Many of us grew up as ‘space age boomers’ along with NASA. From making our own space helmets out of tin foil to watching men walk on the moon from our black and white TVs, we have witnessed history! Then there are those that grew up to experience the celestial highs and emotional lows of the Space Shuttle program from a more up close, personal and professional point of view. Chuck and Martha Nighswonger, Innkeepers of the Night Swan Intracoastal Bed and Breakfast in New Smyrna Beach worked at the Kennedy Space Center for many years prior to their careers as Innkeepers.
Chuck and Martha related to me that one of the high points was having the opportunity to have viewed every Space Shuttle launch since 1984. Also they are very proud of having been part of a team of very dedicated men and women that were and still are true believers in the NASA mission. Chuck states that the lowest point of his career was the loss of the Challenger on that very sad January morning in 1986. He was part of the recovery team that went to sea for over three months. Their goal to recover the rocket motor was successful and from that retrieval they were able to find the cause of the disaster.
As Innkeepers, Chuck and Martha share these experiences with their guests especially when their stories are accompanied by the viewing of a launch from their two story dock on the Intracoastal Waterway. The next launch is scheduled for Monday, April 5, 2010 at 6:27AM followed with a sunrise at 7:00. So just imagine, the sky turns into daylight and birds awaken and start to sing as if it were morning, after two minutes dogs start to bark and the inn’s windows rattle, a contrail in the sky and the day turns to night again, soon to be followed by the sunrise. Boy do Chuck and Martha know how to give their guests a spectacular bed and breakfast experience!
Getting back to ground level, the Night Swan’s hospitality, great breakfasts and comfortable and clean rooms help create another kind of ‘close encounter’ that any visitor to Florida’s east central coast would find unforgettable. Picture yourself, watching baby dolphins frolic in the waterway viewed from your guest room’s private balcony or the inn’s classic wrap around porch, taking a stroll through the historic town of New Smyrna Beach and stopping for a great meal at Mahony’s Oyster Bar with the best and freshest seafood stew available this side of the moon!
The B&B Team had the pleasure of experiencing Chuck and Martha’s hospitality when we hosted one of our Seminars for Aspiring Innkeepers at the Night Swan this past January. Chuck and Martha insist that our next trip should be planned during a launch but we must accelerate our visit because there are only five more Space Shuttle launches scheduled. Maybe Martha can provide us with some cardboard and tin foil and we can all sit on the deck in our space helmets and watch the end of an era. But, as one ‘space age boomers’, I am hopeful. The NASA Mission Statement ends with the declaration that America’s adventures in space have…’empowered all of us with the sense that anything is possible and that as interconnected as the modern world is, there are still goals to strive for and new places to explore.’ Let’s hope so…and a Happy Birthday to all at NASA!