Somewhere, we all have a list of things we want to experience "someday." What's on your list? Does it include a fishing trip in Florida or someplace exotic like Costa Rica. Maybe you dream of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro or sitting at a high stakes poker table in Vegas. While we all have those lists of "someday" goals, only a relatively small number of people actually create a bucket list and actively pursue those experiences. If you're not one to chase after your goals and dreams, perhaps you could learn something from the adventure seekers, for they are true livers and lovers of life.
Kent Glowa is a contractor from Connecticut, married with a 3-year old son. He is an adventure seeker with a bucket list, and he doesn't sit back waiting for "someday." Kent plans and prepares to cross those experiences off of his list one adventure at a time. He's already climbed Kilimanjaro, and while Everest was on the list, his wife used her "wifely powers" to convince Kent to replace it with an adventure that has a better survival rate. One of the safer things on Kent's list was to view a Space Shuttle Launch in Florida. With just 2 missions left in the Shuttle program, Kent was running out of time, so he made plans to come to Florida to view the Space Shuttle Endeavour's final launch from Kennedy Space Center. He called me about booking a guided fishing trip while he was in Central Florida and I offered him the chance to cross two things off of his list in one trip. On the Space Coast Redfish Experience Kent would have an opportunity to catch redfish and trout within sight and earshot of Launch Pad 39A where the Space Shuttle sat perched for it's final mission. Kent, invited a client who brought his son along for the Experience. With plane tickets booked, NASA rescheduled the first launch date because of a scheduling conflict at the International Space Station. Apparently there is limited parking up there.
Launch or no launch, Kent was committed to the trip so I put the group up in an amazing double waterfront rental house on Merritt Island with a dock on the Banana River out the back door and a dock on the Indian River out the front door where a redfish guide would pick them up the following morning, but first a day of guided bass fishing in Orlando. Since the client's son was celebrating his seventh birthday and they were novice anglers, rather than send them to Lake Toho, I sent them for a guided bass fishing excursion at the Walt Disney World Resort. They fished 4 hours, caught plenty of largemouth and left with big smiles. The next morning I arranged to have former Redfish Cup Allstar Captain Eric Taylor pick them up at their dock for a half day guided redfish charter on the Indian River. First cast of the day yielded Kent his first redfish, a 6 pounder in the slot. In the 4 hour charter Kent managed an incredible Indian River SLAM that included 5 more Redfish, a Gator sized Speckled Trout and a Snook. That's something very few anglers have ever achieved in a day. Needless to say, Kent was thrilled with the Experience, but it was missing one key component, the Shuttle Launch. Still determined to experience it, Kent booked another trip on the rescheduled launch date. This time he brought his wife and three year old son, stayed in the same house where I again arranged for Captain Taylor to pick them up at the dock, take them fishing and then to an island for a picnic to view the launch. Anxious for it to happen for him, I monitored the NASA channel closely and as of 11:30 a.m. they were on schedule for an on time launch. I called Kent, genuinely excited for him and he was ready for an epic day. Less than an hour later, NASA engineers found a problem with the Shuttle, and the launch would again need to be rescheduled. While understandably disappointed, Kent didn't let it ruin his day. He took his family for a picnic and an afternoon of fishing on the Indian River and made memories with his family he'll never forget. After fixing the problem, NASA rescheduled the launch for May 16th and Kent was still determined to see it. This time he brought his friend Paul for a quick overnight stay, hoping to finally see the Shuttle lift off. I put them up in a hotel close to the boat ramp where Captain Taylor would pick him up so they wouldn't have to deal with the half million cars that were invading the area to see the launch.
Third Time's A Charm
After two failed attempts to view the launch I told Kent, "Third time's a charm," What I didn't want to tell him, or any of the other groups we had on the water to view the Shuttle launch was that with the wind picking up steadily all morning and the low cloud ceiling, I wasn't too confident they would launch. Fortunately, lift off was scheduled at 8:56 a.m. which meant we might beat the weather that was moving in on us. It also meant we only had a couple of hours to catch fish before the launch so the pressure was on. The trout bite was more prevalent in the morning then the redfish and the wind and muddied water made it impossible to sight fish. We managed to put a few trout in the livewell to stage a picture at launch time, and with a glance at our watches we realized we needed to put ourselves in position to view the historic final launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour. The amount of boat traffic on the river with similar intentions made it very difficult to take pictures so we opted to pull up to an island, Power-Pole down on the sand bar and view from stable, solid ground. Boats were secured, cameras were set and all of a sudden it was go time. The low cloud ceiling gave us less than 7 seconds to watch the Shuttle before it disappeared in the clouds. With video cameras rolling, and still camera shutters clicking like crazy we managed to capture a moment in history as we heard and felt the thunderous rumble of the Shuttle overhead.
After Endeavour disappeared into the clouds and the rumbling of burning rocket fuel subsided, we all looked at each other in awe. We had just experienced something few ever have and even fewer ever will. One glance at Kent revealed a grin that seemed to say, "Finally, after 3 attempts I can scratch view a Space Shuttle Launch in Florida off of my bucket list." We celebrated with a round of Bloody Marys on the beach before returning to our boats to fish. On the last half of the guide trip, Kent jumped a tarpon to punctuate his Ultimate Space Coast Redfish Experience.
The Final Countdown
Endeavour returned home after completing it's final mission. It will now be decommissioned and donated to a museum. By no coincidence, it landed at Kennedy Space Center just as NASA officials were teeing up Space Shuttle Atlantis to Launch Pad 39A to prepare for it's final mission, scheduled for launch at 10:40 a.m. July 8, 2011. This final mission for Atlantis will also be the final mission for NASA's Space Shuttle Program making this one of the most significant events in the history of the space program. The world will undoubtedly be watching on TV while a million or more could flock to the Space Coast to view it live. Very few will ever Experience it like Kent did from the water. Fortunately for you, there is one last chance.
Viewing the Shuttle Launch on your Space Coast Redfish Experience is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. Space is limited, and with NASA planning to shut down Kennedy Space Center it's safe to say, there will never be another opportunity like this. If viewing a Space Shuttle launch is something you want to experience for yourself or for your kids, charge after your dreams and live life to it's fullest because more often then not, "someday" never comes.