Monday, June 11, 2007
A little faith in the future.
The space shuttle Atlantis as it flies into orbit from Cape Canaveral. Picture taken from Disney's Vero Beach resort by a silly South Carolina low country boy wanting to be going up in that baby.
Last year on the 4th of July my clan left the Magic Kingdom and boarded the Disney Transit bus for a short trip back to Disney's Beach Club Villas after a long, hot but very enjoyable day doing as much of the park as humanly possible. Now I'm going to go ahead and admit that I was stoked, like some small kid I had a blast going through the park doing rides that I had done as far back as 1973 the year after the Magic Kingdom opened. I was even more excited than my kids who was either bored, in the case of Spoilboy, or worn out and asleep, as Wiggles was in my arms. Dragonwife, sweaty and tired herself, was slumped over next to me discussing the options for dinner. Around me on the bus was a eclectic collection of fellow Americans from all over the nation. It was easy to tell that most of the adults were about in the same shape as Dragonwife looking forward to getting cleaned up, having a good meal, and putting the rugrats to bed so they could have some downtime before the new day brought reenergized urchins out for more close encounters with Mickey and crew. The only exceptions, beside myself, were a newly married couple on their honeymoon who were getting an early start on closed door actives right there on the bus and two other families one from China and the other from India. Each family looked about as excited as me discussing amongst themselves the days activities while clutching bags of Disney stuff while wearing the stereotypical world famous mouse ears.
While I am guessing about the origins of the Asian family; I had the pleasure of having a nice conversation with the dad of the Indian family earlier that day while waiting in line at the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. He and his family were being wooed by a Florida based software company looking to hire him and relocate to this country. He and the rest of his family were open and very friendly and while riding the Disney Jungle Cruise were a laugh riot while trading corny one-liners with the boat captain on the ride.
We were traveling back to the resort when the bus driver clicked on the bus PA system and told us to look out the left window so we could see the smoke trail of the space shuttle as it flew up into the sky. Every member of the Chinese and Indian families either strained to turn around or cross over the moving bus so they could view the launch. In either case they were pressed up against windows totally entranced as the shuttle escaped from the silly law of gravity. Having always wanted to view a shuttle launch but never able to successfully juggle the time, money, or NASA's ornery space transportation system which could leave hapless Cape Canaveral sightseers in the cold like some goofy groom at the alter when the bride develops cold feet. So I was right beside the others eager to view the space launch and glimpse something of the wonder and adventure of what to me is still a new frontier . Being some distance from the launch pad and having only been alerted to the event by the bus driver rather late not much was left to see except the smoke residue but I must admit to being somewhat dismayed by the complete lack of enthusiasm shown by my fellow Americans on the bus. Once we arrived at the resort I felt rather bummed out about the whole thing the rest of the night. I mean both India and China have infant space programs but their drive and ambition about most other things quite frankly leave the good old USA in the dust. With far too many in America more interested in the "life" and daily affairs of the now dead Anna Nicole, talentless Brittany, or the parasitical Paris it can be honestly said that we are too preoccupied with our tasteless pop culture to have much in the way of a path to the future beyond a new iPod or video game system.
I generally kept that idea until last Friday when at Disney's Vero Beach resort in-house restaurant I noticed how people kept asking about the time and saying that they needed to finish up and get outside on the beach. Like the slow Southern boy I can be I had to ask the waitress what the hubbub was all about only to have her look at me like I had just fallen off the turnip truck and tell me that the shuttle was going up in ten minutes. The kids and Dragonwife were still munching down on dessert but I broke away and headed out with a rather large crowd to the beach to get a good viewing spot. I never left the room without my camera and was getting it ready as I stepped out on the beach to see a huge mass of people stretching both north and south as far as I could see there to view the shuttle also. Nagging doubts about even seeing the thing lift off due to the usual gremlins were soon replaced as a huge cheer went out as the shuttle appeared above the horizon on a bright flame. Whoops of joy along with "Go baby go" were heard as I tried my best to snap a good picture. The damn thing turned about forty-five degrees east, with me thinking the worst was coming to past, and at least from my perspective it really started hauling ass into the sky while cheers continued to sound all around me. A few seconds later the show was over and a truly joyous people slowly went their separate ways feeling good at least for the moment and as silly as it may sound my faith in the future was restored.