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Monday, May 11, 2009


It’s Monday, May the 11th and it’s Space Shuttle launch day. Today, they’re sending up the last Space Shuttle mission to the Hubble Telescope for some repair work. Hopefully, NASA will be able to keep it running for another ten years or so and get more great pictures of the universe.

Not only is today launch day, but it’s also the day we get to see Larry and Pam, who are from Franklin, Ohio. Larry and I used to work together at Delphi Harrison Thermal Systems and, while we’ve kept in touch via e-mail, we haven’t seen each other since I left there in November of 2000. So, this is going to be a doubly exciting day.

Kim and I got up early (0830) and got ready to head for Titusville, FL, which is the best place from which to watch the rocket launch. After a quick snack, Schooner took us out for a walk and then it was into the car for the one-hour trip from Daytona to Titusville.

We arrived in Titusville about 10:15 AM, but once there, spent an extra 15 or 20 minutes going to Lowe’s Building Supply. We had to get some last minute items for completing the new boat cabinets and, not knowing how the day was going to go, were afraid that the stores might be closed by the time we got back to Daytona. We quickly found what we needed and the checkout line wasn’t too long, so we were soon again on our way to the viewing area.

In Titusville, most people go to an area called “Space View Park” to watch launches. The park is really pretty and there are lots of memorials to commemorate the highlights of our country’s space program. The down side is, on launch day, the park gets really crowded. About 30,000 people, plus TV crews, cram the park grounds and you can’t hardly move or have an unobstructed view of the launch. To resolve this issue, we went to the Max Brewer Causeway Memorial Swing Bridge to watch the launch. The distance from the pad is the same as the park, but because it’s not a shaded area, very few people actually go there to watch launches. The parking there is very good and you can either stay on the bridge or go down by the water to watch.

We arrived at the bridge around 10:45 am and pulled into an empty parking spot. Larry and Pam arrived about 30 minutes later and, after hand shakes, hugs and kisses, we all walked down by the ICW to enjoy the cool breeze off of the water, catch up on old times and watch the shuttle take off for outer space.

The four of us sat at the base of the bridge, on the concrete bulwark and swapped updates on the last eight years, interspersed by manatee swimming by and dolphin splashing in the channel in front of us. Suddenly, after what seemed like no more than 10 or 15 minutes (actually over two hours) someone screamed, “There it goes!” And with that call, the launch began at exactly 2:01 pm.

When you see launches on TV, it seems to take forever for the rocket to take off. We all expected the shuttle to do a movie style hover on the pad and gradually build up speed and finally crawl up into the heavens through a billowing cloud of smoke. WRONG!! What really happened was, when the smoke cloud started, the shuttle jumped off of the pad and tore off into space like a bullet followed by a brilliant, blinding pillar of fire. In no time at all, the rocket was out of sight and then, and only then, did you begin to hear the roar of the engines. It was surreal because you first got to watch the launch and then you got an audio replay of the entire event, minus the video. We all sort of looked at each other in amazement, commenting on the brevity of the launch, but excited because we had actually been fortunate enough to see the event with our own eyes.

With the launch over, the crowd broke up and quickly (and I do mean quickly) got back in their cars and headed back to where they had come from. We were no exception and were also on the road in about five minutes. From the bridge, Pam, Kim, Larry and I went to the other side of town and to “Beef O’ Brady’s, a local watering hole with good food and ice-cold beer. We sat and ate lunch and talked and talked and talked some more; finally leaving around 5:30 pm and heading home.
I really hate good-byes and this was no exception. This had been a really great day, doing really cool things with really great people. But, we’ve all promised to get together again, either the next time Kim and I are in Ohio or when Larry and Pam are near us during one of their travels. Either way, we’re looking forward to it.


Anonymous said...

You could have left part of the picture with the great big guy on the left out. Hate that your camera was able to go wide angle or I would have not made the picture (drats).

Great job is describing the launch. I keep telling everyone, that you just can't imagine what it was like till you saw it live. Seeing the manatees and the dolphin just added to the fun.

Great Day, Great fun, Great conversation and most of all a chance to renew a great friendship. Thank you!!

Sorry about the anonymous, as that was the only way it would let me in........just think i am probably the biggest anonymous you will ever know.

Anonymous said...

I don't know. I thought the big guy on the left was kind of scrumptuous. In fact, he's pretty danged hot, if you ask me (and I'm so glad you did).