The Day I Saw A Rocket Take Off.

I used to have a telescope when I was a wee boy.

My Granda gave it to me.
That meant it was pretty good and cost a fair amount of money.

I used to set it up on its tripod out the back and point it up.

I’d look at the Moon and wonder like every boy should and one time I even saw Neptune through it!
It was turquoise.

Other times when it was cloudy,
I’d just aim the telescope at the nearest window in the scheme.
Wondering…like every boy should 😉

My Dad always told me to never look at the Sun with it and I did.
All the time in fact!

I wear glasses now.
Strong ones.

He was probably right but there’s no way of telling.

Later,
Our folks saved up and took me and my Sister on holiday to Florida.

America.

My Mum got heatstroke and couldn’t leave the hotel one day and my Sister stayed with her.

That was the day that my Dad took me to Cape Canaveral.
The John F. Kennedy Space Centre.
I was 10.

I want to write about it here because although I remember it now,
It’s fading a bit.
Like I say,
I was 10.

I remember my Dad that day, getting used to driving on the right-hand side of the road fairly quickly and I remember it being a long, early in the morning drive out to Kennedy.
– American roads.
Big long straight sun kissed highways!

I think it was a 1 or 2 hour drive but we got there and took the tour.

We stood beside rocket engine exhausts that were 50 times bigger than we were.
We saw shiny, futuristic looking dune buggy’s which in actuality, dated back to when my Dad was a boy.

There were rockets and shuttles that were bigger than the tallest buildings I’d ever seen and Space suits which dwarfed the both of us!

I remember thinking:
“How can men make this stuff!?”
“How do they know how!?”
10 year old thoughts.
But here’s me approaching 30 and still asking myself the same questions.

And with 30 approaching fast,
My memory is going away even faster.

The next thing I remember is something I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

We were 4 miles away.
We had to be because that’s what they said.
4 miles away was the safest distance y’see!
4 miles away behind a barrier.
About to watch a space rocket take off!

It wasn’t planned.
We didn’t know we’d see a rocket lift off that day.
Just luck.
Right place, right time.

I remember being in among lots of other tourists and American 10 year olds (who were all bigger than me) and joining in on the countdown.

I don’t remember hearing the famous words “LIFT OFF!” but I’ll never forget the explosion.

It was mind blowing!

The kind of thing which instantly makes you feel very small.

I had always thought that the smoke trail from a rocket would be a perfect straight line as it goes up but it wasn’t.
It was a sort of swirling reverse pattern.
Kinda like an upside down tornado.

We watched that massive man made thing blast off into the sky…and that’s another thing!
I thought the rocket would just gradually fade and disappear into the sky but it didn’t

Florida was glorious that day and there were no clouds.

We watched that rocket go all the way up and ‘penetrate’ is the wrong word.
‘Break’ is the right word.
We saw the rocket break through the blue sky.

I don’t know how to describe something breaking the sky.

It’s all hard to describe and it’s twenty years later but luckily,
We took photos and I recently found them.

I’ll scan them in and add them into this post in a day or two so check back.

I think I’m gonna buy a telescope again.

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