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Cocoa Beach
121 Scrub #1
121 Scrub #2


 Singing "Rocket Man" to Al Worden
My photographs from the launch scrub of STS-121.
Photo Credits: Mine
Lexie and Mary at the Banana Creek viewing site on Saturday before the scrub
Lexie and Mary at the Banana Creek viewing site on Saturday at the T-9 minute hold before the scrub
Wayland and me at the Banana Creek viewing site on Saturday before the scrub
Wayland and me before the Saturday scrub
The grandstands are filled to capacity before the first scrub
The Banana Creek grandstands were filled to capacity
Discovery headed for a scrub on Saturday
Discovery going nowhere on Saturday July 1st, 2006
Aerosmith's Steve Tyler and his entourage
Aerosmith's Steve Tyler and his security detail
Steve Tyler
Steve Tyler receives directions from his NASA escort
steve talks to daughter, actress Liv Tyler
Steve Tyler's daughter, actress Liv Tyler
Liv Tyler and the bathroom girls
Liv Tyler and Mary's bathroom girls
Liv Tyler's smile
Liv Tyler's smile
We left our hotel at about 4 hours before the opening of the launch window.  From past experience with shuttle launches, I did not want to push it and get stuck in a long line of traffic.

Traffic at that time was not very bad.  We cruised right up State Highway 3 and were at the KSC security checkpoint in no time.   The guard saw our placard on the dash and waved us through.  There were signs that guided us to the KSC Visitor Complex.

Beyond the placard we had a letter that gave us instructions on where we were supposed to go.  Since we had viewed a launch of the space shuttle from the Banana Creek viewing site before, I thought I knew where we had to go.  I thought wrong.

The place where we were supposed to meet Linn and the buses was the administration building.  I thought I knew where that building was.  Unfortunately when we got to that building it was locked.  We walked back and forth trying to find the place where we were supposed to be.  Nothing made any sense.

We saw where the NASA guests were supposed to go, but that wasn't us.  We asked the NASA personal where we were supposed to go, but they had no idea.  They suggested that we check with the ticket booth.

We went to the ticket booth and asked the woman inside of it if she could help us.  She too was initially confused, but then finally contacted someone who knew. We were told to go back to our car and drive back to the first stop light coming into the KSC Visitor Complex.

I was very apprehensive with this plan.  I was concerned that the parking attendants would not let us turn where we needed to go.  Now we would have to go back against the traffic flow. I asked if we couldn't just walk over to the building.  After all it was closer to walk to the building than it was to walk to the car.  The response was no, we had to drive over to the building.

I was pretty upset. I feared we would arrive late and miss the bus out to the Banana Creek viewing site.  Also by this time poor Wayland was getting tired of walking.   Who could blame the little guy?  He was only three years old.

I picked him up and briskly hiked back to our car.  It was in the farthest parking lot away from the visitors’ center. It was really hot and humid.  By the time I reached the car toting Wayland, I was tired and I was sweating like a pig.

We drove back to the stop light. I was relieved when we were allowed to turn left into the drive with the guard gate.  The guard came out and asked for our names. I gave her our last name, but she replied that there were only two people listed under that name. I then realized that Lexie and Wayland were listed under there own last names.

The guard was then able to find their names on the list.  She instructed us where to go, which was just a short drive around the side of the administration building.  This was the real administration building.  I had been confused by our previous launch trip.

We parked the car and I was very relieved.  We gathered our things and headed into the building.  We checked in with the receptionist and we were directed to a conference room where other launch guests were waiting.

We grabbed some refreshments and snacks and took a seat.  A television was on showing the NASA TV coverage of pre-launch activities.  Linn came by and told us that we could actually move next door.  That was her husband, Dan's office and private conference room.  In there were many members of Linn’s and Dan's family.

This was nice.  We were introduced to the family members and to his assistant Tiffany.  Everybody was very nice to us.  Nobody seemed to have a great deal of confidence that the launch would happen that day.  The weather just looked too bad.   There were too many clouds and rain showers in the area.  Since the vehicle was fueled, NASA would take the count down as far as it could until the launch window would close.

Wayland was introduced to Linn’s son Joey, who is just a little younger than Wayland.   Wayland was really excited to see someone his own age.

After a little while Al Worden showed up.  Al sat down in the row of chairs in front of ours.  Wayland was pretty excited to see Al too.  Wayland had so many things that he wanted to tell Al.  He was not shy at all.  He would tap Al on the back, “Hey Al, hey Al.” Al would turn around with a big smile on his face and say “What Wayland?”

At one point Wayland told Al that he pinched his sister's butt on the beach.  Al smiled and told Wayland, “I think, you're just a little devil!”  At another point, Wayland told Al that he didn't have a belly button.   Al gregariously responded to Wayland, “Let me see, pull up your shirt.”  When Wayland complied, of course he was tickled by Al.

