I joined the Space Shuttle frenzy today

What Space Shuttle?

Hasn’t NASA shut down its shuttle program?

Yes it has.

The shuttle flying over Los Angeles with fighter jet escort. Photo credit Gabriel

There wasn’t an actual “space” landing today. After three decades of space travel NASA retired it’s shuttle fleet last year, and if you didn’t know:

  • Discovery went to the Smithsonian Institution’s hangar in Virginia
  • Atlantis will stay at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida
  • and Endeavour? It went to The California Science Center in Los Angeles


Another view over Los Angeles.  Photo credit Trudy.


  • completed 25 missions,
  • spent 299 days in orbit,
  • orbited Earth 4,671 times
  • and traveled 122,883,151 miles.

Riding piggy back on a 747 with fighter jet escort. Photo credit Gabriel

In a once in a life-time air show, Endeavour, strapped atop a 747 jumbo jet, took off early this morning from Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert for a 4 1/2-hour sightseeing flight around California: up to Sacramento (the Capital), the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and various landmarks in L.A. including Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood Sign before landing at L.A. Airport – flying low enough for us to wave and gawk

An interesting bit of trivia: NASA’s shuttle fleet was assembled in Palmdale near Edwards Air Force Base, which also served as the original shuttle landing strip and remained a backup site in case of bad weather in Florida.  

Even though the Air Force base is one hundred miles north of L.A. when a space craft landed there we’d know, because the sonic boom made such a LOUD bang as it entered the earth’s atmosphere

shuttle flying over Los Angles. Photo credit Trudy

I wasn’t going to go. I woke up feeling really yuk this morning, but one can’t miss something as exciting as seeing the shuttle fly by, and as I wasn’t working today I had no excuse. I set off too late though.  I decided to go to the Griffith Observatory – hiking past the famous landmark is one of my favorite hikes – but by the time I left home the road report on the AM radio advised:

… if you’re on your way to Griffith Observatory go somewhere else. The roads are jammed and there’s no more parking spaces.

I carried on, because my plan was to park at the Greek Theater which is also in Griffith Park. Once I drove off the freeway I inched along in traffic that was  barely moving, and when I heard this on the radio

…there’s no more parking at The Greek Theater. It’s filled to capacity.

and the traffic hadn’t moved in several minutes, I did a u-turn, parked my car under a tree at the side of the main road and even though it was still a few miles away, decided to walk. Hey I’m not scared of walking!

At the first traffic light I met two guys, Jack and Kendall, who lived in the neighborhood, and were also going to hike up to a lookout near the Observatory.  I was invited to join them.

Jack and Kendall

Kendall said the route he was taking was going to be steep and wondered whether I’d be able to do it.

I said: “You’re talking to someone who walked the Camino in Spain a couple of months ago.  I haven’t met a hill I didn’t like!”

Me and my big mouth.

Kendal wasn’t kidding when he said it would be steep.

Kendall cheering me on. Lift your arms and breathe!

It was a hot day (we’re still having a heat wave) and when we walked in the full sunshine without any shade besides a few scrubby bushes here and there, and with temps of over 90 degrees (my car read 97 degrees when I got back to it at 1pm) and me without my hat, but with my bottle of water :-), I had trouble going up.

I had to crawl under a bush a couple of times, because I started feeling woozy.

I felt so foolish.

When I walked on the Camino and in similar temps climbed up to O’Cebreiro (at 4,100 feet) I didn’t feel faint. It took me a while to realize why I hadn’t slept last night and why I woke up feeling ill: I ate a bit of peanut sauce with my spring roll last night. I’m allergic to peanuts! (((Sigh!)))

With Jack and Kendall

I was eternally grateful to these two guys – strangers whom I met at a traffic light – because they didn’t leave me under the bush, and with their encouragement I managed to get up to a viewing area – one which wasn’t as high up as Kendall had planned, but still gave us a 360 degree view of the shuttle as it passed, and by the way, as an extra bonus none of us had expected, the shuttle accompanied by two fighter jets, flew past us TWICE!

shuttle flying over the Griffith Observatory. Photo credit Gabriel

I couldn’t see what I was photographing in the bright sunshine. I pointed and hoped for the best. Trudy, whom we met at the look-out place, kindly shared her photos which she took with her cell phone. They are much better than mine, as are her friend Gabriel’s.

photo credit Trudy

Photo credit Gabriel

On the way back I didn’t want to go down that steep path, but going forward would’ve taken an extra 40 minutes in that noon heat, so I went back the same way, and once again Jack and Kendall and Trudy all encouraged and helped me. Kendall let me lean on him!

