Friday, January 20, 2006

Rocket Man (and Woman)

Wireless internet access has been spotty at best, so I am posting when I can. Here is yesterday's post. Today's will be posted whenever I can.

Yesterday we thought we would give it one more try and see if they would launch the rocket. We slept in, again, which was heavenly. I got up and packed up a lunch for us to take. We thought we would try to view the launch from Jetty Park at Port Canaveral this time instead of going to the pier at Cocoa Beach.

The day was sunny and warmer than previous days had been. The drive was pleasant. We took the Beach Line Expressway. They used to call it the Bee Line. It’s also called the 528. If you had just moved here, it might be confusing if someone were to give you directions using different names for the same road. We have that in The Cities too. The Crosstown isn’t even marked at The Crosstown. It’s actually highway 62. But no one calls it that, which I’m sure is confusing to visitors and newbies.

Anyway, we hit the 3 tolls and then just rolled on to Port Canaveral. I wasn’t sure which exit to take, so I took the first one. It wasn’t the right one, but we saw a bunch of cars lined up on the side of the road, obviously watching the launch site. So we agreed to park there as well. Port Canaveral is where all the cruise ships launch. We parked near where Disney and Fantasy Cruise lines were docked. Those are some mighty big boats.

We parked at noon and the rocket was not set to launch until 1:07. So we settled in and dug into our cooler for lunch. We chatted with the people around us, most of whom had stopped to see the launch on Tuesday too. We met a couple from Colorado who live in Florida 3 months out of the year. They had 2 dogs named Pricilla and Elvis. Pricilla wanted to swim in the ocean but was denied that pleasure. We also met a man who had quite a set up. He had a high powered telescope hooked up to a monitor and a recording device. Most of us had our radios tuned to the NASA frequency so we could hear the checks and the count down when it happened.

At first we didn’t know if it would happen. They went through the checks and everything was a go until they got to the weather. There were clouds, but the problem seemed to be the high ceiling clouds which were blocking the tracking programs. So they pushed the launch to 1:20. Then they pushed it to 1:30, 1:40, 1:50, and finally 2:00. The weather was finally OK for launch. So we waited with anticipation while they counted down and watched and clapped when the rocket was launched. Looking back, it’s a lot like Christmas. Or sex. Lots of build up and anticipation, and then it’s over all too quickly. But it was pretty cool. We watched it soar into the sky as far as we could see and then most of the people took off. We waited around for a little bit until the crowd cleared.

I couldn’t help but thank God for a successful lift off. There were military helicopters circling all around us before lift off and a Department of Homeland Security van drove slowly by, checking us all out. There were 24 pounds of plutonium on that rocket and if there had been any problems or if there had been a terrorist attack, we would have had to deal with quite a little explosion. Bob and I would probably have been obliterated instantly, but the rest of the area would have had to deal with nuclear fall out. Thankfully, all of that had been avoided thanks to the proper planning of NASA scientists, military police work, and the goodness of God.

After the launch, we decided we would go back to the Cocoa Beach pier. It was a much warmer and less windy day. We hung out on the pier a bit watching the waves and surfers. Then we shared a basket of fish and chips and a couple of cokes. We watched a couple of birds fly onto the plastic table next to ours and steal sugar and sweet and low packets and fly away with them to enjoy them out of site. Later on, I went down to the beach. I took off my shoes and socks, rolled up my pant legs and walked through the shallow waves as they lapped on the sand. Bob watched from a spot on the pier and chatted with some guys fishing there.

Closer to sunset, we left the pier and drove to a manatee spying spot we found earlier in the week to watch the sun set. We didn’t see any manatees, but I did see a dolphin swimming in the distance. We saw lots of pelicans and other birds too. The sunset was well worth the wait and so beautiful. Of course I took photos and they turned out quite great.

We drove back to the villa in the darkening sky. We chatted about how sometimes it feels like we live here…or are supposed to live here some day. We talked about how much fun it is to drive the Cruiser and how speedy and zippy it is. We talked about how great this vacation has been and about how if we were here the usual number of days, Friday would be our last full day. However, since we planned to stay until Tuesday, we still had several full days to enjoy the sun and surf of Florida.

When we got back to Kissimmee, we stopped at Publix for more bread and water and then headed to the villa for some frozen pizza for dinner. As that cooked, I called the hotel we will be staying at in Daytona to confirm our reservation. They have it and are expecting us on Saturday. We ended the night watching CSI and Without a Trace and the evening news and then hit the hay tired, sunburned, and satisfied with a day well spent. Posted by Picasa

No comments: