21 September 2012

Shoreline Park

The space shuttle Endeavour on its very last flight ever is set to take a very long route from Edward's to Los Angeles heading all the way up to Sacramento and San Francisco, which are not exactly on the way.  It is also hitting Vandenberg, so it seems it must go right overhead on the way.  Already late for the Vandenberg flyover, I head down to Shoreline Park for that extremely open sky for the maximum chance of seeing it.  It's already been delayed a bit worrying about fog in the bay area, so I'm not expecting it to be anything like on schedule.

Getting to the park, I take a very casual stroll along the cliff.  There's not many people in the park, but there's a few who are suspiciously scanning the mountains instead of the usual ocean facing behavior.  There's quite a few paddle boarders out in the ocean as well.  A guy who has been talking on a phone and poking at an iPad heads over to a group and informs them that it'll be about 10 more minutes.  Fog is making some minor attempt to move in from the west, but it isn't too bad.  I find a nice spot to wait and wait for something to appear on a funny flight path that's a bit too low.  It seems like a while, but not that much later, I spot something suspicious.  Zooming to that full 14X, I snap a photo of the grey spot, then zoom in on it in the camera display to prove that this is indeed what I'm looking for.

I get to say, "Yes, that's it!" to the chorus of, "Is that it?" erupting around me.  It really is flying low and we all get a good view as we try to experience and document at the same time.

Does it usually have a couple fighters chasing it?  They're the source of a live feed folks can watch of the shuttle traveling, which is how I knew to expect the flight to be unusually low to the ground.

We really do get a good look at it as it goes past.

We get to see it nearly from horizon to horizon, or really from appearing to vanishing in the distance, from our vantage point in the park.  I eventually think that it might be good to get a photo with a little more landmark than palm trees, but by then, the shuttle is down to a grey dot again.  (See the spot a bit to the upper right.)

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