Failure to launch

Trip Start Apr 28, 2011
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Trip End May 10, 2011


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Flag of United States  , Florida
Friday, April 29, 2011

I was here a couple weeks ago, with my son, hoping to view the next to last Shuttle launch, but it was delayed and we didn't see it. So, when it was rescheduled for a few days before I had to be back in Orlando anyway (to fly to Costa Rica), I jumped on the opportunity to try a second time.

I'm staying with a friend about a half hour west of Disney World. Shortly after I got here yesterday, another friend of his called from Alabama, where his city had just been devastated overnight by tornadoes. He couldn't go into work for a few days, and his power would be out for at least a few days, so he jumped in his car and drove out to join us. With a fourth friend, we headed out this morning for Cape Canaveral. Along with an estimated 750,000 others, including the President of the United States. Seems everyone wanted in on this launch.
Traffic started building up well before the Cape. Then, just before we had to commit to an extended bit of bumper to bumper slogging, we got word that the launch was being delayed again. Not wanting to waste the entire drive, we decided to stop at a barbecue place along the road to sample the local cuisine....

While driving back, but still near the Cape, we passed a semi-mobile BBQ stand, and it looked too good to pass up, so we pulled over and feasted on some slow cooked beef and ribs.

Back on the road again, headed for Winter Garden, I posted a picture of the electronic road sign that said the launch was being cancelled on Facebook. To my surprise, I got an immediate response from an old girlfriend who said she was in Orlando waiting for a flight back to Los Angeles after a convention. I called her, got the hotel she was staying at, and told her I'd drop by and say a quick hello within the hour. So, for only the second time in 20 years, we were going to see each other.
We pulled up to the hotel, I jumped out and told the guys to give me a few minutes. After hunting around the lobby I found her, and she eagerly introduced me to a man she had just met while waiting for me. He turned out to be a NASA engineer who was there to be honored by NASA for 40 years of service, and was also hoping to see his first rocket launch. He'd tried a couple times before, but each time there were delays that forced him to return to the DC area before seeing a launch. So I didn't feel so bad about missing it for the second time in two weeks. We chatted for about 20 minutes, when she asked me what had happened to my friends. I told her that when they got tired of waiting they would call me, and sure enough in another 10 minutes they did. I told them to come in so they could also meet the engineer. We talked for another 15 minutes until she had to leave for the airport, said our goodbyes and we headed back to Winter Garden.
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