Houston we have a problem

Trip Start Aug 26, 2005
Trip End May 26, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Thursday, February 15, 2007

Houston, we have a problem. All the mad partying over the last few weeks in the USA has caught up with me and I feel terrible. I will need a few days here to recover.

I have discovered the joys of a website called craigslist.com and found 'rideshare'. Rideshare is a system whereby if you are travelling from one place to another, and have room in your car, you advertise your trip and offer to take people with you, to share the driving or to cover petrol money, or both. I spent a few minutes on rideshare while at the hostel in Austin and advertised that I was after a lift from Austin to Houston and placed the phone number of the hostel on my postings. A few hours later, I was called to the front desk for a phone call. A nice guy called Steve, a travelling musician (onemicstand.com) offered to pick me up and take me to Houston. Wow, this rideshare really works.

Steve turned up and I fare welled my buddies at Austin and started the next leg of my trip.

The Houston Hostel was an old Southern House, with a big porch, complete with rocking chairs and a few rusting iron tables. I checked in and was taken up a long narrow stairway to my private room. It was a very homely hostel, where I was offered soup on arrival. I sat in the library and chatted with the fellow travellers. A Canadian was putting a big jigsaw together on a big table, by the busted old piano. I sat on a cracked aged leather chair. An old cat is sitting by the fireplace, licking its balls and I just saw a flea jump across my lap. The walls are plastered with 60’s floral wallpaper and a big world map is stuck on the far wall. Australia looks so far away.

Houston is home of the Johnson Space Centre which is my primary reason for visiting. After visiting Kennedy Space Centre in Florida and watching the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery, I figured I should see the mission control centre. At Johnson Space Centre they control the Space Shuttle operations after the Shuttle has cleared the tower. The International Space Station Command Centre is also located here as well as a bunch of other centres to keep track of satellites and probes and space debris. The astronaut training centre is based here along with the great big pool with a submerged shuttle, used for training.

I had an early night in preparation for my trip to the Space Centre the next day. I woke, and was given a bowl of porridge for breakfast, then headed outside to the bus stop, where I caught a bus to the train station, then caught a 1 hour train to the Facility. I paid my $11 entry, plus $5 for the audio guide and jumped straight onto the ‘trolley tour. The first stop was the Historic Mission Control Centre, where they controlled the Gemini and Apollo missions. It has now been converted into the Space Shuttle command centre. There were no shuttles in orbit at this moment, so the place was switched off. We continued the tour, visiting the test facilities building, mock shuttle, and Canadarm. The final stop was the Saturn 5. It was never used due to budget cuts.

I returned to the Hostel and spent the evening chatting to my fellow travellers. They couldn’t believe I had been travelling for 18 months. ‘How do you afford it?’ they would say. ‘Easy’ I said ‘save up for 3 years, sell everything you own, dump the girlfriend and quit your job’

‘You must have seen the whole entire world in 18 months’

‘Nope, just the Americas’

They are always amazed at this, and I understand, as in my entire 18 months, I’ve only met one person travelling longer than me. An American called Darryl. I met him on my second month, in Brazil. He had a motorbike and left home 7 years ago on a one year, round the world trip. He is still going.

After the success of craigslist and rideshare, I decided to try it again. I posted that I was in Houston, looking for a ride to New Orleans and just like before, I left the number of the hostel. Within a few hours, I had received a call and was offered a lift to New Orleans the next day.
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