I haven’t had a wild hair in a long time, but I got a hold of one this week. I’ve always wanted to see a big rocket blast off. With the end of the shuttle program approaching and the future of the space program in doubt (no political commentary) my chances are likely to become limited. So with work being slow (today’s the last day of that for a long while) and a high probability launch scheduled, I decided today was the day.
1:00 am (Charlotte) – Up and atom. Throw everything in the car and hit the road.
4:30 am (somewhere between Savannah GA and Jacksonville FL) – First stop for gas and drinks. There has been a good bit of construction but very little traffic. I’m making good time. I’m back on the road in 10 minutes.
8:40 am (Titusville, FL) – I arrive in town to find that the crowds are already gathering. I try one very busy paid lot and they are only accepting cars with reservations at this point. I continue on to find the Moose Lodge. I pay $10 to park and use the lodge. That lodge has a bar, pool table, bathroom, friendly folks, and a clear view of the launch. Perfect. It looks like I couldn’t have done any better had I planned.
9:00 am – One Moose gives me directions to the best diner in town for breakfast. I arrive just before the line starts to form at the door.
12:08 – Wondering when the pre-game starts
1320 (T-1:00) – L:aunch Party
2:20 (t-0:00) LAUNCH!!!!
8:30 pm – Savannah Hilton Garden
This is where I ran out of gas. The car did fine. I just couldn’t give a good reason to keep driving as tired as I am. Best to get a room and some sleep and get home safe in the morning.
I was really surprised at my reaction to the whole event. With about a minute to go I could feel myself start to shake. My mouth went dry and my heart really picked up the pace. I was in awe as the ship came off the pad. I’ve seen the video hundreds of times, but to see the ship on a column of flame that seems as bright as the sun and 3 or 4 times the length of the entire shuttle is unbelievable. And it is all done without a sound from where we were. You don’t hear the roar until 30-40 seconds after liftoff. It was just awesome.
It has been a fantastic day. There’s not many things that are so quick that is worth so much time and effort. This was one of those things and I will, baring an unforeseen ending, always be glad that I did. Check that bucket-list item.