The Final Countdown… Almost

Last Friday marked the final night launch of the space shuttle Endeavour.  It was one of only two dozen night launches ever performed and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the last one for the shuttle program altogether.  The shuttle program ends in 2010 with no new program to replace it.  Hopefully our local economy is diverse enough to handle the job loss.  There are a lot of nervous people along the Space Coast.  Rightfully, so, I’d say.

J took both of the boys camping last weekend while I did yoga.  He’s Super Dad, I know!  Taking a four-year-old and and two-year-old camping by himself?  He’s either totally awesome or totally crazy.  I’m opting for awesome.  They left of Friday afternoon.  I can’t tell you how nice it was to have the house to myself.  I ran a few errands in preparation for my trip and came home to a phone call from my mom (and one from Aileen‘s daughter which is another story in itself).  Mom’s movie date plans had changed and she was bored.  Neither of us had eaten dinner so she suggested we go to City Tropics.

City Tropics has ample outdoor seating that you can only truly enjoy in the Fall and Winter months.  Any other time of the year is brutally hot.  Last Friday night was perfect for dining outside.  We made our outdoor table request not thinking that there would actually be anything available due to the night launch.  We were in luck though.  There was a seat right along the perimeter that had an unobstructed view of where the shuttle would rise into the night sky.  The weather was perfectly clear with a light,cool breeze and a full moon.  We watched a long line of cars racing toward A1A hoping to get to the beach in time to see the shuttle go up.  Dinner was awesome.  The food  at City Tropics is always awesome.  I had the Thai Chicken Pizza and some fruity martini, if you care to know.

Liftoff was at 7:55 PM.  The night sky turned orange Northeast of us as if the sun was rising.  A few seconds after liftoff we saw the shuttle rise above the buildings across the street and soar into space.  It was beautiful.  My photo does not do it justice.  People cheered and applauded.   We all took pictures then returned to our seats.  It was bittersweet knowing that we might not see such a sight again.

I clearly remember watching the very first space shuttle launch in 1981.  My mom kept me out of school that morning.  I was in first grade.  We had breakfast at The Blueberry Muffin then walked across the street to the beach to watch history.  I felt so special that day.  Like I was keeping a big secret.  I got to miss a little bit of school!!!!  On purpose!  That never happened.

It’ll be sad around here without the space shuttle.  I’ve grown accustomed to it.   Sure, I inevitably think someone has fired a gun every. time. it. lands.  The twin sonic booms are amazingly loud.  But I’ll miss that little piece of drama that comes with living on the Space Coast.