Thursday, September 20, 2012
Endeavour and Odyssey, both California-bound
Posted by Sean
I'm really a day late with this post, but it was a long day yesterday, and I did not get the chance. It started when we rose before the sun, and stumbled up onto our roof deck to watch the flyover of the space shuttle Endeavour, perched atop the 747 carrier aircraft on the last ferry flight of the shuttle program, taking Endeavour to her new home at the California Science Museum. Long-time readers will remember we were also on the Space Coast for Endeavour's last night-time launch, back in February of 2010.
The flyover was impressive, passing nearly directly overhead. That meant we got to see the ensemble nearly head-on as it emerged from some low clouds less than a half mile away, and watched it disappear the same way about a minute later. I would estimate we were less than 2,000' away at the closest point, where I snapped the photo above. The carrier was accompanied by two chase planes, what looked to be one of the Nasa T-38s and a larger passenger aircraft of some sort.
By the time the commotion was over, it was nearly 8am, and we had breakfast before packing up the deck and the scooters and getting Odyssey ready to roll. I got in one last swim before saying goodbye to our host and also to Chris and Cherie, who had moved down to join us from Jetty Park. It is somehow fitting that they were with us for Endeavour's final ferry flight, as we had met them in person for the first time at the night launch two years ago, when they were still in their Oliver.
Like Endeavour, we are now en route to California, with a stop in South Dakota along the way. I know in my last post that I suggested we would be remaining on the east coast, and flying west briefly for a wedding, but we've had a last-minute change in plans. We made the decision in the car (generously lent to us by our friend, host, loyal reader, and benefactor Dave in Cocoa Beach -- thanks Dave!) on the way back from Palm Beach. Five hours in the car round-trip afforded us lots of time for discussion and planning, and I also ended up making several phone calls during Louise's turn at the wheel.
One of those calls was to our broker, who more or less talked us out of a return visit to the boat in Savannah unless and until we are ready to make an offer. We don't think the timing is right for that, and our plans to swing by and see it were driven more by proximity and a general plan of heading north towards Baltimore, in case we wanted to try to make Trawler Fest there.
Some of the other calls were to family in the northeast. One of the factors causing us to want to remain on the east coast was a couple of possible medical concerns there, but the news I got on Tuesday was that all tests were negative. So it really came down to just boats that were keeping us east, and we have flat run out of boats to look at, at least for the time being. We were already luke-warm on going to Trawler Fest in Baltimore, and we learned from our friends the Caldwells at dinner Sunday that meals and other elements of the social part of the program have been eliminated, further reducing our motivation to attend.
What finally pushed us over the edge, though, was the fact that my cousin and his family will be moving to California next month, to the area around Walnut Creek, just a stone's throw from our usual hangout of the SF peninsula. He starts his new job there, coincidentally, the day after our friends' wedding reception, and his family will be joining him sometime in the following month. Moving, as they are, from upstate New York, they will face culture shock and sticker shock all at the same time, compounded with having no family or friends in the area. We can fix the family side of that equation just by staying in the bay area for a month or so after the wedding, the length of one of our typical visits to the region when we are there in the bus.
And so it is that we are now on our way to California. Having made the decision just 16 days ahead of our first scheduled event there, we needed to get rolling right away, in order to keep the daily driving down to a comfortable amount. Making matters slightly worse is the additional decision to stop in South Dakota. While not exactly "on the way," adding a Sioux Falls stopover to the trip adds just 520 miles. At our current operating rate of around 75 cents per mile, that's less than $400 to get both of us there, probably the cheapest way to accomplish this any time in the foreseeable future.
We need to get to South Dakota to sign our new estate documents. While lots of legal matters can be handled by phone, fax, email, and U.S. Mail, estate documents must be executed within the borders of the state in which they will be adjudicated. We completed most of our official legal move to South Dakota on our visit there back in June. We were able to complete all the legal paperwork for the property we bought nearby, and even our new health insurance, via email. But the estate documents took six weeks to prepare, and there was just no way to wait there for them to be completed, so we agreed to return at some point to sign them.
Those extra 520 miles mean we will need to do 4-5 hours of driving every day to make our schedule, about double our "normal" amount. That said, we are no strangers to 12-hour driving days, typical when we are making a beeline for a disaster relief operation, and so this amount is well within our comfort zone, or possibly even a "relaxed pace." I will be front-loading the driving, doing more hours in the early days so we have some margin for error -- lots can happen in 3,600 miles of driving.
To that end, we took a fairly direct route yesterday. Normally we eschew freeways and especially toll roads, but after stopping at the UPS customer center in Rockledge to pick up our mail (which, fortunately, arrived just in time for our departure), we got right on the Bee Line toll road, which took us to the Turnpike and on to I-75. We ended our day yesterday here in Lake City, Florida, where we are at the Walmart (map). In addition to being convenient to the Interstate, there are a half dozen restaurants in walking distance, and we had a nice dinner at Cedar River Seafood. This morning we will go into the store for some supplies, and I will walk next door to the Lowe's for some repair parts.
As soon as we are done shopping we will head northwest into Georgia. I-75 will take us to Valdosta, where we will depart the Interstate for our more preferred mode of travel, picking up GA-133 northwest toward Columbus. I expect to be near the Alabama state line this evening.