We ran through Texas, Louisiana, Missisippi, Alabama and into Florida. Stopped for a great Shrimp PoBoy and some Gumbo just outside of Baton Rouge, it was awesome. Got to our delivery in Medway Florida at Noon on Tuesday and it took them 5 1/2 hours to unload the trailer. Everytime I checked they were taking a break. It was the first time I have lost my temper at a drop. After I read them the riot act and refused to accept their lies I called my FM and he had the Customer Service Rep get on it. 15 minutes later we are done and head the 10 miles to our second drop of 4 pallets in Miami. Get there just before six PM and we are empty five minutes later. We head to the Seminole Truck Stop about 20 miles North and we pull in with Anne having 30 minutes left on her 70 hour clock. Due to this our fleet manager put us into home status and said to call him when we want to go back to work. We were shut down for the evening since we were both out of hours. That means…..WE CAN DRINK! The cool thing about this truck stop is it is the only one I have ever seen with a Tiki Bar! That is what I call trip planning.
After spending a great evening there we rolled out about Noon to drive North toward Vero Beach to spend the rest of the week with our wonderful friends Mike and Brandi Lafferty. We have been having a great time and love the beach (they live one block away) The main plan was the very last shuttle launch on Friday July 8th. Mike has a very good friend who is a shuttle astronaut and he called to ask Shane if he could find us friends and family passes to get onto Kennedy Space Center. He said it would be tough but he would look into it. Wednesday evening Mike got a call from Shane telling him that he had found a car pass but we would need to drive over to Orlando Thursday evening to pick it up. Since we needed to go to Orlando, it seemed a trip to Margaritaville was in order. We packed up the kids in the car and all six of us drove the 90 miles to the Grand Cypress Resort where all of the NASA contractors stay. Mike and I went in to get the pass while the girls sat in the car. We first met Van, who is the Bell Captain and after a few minutes he decided we needed champagne while we waited.
Deciding that this could only get us in trouble Van went and got us two more glasses for the girls in the car.
So then Liz, who heads up the team from Boeing came to see us and said that the pass was not here yet, the person who had it was close but had been stuck in traffic. She told us Boeing would buy us drinks and dinner while we waited. Mike and I decided that we would rather remain married. About 15 minutes (and a couple more glasses of champagne later) two engineers from Goodard Space Flight Center arrived and gave us the pass.
The only problem was that the Pass was for Employees only and a NASA badge was required to use it. Mike called Shane and he said not to worry, he would get us in. We headed over to Universal Citywalk to Jimmy Buffetts Margaritaville where we had a great time. We got back to Vero Beach about 12:30 with a 4:30 wake up time to get headed to KSC. Brandi had to work so it was Anne and I with Mike, Hannah and Mckenna. We drove up Hwy 1 on the coast and no traffic issues. We heard the Freeway from Orlando was a nightmare as NASA was going to have One Million visitors today. A normal launch has about 200,000 visitors so I was not alone in my desire to see the last one ever. We got to the first checkpoint and they would not let us through. Mike called Shane and he had another astronaut drop him off with us to ride in. Shane had spent the night in the cockpit of the Atlantis on the pad getting all of the controls and switches set for the launch. What a great guy. I would say “down to earth” but how can that be said about an astronaut? We got front row seats and what an amazing day. I am very emotional so it was no surprise that I cried at the launch but when I looked at Anne and she was crying I knew it was not just me. I was 9 years old 42 years ago when Neil Armstong stepped onto the Moons surface for the first time and this was the culmination of a promise I had made to myself on that day.
The rest of this week has been amazing and we have had such a wonderful time with Mike and Brandi. Spent the afternoon at their club yesterday and then home where Brandi made the most amazing shrimp dish for dinner. We are packed and heading back to the truck today (Sunday) after a crazy, fun and restful week. Ready to get rolling again.