I just got back from visiting family in Florida for a couple weeks. We went to Disney World, then south to stay at the beach for a few days.
On the morning of April 6th, my sister and I got up early to see the space shuttle liftoff. We found a footbridge at the hotel that had a good eastern view. The launch pad was probably about 65 miles away from us there in Orlando. There were only three other people up watching; a man and his two sons.
We thought we could see a bright object rising, but then I saw its blinkers; an airplane. A second later we saw a very bright flare rise up. It arched over to the left where it shed the rocket boosters. A halo of comet-like light then formed around the shuttle. At this point we could start to hear it. The sound was like a low thunder that smoothly rose and fell. Sorry for the poor picture quality... low light and no tripod.
This was probably the best part of my vacation. I've alway wanted to see a space shuttle launch.