Sunday, December 20, 2015

Day 149 - Reunion in Texas

Space vehicle development
Today was the day of the long-awaited reunion of our family. In the four hours between the motel check-out and their scheduled arrival, we decided to visit the NASA Space Center for which Houston is famous ("Houston, we have a problem"). We were greeted by several rockets and a space shuttle at the parking lot which rose the excitement for the interior. Mean, how they charge you not only the entrance fee but also a parking fee, and in the inside you have to buy access cards for playing lunar rover simulators, watching a big screen space movie, etc. But it was cool anyway. We were recommended to do a campus tram tour first. Since one (mission control center) had a 45 minute wait line and the other had no line, we took the training facility tram tour.

The main boosters of the Saturn V
We were driven around the campus where astronauts are still training for their future missions. We saw the Mission Control Center from the outside and the international training hall from an inside gangway. Weightlessness simulators, capsules, and lots of more or less futuristic looking stuff - including the mockups for the next manned space missions..The final stop was a huge hall where a Saturn V moon rocket was exhibited.

Space Shuttle Cockpit
A short selfie with an "astronaut", a visit to the Starship Museum, a short look into the gift shop, and then we had to drive to the airport. We already thought to be late for our meeting with mom and sis, but still had to wait for about half an hour in the arrival area. What a feeling when I noticed that I almost didn't recognize my mom. Hair grows fast... But what a moment, how great that everything went okay. We immediately called my dad who waited at the "cellphone parking lot" in the meantime.

And this was the beginning of a four hour road trip to Ft. Worth. After having passed a unroofed house, some pieces of sheet metal and a lot of dirt and branches on the interstate highway we (perfect timing) noticed the emergency notification on our mobiles: "Tornado Warning in this area til 5:30 PM CST. Take shelter now. Check local media. -NWS". It was 5:10. Al of a sudden, we found ourselves in a downpour rain as we had experienced it really rarely. It was raining so heavy that the wipers couldn't keep up even in fast mode. The cars on the Interstate either went slow with their hazard flashers on, or stopped completely. Due to low visibility, high winds and downpour, we couldn't drive faster than 40 mph... So our four-hour drive turned out to be a five-hour one. But lucky us, we arrived safe and sound in Fort Worth and checked in into a nice business hotel.

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