This was so neat to watch Wayland interacting with one of the very few people who has flown around the Moon.  That experience itself was priceless, never mind if the shuttle launched or not.

At about one hour and thirty minutes before launch, it was time to board the buses.  Those buses would take us out to the Banana Creek viewing site.  We would be the last buses to get out to the viewing site.  That was nice, though because we could relax in relatively private confines with access to a great spread of food and drinks.

Everyone was excited to be finally boarding the buses.  However, when you looked at the sky, it did not instill a great deal of confidence in launching.  It was a short ride out to the Saturn V building.  Along the way was passed by the VAB and the Orbiter Processing Facilities.  I pointed all of those out to Wayland, but I think he would have been more excited to see an alligator.

Mary, Lexie, Wayland, and I got off of the buses and headed into the Saturn V building.   As we looked around the Saturn V, we saw someone heading in the opposite direction.  This person stood out in a crowd.  He had on a large white floppy hat.  Also he wore a very tight white shirt that resembled a woman's blouse.  Slightly behind him was a woman who also wore a large floppy hat.  She was in a white dress with platform sandals. Her hat was dark brown.  They were escorted by several security personal.  As they walked past, man in the white blouse howled!

This outrageous man was Steve Tyler, lead singer for the band Aerosmith.  The woman was his daughter Liv Tyler.  Liv is an accomplished actress and played character Arwen Undomiel. I thought seeing this group was an interesting spectacle.  Lexie was captivated because she is a huge “Lord of the Rings” fan.

We watched as the Tyler’s and their entourage headed over to the area in the Saturn V center where the Apollo 8 firing room recreation is set up.  They disappeared behind a door.

<>Mary went into the rest room that is over by the firing room doors.  In the rest room were a couple of teenage girls.  One of them had pitch black hair.  She went into a stall. The other began pounding on the door and demanded to be let in.  She held a cell phone camera up to the crack in the door.  The girl inside shrieked "You better not be taking pictures of me in here!"  Finally she let the girl with the camera in.  Older ladies who were in the rest room were appalled.  What outrageous behavior!  A short while later, Mary figured out that these two outrageous teenagers were also part of the Tyler entourage.

I saw Steve and Liv Tyler outside of the Saturn V building.  It seemed like a good photo opportunity so I went over to take some photos.  I had a new Nikon camera that had a continuous shooting mode.  Using that camera I felt like a real member of the paparazzi as I snapped a sequence of photos of the Tyler entourage.  Judging by the way that the security person looked at me, I was the paparazzi.

I noticed that some young girls were going up to introduce themselves to Liv.  I knew that Lexie desperately wanted to do this, so I went back to get her.  I told her that if she wanted to try she could go say hello to Liv.  Just as we got back to where the Tyler entourage was standing, they were whisked behind a security rope that separated them from the general public.  I felt sorry for Lexie, but I know she was excited just to see Liv.

We went outside to the viewing stands and gazed at the shuttle on the launch pad.  It was an impressive site.  Everyone was excited, but the prospects of a launch still did not look good.  People held out hope that some way the weather would clear in time.

I took some photos of Lexie and Mary by one of the countdown clocks that were holding at T-9 minutes.  Mary then took a couple of photos of Wayland and me by the clock.  Wayland was being a little ornery at this point and refused to look at the camera.

We took a seat in the viewing stands.  It was difficult to find a seat at this point, but after some searching we finally found one.   NASA kept hoping that the weather would clear and counted down the clock some more for another hold.

At about this point, we saw a rainbow in the sky.  In biblical times, this may have been a sign that the flood was over.  I knew that for a launch attempt, a rainbow is not a good sign.  It means there is rain in the air.  That will still be a no go for launch.

As we expected, the launch was scrubbed.  NASA would decide later when to make another launch attempt.  We boarded the buses for the ride back to the Visitor Complex.  We were disappointed, but not surprised.

We got back to the Visitor Complex.   We told Dan's assistant Tiffany that we would be coming back whenever the next STS-121 launch attempt was scheduled.  Linn told us that she was having a party at her house that night.  It was supposed to be a party celebrating a successful launch.  Even though there was no launch, the party would go on.

Traffic leaving the Visitor Complex was a mad house.   I noticed in my rear view mirror that Al was behind us in his black Porsche.  We got to the light and the lanes were all full even though our light was green.  I pulled out into the intersection so that we could merge into traffic.  I did not want to wait through another light sequence.  I thought Al might think I was crazy with that maneuver, but he pulled right along beside me.  We got to a left turn and I noticed that Al's Porsche cornered significantly better than our Impala.

It took a while, but we finally got back to State Road 3 and headed south.  Traffic was heavy, but it was moving.  We got to State Road 528 and found that the police had shut down the entrances to the road.  We wanted to take SR 528 to get back to our hotel room, but that was not an option.

