I was very jetlagged, and I was only going to be away for a few days so I didn't want to adjust. So I got into a good routine of getting up at 5am and going out for pre-dawn walks in the cold.
The only people out and about in Santa Monica at 5am were homeless or unhinged or both. One morning there seemed to be more people about than usual, and as I walked along Ocean Drive, a woman standing by the railings moved slightly to block my path. I'd been in a world of my own and thought I was about to get pestered for change.
"You know there's a launch happening in a few minutes, right?" she asked me. I did not. I had no idea, but it turned out there was a SpaceX rocket being launched from an air base 100 miles away. She was out to watch it and kindly enough, thought a random passerby in a jetlagged haze would appreciate knowing that.
Luckily I had my camera with me, and I just barely had time to get it out of my bag when a bright orange glow appeared over the horizon. It was too far away for us to hear anything but it looked pretty epic, rising into the morning sky. We could clearly see the boosters separating as the payload continued out into space.
It was an incredible stroke of luck that I'd been up early enough, had my camera with me, and chanced to meet someone who told me about the launch. I was in an excellent mood as the sun rose.
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