from: Chad Glass: Endeavoured to Join the Parade
Deciding to brave the Los Angeles traffic and gathering throngs, I packed the Yamaha with snacks and a camera and set off on an afternoon journey across town as I endeavoured to join the parade --to see a one-off procession and final arrival of the Space Shuttle Endeavour.
I recall years ago when I lived on the east coast, a college-era friend of mine and I drove down to Cape Canaveral, Florida (from Atlanta) on a spring break to witness the liftoff of Columbia. We parked and walked to a good viewing spot and beheld the gantry tower and familiar shape of the Shuttle's launch profile, with the tank and twin boosters looming in the distance across the water.
I was excited to have finally made the pilgrimage to see a launch, anticipating the sound and visual spectacle, the shaking of the ground, as nothing can quite replace a live event personally attended. And it had become an American institution, a cultural mainstay, and something I casually assumed I would indeed see in my lifetime. It was too common of an occurrence to not see it, the Space Shuttle being a household name. At the viewing area, my adrenaline raced as the clock was already in progress, ticking down to less and less minutes to go.
When it got down to about T-minus 25 seconds the clock stopped. And that was it. We hung around for about a half an hour longer until it was announced that the launch had been scrubbed, a weather-related issue. As it came to pass, the date of the new launch was set beyond the time we were to be in the area, and I was never to see it again: In the intervening time, as the years got on by, "life happened" and things just never led back to the Cape. It has been nearly twenty years since that time, but today, finally, I would not pass up the last opportunity to personally see the Shuttle in motion.
Leaving in the early afternoon, about 2pm, it would take me at least an hour to get to the shuttle's present but slowly moving location as it was in south Los Angeles, south of downtown. Endeavour's last destination, Exposition Park, where the California Science Center, LA Coliseum, USC, and LA County Museum of Natural History are located, would be no casual jaunt over the hills. This became a mission.
The choice to take my Yamaha Zuma 125 alleviated what would have been easily a 2 or 3 hour car ride with the event traffic. And the solo trek, with helmet and gloves, made the event all the more eventful. The open roads across LA's environs proved a wonderful excursion of its own as I became a sort of Saturday sightseer in my own city. The 2pm Saturday traffic was generally light on the surface streets compared to a weekday, and the autumn energy infused the journey with a pleasant feeling of being alive, something already amounting to a warm recollection.
On the road, my small motorbike left far behind whatever occasional bottlenecks that happened to gather, lane-splitting my way through the changing landscapes and localities of LA. Beginning from the literal foot of the San Gabriel Mountains in the northeast corner of the San Fernando Valley, I set out traveling southwest through North Hollywood...