Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Space Center in Houston

My-oh-my have I been a busy bee. As you may recall, I began training for a new job full time last week. This was while working part time at my other job. This coming weekend will be my last few days there. I am quite thankful for that. I haven't had to learn a completely new profession in over three years. The process has been nerve wracking at times; I tend to be anxious about most things these days but I've been managing incredibly well if I do say so myself. I spent some time with my actual co-workers this morning and it has me thinking very positively about my new career path. In fact, I had an absolutely wonderful day. I'm looking forward to being on a normal schedule and doing normal things, which I haven't been able to do since getting my previous job. 

Anyway, Labor Day weekend was super fun. It was Chris's birthday on the 1st and her mom came out to visit. I'll write about our birthday festivities later, but the highlight of the whole weekend was traveling down to Houston/Webster to go to the Space Center. It was what Chris wanted to do, so that is what we did. I will try to limit the amount of photos I barrage you with...

Our time at the Center was predominantly devoted to the two tours they offer which involve being taken via tram to an astronaut training facility and mission control, which communicates with the International Space Station. I took a lot of touristy photos that belong on Facebook and absolutely nowhere else. The weather was atrocious- let's get that out of the way- and I tried my absolute hardest not to be a bum about the whole trip. 

On top of the heat and humidity, I have been experiencing a lot of upper back strain due to my spinal fusion and that Sunday was no exception. Waiting in line for the second tram was a dreadful experience, but instead of turning into a grouch and not actually doing anything to fix the problem, I asked Chris to carry my things and tried to carry my weight in a way that would ease the pain. I took some ibuprofen and stretched and massaged my neck and by the time we got back from our ride and sat down for lunch I was feeling much, much better. To be on the safe side, though, I had Chris carry my bag around for the rest of our visit.

I have to say that the highlight of the experience for me was touching "a piece of Mars." See the photo above. According to the Space Center's website, "The rock at Space Center Houston is the only Martian sample the public can touch, and is a piece from the EETA 79001 Martian meteorite found in the Antarctic in 1980. Part of the Antarctic meteorite collection at JSC, the sample is about 180 million years old – very young on the solar system scale – and is believed to have been thrown from Mars into space approximately 600,000 years ago. At 17.4 pounds, the original rock is one of the largest Mars meteorites ever found."

So yeah, pretty cool. You can also view various historical artifacts having to do with our ventures into space, like space and flight suits worn by astronauts. I took pictures of the two women's suits they had on display, including one worn by Sally Ride. The biography located on the display had not been updated with the date of her death and did not include anything regarding her personal life, which made me sad. Hopefully they'll fix it in the future. The tram also brings you to Rocket Park where you can see the Saturn V rocket up close.

Honestly, I was afraid that Chris and I would be living off of French fries during our whole trip, but even the cafe at the Space Center had vegan options. One of the stalls in the Zero G Diner (as it is called) even had a sandwich labeled as vegan on their menu; a pita pocket stuffed with tabbouleh and served with hummus. It wasn't a quinoa veggie burger with Daiya cheese or anything, but it sufficed. 

One thing I do recommend to those visiting is to wear layers. While you will likely be HOT waiting outside in line for the tram, you will be COLD for anything you go to see inside. There are a lot of movies throughout the museum and presentation areas and they are all enclosed and have the air conditioning blasting. I guarantee that they make a killing on sweatshirts as they suckered money out of us and I can now find a bright green NASA hoodie hanging in Chris's closet.

All in all, I do recommend making a visit, especially if you're interested in science.

The only opportunity Chris and I had in which to try some local vegan food was later that night, but I shall save that experience for another post!

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