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Excitement! Disappointment. Excitement! Zzzz.

flYesterday was a really long day. Not a bad day, just a long one. Driving 800 miles in 15 hours tends to make it seem that way.

I woke up at 3:45 a.m. and loaded all of my various last-minute items into the car. By 4 a.m., I was on the road. The glorious, dark, boring road.

I plowed through the darkness for a couple of hours and made it to the Texas-Louisana border a little after 7 a.m., whereupon I discovered that our Cajun neighbors only allow urination during normal business hours (and they can’t spell “accessible”). Fortunately, the janitor was there and agreed to let me in. Actually, I believe he told me that he “didn’t give a rat’s ass” if I went in there or not. There must be a Napoleonic Code of hospitality too, or something.

After savoring the sunrise for a few minutes, I noticed that there were gators snapping in the water and decided it was time to move on. I’m not particularly afraid of alligators, but I didn’t see the need to push it. Especially with no one else other than an indifferent janitor out there to notice if I were suddenly eaten by an alligator.

A few minutes after I got back in the car, news slowly began to trickle in via Twitter and e-mail of possible problems with the shuttle launch. Soon thereafter, NASA officially announced that they’re going to push it back a day until Tuesday so they can repair an air leak in the thingamajig or something. So all of our activities have been pushed back a day accordingly as well.

At first, I was a little put out about it, but the more I thought about, the better it became. Now I get an extra day in Florida – a day I can use exploring the KSC on my own or doing something in the area. And it means I didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn again today. After driving from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m., a little extra sleep was welcome. And since I’m renting a house for the week and driving, I didn’t have to worry about additional hotel days or flight changes like a lot of the other participants. So I chilled and decided to abide.

Drivin' through the swampland

Since I knew I didn’t have to be in a giant rush any more, I decided to take a brief detour to check out the signs advertising a “Cajundome.” Turns it out it’s just the U-LaLa basketball arena, but it is indeed a little domed shaped, I suppose. I also took a look at Cajun Stadium (these people are consistent with their naming), which was pretty easy because the gates to the empty stadium were wide open. I found it odd that they’d be so lax about locking up their football stadiums when they’re so guarded about their rest stop restrooms. Different priorities, I guess.

Then I drove for a long, long time. When I hit the Mississippi border I was pleasantly surprised to find restrooms that were open, a mock lunar lander and free tours of a NASA rocketry center. I didn’t have time to take the tour, but I’ll have to remember it if I ever come back this way.

After cutting across the coastal nubs of Mississippi and Alabama, I finally made it into Florida. I slammed back some free orange juice, admired the top-of-the-line security and got back on the road for the final three hours of driving from the border to Tallahassee.

When I made it into town, there quite a bit of craziness going on at the motel. Apparently this weekend is Florida A&M’s homecoming weekend and every hotel, motel and no-tell in town is packed to the gills. Even though I had a reservation, it still took me a good half-hour to check in.

Then I took a shower and sat down to write this. And then I went to sleep. Zzzzz.

On the docket for today

Today, I’ve got about five more hours of driving ahead of me. I’ll go through Gainesville and Orlando as I make my way to the KSC. I’ve got to collect my KSC access badge before 3:30 p.m., at which point I think the enormity of all of this will finally kick in.

And I’ve got to figure out where the rental house is and meet up with my housemates. I’m sharing a house with seven people I’ve never met before – and if you know me at all, you know that’s not usually how I roll. But it was significantly cheaper than getting a hotel room and I figure we’re all going to basically be the same kinds of geeks anyway. It should be interesting if nothing else.

2 Comments

  • Carol Tucker on Oct 31, 2010 Reply

    its named the Cajun dome/Cajun stadium since they are the Rajin Cajuns (my mom is an alum).

    have a great time!

    does it feel real yet?

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