much about traffic. I usually wake up at 4am every morning for work so it would only be a couple hours earlier. Plus I usually go to bed around 10 pm so going to bed at 4pm should give me plenty of rest.
Well it didn’t work out the way I expected it to. By 830pm I was wide awake. I tried to go back to bed but it wasn’t happening. So I got my daughter and myself ready and we were on the road by 10pm.
We filled up with gas and started heading down I-95. I figured I would have to pull over at some point in the middle of the night to rest my eyes.
Philadelphia was a breeze to get through but close to the Delaware line, Google Maps took me on a little detour to avoid construction. I couldn’t tell you if it ended up being faster or not but I didn’t hit traffic taking that route.
Baltimore was the next major city to pass by. Just like Philadelphia, I had no issues. However, Google Maps did something strange again south of Baltimore. Instead of just staying on I-95 south until I get off in South Carolina it had me take another route.
At one point I was on 695 and went by the hotel I usually like to stay at when visiting Washington DC. That hotel is Hyatt Place at the National Mall. If you are planning on visiting DC, do yourself a favor and check it out. It is within walking distance to all the top museums and monuments.
This time I did hit a bit of construction traffic but it wasn’t too bad. One question that is always on my mind when I travel I-95. Will they ever finish all the construction? Since I’ve been driving up and down 95 since 2002. There has always been construction going on around the Baltimore-DC area.
From here to South Carolina was smooth sailing. No major traffic or even construction. I was a little surprised by the amount of vehicles on the road. It was overnight after all.
I figured I would have to pull over and take a little nap at a truck stop at some point. However, I didn’t feel sleepy at all. Now the worst time for me when it comes to driving overnight is the hour just before sunrise. I don’t know what it is but that time of morning makes me tired.
This time I didn’t have an issue with that. My buddy who I was going to visit today gave me a call to see where I was at. I ended up talking to him for a little bit that helped get me through that tough little time.
He was hoping to get done early today but wasn’t sure if that would happen. He did say his wife was home so I could just swing over there and hang out till he got off work.
Around 9am we made it to the one place I really wanted to check out. We stopped off to check out Old Sheldon Church Ruins. This place was pretty amazing. I get that you couldn’t actually walk through the church but it still sucks.
Now the coolest thing to me was this tree that grow around bricks. Not sure if it was an old building, fence, or something else. It give it an eerie feeling. Not surprising when you consider there are old graves scattered around the grounds.
The Old Sheldon Church Ruins were worth the stop of but only killed a minimal amount of time. I spent about a half hour here but that is because I was taking videos. Most people I see only spending about 15 minutes here. It is still worth a visit though. It is pretty cool to see.
From here we took a short drive over to the Tanger Outlets of Hilton Head. We walked around for an hour. Had lunch. Than went over to my Marine Corps buddies house and waited till he got home from work.
It was nice seeing him and his wife. I was thankful that I could spend the night at their place. They cooked us dinner. Too bad I forgot to get some pictures of the food he made. His shrimp poppers and crab rangoon are amazing.
We ate dinner. Did a lot of BSing. My daughter hopped into the hot tub and was living her best life. We hit the sack early. Tomorrow had us driving more. Plus we were going to visit some other amazing places.
Day two had us up early and hitting the road. We left before 4am and started making our way to Titusville, FL. I wasn’t planning on going to Kennedy Space Center until the end of my trip. However, we woke up early so I decided to just continue south on 95 pass Jacksonville instead of heading west towards Tampa.
Leaving so early in the morning, we again didn’t hit much traffic on our way through Georgia or Florida. There were more cars on the road today but still wasn’t bad. We crossed over the Florida Georgia line listen to that country music group.
That is something I like to do. I like to put on songs that have a meaning for certain areas. Like the Devil went down to Georgia when we come up to the rising sun exit in Maryland. Or Cowboy Boots by Macklemore when I am coming up to DC and Capitol Hill. Crossing into Florida I had Meant to be playing. If it’s meant to be it will be.
The only issue we really had on our drive down was going through Jacksonville. It wasn’t really an issue. Just I found 95 through Jacksonville to be a very strange drive through. It’s very fast paced with a lot of tuns.
Shortly after passing through Jacksonville the sun started to come up. It wouldn’t be too much longer before we arrived in Titusville and Kennedy Space Center. I must say I was a little disappointment again in the sun rise. This has been the second day I’ve been on the road and had a lack luster sunrise. Oh well.
We arrived at Kennedy Space Center before they opened (9am). I ended up ordering my tickets online while we waited for them to open. I’ve been here before but my daughter hasn’t. She didn’t seem to have too much of an opinion on it at first.
