Travel to the Land of Space

The Cocoa Village Playhouse, built in 1924, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

It seemed like a perfect day to leave wintry Minnesota: Jan. 15, 2015. It was my birthday, plus we wanted to visit our daughter, Kimberly Rishovd Day and her family, who live on Merritt Island, just one hour east of Orlando, Fla.

We left Rochester at 9 a.m. with our dog for a three-day drive. The roads were perfect, the day was sunny — what a perfect day to travel. U.S. 63 led us to Interstate 90 and on to I-39 into Illinois. Our first nine-hour day welcomed us to the Baymont Inn in Tuscola, Ill. Not all hotels allow pets; here they did for an extra few dollars. We had great accommodations for the night.

Jan. 16, back on the road after a nice continental breakfast at the hotel. We decided to drive a few miles out of our way and take in Lambert's Cafe in Sikeston, Mo. — the famous throwed rolls cafe that we have heard so much about.

We thoroughly enjoyed the quaint cafe with the wall ridden car license plates from all over the country and the complimentary deep fried okra appetizers. Here the waiter walks around the cafe with a cart of hot throwed rolls. He throws the delicious homemade dinner rolls at you. You best catch one to eat with your meal. There are a few missed rolls lying on the floor. Our food was delicious.

We left Sikeston and continued on Hwy. 62 to Hwy. 55, driving toward Memphis, Tenn., and on to Batesville, Miss. We stopped at the Quality Inn in Batesville, pet friendly, for $10 extra for the night. Freya, our Sheltie, was allowed to stay, too.


Jan. 17, we are up and headed toward Tupelo, Tenn., the birthplace of Elvis Presley. Tupelo is a beautiful small town. Our trip continued on Hwy 78 toward Birmingham, Ala., and on through Montgomery, Ala. Another nine-hour day of driving left us welcoming the pet friendly Sleep Inn Motel in Tallahassee, Fla. The 60-degree weather felt great.

Arrive in Florida

Jan. 18, we are finally at our destination in Florida. We rented a suite at the Fawlty Towers, one block off Cocoa Beach, Fla. A lovely area. Right on the Atlantic Ocean for easy walking and warm salty sea breezes. 75 degrees. Cocoa Beach is not far from Merritt Island, where our daughter and family reside. We joined them for a ride on their boat, traveling down Sykes Creek to Cape Canaveral. During our boat ride we enjoyed the various tropical birds and the sea animals, including manatees and dolphins. Beautiful tropical trees and vegetation along the way.

Jan. 20, we were able to watch the Atlas 5 rocket blast off from Kimberly's back yard on Sykes Creek. It was a historical site for us, the rocket took off from Cape Canaveral for the U.S. Navy Air Force Station.

The next day we took our two granddaughters, Madison and Mallarie, to the Cape Canaveral Exploration Tower. Here are seven floors of exploration. The tower offers a view of the surrounding area from the seventh floor. The remaining floors offer exhibits, interactive play and simulators. The tower opened in November 2013 as part of the Canaveral Port Authority's 60th anniversary.

We walked the beautiful sandy beach daily, usually wearing a jacket, as the sea breezes were cool even though it was 70-plus degrees. One of our favorite beaches near us on Cocoa Beach is Lori Wilson Park. This is where "I Dream of Jeannie" was filmed from 1965 to 1979.

Water hazards

One day we tried our rusty golfing skills on a very beautiful, unfriendly, water-filled golf course on Merritt Island, "The Savannahs." It was a fun experience. Nine holes is all we had golf balls for. What a treat to golf and see an armadillo run into the rough, or an alligator lift his head along the water in the pond. We lost many golf balls to the thirsty ponds.


Jan. 30, we joined our Kimberly and Chad, her husband, for lunch at our two granddaughters' school, Audubon Elementary. We brought Subway sandwiches, and enjoyed lunch with them and their friends.

Granddaughters Madi and Mal would spend the weekends with us at our hotel. We would walk to the beach and kick up sand and gather sea shells. We watched the surfers in their wetsuits surf and ride the tall ocean waves. The ocean water was not warm. We enjoyed the fish tacos, a popular meal here. We had enjoyed them at the Cocoa Beach Pier and Island restaurants usually on or over the water.

One of our favorite spots is Cocoa Village, not related to Cocoa Beach or the city of Cocoa. Cocoa Village is a very quaint little village with historic shops, boutiques, sidewalk cafes, pubs etc. The Cocoa Village Playhouse, built in 1924, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Here is where performing arts are held especially for younger students to begin or participate in acting. It is located near the banks of the Indian River.

We especially enjoyed throwing darts at the "9 Stone Street Dog 'n' Bone" British Pub in the Village. It is styled after a typical British pub. Here is a resident bulldog that rivals Winston Churchill in looks. He roams around the pub and outside in the courtyard. He has a large bowl of water sitting in the pub for his thirsty appetite.

Feb. 3, we packed up and left the Fawlty Towers for home. We traveled three nine-hour days — about 500 miles a day — to get back to winter.

What a great break from winter. Next year we plan to stay longer!

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