Houston, the Damclark’s Have Landed

After our enjoyable Tyler stay, it was time to mosey on down the highway. On February 17, we meandered the backroads to Seabrook, Texas, a community on Clear Lake south of Houston. We were here specifically to visit NASA Johnson Space Center/Space Center Houston and to hop over to Galveston Island while in the area. We enjoyed 3 nights at a brand-new Hampton Inn. The temps warmed up a bit here near 80 and we noticed the humidity right away. Not being from an area with humidity issues, the locals would probably laugh at us as we continually mentioned how muggy it was and how our clothes felt damp.

Day trip to Galveston, oh Galveston and thinking of Glen Campbell singing in my ear. We stopped in at the visitor center and met a lovely woman who obviously enjoyed sharing what she knew about her island home of Galveston. She mentioned we should see the tree sculptures in the nearby neighborhood. The sculptures were done after hurricane Ike ripped through this island in 2008 with powerful winds and waves uprooting many of the city’s trees. With the loss of thousands of beautiful tree canopies, the tree trunks left in the wake of Ike are now symbols of destruction and rejuvenation. Like the Azalea and garden trail in Tyler, we might not have noticed the tree sculptures or driven through the 5 miles of neighborhoods. It gave us a chance to view the lovely homes, enjoy the sculptures, and understand Galveston from the point of view of a local. Afterwards, we went over to the 32-mile beach, enjoyed a fine Gulf Coast linner (lunch-dinner), then walked along the very popular seawall. It was a Sunday and the last day of Spring break for the schools in the area, and Galveston seemed to be mostly laid back and quiet. We were staying 30 miles away, so this made for a very nice Sunday afternoon.

NASA Level 9 Tour – This was a pricey tour for us at $180 for two days admission/per person/max. 12. Day 1 @ NASA Johnson Space Center is a guided 4-5 hour behind the scenes tour that includes the current Mission Control Room (monitors the International Space Station), and the historic Mission Operations Control Room (Gemini, Apollo, and early space shuttle missions), Rocket Park (home to the huge Saturn V Rocket), Building 9 astronaut training facility and home to the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility, and lunch in the cafeteria. Day 2 admission for the following day to the main visitor learning center for science and space at Space Center Houston.

As children we both remember how exciting space travel used to be for the entire world, David brought that feeling back to us as he guided 10 of us around our Level 9 tour. It wasn’t until the end of our tour that David revealed he was David Cisco, Lunar Module Spacecraft Technician and a 50-year NASA engineer veteran. We figured something was up about this guy early on as he was a bit evasive about his background and his security passes opened a few places the public wouldn’t normally get to see - like the flight line training jets (all astronauts must be able to fly them), and the space shuttle simulator (think of all the astronauts who have sat in those seats before us). Mr. Cisco is a member of the board of directors at Space Center Houston, and educates the public on the benefits of space, and NASA future space programs. Being able to have this NASA veteran of the space race tell us his stories and share his obvious love and passion for all things space, made this pricey tour a very special one for us.

Leaving the Gulf Coast on February 20, I left the sounds of Glen Campbell behind and could hear good old Dean Martin singing Houston, Houston, Houston as we drove around Houston on our way to San Antonio. Is that Patsy Cline I hear singing San Antonio Rose – yup, I was probably driving Dennis nuts with all these Texas songs I’ve been singing since we crossed into T for Texas...

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