August 31, 2015 by marksetchfield
After my eight-hour flight to Orlando via Iceland I was shocked at the heat as we stepped off the plane, here I am in Orlando it was hard to imagine how I was going to fit all my activities in just five days.
So what are my plans? Well first was the most exciting thing since I opened my Christmas present to find my very own BMX bike, well this will be much better than that really.
My first mission was to see the launch of the space shuttle at the Kennedy Space Centre, as a child I remember the first flights, I never thought that I would be in view of such an amazing spacecraft and it was going to launch today, tonight and I am here. There have been a few planned take offs over the last few months but many have been aborted because of technical problems or severe weather conditions.
My tour took me through the visitors complex, this innovative program consists of question and answer sessions, mission briefings, video footage, space artifacts and personal stories of space travel as told by those who have lived it, yes I am one step closer to finding out if there is life out there?
So how do I get the feeling of space travel with my limited air miles? Answer the simulated shuttle launch, the floor rumbles and roars as the space shuttle gets to blast-off speed. Minutes later, the vehicle pitches forward suddenly at engine cutoff, showing a serene view of Earth. Kennedy Space Center’s shuttle launch simulator maybe the closest I’ll ever get but the simulated G-force really gives you an insight and taste of space exploration.
T-minus six hours and thirty-three minutes until lift off, OK at this time the soaring heat and the atmosphere was all getting too much for a fairly new trainee in space travel so I headed back to my hotel for my pre booked body massage at the hotel spa.
The Rosen Shingle Creek is set in a 230-acre site along Shingle Creek just off Universal Boulevard, 10 minutes from Orlando international airport it’s a perfect location just a short distance to a variety of Orlando’s best attractions, restaurants, shopping and entertainment venues. Created as an impressive example of the 1900’s Spanish Revival style architecture the drive up to the hotel is breath-taking, it’s just so huge.
In the early 1800’s settlers would log cypress trees down the creek that were used to make shingles for the roofs of the settlers’ homes. So naturally settlers gave the creek its name “Shingle Creek.”
The Rosen Shingle Creek resort offers 1500 guest rooms each with a stunning view of the perfectly manicured fairways, if golf is your thing things then you have arrived.
A 45 minute drive back to the resort its relaxation time, the heat and excitement of the day could only be topped with a rejuvenating full body massage at the spa. So I threw down my robe and tuned into the mellow music it was body unwind time as I smelt the essential oils my mind drifted off, but I wonder if the shuttle will take off tonight? As the clock ticks I am trying to plan the best place to see my once in a lifetime lift off and have dinner.
I was told that the Nascar Sports grill is within easy traveling distance from my hotel and the food is all American, one of the best paces to see the final blast of the Shuttle as it enters outer space.
After a soothing hour it was time to regroup and head out to Universal to see the shuttle flight later that night I was booked to see the Blue Man Group, Oh life just doesn’t get better. Great food, fast cars and the shuttle’s ascent, I was there and the reports were very positive after many aborted missions.
I’m a kid again, that’s now three times in one day. As we entered Universal I could feel the excitement and anticipation, ‘hey man its gonna be the flight tonight, us Floridians have been waiting for too long now’, hey where you from Brad asked me, the UK I replied ‘oh that’s where the queen lives right?’ The queen, London I just want to see the shuttle take off.
So here I am Orlando, Universal and now the Nascar Sports Grille, I am ordering big tonight its been too much excitement for one day, so we were greeted sat down and ordered, flame grilled prawns, BBQ ribs and a side salad.
With wall to wall plasma screens it was hard to forget what was happening just a few mile from my table, T-minus 40 minutes, OK I thought this is going to happen, tonight! So placed my order took a pre dinner Nascar simulator experience and then it happened, I ran out of the restaurant and there it was just as I imagined, the boosters flew off and there it was finally the shuttle was entering outer space.
A stream of white smoke and it was off, destination outer space, and me a mere mortal stood and witnessed history there in front of me.
To really be in Florida you have to take time out and see the ‘gators’, what better way to get close to these scary but amazing beats than to be hurled at seventy miles an hour in an air boat tour. It was hot, no really hot as we approached the craft out there was miles of open water, Florida’s everglades.
So this was it I was about to meet the mammal that could eat me as quick as I could eat a steak. So as I stepped on the fan driven buggy, wrapped on my ear protectors and with camera set to capture these big beasts we were off, as we accelerated up to seventy miles an hour a driver showed us what this little buggy could really do as he twisted and turned in the shallow gator infested waters, and there she was eyes just popping above the water we met. As the engine calmed there they were full-grown mum gator nursing her little baby gator. It was so amazing as I fended off the barrage of insects the power of these animals was mind-blowing, my time in Florida is something I’ll never forget, space travel, gators and some incredible food, until I return!