We continued south.  I noted that Al and Linn’s friend Dee were in cars just ahead of us.  I guessed that we were still going in the right direction.   Finally we got to a road that would take us back across the water to Cocoa Beach.  Traffic wasn't quite as bad going East on that road.

Before long we were back at the hotel.   Mary, Lexie, Wayland, and I went over to the elevators.  Who should we see waiting by the elevator?  It was none other than Steve Tyler.  He was waiting there with a teenage boy.   The boy may have been his son. There was no security to be seen.  It was so strange to see Tyler in this situation without security.  Not long before that we had seen the security hovering around him like a blanket at the Saturn V building.

We respected Tyler’s privacy and did not bother him.  It would have been nice to have gotten an Aerosmith CD signed by him, but it just didn't seem like the right time.  Everyone was tired after waiting through the launch scrub, and we were sure that Tyler also felt this way.

We got into the elevator to head up to our room.  In the elevator was a bell man from the hotel.  Wayland struck up a conversation with the bell man.  He introduced himself, “Hello, I'm Wayland from Texas.”  The two of them talked all the way up to our floor. It seemed unusual to us for a 3 year old to strike up conversations with total strangers.  During this vacation we found that Wayland would strike up a conversation all the time with different people at different locations.  It was amazing to watch.

After about 30 minutes in our room we headed back down stairs.  Once again we saw Steve Tyler.  Now he was checking out from the hotel.  He had changed clothes and instead of wearing white, he was wearing black. Again his top looked like a blouse. Yes, he still was wearing a big floppy hat, only now it too was black.  I guess it was his evening attire.

In the lobby, his entourage had assembled a ton of luggage.  Out in front of the hotel was a huge white stretch limo waiting to take them to the airport.  From what I understood, Tyler was appearing with the Boston Pops for the fourth of July so he wouldn't be able to stay for the next launch attempt.

We headed out to find Linn’s house.  When we got into her neighborhood, it seemed like every street there had the same name.   I think we were driving around in circles.  Finally Mary was able to get in touch with Linn on the phone.  Linn was able to guide us into her driveway.  In our defense, her house is rather hidden from the street.

Many of Dan's family members had attended the launch.  There were at the party.  We were introduced to him mom, his sisters, his nephews, nieces. You name it, the seemed to be there.   One thing I must say about all of the relatives is that they were all just super nice to us.  It was like we had known them forever.  There are a lot of parties that I've been at where I felt like an outsider.  You kind of stand off in a corner and watch as life moves on around you.  I never had that feeling at the LeBlanc’s.

Wayland had a marvelous time playing with Joey.  We brought Wayland’s swimming trunks and they had a great time in the pool.   Lexie hung out with the girls.

I was sitting outside with Al and Linn’s friend Dee.  Somehow the subject of my story telling came up.  I apologized to Al for my monopolizing the dinner conversation at Bernard's Surf the other night.  Al laughed and said, “I'm used to one sided conversations…  I'm just not used to doing the listening!”  It was pretty funny.

Mary joined us a little while later as did one of Dan's sisters.  Now the subject of Cullen Davis came up.  Dan's sister had not heard about Cullen Davis so Mary was going to tell the story.  Al put his hand over Mary's mouth and said, “Mary, let me tell the story.”  It was what you might call a raucous party.

Mary and I watched as Joey came out from inside of the house.  He was holding the family cat.  His face was rather expressionless as he walked towards the swimming pool. In disbelief we watched as Joey dropped the cat into the water!   The cat quickly made its way to the side and scampered out. Linn saw what happened and rushed over.  She asked “Joey why did you do that?  That's not funny!” Joey replied “Well it was a little funny.”  You've got to love kids.  The cat probably didn't have the same sense of humor that we did.

One popular activity at the party was Karaoke.  Almost everyone seemed to be involved with it.  I can't sing very well so I stayed away from the microphone.  As the evening wore on, Linn wouldn't let me off the hook that easy.  She talked me into singing the song of my choice.  Shamed into submission, I told her that I would sing Elton John's “Rocket Man.”  Yes, I had been drinking.

Linn went through the song list and sure enough she was able to find “Rocket Man.  So that I wouldn't have to sing alone, her husband Dan joined in with another microphone as did another partier.  To my amazement, Al grabbed a fourth microphone.  So there I was, the night after a launch scrub, singing “Rocket Man” with Apollo 15 Astronaut Al Worden.  What an incredible experience.

It was around 10:30 PM, which was pretty late for the kids.  Mary and I rounded Wayland and Lexie up so that we could head back to the hotel.  Our car was blocked in the driveway by other vehicles.  Linn’s dad and nephews came to the rescue.  Like skilled valets at a restaurant, they moved the four cars out of the way that held us captive. We got back to the hotel and retired for a good night's sleep.

The story continues the next day.  For this part of the story follow the 121 Scrub #2 link.

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UPDATED : June 11, 2008
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