Thursday, February 7, 2008

February 6, 7, 2008 Orlando and Cape Kennedy, FL

We saw the advertisement for the Arabian Knights Supper Club and we found some nice horse and unicorn statues on the property. Then, today we went to Cape Kennedy and saw the lift-off of the shuttle Atlantis. The weather was borderline and it was not known until the last minute if it were going to go today or not. The skies pretty much cleared and the show went on, seemingly fine, right on time. We were right across the water from the launch and had a great view of the entire action. Gosh, it was awesome. There were large crowds gathered throughout the area and we heeded advice to get there early. We were at a park along the water and, for about four hours, we shared a picnic table in a covered pavilion watching the crowds streaming into the area. We shared the table with a couple originally from the Chicago area and another couple that had driven all night from North Carolina to see the launch. The NC couple's daughter and son in law are missionaries and had been stationed for several years in primitive areas of Africa. The lady works for an airline so they flew over to visit and brought back many great stories of their time spent there. Their son in law contracted malaria for the third time so they are in the states now. Mama says that, since their daughter has eight children, she hopes that they stay here now. As we approached the 2:45PM scheduled launch time, the crowd began to buzz with excitement. A rumor was started that the launch was moved up an hour but I checked the Kennedy Space Center website and discovered that the time was still the same. We were maybe five miles from the lift-off site, right across the water. The wind was blowing from our backs toward the site so, when it all started, the noise, though heavy and loud, was not as loud and earthshaking as I thought that it was going to be but we know that it was very heavy and loud on the island. At blast-off, we saw the white steam billowing from the booster rockets and then the flames and the capsule itself. It continued to climb, up into and through the clouds, and then finally out of sight. It was such a tremendous relief that all seemingly went well that many yelled, shouted, clapped and danced when all seemed to be going well. This lift-off has been delayed for months now with mechanical difficulties and I do believe that we were surrounded by thousands of people who felt genuine relief that this mission started so well.

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