Monday, April 5, 2010


Friday and Saturday reminded us why we set our new ‘rule’ for travel. After last spring’s trip we decided that our travel days should be NO more than 250 miles or 4 hours. HOWEVER - sometimes there are special events that come up that make all those ‘rules’ go by the wayside.

Back to the beginning - as we were planning our trip this year, we thought it would be really neat if there was a launch at Cape Canaveral at any time that we might be in or around Florida and could work our schedule to be there to see it. After checking a couple of times and seeing nothing on the NASA website during my early planning days - the thought kind of went away. Wednesday there was an article in the USA Today about the ‘NASA Teacher Program’ and the fact that a teacher was going up in the launch Monday, April 5th! Needless to say, I flew to the website AND sure enough there was a shuttle launch scheduled now for the 5th - the last scheduled launch in the dark. Immediately, we began to think how we could make this happen as we were to be in Tallahassee the 3rd and 4th and on to Sarasota on the 5th. We thought - WE CAN DO THIS!

Getting a place to ‘park’ around Cape Canaveral would prove to be the difficult part, I thought, as it was Easter week end - AND it was a shuttle launch. BUT, we did it. A few quick calls to cancel the other arrangements and reservations and we were ready to put the peddle to the metal. Friday - armed with many bags of homemade snacks from Louise - we flew out of Texas across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and into Florida. After a 9 hour day we were ready for a break - and, again, reminded why we set the rule of NO MORE THAN 4 HOURS TRAVEL A DAY!!.

Where's the light at the end of the tunnel.

Way down yonder on the Chattahoochee.

Saturday was more of the same - all the way across the panhandle of Florida from Pensacola down to Cape Canaveral - another 9 hour day:-( I must say, Saturday was at least a beautiful day to drive because there was little traffic, beautiful scenery and NO WIND!!

Little traffic, beautiful scenery and no wind - what a beautiful morning for a drive.

We now had all of Sunday to check out the area and assess the launch site to see where we wanted to be to see this event.

Sunday - countdown to launch time and are we getting excited! After a nice, slow Easter morning we headed to Highway 1 - the preferred ‘watching’ area for the launch according to the NASA website and everyone we talked to. Boy, Titusville (the town across the river from the island ‘housing’ Cape Canaveral) is DEAD. Like a ghost town! Looked like the whole town was ‘out of business’ - made worse by the fact it was Easter Sunday. We had been told there were two mall parking lots on HWY 1 that they let people park at in the morning (we were told we needed to be in the area by about 3AM!!!) and then you walk to the viewing area of your choice. As we arrived at the now closed Penney’s parking lot, a coach was pulling up to park. Steve (driver of the coach) indicated he had talked to the Chamber of Commerce and been told one could park here overnight for the launch. HMMMMMM. Maybe we should go back, pack up Magic and move over here to the parking lot for the night instead of getting up at 3 and driving over in the car?!?!? OK - LET’S DO IT!! By 5 PM we were back to the parking lot - greeted by Steve - and set up in Magic. We greeted our fellow Tiffin Bus travelers and the rest of the RVers here to see the launch. What a kick - almost like a Jimmy Buffett concert!!

Early arrivers at the JC Penney parking lot.

The launch platform the afternoon before blast off.

What a lovely parking spot.

More sundown arrivals

We tried to get to bed early as we knew it would be a VERY early morning. But - it was opening night for baseball and the Yankees were playing the Red Sox (not a good result):-( Anyway - 4 AM did come early - but we were up and waiting for the countdown - 10 - 9 - 8 - 7 - 6 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 - BLAST OFF!!!!!

The launch platform about 10 minutes before launch. It hasn't gotten any closer. That's as good as I can get it.

T minus one minute.


Lift off!

I can take you higher (thanks Sly & Family Stone).

Higher, and....

Higher, and ....


Heading for the horizon.

That's all folks.

What's left at the launch site after the launch.

Elizabeth also captured a video of the launch - the sound effects are the best part!

AWESOME!! We were so glad we came - it was beautiful!

Now - on to Sarasota and cousins Julie and Mike.

More later - Shuttle Struck E & G

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