We went north from Breaux Bridge last time, so our 230 mile continuation west on I-10 is new territory for us. The highway is much better here, except for the rough sections of construction that look like they started years ago and won't be complete until 2020. Glad this isn't my commute!
This southeast corner of Texas is lots of industry and oil, so even with water views, it's not a pretty drive. Oh well, it gets us just south of Houston where we have plans to see friends and space stuff.
Pearland RV Park is a small, immaculate park tucked in between agriculture and a bedroom community. Paved, level sites with good utility placement, well maintained lawns. No picnic tables or fire rings, a few small trees. The park WiFi is strong and consistent. Staff are friendly as are our neighbors. It's also a perfect location for what we want to do here - I highly recommend if you're in the area.
Monday morning starts early (for Bill, I sleep in) as we're finally getting the rig washed and waxed. It's been way too long, through lots of dirt and rain, and it feels great to have our home all clean and shiny again.
Although we bypassed the worst of the Louisiana roads, we still covered a lot of rough spots. Last time it was a fried step motor, this time the cleaners find the right side mirror has pulled out from the body. It's so heavy, there's no way we're going anywhere like that....
As soon as the crew of three is done, we're out the door to see the Space Center Houston. It's an easy 20 minute drive, and one of the main reasons I chose this park.
|The Space Center Houston opened October 16, 1992.|
But it's also 55 degrees with 13 mph winds, and I wuss-out for the open-sided tram. We'll have to come back to see Rocket Park and the back lot of Johnson Space Center. There's still plenty to see on what turns out to be a historic day to be here.
|One of those places where you have to remember to look up. Here the final Gemini mission's Faith 7 "floats" overhead.|
|Large artifacts from the Gemini and Apollo missions are wonderful to see up close.|
|Many amazing accomplishments before and after, but nothing compares with the moon landing missions.|
|The vault includes one of the largest collections of Moon rocks, and a representation of the lab that has been studying Moon matter for 30 years.|
|Touching the Moon. A little piece of a big deal.|
|Nothing found on the Moon is unidentifiable. Everything they've got - we've got it too!|
|The Skylab replica (original disintegrated in space, and some fell to earth in 1979) is a great opportunity to see what it was like to live in the first space station.|
|There is no "up" in space, so making things fit takes precedence. Three separate crews of three spent a total of 168 days in the low orbit facility. Skylab was the only space center operated exclusively by the US.|
|Robonaut 2 was the first humanoid robot in space, traveling to the space station in 2011. This robot can complete an EVA (space walk) in the time it takes an astronaut to get in their suit.|
|Model 39-0 is one of many models in many scales used to test the shuttle design. It's worn and scarred from hundreds of wind tunnel tests.|
|At Independence Plaza the 159 ton NASA 905 and 80 ton shuttle replica provide a very real experience of just what a big deal this program was.|
|The shuttle cockpit looks like a much more comfortable ride back to Earth than those little capsules!|
|The capacity of the shuttle is huge. Makes sense when you realize that the space station was built with massive pieces transported into space by the shuttles.|
|Astronauts spent over 1300 hours in EVA suits to build and maintain the space station.|
|The shuttle's waste management system. Love those handles :-)))|
|Celebrating many "firsts" during the 30-year Space Shuttle program. It ended on April 12, 2011|
|The answer to the question "Who thought that was a good idea?" is John Kiker. Figuring out the weight distribution and so much else with radio controlled models. Incredible!|
|Practice loading the shuttle on the 747 - not easy!|
|NASA 905 interior is now a well designed information center.|
|Mission Control finalizing InSight's flight to Mars that began in May.|
|The over 8 months trip ends today as she counts down in feet.....to successful landing!|
|Mission Control erupts in cheers and applause as they hug and celebrate completing the most difficult part of the mission.|
|Of course we see this later....not sure we would've known the day's date anyway :-)|
The combination of live footage, reenactments and story telling take us from what starts out as dampness on his neck, to a zero-gravity ball of water floating over his eyes and nose. Getting back to the hatch in the pitch dark, unable to see or breathe, it's very tense. And even after he's back inside, removing an EVA helmet is not a quick task!
Following the engineers and scientists while they figure out the whats and hows is really interesting.
|A beautiful theater, but the huge screen means watching with your neck bent back for the whole film. So nice to have no crowds.|
No luck fixing the mirror on our own, and Bill finds a place nearby who agrees to squeeze us in to see if they can do it when we leave.
Tuesday afternoon we visit our 19th stadium - the Houston Texans' NRG Stadium. It takes awhile to find an open gate, and the security guard doesn't know what a pro-shop is, but we do get to check out the grounds a bit. It's another facility with very little team identity. You have to look hard to know the Texans play here.
|The youngest team in the NFL, the Texans started here in 2002.|
|A lovely sculpture garden between the stadium and the Astrodome.|
|Dreams and Memories|
|A small slice of team identity.|
For dinner we meet up with wonderful friends Kelli and Lindsey and their son Kaiden. I worked with Kelli for years, and she and Kaiden moved to Texas years ago to be with family. Wife Lindsey is a perfect addition, and we have another fun visit.
|I fail to get a pic, but shamelessly steal this from social media - Kelli, Kaiden and Lindsey. Love you three!|
Wednesday we'll move south, back to the gulf coast (yes, the mirror gets fixed).