Houston 2005

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Note: This travelog was written in 2020, so many details have long been forgotten since we took the trip.

Saturday, March 5, 2005: We flew into Houston on Saturday morning and went straight to Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.
Tom was one happy boy to be visiting such a famous NASA site.
The Northrup T-38 Talon out front was a great start. This is one of Tom's favorite aircraft.
This two-axis trainer attempted to demonstrate just how hard it is to twist stuff in microgravity. The white cylinder above his head has a bunch of different controls on it, and you have to push and twist them while trying not to float way in the opposite direction on the nearly frictionless surface.
The trainer is specifically for simulating the work performed in the Manned Manuevering Unit, or MMU, which allows astronauts to perform work in space while unattached to their spacecraft.
This model of the ISS shows what the station will look like when assembly is complete.
It is very hard for Tom to pass up a space training simulator, especially one that allows him to fly.
This one very effectively conveys the difficulty in landing the space shuttle, which is really a 100 ton glider.
Yay! A successful landing.
Why, yes, Tom does want to see if he can dock to the ISS. Thanks for asking.
While Tom was busy flying spacecraft, Debbie was watching a show of some sort with a room full of very excited kids.
This mock-up is the cleanest, most tidy space station I've ever seen.
These lucky kids were picked to do something involving the show. But who can remember what that might be?
So many white LEGO bricks.
This cockpit simulator for the shuttle shows just how many switches and controls there were before the glass cockpit upgrades.
It is an amazing contrast to see the roominess of the shuttle compared to the capsules of the early space program.
The Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) was used on the last three Apollo missions to the moon: Apollo 15, 16, and 17.
Orientation cubes next to each moon rock contained six sides to indicate the original orientation of each lunar sample when it was collected. The designations are N(orth), S(outh), E(ast), W(est), T(op), and B(ottom).
This picture shows an astronaut floating in the enormous volume of the Skylab space station.
This mock-up shows an astronaut preparing food in zero gravity.
We took a tour of the old mission control center that was used for Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle missions between 1965 and 1992.
There are mission insignia on the walls for each of the missions controlled from this room.
Here's a little more detail.
If you were family of the astronauts, or an other important vistor, you would be invited to watch the mission from this room.
We couldn't resist the photobooth. Who doesn't want to be photographed with a space shuttle?
Yes, we were there.
One more photo of the happy boy.
Now a little something for Debbie: a pretty tree!
Let's get a closer look. Jacaronda? Something else?
A car in a Johnson Space Center parking lot caught our attention.
Yeah, baby, it's a DeLorean.
A Mercury-Redstone rocket was on display (background), along with a Little Joe II (foreground), which was used to test the launch escape system for the Apollo spacecraft.
Even the local McDonald's plays along with the space theme.
We headed to Fuddrucker's for dinner before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the main reason we were in town: ...
... to attend the wedding reception of Debbie's cousin, Karl, and his wife, Stacia.
It was held in the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, which was the perfect location for two geologists.
Beautiful stones were on display throughout the reception area.
This one was especially gorgeous.
The focused lighting enhanced the colors in the stones.
Some stones were grouped by color, ...
... or lack thereof.
Anyway, back to the reception. The father of the bride gave a toast, ...
... as did this guy. Sibling? Best man? Don't recall, sorry.
Karl and Stacia had gotten married a couple of months earlier in a small, private ceremony, so this was a reception for friends and family.
Here are Karl's brother, Chris, and his wife, Leonora.
Here are Karl's and Debbie's Uncle Larry and Aunt Mary.
Here's Debbie with her Aunt Ruth, who is Karl's mother.
Ruth and Debbie got out on the dance floor ...
... and got down with their bad selves, ...
... including the rest of the party guests.
Later in the evening, Karl took the microphone for a moment.
We got a photo of Chris and Leonora, ...
... and of Leonora's family before heading out around 11:00 PM. We flew home the next day.

** THE END **

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