That soon changed once we were able to get inside. The first thing you see when you get inside (as well as seeing from the parking lot) is the rocket garden. So many rockets in this area but they are not even the tallest ones.
From here we headed over to take a bus to the Saturn V area. Right now due to Covid you have to reserve a time for the bus. You can only do it while at KSC. The last time I was here I didn’t even know you could go and see the Saturn V rocket. This time I wasn’t going to miss it.
We got on the bus and took the short drive over to the Apollo/Saturn V area. On our way we got to see the transport that takes the rockets to the launch area. They were out since the day before a launch didn’t happen and had to bring one of the SpaceX rockets back to the Vehicle Assembly Building.
By the way the Vehicle Assembly Building is massive. I forget how big they said the NASA logo was on the side of the building but I want to say the blue part was something like 6 basketball courts or something like that. Going by the VAB was really cool for me. I’ve always been interested in space and would love to have been able to go to space.
Now the Apollo/Saturn V area is amazing. Like holy s**t is the Saturn V rocket huge. I couldn’t believe how big it was. It easily takes a minute to walk the whole thing.
The whole place is interesting to walk around and see. So many cool pieces of history to view. We could have spent a couple of hours exploring the Saturn V area. However, we couldn’t spend all day here and had the rest of KSC to explore.
We hoped back on the bus for the ride back to the main site. Our bus driver on the way back was very knowledgeable. His name as Stan and I believe they said he is the oldest and longest working member at KSC. His been doing the tours for years. His knowledge of the area shows that he’s been there a long time. I can only imagine the stories he could tell.
The next time you come back we will tell you the rest of the storiesKSC Bus Driver Stan
Once we got back to the main area we started checking out everything else around. From the Mars building to the shop and than my personal favorite the Atlantis building. I remember visiting the Atlantis shuttle back in 2015 and can remember how big it was.
Well it is still big. Just not as big as the Saturn V rocket. I also must say that I am a little sad that I never got to witness either one of those rockets get launched into space. One day I hope to see a rocket launch. I over heard a couple of the workers talking about the next launch being within the time I would be in Florida. However, I don’t think it will happen since I don’t see it on the launch website.
We spent a little bit of time looking at all the information on the shuttle program. My daughter really wanted to see what they had on the Space Shuttle Challenger. I guess she learned about it and Christa McAuliffe who was the teacher onboard that tragic flight.
After we checked out the space shuttle we checked out the other buildings. We got to see the mars rover and a nice play area for children. She could have spent hours in the play area climbing around. It was huge. Plus it was nice inside with the air on.
We decided to eat lunch before we headed to Tampa. We ate at the Orbit Cafe. Ordering was quick and easy and down on a computer screen.
The food came out quick and they had a little fixings bar for your burger. The burger wasn’t anything special. It wasn’t good and wasn’t bad. It was just a attraction style burger. You know the kind I am talking about.
After lunch and a stop in the gift shop. We hit the road for the over two hour drive to our hotel in Tampa. If you would drive from Titusville to Clearwater it would take a little over three hours. So it would be easy to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic and set over the Gulf of Mexico.
The ride from Titusville to Tampa was pretty uneventful. However, it did almost have a plane land right above us when we were passing by Orlando International Airport (MCO). The highway takes you right by the one runway which was pretty cool.
We almost made a pit stop to Disney Springs but we figured we would be spending plenty of time in Orlando in the coming week so we skipped it. We arrived at our hotel and were ready to relax the rest of the day.
I’ve stayed at this hotel before so I knew what to expect. La Quinta Inn near Busch Gardens Tampa is a great hotel to stay at. It’s clean. The staff is friendly. Plus it is in a great location if you plan to use the Tampa CityPASS. If you want to know all about this hotel check out my review by clicking this link.
Check in was a breeze and we had a room on the first floor right in front of the pool. My daughter loved that we had the pool right out our front door. It was kinda nice having the pool so close. We would definitely be using it for the next day or two.
Once we unpacked it was time to find some food. My daughter wasn’t feeling too adventurous with food so we went to Applebees. We got a table outside and had a nice dinner. She picked a burger and really enjoyed it. She’s been doing so good with trying new foods. It is no longer just chicken fingers and mac and cheese.
After dinner we stopped off at Walmart to pick up some things we forgot to pack and headed back to the hotel. Once back at the hotel we went swimming and watched the fireworks from the parking lot. Busch Gardens fireworks were still going on when we were visiting. However, I do believe it was the last weekend for them this year.
Be sure to come back tomorrow and follow us on Day 3 of our 2021 Pandemic Florida trip.
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