• gfeldstein

Day 51 Cocoa Beach, FL Rest Day

I think it is fairly safe to say that Cocoa Beach would not exist today except for its close proximity to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). Cocoa was originally settled by freed slaves after the Civil War and purchased in 1888 by a group of land speculators. The city teetered on the edge of insolvency till the space program increased the city’s population from 1950 to 1960 by a factor of 10. The proximity to KSC flooded the city with NASA related jobs, as well as support service, and tourism related employment opportunities. When the Apollo Program was discontinued the population sank, unemployment soared to 14%, and home values dropped so rapidly that some people just abandoned their homes without attempting to sell them. The local economy perked up again when NASA began the Space Shuttle Program.

Cocoa Beach is also know as the home of the largest Ron Jon surfing apparel store, the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame, and the supposed setting for the 1960’s sitcom I Dream of Jeannie.

I took a short walk on the beach this morning. Unlike Daytona Beach, the sand was soft and definitely not drivable. The beach was fairly deserted with little to see except for the Cocoa Beach Pier, some large freighters 5 miles offshore, and some of the KSC Launch Facilities over 15 miles away. I was hoping I might take a surfing lesson at the beach as I had done some 14 years ago. On another father son bonding weekend I wanted to go surfing with Simon and not look like a total poser so I signed up for a lesson the day before I picked him up from High School. Florida is not known for its surf and Cocoa Beach, with its 2-3 foot swells, is as good as it gets. It was a beautiful February day with temperatures in the high 70’s, a perfect day for an introductory surf lesson. When I walked down to the surf shed alongside the pier, the instructor asked what size wetsuit I needed. Since I had already been walking in the surf, which felt like a bathtub to me, I asked why I would want a wetsuit. He said everyone dons wetsuits in Florida when the water temperature drops below 80. I told him that in So Cal the water temperature rarely makes it above 60 and passed on the wetsuit.

Today was not to be my day for a repeat surf lesson. A front was moving through, winds were already up to 15 knots, thunderstorms were expected soon, and all lessons were postponed. Instead I went with Jim and or guide Joe, to visit the Kennedy Space Center. It was a perfect day for a visit, kids were in school and the weather forecast kept most of the tourists away.

The KSC is still operating under Covid restrictions so we could not visit the entire facility but were able to drive by the 525 foot tall Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). The VAB, where all rockets are assembled before they are launched, is the largest building in the world and actually has its own weather.

We stopped at the Launch Control Facility for the Apollo Missions with actual Saturn V rockets and components

A large warehouse housing the actual Atlantis Space Shuttle

On the way out I stopped to watch President John F. Kennedy’s famous moon speech given on September 12, 1962 at Rice Stadium.

“But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard”

I wholeheartedly agree with JFK’s sentiment and wish that he had lived to see Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. Life is not easy, cycling 3,000 miles is not easy, we do it BECAUSE of the challenge. I firmly believe and have tried to pass onto my children, that nothing achieved easily in life is really worth having.

Fourteen states down, 1 more to go.

The Cumulative Totals

Miles 2,727

Feet Climbed 85,348

States Visited Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida

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