At around 11:15pm, after driving for a while toward the general area, we spotted it. The tail, poking high above the trees, gas station, and power lines, with people walking purposefully groups with only two flows of pedestrian traffic: to or from something that must be a viewing spot. I quickly (and in retrospect, miraculously) found a nearby parking spot (at a prohibited time for that spot, like for all the other cars, but I figured even the parking enforcers were looking at other things at this time) and we walked over to where we saw the tail to find places where we could see the whole craft. And there it was, the space shuttle Endeavour, the youngest of the fleet of re-useable spaceships, the one from which they did the historic and crucial spacewalk that repaired the Hubble telescope that allowed us to see so much about the universe in which we live… parked next to the Randy’s Donuts donut. After a back view of the engines, we found an even closer view, from the side, where most of the people were, and marveled for a while.
(There’s something interesting about the whole business of being in a crowd and being one of many taking photographs these days. The resulting image is this fascinating moment of fragmentation… witnessing of the witnessing… as we all collect some sort of evidence that we were there, as though memory is no longer enough on its own… whether we ever look at these photos again or not…)
Just when I had the idea that it might be good to get a picture that could have both me with the shuttle in it, suddenly there was a cry from the crowd and I looked – the shuttle was moving! What luck! It had (according to a website) been sitting at this spot for a long while, waiting to cross the 405 highway overpass, and we had arrived just in time to see it get going, and to join in the energy and enthusiasm of the assembled crowd. I’ve some video I shot for you:
That was magical, seeing it animated in this way (apparently it was being pulled by a Toyota truck and filmed at that moment for a commercial), and we could imagine (with a bit of effort to shut out the calls from the crowds) that it was passing by us, floating along in space…