Trip to Florida to watch Atlantis’s last departure

This past weekend I had an amazing opportunity to go to Florida with my Dad and watch the last NASA Shuttle launch.  What an amazing trip it was.

We Left Denver Thursday afternoon and made it to Titusville around 10 or so.  We went out and found a place to where we could see the shuttle at night time to try and get a decent picture of it before it launched.  But, it turned out to be too hard to get a good picture at night.  So, we headed back to our motel room to catch a whopping 2 hours of sleep before we had to wake up at 2 AM to head to the Kennedy Space Center.

We arrived at the KSCVC around 3 am and started the processes of waiting in line after line after line.  We finally boarded our bus at 7:30 AM and then proceeded to head out to the Causeway where my dad had gotten tickets to through the lottery system.  The causeway is the closest you can get as a civilian to watching the shuttle launch.  We sure lucked out.

After waiting in the humid heat for 4 hours while setting up the cameras, chatting about cameras, listening to the latest news of whether it was going to launch or not (a 30% chance) we finally got the word that the launch was a GO.  We all waited anxiously in anticipation for the countdown.  We made it to T-2 minutes .. and then were delayed.  But only for a few minutes…. Then they started the clock again at T-5 minutes and counting…  3…  And you could see the engines light up and the smoke billowing out…  2… 1… and we had liftoff.  For a moment all you could see was the smoke .. and then you saw the nose of the shuttle peaking out and moving up quickly … then it all happened so fast yet was sort of slow motion… watching the shuttle arc up into the clouds.  Then eventually the booming sound of the shuttle hit us (about 30 seconds later).

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And a few from the Pro Photographer Dad ….

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After the shuttle launch we made our way back to the Hotel for some very much needed rest.  That pretty much took up the rest of Friday.

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Saturday we headed out to the northern part of Merritt Island to the wildlife refuge to see what birds and other critters we could see.  At the visitor center we went on a short walk and ran into some interesting spiders, dung beetles (at least beetles that liked dung), turtles, and a small croc.   After that we headed out on the Peacock Pocket Rd loop (one that we would repeat two more times) to check out the birds.

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I would like to come back to Merritt island sometime (Maybe in the spring when it’s cooler) and take a kayaking trip around the canals and lagoons.  It was a very pretty area and very enjoyable except all the mosquitos that for some reason really love my blood (I’m still itching all over from the trip).

The last part of our major adventure was sitting on the tarmac for over an hour in Orlando, running through Atlanta’s airport from the end of one terminal to the end of another, and then not getting back home till 2 AM.  Just in time for a few hours sleep before I had to be to work Monday morning.

Thanks Dad for the GREAT time !!!!

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