Rockets and Ex-Pats

Trip Start Nov 29, 2007
Trip End Jan 30, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Sunday, December 9, 2007

It is pretty hard to wake up at a decent time after a day like yesterday, even harder if you are 5.  But getting Zac up, even after a very late night does not seem to be a problem.

Today, we were off to the Houston Space Centre and during a 60 minute drive, Zac did not miss a beat - he just would not snooze.  He was wide eyed and ready for a big day.  And a big day it would be.

The space centre is the mission control we are all familiar with (Houston, we have a problem).  It is also home to the biggest indoor play centre for kids in the whole of Texas as well as a huge circus exhibit.  And to cap it off, it was Star Wars Fan day.  Enough to make your head spin and potentially a recipe for disaster after a huge day and late night the day before.  But not for our travelling family.

After a solid play in the five story play centre (yes, five stories high), it was off on a history lesson of space exploration (or more accurately, American space exploration) - an awe-inspiring exhibit, but the non-glamourous side of space exploration was also obvious - its a pretty confined space to live in for weeks at a time.  I admire the work these guys do, but have very little interest in sitting in something about as big as a toilet cubicle with two other blokes for 2 or 3 weeks.

Zac was a sponge.  We reckon he completed the kids audio tour and most the adults audio tour as well.  He just stood there transfixed to some of the exhibits.

The tour of the facility was also quite impressive, to a large extent because there was a shuttle in Florida that was ready for a launch when we were there.  Even more interesting because there were problems with fuel sensors and we were in a mission control viewing room during quite a heated debate between the flight director (apparently even the president cannot override his control of the various missions) and the mission control astronauts (they and they alone are permitted to communicate with the flight crew).  Pity we have no way to get to Florida for the launch - that would be pretty impressive.  Wandering around one of the un-used Apollo rockets was also pretty amazing.  These things are big, real big, real real big.

We had no hope of seeing all there was to see and even missed out on a heap we wanted to see.  But we did have time for a boy to have a photo with Darth Vader and a few Stormtroopers - Zac's eyes were almost popping out of his head.

The only mistake we made all day was letting Zac have another "five minute" play in the play centre.  He is a quick kid and figured out that if he played right at the top and did not come down, we had very little chance of keeping to that five minute thing.  But he played hard and had a blast.  And amazingly, it was enough to make him cat nap on the way home.

But Zac's day was not yet finished.  Cassandra and I had been inited by Uncle Rod and Aunty Cheryl to the Australian New Zealand Society of Texas Christmas party and Zac had to entertain his sitter.  He did a great job and told us the next day that she intended to study in Sydney in the new year and they were going to call each other "on the telephone".  I had some news for him, but it could wait...

The Christmas party was great.  A huge spread and some fantastic Australian company.  We got to meet local Aussies from all walks of life - an RAN Nurse previously stationed in Darwin, an Australian who worked on the Apollo missions to the moon (and who is now working on the return to the moon) and the guy who set up the US operations for Pioneer Concrete years ago.  All interesting people with great stories and ideas for what we could do next.  We were honoured with the invite and had a fun evening - our last in Houston.
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