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Florida Guide > Other Activities

Blast off from Cape Canaveral

The countdown clock was ticking and here we were approaching Titusville just thirty-five minutes before the scheduled lift off time of the shuttle Discovery looking for what was becoming a prized parking space.

We had been driving north up US1 and as we passed the US50 intersection the wide expanse of the Indian River opened up to us on the right with uninterrupted views across to the flatlands of Cape Canaveral and more importantly the space shuttle launch pad. Cars were crammed along the verges by the water’s edge and impromptu parking lots were looking to charge visitors anything up to $35 as they began to despair of finding any other alternatives.

We held our nerve and continued north, and then on the southbound carriageway we spied a disused bank building all boarded up but available for lease. Its parking lot was home to a few weeds and was showing definite signs of neglect but it was perfectly adequate for our purposes. A quick ‘U’ turn at the next set of lights saw us neatly parked in the vacant lot, and by the time we had gathered our cameras and binoculars together several other desperate travellers had followed suit.

Across the highway it was obvious people had been there for some time. They had fold up chairs, high frequency radios and all variety of provisions to keep them sustained during their long wait. We struck up a conversation with a couple who had driven down from Daytona Beach and had been there a little over four hours, but they were generous enough to allow us to share their space which gave us a wonderful view across the river.

As the clock ticked down to the last few minutes there was a buzz of expectancy amongst the swelling throng. Those who had kept the radio commentary to themselves now cranked up the volume for all to hear.

Then gigantic plumes of smoke engulfed the pad and as the shuttle rose majestically into the morning sky propelled by those massive rocket boosters the noise reached out across the river to add to the already special atmosphere along its banks. It was a sight to behold. Cameras went into overdrive and spontaneous applause broke out all around.

We felt extremely privileged to have witnessed such an amazing experience, then after reflecting for a good few minutes we bade our farewells and headed back to the car firm in the knowledge that we could finally place a tick against what was one of our ‘must see’ events.

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Page added on: 10 April 2009
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