Katy went to Space Academy and we toured Marshall Space Flight Center but she and Heath weren’t finished. We left San Antonio Tuesday morning and eventually made it to Houston. It should have been a three-hour drive but ended up taking six for some reason. We did make a stop at Buc-ees so Heath could see one. And like the Grand Canyon, you kind of have to see Buc-ees to believe it. It’s the Wal-Mart of convenience stores. The restrooms don’t have one or even two stalls, they have more like 30. And they’re all clean. With hand-sanitizer between every stall. And according to their billboards, mints at the urinals. Well, maybe not quite, but they could!
Heath said it was the fanciest restroom he’d ever seen outside of a fancy hotel.
They also have no end of hot foods and sandwiches. We bought kolaches, something else on my to-do list. They also have computers where you can put in your order for a custom-made sandwich and at least one Buc-ees has those computers at the gas pumps so you can take care of it while waiting for your gas to pump.
We were on the snack end of the store and Heath asked what was on the other end because you couldn’t see it from where we were standing. I told him “junky souvenirs” so we had to go look at those, too.
OK. So enough about Buc-ees. Onto Houston. We drove through Katy so our Katy could have her picture taken with a sign. I never saw anything that looked like Katy City Limits or Welcome to Katy on the side of the road so we settled for the water tower.
We were hoping to get there early enough to go to Galveston and put our feet in the ocean or go to Moody Gardens or something but since it took twice as long we just hung out at the hotel and found some place to eat dinner.
Wednesday we headed out to Houston Space Center. It wasn’t nearly as crowded as when Katy and I went with my parents two years ago. We spent 8 1/2 hours and saw and did nearly everything. They are having a temporary exhibit of all things Mars.
Heath and Katy immediately wanted to see what it was like to walk on Mars. Katy was about an inch too short but they let her do it anyway.
The next thing was to jump off a platform. I don’t know what this is supposed to simulate. Katy was a little too light but they let her on anyway.
You can’t really see her up there. That’s as far as she got. After about two minutes she decided she’d take the stairs. Two kids ahead of her did, too.
Heath did better.
Score 1 for the landing — he landed on his feet and then fell over.
If Katy never makes it to Mars, she’ll know she at least touched part of it.
There are two tram tours of Johnson Space Center and we had time to do them both. First we did mission control. I thought we were going to see the current mission control but it turns out you see the historic mission control from the ’60s and ’70s. They had everything crated away until the building was made a registered historic site so they put it all back together, including the seats, where many famous people sat. The tour guide couldn’t recall exactly which seat Tom Hanks sat in when he came to check things out for Apollo 13. Rats.
Katy wanted to find her position but we told her mission scientist probably didn’t exist then.
Both tours include a visit to the rocket park. Katy was a little bored. I told Heath she’s probably at the point where rocket looks an awful lot like another!
This on the JSC property. Cows and rockets, nowhere else but Houston, Texas. They should put that on a t-shirt. This is the NASA Longhorn Project and seventh graders in the Clear Creek ISD have this project their science class.
The other tram tour is normally of the astronaut training area but we saw something else instead. We found out later they are re-arranging the training area and the catwalk is blocked. So we saw SAIL and SES instead — Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory and Shuttle Engineering Simulation.
While on the tram we passed by Building 17 where the Orion mission is headquartered. Maybe this is where Katy will be working one day.
Other than the tours we saw all the exhibits, heard a presentation on life on the ISS and watched three movies. One was about the shuttle program and I’ve forgotten what the other two were. Here’s a few interesting shots:
Next stop … Mississippi