My mother arrived in Orlando yesterday, the start of a 2-week visit with her sister. Apparently their weekend plans are so full that Mom doubts they'll get them all in. Last night, after pre-arranged dinner with friends, they added a can't-be-missed-opportunity to the agenda.
Around 10:30 pm, Mom and Aunt Dorie, plus a friend, drove from Orlando to Cape Canaveral to watch the shuttle Discovery lift off. The uncommon nighttime launch "lit up the sky" much more dramatically in person than the televised coverage shows.
My aunt gives her first-person account:
Lots of people parked on the sides of the road and in the median (like us). Families- dogs, dates, etc. I remember the silence of the crowd as the area at the base of the shuttle got brighter and brighter. We were standing between some vehicles that were edged up right to the water. We'd been told there were alligators in the water. The sky got brighter and it was quiet. The crowd was quiet except for one person with a car door open and the radio blaring with the countdown. The noise really came when the shuttle broke through the atmosphere as it was curving (or the look of a curve) off in the distance. And when we could no longer see it - the crowd cheered and clapped. Interesting dynamic for sure.
What a great way to start a vacation! I bet Mom doesn't witness another shuttle blast-off...ever. I bet I don't either, at least in person, seeing as they are scheduled to be grounded in a year or so. Hopefully this event will stay in her "highlight" memory bank.