The entire trip exceeded my every expectation.
We left Houston at midnight. The plan, Miles would drive there while I slept. Then I’d drive back and he’d sleep. I was too excited to sleep. We just chatted and chatted and little Zack was like, “Where am I and what are you crazy humans doing now?” Around 4am I said, “I won’t be worth a damn driving tomorrow if I don’t get some rest.” So I tried but I didn’t get any deep sleep, just a little dozing.
Got to Port Isabel at about 6:15ish. The traffic over the bridge to South Padre Island was no bother. We had our $12 cash ready to enter the Isla Blanca Beach area and it was pretty cool how it worked. You drive south, which allows you to see where everyone was gathering then you circle around and park in a municipal lot.
Zack got a quick walk but he was left in the car. Even though I’d brought hearing protectors for him it just seemed to be a better choice for him since I didn’t know what to expect.
It was still dark when we walked from the car park to the very tip of Isla Blanca.
From this map you can see how close we were:
There were quite a few people… here’s a pano image of what it looked like at 6:56am.
We didn’t want to spend the experience recording it so Miles decided he was going to hold his phone to his chest and capture whatever he could. Here’s the result. I recommend loading it full screen and turning up the volume.
It was such an intense experience for me I got teary. I could hardy breathe. Seriously, I became emotionally and physically overwhelmed. We were so close we could feel it. Miles said it made his pant leg ripple.
No pictures of the first explosion, the separated booster. It was like a tiny firework going off. a flash, a ring of colors that radiated out a little bit. MSN does a good job of capturing that in this article.
Then we walked back to our car and drove home. And Miles didn’t get any sleep either. So that whole sleeping plan was trash. I don’t know about him, he had plans to watch the F1 race but as for me I was done last night. I was a walking zombie barely getting through to 9pm before I zonked out after walking Z for the last time. I got a good ten hours of sleep. Good sleep too.
So was 12 hours of driving, half of it through the night, for an experience lasting less than ten minutes worth it? Absofuckinglutely.