Monday, July 13, 2009

More Scrubbing

(Image courtesy

My second and third attempts to view a launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

I headed down to St. Petersburg on Friday, July 10 to stay the night at my grandmother's. We enjoyed the evening's baseball game at Tropicana Field, with the Tampa Bay Rays defeating the Oakland A's 6-0. Saturday afternoon I left the Gulf Coast for the Space Coast to see the 7:39 pm launch.

I arrived early enough to grab lunch at Subway before turning toward Jetty Park, the location in Port Canaveral that I had chosen for my viewing spot. As I neared the park entrance, I saw the recently posted sign: Launch postponed. After some deliberation, I decided my best option was to stay the night and see the launch Sunday evening. I drove inland a few miles to Cocoa (NOTE: there is a reason why Cocoa Beach is a more popular travel destination than Cocoa) and got a cheap motel room. Fortunately they had cable and I was able to pass the hours watching Discovery's Mythbusters marathon. I also had to stop at a CVS Pharmacy and Dollar General to get some clothes and toiletries, as I had foolishly left most of my luggage on the other side of the state.

Sunday, I got breakfast from the next-door Burger King and attended services at a nearby church. I refilled the car, checked the tires, and drove up and down Cocoa Beach before getting lunch (again) at Subway and spending some time in a Radisson lobby reading one of my books. When I got back to the Jetty Park entrance, I discovered that the park was closed due to full capacity. I turned around and took the north Port Canaveral exit to see what I could find. I found what may have been the best viewing area outside Kennedy Space Center--the road outside Cape Canaveral AFB is right across the lake from the launch site, with a head-on view of the Shuttle several miles away. I spent the next 3.5 hours reading, walking up and down the road, taking some pictures, double-checking the view with my binoculars, and talking with other spectators. As the deadline approached, so did an ominous, dark series of clouds from the west. Sure enough, about 20 minutes before the launch time the announcement was made on the radio that the stormy weather was inside the 20-mile radius and the launch had to be postponed. I spent much of the next four hours sitting through horribly backed-up traffic past Orlando.

So, I'm about to leave St. Petersburg with plans to see tonight's 6:51 pm launch attempt and then drive back to Atlanta. They say the weather should be much better today. Never before have I spent such time, money, and effort to experience....nothing.

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