Friday, November 14, 2008
After Thirteen Years, I finally did it
I finally saw a Space Shuttle take off. Maria, Adolfo, and I followed Route 50 to where it reached the intercoastal waterway, and where you can see the launch pad on the Kennedy Space Center behind a line of Palmettos. People were everywhere. Those who were more experienced sat on comfortable lawn chairs as they lined the streets while others stood and lined up the median for about a mile. My friends nervously crossed the street to the other side, but as I watched the cars rush down the street, I preferred to stay out of harms way and watch from my safe corner. Fortunately for me, several friendly experienced Shuttle watchers were there next to me. One particular lady pointed out exactly what I needed to be looking for. I needed to be focused on the launch pad straight ahead. Watch the pad light up, she said, and when it did she exclaimed, "They lit it up!" and the gold started to pour up and out of the pad, lighting up the pitch black sky. The usual noise which we are so used to on the televised version was absent, but the golden bullet, was brilliant as it zigged up the sky, leaving a plume of gray chanelling upwards where it had been. The sound and vibrations came later as it shook the earth beneath us, many seconds after it lifted up. It all happened so quickly, yet it seemed like time stood still. After it felt that it had a been a successful takeoff, the crowd started to cheer, whoop, clap, and hollar. It was great to be there, and I'm glad to have been part of history(last nighttime Shuttle launch). Sorry about the pictures, since there was too much light pollution and when you are there you just want to experience the moment. Frankly, I took a film but I was so unfocused it isn't worth sharing. I think I will leave the pictures for the experts, but the ones I took give you the feel about the crowds.
Next year in March, Joseph Acaba, and crew will be taking off from the Cape and I hope to be there, especially now that I know it is so doable. Traffic was a little heavy as we left the Orlando area around the Chuluota area, but once we got past there it moved smoothly. We even had time for an ice cream and then find a place to park. Especially if you are daring like Adolfo, who doubled parked. Everyone double parked. Once the event was over, he rushed back to the car and picked us up at the curb. We stopped for cheap gas on the way back, since it was cheaper than in Orlando, for only $1.98, then we headed back home. The only place we found heavy traffic again was, you guessed it: Chuluota! But we did a lot better than the four hours the policeman had predicted would be our time back. Perhaps for all the people who went on the 528 or beachline. Not the way to go. So I will take the day off in February since it is a day launch and make it a day.