You can see the “stairs” cut in the rock in the photo below.

Kendall helping me down the “stairs”. Photo by Trudy

I cannot thank you all. What a lovely experience for International Peace Day.

We joined the crowds walking back down the hill towards our cars

Traffic jam on Los Feliz Ave heading towards the freeway.

Because it’s not possible to take the wings off – the tiles are too fragile – it has taken months of planning to find streets which are wide enough to get the shuttle, which is five stories high and 78 feet wide, from L.A. airport to the Science Center. Overhead utility poles, signs and four hundred trees will have to be cut down.

Of course the public protested about the trees. The Science Center has promised to plant two trees for every single tree it takes down.

The shuttle will be on display at the Science Center starting October 30.

Photo credit Gabriel


Earlier this year we all watched a red transporter [with a top speed of eight miles-per-hour crawling along our streets for eleven nights] deliver a 340-ton granite rock taken from the Inland Empire to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) for an art installation which the artist Michael Heizer, called “Levitated Mass“.



About dearrosie

We think we need so much, when all we really need is time to breathe. Come walk with me, put one foot in front of the other, and get to know yourself. Please click the link to my blog - below - and leave me a comment. I love visitors.
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46 Responses to I joined the Space Shuttle frenzy today

  1. Interesting…the Endeavor, probably on its way to CA, did a fly by earlier this week at Ellington in South Houston. My husband’s very good friend Tom went and took pictures.
    I have been to Griffith Observatory with daughter #1 so I have an image of about where you were. How fortunate to meet your two buddies to keep you company and safely stay with you on what sounds like more of a climb rather than a walk. What gorgeous and clear pictures you have here!
    Kendall? That’s daughter #2’s name. haha

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Georgette,
      The Endeavor flew right across the country to get here and it stopped at several places on the way. Was your husband’s friend Tom able to get some good pictures. It was beautiful to see it and as it flew so low we had a clear view.

      I was really fortunate to meet such kind people, after all I was a perfect stranger.

      I guess you drove to Griffith Observatory? Next time you visit daughter #1 I’d love you to join me on a hike up the hill. Bring your hiking shoes.

      I’ve never heard the name Kendall before. I like it even more if it’s one of those names used by either sex.

  2. You deserve a medal for your efforts! Feeling sick, hot, yet you are determined to climb atop the hill to take these photos. Awesome. The Hollywood twittersphere lit up with photos of the landing – Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Banks and others had snapshots. Some pix of the mob scene at Griffith. The crowds at LAX too. A sight to behold; even more impressive, to see so many understanding the importance of the shuttle! Job well done Rosie. Hope you are feeling better today.

    PS: You can only put up video on WordPress if you buy their video add-on. However, if you have a friend who has a YouTube account, you can post the video to YT first, then drop it into your blog without paying WP.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi EOS,
      You’re very thoughtful to give me a medal. I’ve never been given one before and I accept with many thank yous, but I must share it with Kendall and Jack. I’ll never forget their kindness.

      It was an awfully hard climb. My usual response when I’m suffering through an allergic reaction is to lie low at home, but I couldn’t miss seeing the shuttle. You’re a blogger too so I know you understand the pressure to get out there 🙂 Of course I most probably would’ve seen the shuttle go past my home, but it was exciting and dramatic to stand on that hot dusty hill and watch it fly by. I’ll never forget it.

      Driving to the Observatory I was surprised to find myself stuck in a traffic jam. I hadn’t expected such excitement from people in L.A. After my next door neighbor told me about the dreadful mob scene at the Observatory I was so glad I didn’t get there.

      Thanks for the tip re posting movies here.

  3. 9symphony9 says:

    NIce to see it in the air 🙂

  4. heather says:

    Hi Rosie
    That is thrilling, absolutely thrilling to have seen the space shuttle and i am so glad you made it, with the help of new friends to the observation spot. Great photos by Gabrielle!
    I love that you are undaunted by walking challenges since the Camino!

    • dearrosie says:

      Hey Heather,
      Synchronicity? I dreamed about you last night.

      Wish you could have joined me. I know how you’d have loved seeing the shuttle fly by. It was thrilling especially with the fighter jet escort!

