What a stop! Following my couple of days in North Carolina, I finished my east coast stretch with another lengthy drive through South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, and my Thursday night found myself not only in Palm Beach, but in the middle of a Florida Georgia Line (FGL) concert with one of my oldest friends.
One of the first planned destinations on my road trip going all the way back to my initial path was Palm Beach, FL. Sure, it's a long way down into the deep south of the U.S., but I'd been hoping to make my way down here eventually to visit a good friend from high school who is working down here.
I arrived Thursday night and immediately found myself thrown into a high energy atmosphere after a VERY long and tiring drive along the Atlantic. I'm not a HUGE, diehard country fan, but I definitely like my fair share of it every now and then (especially in the summer). Of the country artists I do enjoy, FGL is one of them. I was excited to find out that we'd be going to a concert of theirs that night, and they definitely did not disappoint. Oftentimes great artists are not necessarily great performers, but I was happy to say FGL is not one of those bands.
Because my friend (and roommate for the next few days) had work on Friday, I decided to take the day to go SCUBA Diving, a newfound hobby and passion of mine that started during my trip to Australia. Before arriving in Palm Beach, I Googled a couple of dive shops in the area and found one, Narcosis, that had good reviews online. In hindsight, I think I'd probably go with a different shop as this one seemed to cater to more experienced and shop-regular divers. Nonetheless, I boarded the boat Friday morning.
I only recently completed my certification for diving and am by no means a "great" diver. I would, however, say that in my limited experience with diving, I'm very comfortable in the water and on the boat...until now. The only diving I've done has been in relatively calm water with little current below the surface. This particular dive was going to be what is called a "drift dive" where you essentially are dropped in the water at the top of a current and ride the drift underwater, observing the coral and sea life below. Hearing this at first had me quite nervous as the surface water was rough and the sky stormy. I was reassured by others on the boat that drift diving is "lazy person diving," and much to my surprise, they were absolutely right.
Once under water, we descended to about eighty feet (deeper than I've ever dove before), and floated along the coral line for around forty minutes seeing everything from Loggerhead turtles to nurse sharks. It was a really different and pleasant experience unlike any sort of diving I'd done before, and all those aboard were correct in saying that it is the lazy person's way of diving.
We did a second dive as well which exposed us to numerous shipwrecks below the surface, and after a mile or two of underwater drifting during a rainstorm up above, we surfaced and headed back into shore.
Saturday we awoke with no plans for anything and ultimately just went where our ambitions took us. We started at the beach for a couple of hours before meeting up with friends for some afternoon games and drinking. I've only ever heard of and seen videos of the game "Slip and Flip," but it might possibly be my new favorite drinking game. A combination of slip-and-slide and flip cup, Slip and Flip thrusts together two of the most fun aspects of being a kid and an adult respectively.
After some afternoon fun in the sun, we ventured out for a seafood dinner followed by the always enjoyable Harry Potter 7 part 1 movie.
Sunday was much of the same: beaching, eating, drinking, and sleeping. This gave me a good opportunity to catch up on some life stuff once again as it seems this sort of thing get easily pushed to the side (and rightly so) during a long road trip.
Monday I'd made plans to begin my journey back north toward Destin, FL, but first wanted to stop at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to fulfill a childhood dream of mine of seeing a space shuttle in real life. Space has ALWAYS been a big passion of mine, everything from space travel to the creation of the Universe, galaxy formation and beyond. Needless to say, I was really excited to stop at KSC in Cape Canaveral on my way north.
My friend decided to come along with me as she played hookie from work. We arrived at the space center just after 11:00 in the morning and spent about four hours nerding out over the rockets and space shuttle kept at KSC. After a brief history of the NASA rocket program (everything from the Mercury program to Apollo and finally the Space Shuttle inception), we found ourselves in an IMAX theatre about the future of space travel followed by an up close and personal view of the Atlantis space shuttle, a vehicle that has spent over 306 days in space and traveled over 125 million miles! It was absolutely surreal experience seeing this shuttle, which during my childhood was one of the faces of the NASA space shuttle program, in real life. It's hard to put in words what seeing this spacecraft in real life was like.
After several hours of admiring and pondering the pure awesomeness of NASA, space, and everything in between, we finally made our way out of KSC and back onto the road again. I'm now heading west toward Destin, FL for another couple of days of sun on the Gulf of Mexico before heading further west into Texas. After ~3500 miles, my car is (knock on wood) holding up well, and I've thank God because I've still got 5,000 more to go. I capped the day with a beautiful sunset in the panhandle of Florida, a seemingly good omen as I continue west. Wish me luck.