We are just getting ready to leave Melbourne, where we’ve been for two days, for Ft. Lauderdale and our cruise which leaves tomorrow. We finished off our time in Orlando with a trip to Sea World (it was fun, especially I think if you had little kids with you, but we probably won’t go again, which I’ll explain later), the Magic Kingdom (not on the original itinerary, but is it ever really a bad idea to go hang out with Mickey and friends… I think not). All park adventures were fun, even though we aren’t really park attending kinda girls. None the less, we had some good days there. The “Believe” show at Seaworld was really good, as was our time riding the “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Haunted House”, and “Thunder Mountain Railroad” rides at Disney World. From Orlando, we drove south a bit to Melbourne. It’s the town on the Atlantic side where the turtles nest every year. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the time of year for it so we didn’t get to see any nesting turtles. We did, however, mosey to a place called the Merritt Island National Refuge near the Kennedy Space Center. NASA donated the land for the national refuge in 1963. They had to have a big area they could use as a buffer zone during launch times, and the national refuge area was born. We happened to hit the refuge at the right time of year, as there were so many species of migrating birds wading, flying, and swimming about. It was wonderful. The drive through, which costs nothing, was eight miles long and had 12 stations. The road weaves in and out of a beautiful landscape and at each station, they have hints, on the free literature, about what you might see in that particular area. It was fantastic really. We saw alligators, spoonbills, pelicans, storks, hawks, herons, and countless other species of birds. Of all the things we did in Florida, Merritt Island was by far the best. If you go make sure you have three or four hours to spend, especially if you’re like us and you love taking pictures. Your camera will be busy all day. Also, the best time of year to go is during the winter months, but I would bet you’d be able to see some stellar sights any time of year. If nothing else, it’s beautiful. It’s what we imagined Florida looked like before progress and development took over. The other couple of things that happened during our time hanging out in Melbourne were that we went to Ron Jon’s Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach, an amazingly huge place with every kind of shirt, shorts, board, and gear you could ever need to get your surf on, and we saw a rocket launch from Kennedy. At first, we didn’t realize it was a rocket launch, but then Karen said, hey… I think that’s a rocket. I wasn’t as certain, and was, actually, a bit skeptical. After all, I’d looked on-line to see if any launches were supposed to be happening while we were in the area and found nothing. But there we were, pulled off on the side of the road, looking at this thing hurtling into space, and then going into what must have been stage two as there was a burst of smoke and it started moving even faster. It was an amazing site. We were lucky to see it. Later I looked again, more thoroughly, and found that yes, indeed it was a rocket. The THEMIS rocket to be exact. It was sent into orbit on a Delta II rocket to monitor, over two years, the atmospheric eruptions in the auroras near the north pole. Pretty interesting stuff, and the launch itself… very cool. I’m so glad we got to see it.