First stop for the tourists visiting Florida, unless they are getting on a cruise ship in Fort Lauderdale, is usually Disney World, over 40 times the size of Disneyland with twice as many theme parks 10 times as many hotels, and Cinderella's vs. Sleeping Beauty's castle. A convention centre in its own right with 24 hotels, and a multi-themed amusement park on 40 square miles of land, it claims to be the largest and most visited recreational complex in the world.
But an even more awe inspiring complex awaits at the nearby Kennedy Space Centre. On display are the rocket ships and spacecraft of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs that culminated on July 20, 1969 with the first men on the moon. A feat repeated 5 subsequent times and then abandoned in favour of the Challenger space program and the International Space Station. The audacity of this endeavor in an era of slide rulers and mechanical engineering is so hard to imagine in the computer age, but they did it, and what a humbling experience it is to see and touch the equipment they used.
The size of the rockets themselves and the awesome power they are able to unleash is hard to comprehend never mind imagining sitting on top of them when they blast off.
The scale of the entire Kennedy Space Centre/Cape Canaveral Air Force Station complex is overwhelming. Everything is so huge and there is so much going on with rockets being transported to various launch pads to deliver commercial payloads for satellites and the Space Station.
There are more than 1,100 miles of stunning, palm lined Florida coastline facing the Atlantic Ocean alone and, with the water so clear and warm, it's no surprise to discover what appears to be a continuous condo development all the way to Miami. From Cocoa Beach to Deerfield Beach we took advantage of the perfect conditions to swim and enjoy the sunshine.
Next stop was Key Largo to do some scuba diving and swim with a couple of very friendly and accommodating dolphins.
Key West itself is the southernmost city in the U.S. and is a colourful little tourist town where Ernest Hemingway lived and now Jimmy Buffet has a restaurant. A town devoted to fishing and scuba diving and full of funky bars and great restaurants it's a very popular end of the road location.
For the final leg of the journey it was back to Miami, "the sun, fun, capital of the world". Originally developed in 1910, the 1930's brought in Art Deco architecture and, from the 1960's, it started to take off as a retirement community. However, by the 1980's the drug dealers had taken it over and some of the Art Deco buildings were demolished but, once it was declared a heritage area, the rest of the Art Deco buildings were saved and the "beautiful people" then moved in, making it a major entertainment destination.