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Farewell to KARS Park

Our two week stay at the Kennedy Space Center (KARS) Park came to an end with a big bang! On our last night, Sunday, March 10 at 7:05 pm we got to see yet another SpaceX Star-Link Falcon 9 depart earth. This was our 4th rocket flight since our arrival on February 26, 2024. The weather was excellent with relatively clear skies and a light breeze. Because it occurred around sunset, the lighting conditions enhanced the flight for some potentially good photographs.



I dug out my Nikon D700, the 80-200mm telephoto lens with a 1.4 teleconverter and my tripod from the front storage closet and headed to the wooden pier next to our trailer site to get ready to capture some spectacular images. As we waited for the countdown to reach zero, we ate our dinner of shrimp gumbo. Finally the moment arrived as the glow of the 9 Merlin rocket engines illuminated the bottom of the rocket and a plume of smoke engulfed the launch pad. Initially there was no sound, just a brightening object climbing into the heavens. Like counting after a flash of lightning and waiting for the thunder clap to arrive, we wait.... three, four, five, six seconds and then the rocket's roar finally arrived not long after the rocket was above the horizon. It is a sight I will never fail to totally enjoy! The show is always too short but always worth the wait.




Our last day started out with a morning visit to Calvary Chapel Merritt Island for church services at 11:00 am. We both really enjoy the fellowship in this community of Jesus followers. After lunch, Karen had booked us a two-hour long, river cruise with Space Coast River Tours at 3 pm. We drove down to Kelly Park on the Banana River to meet the boat at the dock. We first cruised the Canaveral Barge Canal looking for alligators and manatees but came up empty. We had better luck with Atlantic Bottle-nose Dolphins in the Indian River on our way to the Canaveral Locks. This short cut to the cruise port saves a 45 mile trip to the open ocean. The locks have no pumps so once you're in, you tie the boat to the lock's interior side wall and wait. One pair of lock doors close then the other pair of lock doors open. The water level changes via the door opening. We started two feet above the sea level at that time in the tidal cycle, so it was fun to watch the pelicans float through on the moving water pouring thru the opening of the lock doors as we leveled with the ocean's height on the other side.




Once inside the Port Canaveral Cruise Port basin area we explored the sights which included a returned Falcon 9 first-stage booster from a mission earlier in the week. We also got to see the SpaceX recovery vessel just for the Dragon capsule which was used to transit four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).




Four cruise ships were at Port Canaveral while we visited. The port has a capacity of six and is increasing to seven in the future. Port Canaveral is home port to the Disney Cruise ship line and one of the busiest cruise ports in the world.


So Monday morning arrived and we began the packing up process. We stopped to dump all our gray and black water before checking out. Our next stop is a Harvest Host location in DeLand, Florida about 75 miles to the north. We will spend only one night at the Church of the Nazarene in DeLand before leaving Tuesday morning, March 12 for another Harvest Host. Tonight we spend two nights at the Royal St. Augustine Golf and Country Club parking lot.




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