It seems like posting an out of season event was a hit. So let’s do it again! I didn’t post this one sooner because I was having a hard time wrapping my brain around my heart’s emotions. This was so special to me and I wasn’t sure I would be able to properly convey that. I’ll give it a try…
We all have them. Some people are content keeping them where they are born- in their hearts and minds.
I’m not. And I don’t want my kids to be either.
So last spring as the final two space shuttle missions were approaching I realized that this was it. If I didn’t take action and at least try to see a launch I would have to live with regret. And I don’t do regret well.
As difficult as it was going to be to take my then 14 month old an 2 and a half-year old on a six-hour road trip and then get up at odd hour and fight hellacious traffic and crowds to sit and wait for hours knowing that there is a very good chance that the mission would scrub for one reason or another and we wouldn’t see a launch anyway (only about 40% of scheduled launches have gone on their first attempt)- I still had to give it a shot.
Gasp. I’m out of breath from that run-on sentence.
To me, our space program represents possibilities. It’s a reminder of potential- my own, my family’s, our human family. It’s real life magic. The magic that can happen when people come together do something that seems like it should be impossible.
I want my kids to know this. Not just mentally. I want them to know it on a deep, ingrained in their soul kind of way. Magic can happen.
I know the boys are too small to fully understand the experience but my hope is Burtch will retain some memory of the launch and Lawson will be able to appreciate that he was there through our pictures, video and (daily!) conversations about the event.
The Pilot shares my passion for all things space. without hesitation he re-arranged his work schedule to make our trip happen. On April 28, 2011 our family loaded down the minivan and set out on (what could have been) the trip of a lifetime to watch the penultimate space shuttle launch. The Pilot and I were trying to fulfill our own dreams and maybe our boys will create a few dreams of their own.
Unfortunately, our first step was to drive for 8 hours. The longest trip the boys had ever been on was only 3 hours. We were venturing into unknown territory!
At least half of our cargo was agreeable.
About two and a half hours into our journey- through severe thunder storms, hail and tornado warnings- we stopped to eat. This picture of Lawson about sums up the way we were all feeling. And we were only half way there…
Overall, the boys hung in there. When we got to our hotel in Orlando we immediately went to find dinner and then headed for bed. The Space Shuttle Endeavour was scheduled to launch the next afternoon and we were anticipating another tiring day for the boys. I was so excited I couldn’t stand myself!
We arrived in Titusville at Space View Park where we had planned to watch the launch. We arrived almost 6 hours ahead of time (which was recommended) and quickly realized all of the people that would actually be able to see Endeavour leave launch pad 39A got there at least 12 hours ahead of time. No worries though, as long as we could see some of the launch we would be satisfied. So we settled down in the park and racked our brains for ways to entertain the boys for the next 6 hours.
From the time we left our house the day prior, I was obsessively checking NASA’s Facebook page for technical problems or a scrub announcement. Around 12:25, about two hours before launch time I checked again. There it was, written in all caps. SCRUB.
My heart sank.
But before I had time to contemplate what that meant for my dream of seeing a space shuttle launch I looked around and realized that the massive crowd had not yet learned of the scrub. I quietly broke the news to The Pilot and at the speed of sound, we packed up our things and raced back to the van to beat the traffic.
On the walk back it hit me. My eyes filled with tears. It wasn’t going to happen for us. I knew that there were far worse things in life than a launch scrub but this was important to The Pilot and I. Life is about experiences and this is one that we each yearned for.
We drove back to our hotel and waited to hear when they would schedule the next attempt. And waited some more. The only information that was given was that the next attempt would be no earlier than May 2 at 2:34 p.m. which was in two days. We knew the chances of a launch at that time were slim but we thought that this was likely our last chance. The Pilot again rearranged his schedule and we stayed. If we left and Endeavour did launch on Monday we would be sick. We stayed.
But what could we possibly do with free day in Orlando?
Come back tomorrow and find out!