|The STS-121 mission was targeted to launch on July 1st,
2006 with the launch window opening at 3:48:41 and closing at 3:53:02
family was fortunate to have been extended an invitation to view the
NASA’s Banana Creek viewing site. We were guests of the Astronaut Scholarship
This was the
first time that my 3 year old grandson Wayland would have an
opportunity to see
a rocket launch. Our airplane flight to Orlando was also his first airplane flight. We
took a 7:00 a.m. flight from DFW to Orlando with a scheduled arrival at 10:36 a.m.
problem with an early morning flight is the fact that you need to get
early to ensure that you are at the airport on time.
Those hours are not so bad for me, but they
are pretty tough on the grand children. The
flight however was pretty smooth.
By the time that
we got our luggage and rental car at Orlando, it was time to grab something for
lunch. A Friday’s restaurant near the
airport seemed like a convenient place to eat.
We were shocked by the large police presence when we
restaurant. About 90% of the people in
the restaurant had on police uniforms. Closer inspection revealed that
police where enjoying an awards ceremony luncheon.
After lunch we
headed out towards the space coast on a road that used to be called the
Expressway. The State of Florida renamed the road since our last
visit. Some overactive marketing person
decided that “Beeline Expressway” was not an appropriate name for
tourism. They came to the conclusion that
Expressway” was better. Regardless of
what the sign says, to us it will always be the “Beeline”.
For the first
part of our vacation we were going to stay at the Cocoa Beach
Hilton. There were no reservations when
we were booking our travel arrangements. Thanks
to Linn LeBlanc of the Astronaut Scholarship
Foundation we were
able to get a room from a block of rooms that was set aside for guests
Delaware North Corporation. The Hilton
with its beach access was a perfect place to entertain our
we waited for the launch attempt.
After we checked
in, we changed clothes and went down to the beach.
Wayland had a blast playing in the Atlantic Ocean.
This was his first experience in an ocean. For a 3 year old he really
warmed up to it
fast. Waves splashing
him in the face were great fun to him.
He was so excited.
That night we
were invited to dine with Linn and Apollo 15 Astronaut Al Worden. Al was the Command Module Pilot for Apollo
15. The location for our dinner was
Bernard’s Surf restaurant. Bernard’s
Surf has been a fixture of Cocoa
Beach since 1948.
We had a little
difficulty locating the restaurant. Mary
called Linn and got refined directions. As
I was making a u-turn to go back, the bumper of
our car scraped a
stop sign. This rental car was a
Chevrolet Impala and it had longer nose on it than I was accustomed to. It was just a scratch, but it dampened my
Wayland, and I met up with Al and Linn in the restaurant.
The restaurant moved us to the back room and
an out of the way table. Having the
chance to dine with Al was just amazing. Who
would have imagined that we would be dining with
an Apollo astronaut
in Cocoa Beach the night before a launch attempt?
Al was a real pleasure to dine with.
While we were
waiting for our food Linn mentioned that Al had recently taken Scuba
back up. He got interested after hearing
about our undersea adventure with Scott Carpenter back in April. Linn told me to tell Al about our adventure.
Well, that was
all it took. I was so enthused by that
adventure that I can talk about it for hours. So
there I was at dinner with an Apollo astronaut
and I was monopolizing
the conversation rather than listening to the astronaut.
We finished our
dinners and I asked Al if we could take a photo of him with Lexie and
Wayland. He was really great with our
grand children. You won’t meet a
friendly more sincere person. Al obliged
us by posing for the photo.
The next morning,
I reflected upon our dinner conversation and I felt horrible. I knew that I had talked way too much. I figured that Al must have thought he was
having dinner with a raving idiot. What
was done was done. All I could do now
was apologize to Al the next time that I saw him.
When Wayland got
up, he looked out of the window of our hotel room.
He exclaimed, “It’s still here”.
He was referring to the ocean. Apparently
he thought the ocean would go away
The story continues the next day. For this part of the story
follow the 121 Scrub #1 link.