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  1. My son Brennan and I were feeling bored & decided to drive into L.A. to catch a club show (Patrick Park @ the Roxy - he was great as always!). As we drove in, I commented, "You know what we ought to do after the show? We should go find the space shuttle!" This was the weekend during which the retired space shuttle Endeavour was being transported from LAX, where it had arrived recently piggybacked onto a jumbo jet, to its permanent home 12 miles away at the California Science Center. How, you may ask? Why, by driving it through the streets of L.A., of course! Have you seen any of the pictures? They are so sublimely surreal that they make me laugh out loud with delight. Here, look: http://framework.lat...endeavour-2/#/0 Go ahead, click through those. You'll see what I mean. Try to find the one of the guys casually playing basketball at home, as the shuttle Endeavour noses past on the street behind them. I think that's my favorite. Looks like it's just sneaking through. So we had a great time at the show, then back at the car we set the GPS for the California Science Center. Original estimates that day had put Endeavor's arrival there at approximately 2 a.m., which was getting close. As we arrived there, the excitement in the air was palpable. Little crowds were gathering on every streetcorner, and families were walking with little ones, pushing strollers, looking as if it were a sunny afternoon. It felt like a giant block party, although there were a lot more LAPD cruisers than you would expect at a block party. We drove like little old ladies who only took the car out for church services, so no problems. Interestingly, the only traffic incident we saw all night was a pretty crunchy crash between a police cruiser and a traffic control vehicle. (Also out in force) Mashed up front fenders, but nobody apparently hurt. A lot of these city forces must've been cross-eyed with exhaustion since the shuttle kept falling behind schedule and many workers had been on duty 18 or 19 hours at this point! Brennan & I figured out pretty quickly that no, the shuttle wasn't at the Science Center yet. We thought it over a bit, looked up the shuttle's well-publicized route, and decided to backtrack until we found it. "You can't exactly hide a shuttle!", as we reasoned. We set out driving and could tell we were on the right path as the street closures became more and more frequent. We could also tell because clearly a lot of other drivers were on the same hunt. At a closed intersection you would see little trains of cars being diverted left, and these little trains would zip down a block, turn right, and continue in the right direction. We quit watching the GPS and just joined into a little car chain of vehicles that seemed to know the area...a zippy little yellow car, an expensive silver something, and us, dashing through the night. People were everywhere on the sidewalks, and there was a totally celebratory atmosphere. As we sailed through one large-ish intersection, Brennan looked to the left and burst out, "FOUND IT!!!"...and sure enough, in a glare of floodlights colored with flashing police blue and red, there was the distinctive outline of the soaring 5-story-tall tail, several blocks down the dark street. It boggled the mind, even at that distance. Like seeing the Queen Mary set down in the middle of Manhattan or something. Our car train zigged and zagged a few more quick blocks until we bottomed out in a mall parking lot, parked, and spilled out into the night air. Felt like it was about 75 degrees, balmy as all get-out, the air calm. We crossed the parking lot and rounded the Macy's, and there she was. Our first view was palm trees and shuttle: The crowd was much bigger than it appears in these dark photos. Everyone was snapping photos and posing to prove they had been there. Endeavour was completely still, and, as we learned from people in the crowd, it had been for hours. The point at which it was stopped was the turn from Crenshaw Blvd. onto Martin Luther King Jr. and apparently the turn had been hard on the hydraulics of the massive trailer carrying the shuttle. A leak had been sprung and as we arrived workers were sweeping up the trail of absorbent powder that had been poured to catch the spilled fluid. We were told that the trailer had also blown one of its many tires. Somebody said the vehicle had blown its water pump. So, yeah, just another day of driving around L.A., basically. Here we are proving we were there. I look drunk but I swear I was just shuttle-giddy: Brennan is getting too tall for me to put my arm around his shoulder! I get a kick out of looking at the tiny businesses the shuttle is passing....Louisiana Fried Chicken, a Chinese place, and to Brennan's left (out of picture) a Krispy Kreme that was probably doing its best business of the year, judging by all the boxes of donuts floating through the crowd. I hope somebody thought to offer some to L.A.'s Finest, because those bleary-eyed officers deserved some sugar. I heard later that they didn't have to make a single arrest with the crowds of shuttle-watchers. It was so amazing to be in this huge happy crowd in the middle of the night, and everybody polite, and friendly, saying "excuse me" and ducking carefully to avoid blocking each others' pictures. Complete strangers were taking photos for each other, offering even before they were asked...humanity at its nicest. Hard to imagine the Rodney King riots raging through these very same streets, not so long ago at all. The crowd was a complete cross-section of Angelenos, and ranged from tottering grandmas to tiny babies. I heard so many people say, "I wanted my kids to see this." Funny thing, too...it almost didn't matter what age you were, because the adults were as awestruck and mesmerized as the children were. After we'd been there maybe half an hour, there was a roar of engines followed by the crowd's roar of approval and shouts of "Go Endeavour!" and "USA!" which, in this context, sounded great. Endeavour began to creep along at a stately .54 mph, a far cry from its space flight time of over 17,000 mph. To the crowd's cheers, it advanced about 100 ft. before something halted it again. Groans went up. But it wasn't long, maybe 10 minutes, before the engines sounded again and the shuttle began its slow advance, the crowd surging alongside. More pictures! Kids with their toy shuttles, followed by the real thing. Looks pretty good for its odometer reading! Standing directly beneath the wing as it travels over me, about 8 ft. up. Gave me chills. You can see re-entry burns at the back edges of the wings and missing chunks of the heat resistant tiles, but the shuttle's in very impressive shape considering what it's gone through! Ok, that's all the photos I can fit into one post, so I'll continue this account in another post, with a few more photos there.
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