I use the term "awesome" quite a bit, but I rarely use it in its strictest sense.
awesome: to inspire awe and wonder
When I saw the space shuttle back in January at the Smithsonian, which apparently I didn't blog about (what's up with that?), that was awesome. I stood there and quite literally cried. Overwhelming tears of... not exactly joy. Hope maybe? The idea that mankind is journeying into space, that we are leaving the planet that gave birth to us, that is truly amazing to me.
I didn't cry when I watched Atlantis take off on it's last voyage. But my heart leapt into my throat and didn't leave for a full fifteen minutes - long after the shuttle itself was out of sight. It was awesome.
We did not end up watching from the Kennedy Space Center (no tickets) or from Space View Park. Instead, I got onto google maps and found a place that would blow the pants off any other (free) view of the launch. And it did. We were on the beach, with a clear view straight across the water at the launch pad in our own personal Corona commercial. Palm trees and a breeze off the water - it was perfect.
I left the image full size, if you click and embiggenate it you can see two dots on the right side of the horizon, the one on the right is the launchpad in use. We were closer than the picture seems, I swear. This is a completely non-zoomed image.
We were 10-miles away, just outside the NASA imposed limit of how close you can be. Slightly closer than Space View park in fact if you look at it on a map. The gentleman who was kind enough to help us find our way from the road asked that we not share the knowledge with the world. If you end up at a shuttle launch let me know by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'll direct you that way. Maybe. If I like you.
There are two launches left, Endeavor in September and Discovery in November. If there is any way at all, go see one of these. You will not regret it.