The skies were dark, a foreboding of what lay ahead. Today I would part ways with my yellow companion of the past 7 days, my Corvette ZHZ. It was always going to be a bitter sweet moment having travelled almost a thousand miles together but it was made all the more bitter by the fact I couldn’t take it with me to Discovery’s last launch. Still I was determined to make the most of this day, rising early so that I could take my time driving her back to the place from whence she once came. Whilst I wasn’t really that emotional I still couldn’t help but look back over my shoulder at the stunning piece of automobile engineering whilst I slowly walked away.
I was in a daze for a good hour afterwards, wandering around Orlando airport trying to figure out what to do. I had a couple hours to burn until I picked up my next car, a convertible of some description, and I hadn’t had any breakfast. The pickings on this side of the airport were quite slim as I had been over them several times whilst I was staying at the Hyatt but I finally settled on some yoghurt and coffee from the local Starbucks. I had came prepared for this brief interlude back at the airport with my copy of Pandora’s Star grasped firmly in one hand and proceeded to devour a couple chapters whilst I waited for my next ride to be ready.
I’m always a little nervous when it comes to booking things over the Internet and this was no exception. Having only booked this a couple nights ago I was hoping that everything was ok and I would be walking out there, FSM willing, with some kind of car that would make it to the KSC tomorrow. Thankfully everything checked out and 30 minutes later I was in possession of a red convertible Ford Mustang. I was flying blind this time around as I hadn’t bothered to get a GPS for it but I was confident I could find my way back home since I had done it enough times in the corvette, but time would tell on that one.
Then just as I was leaving the skies began to rain down with nearly the same fury I had felt whilst I was down in Miami. It was as if nature itself was abhorred by the notion of me driving another car, weeping for two companions separated by circumstances. I managed to pull under an overpass and figured out the roof just in the nick of time saving myself and the pristine interior the torrential downpour that was now savaging the area. In amongst all this I noticed I had found myself on the same road I had gotten lost on the first day I spent driving here in the USA, promptly righting my course and finding my way home about 30 minutes later.
I spent the majority of my day here in the hotel, watching videos and reading a couple more chapters of my book. It was a tactical move to try and aid in the healing of my foot in preparation for tomorrow since I didn’t want to be hopping around in pain when the shuttle roars into action tomorrow afternoon. On any other day it would’ve been one I considered wasted but with the downpour and relatively cold conditions all across Florida currently it didn’t seem like a bad way to spend the day. It would’ve been even better if I could’ve spent it cuddled up with my wife in front of the TV, but our separation (which was due to end tomorrow) put an end to that idea before it began. I’ll just have to make up for lost time when we see each other again.
Spending the whole day indoors did leave me a little restless so I decided I’d at least attempt to find somewhere to eat outside of the hotel. Driving around for 30 minutes I couldn’t find anything past crappy chain restaurants or fast food, certainly nothing worth the price of admission like it was back in Miami. Defeated I returned to my hotel room and ordered room service, which they got wrong. I wasn’t really about to argue with it though since I wasn’t particularly hungry and the meal they had sent up was decent¹.
Tomorrow will, hopefully, be the climax of my 11 days spent here in the sunny southern state. The enormity of it has still yet to set in and I’m sill anxiously awaiting confirmation that my flight has been changed but those aside it still excites me that I’ll be able to bear witness to something as awesome as a shuttle launch. No doubt tomorrow’s post will be one of elation, awe and a drained wallet as my fiscal conservative side gets pushed aside by that little boy in me who just won’t stop dreaming about becoming an astronaut and wants that t-shirt to go with it. I’ve been ever so jealous of those lucky people who got in on the NASA tweetup, living vicariously through them as I follow their tweets and pictures. Hopefully I’ll get to join them next year (hint hint) when I come over to see the very last shuttle launch.
¹Just as I was finishing up this post they brought up the correct order and said the other meal was on the house. Well that was lucky and it would be even better if I had a fridge in this place. Maybe it’s time to make an impromptu one with wet towels in the bathroom, that ought to keep it cool enough for breakfast tomorrow morning! 😉