After the eventful morning, we weren't quite through with Houston just yet. Growing up in the Tom Hanks
era has made certain phrases a part of my own personal lexicon - phrases like "Life is like a box of chocolates," "There's no crying in baseball!" and of course, "Houston, we have a problem." As long as were so close, we decided to check out Space Center Houston
, the launching point for America's missions to the moon.
Admission was fairly pricy, and I couldn't help but notice that an annual membership was almost the same price as a one-day ticket. There was a bunch of old NASA gadgets around the room, as well as an exhibit about George Lucas that teetered between appropriate and confusing. They had an R2-D2 robot on display, which makes a little sense, but then they had things like the magic wand from Willow
, which I found just baffling.
The admission included a tour of the facility on the tram, and we had our choice of seeing Mission Control, or checking out the astronaut training center. We opted for the former of the two, but to do that, we had to stand out in the lovely Houston weather for a half hour or so.
When we eventually arrived, the group shuffled into the building and to a room with theater-type seating, where we had a full view of Mission Control and a brief speech by an older fellow who'd worked there during NASA's heyday. The room looked just like it did in the movies, and the guy talking was pretty funny, because he almost seemed like he was getting emotional during his speech, even though he obviously gave the same speech several times a day.
The tram also took us to a warehouse-ish building in an awkward corner of the facility, where a giant piece of flight equipment lay inside for people to admire. The trams were running on a 15-20 minute basis, but there was a longer gap between trams when we were trying to leave. We kind of had to push and shove a little for our seats, but we pulled it off and left a pretty big group of people behind us, mumbling about the heat and telling their kids to quiet down. All in all, I agreed with Joey when he said that the Air & Space Museum back in DC was considerably more impressive.
We tackled the three-hour drive to Austin without any problems or rush hour traffic. In fact, we got there so early that our expected host, Sarah's cousin Michael, hadn't even gotten off work yet. Like clockwork, we killed the time at a local public house, called the Draught House Pub & Brewery
, about a mile from Michael's house.
Our schedule around this time was pretty tight. Pretty soon we'd be visiting Carlsbad in New Mexico for a very exciting national park. But between now and then, we were also planning on driving out to San Antonio for an Alamo visit. We started to realize that all this might not be possible in our present time frame.
But before long, Sarah's phone rang, and Michael was on his way home from work. We met him there and spent the night watching TV and playing video games.
The next day, we took a deeper look into this very uncharacteristic Texas town. More on that from Sarah, coming very soon.