Monday, November 05, 2018

Saturday September 8th 2018

Adventures in Orlando

A while back I was on an business trip to Orlando, Florida and after the work week was over, I stayed a few extra days.
This is an overview of those days.

The vacation-part of the trip started very strong; a visit to Kennedy Space Center!

They had old rockets at display:

And the (former) space shuttle Atlantis!

At the Atlantis we met up with Astronaut Scott Parazynski who will be our tour guide for most of the day!

He has been up five times to space - and has even been on the Atlantis so he really knew what he was talking about - and he loved sharing his knowledge and stories about being an astronaut.
And he was so cool about it!

This was a real highlight of the day. Awesomeness!!

At the Atlantis building they also had a "Shuttle Launch Experience"-ride.
You sat down in a "space shuttle", it tipped 90 degrees and it simulated a launch. Shaking and rumbling and it almost felt like you were weight-less when we reached high orbit.
According to Astronaut Scott it is the simulator that comes closest to a real launch. Supercool!

After this, it was time to get to the launch pads. Or close to them at least.

We took a bus (with Astonaut Scott) and drove around the launch area. So many launch pads here! Both old and still in use.

We passed the Vehicle Assembly Building, where the doors were open (SpaceX is launcing a rocket tomorrow so I assume that was why).

We also went by the launchpad where SpaceX will launch their Dragon space craft next year:

We finished our tour with Astronaut Scott at the Apollo/Saturn V Center where we visited the Firing Room that launched the Apollo missions - and we got to see a Saturn V rocket.

Then it was back to the Visitor Center (through the gift shop :D ) and walking around a bit more there.

Exhausing day, but so much fun!

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Sunday September 9th 2018

Next day it was time to see...ALLIGATORS!!!
We are in Florida after all. :)

I got the advice from one of our colleagues in Orlando to go to Lake Jesup, the "most densly populated alligator lake in eastern USA".
Sounds good (but scary) - so I went there - and to the Black Hammock.

We set off in this loud air boat och started sniffing the shoreline.

No alligators so far, but...cows!
Apperently they don't scare easily. If an alligator comes...they just kick it. The alligators do not dare to come close.
Killer Cows! :)

Sadly this was pretty much all the animals we saw during the boat ride. It's not alligator season so they were all under water so I did not get to see any at all. :(

There was one or two baby alligators at the landing site for the boats though. Always something.

During the evening, me and one colleague that was still lingering around took the car to Cape Canaveral.
SpaceX was about to launch a rocket!

One single Falcon 9 was to take a Telstar 18 Vantage satellite.

The same Orlando colleague with the suggestion of Lake Jesup gave us direction to a great place to watch the launch - and he told us to be there three hours before the launch window.

So there we were. A great place on the other side of the water from the launch pad.
And we waited and waited and waited.

About one hour and 15 minutes into the launch window - they launched.

OMG! It was incredable!

Even if it was just one Falcon 9 rocket - and it was a night launch - and that the rocket would not return and land where we would see it - it was without a doubt the highlight of this trip.
And most likely the highlight of the year for me.

I never thought I would ever get to see a launch. So lucky to be in the right place at the right time. Woohoo!

Afterwards we took some time just to catch our breath again and then we drove back to the hotel for some well deserved sleep.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Monday September 10th 2018

New day, new adventures!

Today, I planned to go to the Universal Studios theme parks. They have three parks in Orlando and I will visit two of them (the water park does not interest me).

Starting at the Islands of Adventures, I headed to Marvel Superhero Island.
First ride of the day: The Incredable Hulk Coaster.

It was a lot of fun (reminded me a whole lot of the Helix ride back home at Liseberg - only it was concentrated on a smaller area).

Here I also went on the Spiderman ride - and walking further I did the RipSaw Falls (reminded me of FlumeRide at Liseberg - only more wet).

Later on I did the Skull Island King Kong ride and another water ride, the Jurassic Park River Adventure (much less wetness compared to the RipSaw Falls) before I got to the main goal of today; The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Hogsmeade.

Here is, besides Hogsmeade, also Hogwarts (containing a ride I did).

Hogsmeade had a lot of Harry Potter stores and I also had lunch at the restuarant here.

Then onwards to the next theme park (Universal Florida) - using the Hogwarts Express train of course.

The train stopped at "King's Cross" and there you could quickly enter Diagon Alley; this theme park's contribution to the Harry Potter world.

Even more Harry Potter stores - and it had Gringott's Bank (with another ride which I did).
I spent a lot of time in here before moving on to the rest of the park.

Rides I did here was the Men in Black, Transformers, the Mummy, but the highlight of this theme park was without a doubt the Rip Ride Rockit:
Additional fun thing with this one was that you could choose your own music (not much to choose from though, but at least I found some Daft Punk).
Really nice ride that started with taking you to the top (left in picture above) in a 90 degree angle.

Then back to Islands of Adventures via the Hogwart Express where I walked some more in Hogsmeade; redid a few rides and then exited the park.

I checked out the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium (awesome!) and had dinner somewhere along the Walk.

Then back to the hotel. Time to go home tomorrow.

Friday, November 02, 2018

The Orlando Ordeal

So this was a short trip with a lot of highlights packed into just a few days.

Highlights were the rocket launch (obviously), visit at KSC (with an astronaut!) and the Universal Studios (the Harry Potter World especially).

Good info for watching rocket launches: we stood at the western part of the north side of Port Canaveral. Highly recommend to stand there. Just make sure you have some kind of internet connection so you can get updates of the launch so you know when it will be.

As for Universal Studios, an Express Pass is a good idea. There were not supermuch people when I was there so I would have made both parks without it, but it did go quicker with it - and ensured my that I would make it.

Fun times!