June 08, 2007 GMT

Gosh, I'm excited.

The latest update shows near-perfect conditions at Cape Canaveral for the Shuttle Launch in 12 hours' time.

When you get a ticket it's for a specific launch, irrespective of date. So I bought a ticket in March not knowing when the launch would be, on the premise that if I couldn't be here Stan would bite my hand off to use it. But I've been really, really lucky. I've dreamt of watching a rocket take off from the Cape for nearly 50 years.

When I was at the Cape in March and did the 'Up Close' tour they told us that anyone closer than three miles away from the launch pad would probably be killed by the shock wave, so the viewing site is six miles away. If I manage a pic or two there'll only be a dot, I'm afraid.

So I'm about to leave for the Cape (I have to be there at one o'clock with my special pass). Stan has lent me his lovely Mini Cooper S (British Racing Green and huge fun), and I'll be back early tomorrow to pick up the bike and shoot up to the BMWRA (BMW Riders' Association) Rally at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, where Stan and Phil the Boxerman have promised to reserve a tent pitch for me close to the margarita supply.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at 07:07 PM GMT
June 09, 2007 GMT
Atlantis Gone

First you see a brilliant light on a trail of white smoke rising above the trees.

Then a few seconds later you hear the incredibly loud roar of the engines.

Then you feel the shock wave rattling your clothes, and the ground shaking.

We could even see the fuel tanks being jettisoned and falling back to Earth.

Atlantis was in orbit before I'd even legged it back to the car.

The Wow Scale has been recalibrated again.

Photos are here.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at 07:10 PM GMT
June 21, 2007 GMT

I've been working. No, really.

At the Horizons Unlimited Travellers' Meeting in North Carolina I ended up doing around three hours of presentation plus loads of Q&A, and still haven't got my voice back properly. The Old Dear did her bit as well acting as a model example of how to set up the bike's ergonomics properly.

I spent the previous three days with Phil the Boxerman at Charlie's farm in Virginia, in the Appalachians close to the Tennessee border. What a nice chap, and such a treat eating proper food from the garden and steak from his own cattle. Not to mention just sitting on the porch beside a mound of cats and kittens, watching the woodpeckers and humming birds.

The it was a swift dash across the state to the Airheads' Gathering of the Clans, where Phil did a proper job on my rear main oil seal as a tech session, beautifully sited in the campsite bar (which also means I owe him another case of Paddy's).

Now I'm back at Stan's place in Florida, doing the shipping paperwork and other mundane stuff like sending parcels home - don't think I'll be needing the winter kit for a while, really. The RAC are FedExing my Carnet, spare parts for 'stock' should arrive today, Amazon are sending the Lonely Planet for South Africa together with the complete Blackadder as a thank-you to Stan. Then as soon as all that's sorted it's off to Atlanta to be crated again (hopefully the last time) and to do battle with impenetrable airline baggage rules.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at 07:11 PM GMT

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