Date: October 14 2012
As you sip your Sunday morning beverage, you should know the Space Shuttle Endeavour and the City of Los Angeles are ending a most unusual adventure.
I could say Endeavour is flying low over the city, dropping $20 bills and causing the greatest, most exuberant cash grab in history, but that's not true.
This weekend, Endeavour, the youngest of the newly retired shuttle fleet, is on a ridiculously slow road trip through the streets of south central Los Angeles.
The shuttle flew into town in September on the back of a jumbo jet, buzzed a bunch of landmarks at low altitude - including my office - then landed at LA international airport. This weekend, it's being moved to the museum that won an intense national bidding war, and the only way to accomplish that task is a drive through the streets.
This has been no ordinary drive. It's an 18-kilometre trek, taking two days, and thousands of people's help. Apparently the shuttle is kinda big, compared to your average sedan. The streets here weren't really designed for space vehicular transport. Teams of folks have been cutting down trees, ripping down streetlights, and closing off footpaths to make way for the spaceship.
Locals haven't been too thrilled with the idea of their old trees being hacked off so a shuttle can pass, but new ones will be planted. And let's face it, how many times will you be able to sit on your porch and watch a space shuttle roll by.
It's the only time in my life I'm ever going to say I wish I lived in South Central LA - home of the riots, gangs, and many of the city's murders.
For the record, I'm a space nerd. I saw the shuttles on the launch pad in Florida, in their workshop, and I've seen a launch, which was amazing. But seeing it fly past the Hollywood sign at low altitude, on the back of a 747, with military jet escort, was truly special. I'm thrilled it's being moved at walking pace through city streets. This plan not only gives thousands of people, many of whom are seriously poor, a genuine thrill, but it also pays respect to a remarkable technological achievement. The City of Los Angeles is honouring a vehicle that carried humans into space 25 times, and helped make space travel seem possible for schmucks like you and me. What better way to say farewell than an old-style, massive two-day street parade.
We're getting into the weird parade thing here in LA. First we got excited in March when a giant rock was moved to a local art museum, and now the space shuttle. It's about time we had a bit of non-sports related community spirit. The good news for Australian tourists - and expat Aussie space nerds - is that come October 30, the California Science Centre in the middle of LA will unveil a shiny new exhibit - a genuinely inspiring piece of mankind's technological history.
Tim is a writer, TV producer and proud former Canberra resident who has lived in Los Angeles since 1997. Twitter @timschildberger
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