I had a really rough night, though thankfully Rosina seems to have slept well. There’s a railroad close by on which freight trains with loud horns run all night long. This morning the road outside is noisy, and campground kids were out playing at 07:00 as well as the obligatory yapping and barking dogs. Welcome to Bedlam. Today is the scheduled launch date of the space shuttle ‘Endeavor’ whose mission is to take additional accommodation and water purification equipment to the International Space Station which in early 2009 will double its crew size to 6. This equipment needs to be blasted up there now as the Space Shuttle programme comes to an end in 2010 and there is nothing to take its place. I’m not sure how the American public is going to feel having the Indians and Chinese overtake them in the exploration of space.
The original launch date was 8th November and our itinerary was planned around that date, but for some reason it was moved to today the 14th, and so we had to reschedule everything to accommodate it. This has been further complicated by our change in plans regarding what we do with the RV. The original itinerary was to end the trip at Brunswick, Georgia, where we would leave the vehicle for onward shipping to the U.K. But due to the ‘Brown Pound’ losing value so quickly we’ll be leaving it here in America now. It has meant dropping our visits to Miami and Key West which is disappointing but not a tragedy. We’ve done Miami before and Key West seems to be just another seaside resort for gays. I’ve nothing at all against gays, we’re all born the way we are and have the right to make our own way in the world as who we are. I just don’t want to spend valuable time and money watching self indulgent behaviour.
Rosina was brilliant today. We’d established from the staff here yesterday that campers will be going down to the rivers’ edge at about 18:00 for the 19:55 launch, so she went to check it out at 10:00 and came back with the news that people were already setting their chairs up down there, and either sitting in them or reserving them, rather like the Germans with the sun loungers. As I crawled in to bed with a sky high temperature and feeling gross, Rosina took our two lightweight, cheap folding chairs down to the waters’ edge and spent most of the day down there to reserve our spot.
Having spent the day sucking my way through most of our ice cream I showered and went down to join The Chef for the launch. I still felt gross but I hadn’t come this far to miss it. After sitting there for about 2½ hours the time had come, ‘Endeavor’ launched on time at 19:55. She lit up the sky as she left the launch pad and as she rose and turned out over the Atlantic we were left to watch a trail of fiery flame in a dark sky moving increasingly away from us. I expected to hear a roar of her rocket motors at some stage but there was nothing. The whole experience was very disappointing.
Standing on Cocoa Beach some twenty years ago I’d watched a night launch of an Atlas rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Base next door, and that was more memorable than today’s launch. Why it had to be a night launch I’ve no idea, you’d think after preparing a mission for so long they could work it so that it could reach its target during the daytime. Besides which, these missions are funded by hard-pressed American taxpayers and they deserve a better view of their money going up in smoke than they got tonight. I think the biggest problem was that we were too far away from the action, true we were spared the grief of trying to get closer given the normal traffic chaos on launch days, and we did have a clear view of what was happening such as it was, but it was all an anticlimax. I apologised to Rosina for having dragged her here to watch it. I wish now we hadn’t bothered, still at least we can say we’ve seen a shuttle launch.
Tonight will be spent on the sofa again. If this throat gets any worse I’ll have to consider getting a pro to look at it. I just don’t have time to be ill and I’m getting fed up with being tired, hungry and in discomfort.
LOCATION TONIGHT: Manatee Hammock, 7275 S. U.S. Highway 1, Titusville, FL 32780.