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NASA Launch?

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This winter, home is the Delmarva peninsula (the wing hanging down east of Washington, DC, aka the Eastern Shore). Mia loves having 11 mowed acres, countless more of salt marsh, and a boat ramp into a creek meandering to the Chesapeake Bay, and I vicariously delight in her joy.

The peninsula is also home to NASA's Wallops Flight Facility (shout out to their awesome Visitor Center). Since arriving on the peninsula, NASA has had two launches. The first was most likely a test launch that happened while Mia and I were enjoying the beach on Assateague. As the boom reverberated, Mia came racing back to me in confusion and fear, but after a few minutes the sound and surprise faded. We were on the Bay side and although I looked, I didn't see anything. The second was an early morning launch. We were barely out of bed, and I projected calm by slowly getting dressed and missed seeing the rocket.

There's a third launch currently scheduled for tomorrow evening (though it's already been pushed back a week, so it's possible it will be delayed further). This week I discovered a lovely little cove with direct sight of the launch pad less than 7 miles away.

On my own, I wouldn't hesitate to watch the launch from this spot. All I need is a thick coat, a warm drink, and a headlamp. However, I cannot anticipate Mia's reaction and obviously don't want to freak her out. Prior to discovering this hidden gem, I planned to take her to a marina where I could sit in the car with her during the launch, so she would feel safe and protected. I wouldn't see as much, and possibly not see anything at all depending on the angle, but Mia's comfort is a priority.

There are several other options. I could leave her at home. The cottage I'm renting is 12 miles from the launch site, so the launch is loud and tremulous, and I'm uncertain about how she'll react without me present. She calmed quickly last time when I was there. I could watch from our yard, where it's likely I'd see something. Alternatively I could stay in the car where I park a half a mile from the cove (about the same distance from the launch as the marina, with about the same probability of seeing something).

What are your thoughts? Deal with a little panic in order to see something spectacular, or play it safe and risk a third miss?
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Elroy: Standard Poodle, Born 02/20/21
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I would definitely go. At 7 miles away, I think Mia will be able to handle it. Elroy would watch but I don't think he'd be too startled. He definitely wouldn't be scared. I'd consider it more exposure to human antics.
 

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How much does Mia internalize your guidance? With our guys our big concern was fireworks - the boys get exposed to a lot of pyrotechnics when we go away in summer. We did a lot of playful happy modeling for them early on: "Oooh, look at that, check it out, oooh, pretty." We also spent some time inside doing calm modeling, just reading and occasionally glancing up before going back to reading while the dogs chewed on treats.
Also, how is Mia with car travel? My preference would be to watch the launch from the safety of your car, as she wouldn't be able to escape if she did panic. However, I know that both Galen and my late boy Pogo would be more likely to form a bad association to anything viewed from a car, as they don't really like car rides to begin with. With Galen I would set myself on a beach blanket, give him a tennis ball, and bring another blanket to cuddle him under if he seemed nervous. With Pogo I would have left him at home.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
There's no way I would have brought Zulu to a launch. He would have spooked and been at the end of his leash. I would have had to drag him back to the car and then reel him in to load him up.

But Mia's different. She certainly does not like loud, unexpected noises, even less when they're accompanied by shaking ground. That said, whether it's thunderstorms, fireworks, or even the first two launches, she usually just wants to be near me, and if it's especially loud (or there's a tornado), she may tremble for a few minutes. She's right as rain after a good nap.

The launch window is 6-8 pm, so she'd go straight to bed when we got home. She might snuggle early on, then at some point end up on her back before moving away because she's overheating - and more importantly, no longer concerned!
 

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Are rocket launches heavily viewed where you are? The ones here in Florida attract a lot of people. So any good viewing spots are flooded with people. How will she handle that?
Also, do you know if that area is accessible during a launch? They have a keep out are here in Florida that is several miles out.
I live close enough to see the rockets go up, but it takes a while for the sound to get to us. My dogs ignore it. It is sonic booms from the boosters returning that they bark at.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
These are good questions, ILD. She'll be fine with any people who show up at this spot. However,
Also, do you know if that area is accessible during a launch?
No, I do not. There are houses adjacent to this property on the side closer to Wallops, so I can't imagine they'd have an issue with proximity. However, since the location is on state property, it might be closed. I was, ahem, planning on spending a few extra minutes on the walk up.
 

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I think it would be hard to miss a launch and I would want to see it if I were close enough. I like cowpony's suggestion of bringing a blanket. Get there early and make it very laid back. Bring Mia a long-lasting chew and some other yummy treats or toys for distraction. I would also be prepared to leave if it became too much.
 

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Happy, Apricot Standard Superstar
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I say go for it. Keep Mia close and talk her through it. It sounds like she was some distance from you last time. She'll probably handle it easier if she's next to you. Happy would have no issue. She's experienced 4th of July twice sitting next to me watching the fireworks.
I envy you. You're in a beautiful area. We went to Assateague in October 21. The wind was so intense we hid out in our rv most of the time. Even Happy didn't want to venture out. We fled inland after only 16 hours.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Funny you say that, because the wind is howling right now. If you've been watching US weather, the big storm passed through yesterday, drenching us in a steady, slow moving drizzle. Trailing the storm is an awful wind, like you experienced last year. The forecast says 15-20 mph, but the gusts crinkle the garage door as if it is made of aluminum foil. I freeze at moments, thinking someone is breaking in. I can imagine what these winds are like in an RV.

But as you said, it is gorgeous here. The wind is expected to slow tonight, and the weekend will be cool but sunny and calm. I wasn't sure how I'd handle the solitude, but I love it - sitting on the deck, watching the colors of the salt marsh change has become a favorite activity. Mia loves it, too - she'll sit with me for hours before curling up and taking a nap. I'm not sure how many more opportunities I'll have to sit like that, since we're no longer getting into the 50s, and I don't have a warm enough sleeping bag to keep me toasty. They're predicting a white Christmas - I haven't seen but a dusting of snow since 2018, so I'm looking forward to a proper (but not Minnesota level) snowfall.

There are scores of trails to keep me busy as well. It's too cold to paddle, of course, but there's plenty of hiking. Friends visit from DC, and we've explored from Rehoboth to Cape Charles with the help of this handy trail guide, recommended by the lovely ladies at the Wallops Visitor Center.

Plenty to do then, for the next few months. In a bit of a gamble, I extended my stay until March, and I hope February brings the same warm up here as it does in NC.
 

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Happy, Apricot Standard Superstar
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I check the weather back home every once in a while. You may be a little too close to the coast to get lots of snow. We got a good amount last year in Burke. It usually shows up Dec-early Feb. Right now we're hovering in the mid to low 20s with snow in Seoul and the central RoK.
We found sanctuary at Tuckahoe State Park after fleeing Assateaque.
 

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Looks like it’s visible in your photo too, if you zoom in enough. :)
Water Sky Cloud Beach Lake
 

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Years ago we were in Florida, visited the Cape Canaveral ( Flippin' heck that Saturn 5 in the hall ), and it turned out the Space Shuttle was due to be launched the day before we were flying home.
That was so exciting, witnessing such an event.
Sadly the launch was postponed for 24 hrs and we missed it.
Ya Booo Shucks !!
 
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