The New and the Old: Day 1 of Road Trip Starts with the Future and Ends with the Past

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We “landed” at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida at noon Sunday, exhausted from a night of little sleep but at the same time exhilarated about the journey that had just begun.  We will probably put Orlando in our itinerary on our way down from Maine next month but for now I thought that the Kennedy Space Center was just the place to start our epic road trip because I’m a huge fan of all things space exploration-related and I also wanted something to spark my kid’s imagination about the trip.

Bringing them to Cape Canaveral payed off in spades.  My two older children got to understand, first hand, the scale of what our nation has accomplished in space, the magnitude of the feats achieved and the “coolness” of possibly growing up to one day be an astronaut.  Jonathan seemed to be most impressed by the monstrous, 363-foot Saturn V rocket that propelled us to the moon.  Elena’s highlight was touching a real piece of moon rock.  Briani’s favorite part was just driving all four of us crazy, running after her.

Elena and Jonathan touch the moon. No, really.

As for Angela and I, we really enjoyed the IMAX movie “Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D”, which simulates what it would be like to walk on the moon.  In our family’s case, we were generously provided with media passes to the center but that part by itself was worth the admission.  Because of our tight schedule we were not able to take advantage of even half of what the Kennedy Space Center has to offer but you should note that there is so much to do that you should potentially budget two days when you come.

As a post script to our Kennedy Space Center visit I should add that the Sprint Nextel LG Rumor Touch phone they gave our son Jonathan proved useful as a parenting trick itself. A couple weeks ago I wrote about a low tech trick you could use when showing your kids how to find you if they get lost at a mall, amusement park or fair.  As an addendum to the Jet Ski Trick (read it here), I just realized that cellphones (even the pay-as-you-go types) can be very useful to locate missing or lost children.  In between snapping photos and texting, Jonathan actually used the phone at one point Sunday to find my wife.


Our hosts at the Ripley's Believe It or Not "Ghost Train Adventure" in St. Augustine

Part two of our first day transitioned us from our nation’s future to it’s Spanish past as we concluded the day with an abbreviated but peculiar visit to St. Augustine, the oldest city in the country.  My ghost hunter wannabe wife, kids and I were hosted by Ripley’s Believe it or Not’s “Ghost Train Adventure“, a tour that has been featured on TV shows and is considered one of the best in the nation.

I personally don’t like any ghost or monster stuff but these types of tours, when done well, can be very useful to learn the history and peculiarities of a city.  As part of Ripley’s Ghost Train Adventure, for example, you get a ghost detecting device that is identical to the one that regularly appears on the show “Ghost Hunters” and you get a disposable camera in case your camera captures the potential “orb” of a ghost that may appear on your camera.

Ghosthunters Jonathan (10), Briani (1) and Elena (6) prepare to measure ghosts during the Ripley's Ghost Train Tour Adventure in St. Augustine

Elena and Jonathan brace for ghosts at the haunted Spanish hospital.

Our tour made three haunted stops along the way, including the last one at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum.  At night the museum embraces its past as a former home to a super rich guy and later hotel where two women were allegedly murdered in a fire in the 1940s.  Needless to say, my two older kids are a lot like their step mom so they thought the haunted tour was one of their best experiences of their life.  I took a mental snapshot of the joy those three got from their encounter with the ghoulish past of St. Augustine.

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