Friday, May 14, 2010
Atlantis, from Cocoa Beach
I made the trek over to watch this. Apparently I wasn't alone: the radio said about 300,000 people made the trip to the area. It was the most-watched shuttle mission ever. I watched it from the Bennett Causeway in Cocoa Beach. I would have very much liked to have gotten a bit closer by going up to Titusville, but the traffic going that route looked to be murder. As it is, I made it to this location just about an hour before the launch. I chose it as I saw hundreds of people already parked along here. I figured that at least some of them knew what they were doing, and they did: you can't tell from the video, but NASA's giant Vehicle Assembly Building is visible in the distance, as are a number of launch pads.
When it launched, I was pointing my camera in the general direction, but looking through my binoculars at what I thought to be the shuttle. That distant weird object wasn't the shuttle, so I had to hurry and drop the binoculars, put my glasses back on and look for the thing. I think you can actually hear my saying "shit" at that point.
I just watched the rest of it through the lensfinder of my camera, which has a wider field of view. Later on, you can hear my announcing the sound of the shuttle arriving. The little mic of my camera didn't really do it justice though: it was a low rumbling, like constant thunder. I think it arrived at least a minute after launch.
There are no bathroooms out there. I had to go swimming just to take a leak. It worked out okay though, as I had been planning to go the world-famous Ron Jon surf shop anyway. I bought a pair of swim trunks there, so I wouldn't have to drive home wearing my wet jean shorts.
All in all it was a good day. There are two more shuttle missions. Next time, I'll try to get a ticket to watch from the visitor's center. If I can't get that, then I'll definitely wear swim-trunks next time, so I can take a sneak-leak in the intercoastal waterway without it being a problem!
Also, I'll take enough food and water to camp out there for a good four hours. Traffic out of there was murder. Even after having lunch at a restaurant, and buying my shorts, traffic was bumper-to-bumper out of Cocoa Beach.