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A Very Long, Fun Weekend – Endeavour Has Lift-off

The launchpad list up with the xenon lightsYou know by now that the space shuttle Endeavour successfully lifted off to the space station Monday morning as planned. We were there and had a “blast” despite cloud cover at launch time. That was pretty disappointing, but there isn’t anywhere else I’d have rather been yesterday… unless you could have gotten me 3 miles away!

Our friends arrived just before midnight and we were all loaded up and on the road at 12:06, exactly 8 hours 50 minutes before the scheduled launch window. Time went amazingly fast because 1) I’d had a 4 hour nap before dinner 2) I took a caffeine pill before we left and 3) everyone stayed awake and talked the whole way there. We arrived in Titusville, across from Cape Canaveral, a little after 2am. We scouted out the bridge and the causeway looking for the best spot and decided on the seawall on the Cape side of the bridge. There were RVs and tents along the side of the road for miles from what we could see, but we parked about 150 yards past the bridge in prime position to just pull out into traffic.

We set up our stuff to make our long wait on the concrete and rocks more comfortable, took some photos, and tried to get some sleep. It was in the upper 50s where we were sitting with a good 10-15mph wind, so it was pretty chilly sitting in lawn chairs with a windbreaker, hood, and a beach towel as a blanket. I finally managed to hibernate until some dufus up on the bridge behind us came with his camera, NASA radio, tons of space knowledge to share with the other fine, quiet people on the bridge. Oh, and his wonderful belching was the perfect 5am serenade. I wanted to grab him by the back of his jelly-rolled neck to swing him over the railing into the water but feared that he might land on me on the way to his watery end.

The sun was starting to make its presence known just beyond the horizon before 6am, so I made a trip to the car to get my sunglasses (which were hanging at home since we left at night) and one last trip to the port-a-johns because I’d be arrested for public exposure before I missed the launch just because I was going to have a bladder explosion. I made it back in time to take great shots of the sunrise.

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