I was thinking that my next My Travel Memories post would be the start of what will likely turn out to be a bunch of posts on Walt Disney World, but I just looked at a map, and apparently the Kennedy Space Center is ever-so-slightly farther north than Walt Disney World. So, in accordance with my north-to-south (to the extent I can piece my earliest memories together) literary itinerary, the Kennedy Space Center is next.
The Kennedy Space Center is the place that all of the manned space flights since 1972 launched from. This means that every space shuttle launch took off from Kennedy. When my folks retired to Florida, they could see the space shuttle launches from the beach near their house. I never visited during a launch, though, so I didn’t get to see them. I don’t know if I would have wanted to have seen it, either. After the Challenger disaster in 1986, any time a space shuttle launched, I watched metaphorically through my fingers.
I’ve needed to do some research into when I went to the Kennedy Space Center. It was definitely before the space shuttle era. I am virtually certain that it was still Cape Kennedy at the time because I can remember telling an adult that we went to Cape Kennedy and the adult was confused at first because she knew it only as Cape Canaveral. So that means that it was most likely in or before 1973, because they changed the name of the cape from Cape Kennedy back to Cape Canaveral on October 9, 1973 and we always went on vacation before October.
I suspect if I went back today there would be things that would trigger sense memories in me, but from here, sitting in my breakfast nook in Texas, the only thing that seems to have made a really lasting impression on me was what I am pretty sure was the Apollo 14 command module. I remember it because it was less shiny and silver than I was expecting. It was actually a rather unattractive shade of brown. Apollo 14 was in 1971, so that narrows the date even farther, to sometime between 1971 and 1973.
Edited to Add: I found our 1972 Florida trip album and there is no mention of the Kennedy Space Center in it. Since we basically went to Florida every year during my early childhood, it looks like 1971 or 1973 are likely to be our target year.
(originally posted July 6, 2015)