      Yeah nothing scares me since I conquered my fear and faced the challenge of the Camino. 🙂

  5. shoreacres says:

    It was Big Doings around here, too. I live directly across the lake from the Johnson Space Center and NASA so I didn’t have to walk anywhere to see it. I did go down to the lake for the fly-bys when it came into town. I didn’t get very good pics, but I got a couple that were delightful.

    It was really low when it did its JSC over-flight, here. In fact, it was about crop-duster height. It was amazing and thrilling. The next morning, it took off from Ellington and did one last fly-by of NASA. I had the windows open, and then I heard the F-18s, I skedalled out to the balcony in time to see it crossing JSC and the lake. It banked RIGHT over my house – so low that everything was vibrating. I didn’t even try for a photo, although it would have been wonderful. The sky was pink and blue with a beautiful Belt of Venus, and the plane turned golden in the light of the rising sun. It makes me cry to think of the space program ending. I hope the end of the shuttle doesn’t mean the end of exploration.

    Here’s is one pic of the flight through our neighborhood. I’ll post the other separately, since I don’t think the comment would post with two links.

    • dearrosie says:

      Crop-duster height is really spectacular. I’m not surprised that the Johnson Space Center got a very special fly over, how else could they say thank you to mission control in Houston after all those years, and all those flights?

      When I read your description of the early morning take off I didn’t need a photo to picture exactly what you saw and heard. Your phrase
      the plane turned golden in the light of the rising sun
      gave me goose bumps. You write so well Linda!

      I was surprised how thrilling it felt to watch the enormous plane flying past us. When it came back for the surprise second time everyone standing on that hot dusty hill cheered and clapped and waved. So lovely.

      I also hope it doesn’t mean the end of space exploration. I read somewhere that we’re going to piggy-back onto Russian flights for the time being.

    • dearrosie says:

      Forgot to mention how lovely this shot is – captured in-between the two buildings.

  6. You are such a trooper! Hooray for Rosie! I missed the whole thing, but have really enjoyed hearing from friends who one way or another at least caught a glimpse. I wasn’t home, but my mom and dad, who live across the street from me, said they caught a glimpse. I don’t know anyone who worked at it as hard as you did. You get the prize and it’s just great! A moment in history. 🙂 Debra

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Debra,
      I don’t know how the California Science Center won the lottery when every science museum in the country must’ve requested to please have one of the shuttles.

      I know a few other people who also made it to a lookout point near the Griffith Observatory, but I also heard from a few neighbors who said they saw it fly by the house! After all that I could’ve stayed home and watched from a lawn chair at the pool 🙂

      I thought you’d be watching the fly-by at JPL (Jet Propulsion Labs) in Pasadena.

  7. Strangers you meet can surprise you. They will even turn out to be great “real” friends who will help you walk through life or any steep hill for that matter. BLess the Jack and Kendall of this world. As for the space shuttle, truly breathtaking. My friend showed me a photo that she took from her backyard when it passed their way here in Texas as it heads for California….amazing right?

    • dearrosie says:

      Hello IT,
      I’ve never before experienced such kindness from strangers. It was doubly moving because Friday was International Peace Day and these guys were both Americans — whose citizens who are usually labelled “selfish”. I told them. We laughed.

      It was such an amazing sight to see the shuttle flying on top of the 707 and well worth the effort involved in getting there.

  8. Your description of the Endeavor taking that journey from the Mojave Desert to L.A. gave me goosebumps. I think it was because of the tremendous human effort such grand displays showcase. It is an enormous achievement, all of it. Lucky, that you were able to see the display. Are those pictures by your friends from mobile phones? They’re wow!

    Jack and Kendall are two of the many you’ll find along your way, Rosie. It’s not just good people who do good deeds, it’s good people who get to receive them, too!

  9. Wow, loved these pictures! Worth the trip up there, but I hope you’re feeling better now.

  10. Val says:

    I’m astonished that you did that climb… with two strangers. People in California are much braver than we in the UK are (well, me in the UK, maybe). I’m glad you went, though.

    One damper on this post for me, though, was reading that they’d felled 200 trees. In my opinion, a promise to replace them with new trees just isn’t good enough. This is yet another example of the needs of humans overtaking nature. (Sorry Rosie, didn’t want to bring a note of negativity to your post, but hopefully you’ll understand.)

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Val,
      Luckily for me I’ve always been able to not only talk to strangers, but chat with them – as you can tell from my cash register posts. If I’d walked alone I most probably would’ve missed everything but the loud noise of the fighter jet escourt.

