Saturday, October 13, 2012

Endeavour

Vickie said, "So, are we going to drive down to LA tonight and find Endeavour?" is how it began.  I hemmed and hawed and wasn't quite sure if I wanted to take 5 kids into the heart of Los Angeles with no plan after bedtime.  But then I remembered the regret I felt for not taking the kids out of school to see the flyover.  I asked my children how important it was to them to see the Shuttle.  My nerdy-kids felt it was imperative.  I believe one of them exclaimed he would die if he didn't see it.

So we set off with only an intersection as a destination.  I told the children that I couldn't promise them any more than a drive-by.  We had a contingency plan of dropping Vickie and the big kids to walk up to Endeavour if I couldn't find a parking spot.

We spotted the Shuttle from the freeway.  As is my custom I squealed and pointed, but I did not crash the car.  At that moment if we saw nothing else I would have been happy.  Seeing Endeavour on the streets of Los Angeles next to a giant donut was surreal and perfect.  But we pursued an even closer view for the kids.

It took 30 minutes of getting stuck on dead ends, one way streets and wandering the streets until we were fortunate enough to find street parking.  We were only 2 blocks from Endeavour (at Randy's Donut Shop), but the police has shut that road - so we went the long 6 blocks-way.

It was just as you would expect.  A good bit of walking at 9:00 pm at night, far past everyone's bedtime.  And because my Southern California kids don't know what real cold is they put on hats, mittens and scarves to walk in the 58* weather.  We came upon the large crowd on La Cienega (north of Manchester) and joined the throngs.  I was in awe and all but forgot to make sure the little ones could see.

After quite a bit of "excuse me" and "pardon me" we made it into the deepest part of the crowd, just 3 people back from the front row.  After waiting around for a bit it was clear the front-rowers were not giving up their spot.  I realized that my small little kids would be able to cute their way to the front row one at a time.  I dug deep and laid my mommy fears aside.  I asked nice young men to let my son wiggle to the front unaccompanied where he would have an unobstructed view of the shuttle, the transporter and the whole street.  Then I held my breath until he came back.  It was a long 7 minutes.

He burst through the crowd with a huge smile on his face.  He was beaming.  He had an opportunity to talk to the volunteers from the California Science Center and hold a piece of heat shield in his hand.  Off went Lainy Ann on her singular adventure where she got to hold the heat shield as well.  Then William and Alexander wanted to go . . . more bravery was needed.  I squeezed to the front and personally spoke to 3 or 4 people who would allow my littlest brothers to walk through a crowd in Los Angeles in the middle of the night to see history.  I let the two boys go alone into the waves of people.  I asked others to keep an eye on the boys.  Then the other crowd members tapped on the front row of shoulders and pointed down to my boys.  I was proud of my fellow Angelenos.  They were taking care of my boys and encouraging a future scientist.

We waited around a bit, hoping the Shuttle would be towed over the 405 freeway (by a Toyota Tundra as part of an upcoming commercial).  But the kids were tired and we had a long walk back to the car.  It took 20 minutes to get on the freeway heading the correct direction.  The kids were asleep before we hit the on-ramp.  They were such troopers.  I can't wait to take my grandkids to see Endeavour.  I want to tell them about the late night I took their mother/father to see Endeavour in the streets on Mission 26.  I want to tell them about the Astronauts who lost their lives on Challenger in the pursuit of greatness.  I want to tell them how Endeavour was built in the Los Angeles area to replace Challenger.  I want my grandchildren to dream of a future when we live on Mars or the moon, simply because we can.

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