      Hey don’t apologize that you were upset to learn that hundred of trees are going to be chopped down to make room for the spacecraft to go past. I’m glad someone picked on it. I was going to write more about the trees in this post but it was already too long. Stay tuned…

  11. Hiya Rosie!
    I, too, jumped on the space shuttle train (or rather, “plane” :P), and I’m in Canada! I watched as much of the footage as I could, while it was happening. Just amazing, isn’t it?

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Anne,
      It was a thrilling experience to watch the fly-over and well worth all the effort it took to get there. I’m glad you were able to follow it from Canada.

      Talking of Canada I walked a section of the Bruce Trail earlier this month. Have you ever walked it? My word it’s so beautiful (I wrote a post on it…)

  12. munchow says:

    I think it’s great that you were able to push boundaries – even if it probably wasn’t a nice feeling when getting up and down that hill. And nice that you got to see the shuttle – although I don’t really see what all the fuss is about. I’d say it’s sad, too, that those trees are going to be cut down because of an abandoned space ship, even with a two to one trade. After all it will take some time for the trees to grow big… 🙂

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Otto,
      To be quite honest if I wasn’t a blogger I may not have gone out on such a hot day, especially as I wasn’t feeling well, but I’m so glad I pushed my boundaries and got to see it fly by. Even if you don’t care about the space program it was really exciting just to see that huge plane riding piggy-back on another huge plane with the fighter jet escort.

      It is very unfortunate that so many trees have to be chopped down. I love driving down streets where the trees are so large that their branches meet in the middle.

  13. Oh my, Rosie, what an extraordinary, wonderful day you had! I so admire your spunk! A once in a lifetime opportunity. All the pictures are amazing – it’s so moving to see a symbol of the courage and determination of so many space explorers – so proud of them all – almost like a ticker tape parade, minus the paper. Sorry you felt so ill, but it sounds like you made the best of it and made some new friends along the way. The kindness of strangers is a blessing!

    Thanks for mentioning that the Discovery went to the Smithsonian Institution’s hangar in Virginia. I wonder if I’ll be able to go see it with my sister-in-law next time I visit her there…

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Barbara,
      It was a once in a life-time opportunity and one that I didn’t miss, because I felt an obligation as a blogger. I’m so grateful I made it, all thanks to the strangers who helped me.

      I hope you get to see the Discovery next time you visit your sister-in-law in Virginia.

  14. Kathy says:

    I saw on-line pics of this, especially a couple from California. How inspiring! I love the photo of Kendall cheering you on. And glad it was just that peanut allergy thing and nothing more serious. (Although I do understand that peanut allergies can be serious.)

  15. You have captured superb shots of the shuttle. Must have been exciting even though you weren’t feeling the best in the world.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hello writingfeemail
      Always a pleasure to welcome a new blogger to my blog – although I feel as though I know you because I’ve seen your gravatar at various other blogs I follow.

      I’m so glad I pushed myself to firstly get out the house, and then to climb up the hill in that heat. To see the shuttle fly-over – and it flew so low affording us a good look – was something I’ll never forget.

  16. Robin says:

    How cool that you got to see the space shuttle! But what I think is even cooler is that you found Kendall and Jack just when you needed them. 🙂
    We saw a shuttle coming in for a landing once, in Cocoa Beach, and that sonic boom is incredible!

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Robin,
      It’s hard to describe the sonic boom. It’s so loud that whatever you’re doing you stop and say “What on earth was that?”

      I can never thank Jack and Kendall enough for their kindness. It must’ve been comical to see me trying to get some shade under those teeny little bushes, but they didn’t laugh… I think that too many times we walk past the Kendalls and Jacks of this world because we’re too “shy” to talk to strangers.

  17. shamasheikh says:

    What an extraordinary day you had Rosie…in every sense of the word! Kudos for the effort in spite of not feeling so good…I am sure it was all worth it…the pictures are wonderful. I find the ones of the Endeavour piggy- backing on the 747 quite awesome…thank you so much for sharing them…

    God bless…

    • dearrosie says:

      Hello Shamaji
      I’m so really grateful that I pushed myself to keep going, because it was quite remarkable, and almost unbelievable, to see the Endeavour flying by balanced on top of the 747.

  18. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Big | Wondering Rose

  19. eof737 says:

    Cool shots and good for you to have had such wonderful access and experience. 😉

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