Houston- Home of Family and NASA

I jumped on I-10, after breakfast with Tanya in San Antonio, and sat back for the easy 200ish mile ride to Houston to visit a couple of family members I hadn’t seen in several years.  First up was an overnight stop at my nephew Philip’s place.  He and his girlfriend, Andrea, have a beautiful home in the south of the city.  My sister’s second son, Philip has always been an amazing, adventurous cook, so I was not surprised in the least to see that they had a wood-pellet pizza oven on the back patio!  I realized after I had left that I didn’t get a selfie with them, and that my phone camera was set to portrait mode.  Guess I spent too much time eating 😊

Philip manning the pizza oven!
Such a great cooking duo: Philip and Andrea prepping pizzas 😊
We made several different combination pizzas, but I think this one was prosciutto, apple, basil, and feta cheese, with a specialty sauce he whipped up. Yum!!

In the morning, I rolled out with everyone leaving for work.  I cruised just a few miles up the road to a coffee shop with wifi and caught up on a few blog posts over a cup of java and a pastry.  Feeling content that I was somewhat caught up on my blogging (obviously that trend did not continue!), I jumped back on the bike and headed to the Johnson Space Center.  Though I find the solar system interesting, I’ve never been totally enthralled with the cosmos and space travel.  But, being this close to the space center, I decided to tour the museum and take the campus tram tour.  I’m so glad I did; it was really remarkable!  I learned a lot about the different space missions, but one of the most fascinating factoids I learned that day was why the U.S. is so keen to revisit the celestial body orbiting earth.  Although NASA cites multiple reasons to return to the moon, the one that our tour guide seemed to really emphasize was economic expansion.  Specifically, developing mining colonies to extract lunar titanium for manufacturing, and helium-3 for power generation, on earth.          

Johnson Space Center’s Independence Plaza. A shuttle replica, named the Independence, mounted on top of the historic, and original, NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft. You can go inside both aircraft, which house the stories, and memorabilia, associated with the space shuttle program, which ran from 1981-2011. According to a placard accompanying one of the exhibits, “the shuttle’s versatility allowed diverse participation; for example, height restrictions were lifted and the crew expanded to as many as eight. Several new astronauts came from outside the military, bringing a variety of life experiences to the astronaut corps.” The removal of height, pilot, and other requirements, allowed scientists and engineers to become astronauts- leading to Sally Ride, a physicist, becoming the first American woman in space, in 1981.
“America,” Apollo 17 Command Module. The Apollo 17 spacecraft was the last spacecraft to have human occupants that travelled to the moon. This actual, flown Command Module orbited the moon and housed astronaut Ron Evans while astronauts Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt headed to the surface aboard the lunar module in December of 1972.
International Space Station food includes culturally appropriate cuisines tailored to each individual astronaut. I was intrigued by the liquid salt and pepper (lower left in pic); dry grains would float and go everywhere!
The Astronaut Training Facility includes mock-ups where you can see engineers, astronauts, and equipment used for daily training.
“Flown from 1967 to 1973, this original Saturn V rocket launched 26 astronauts into space with six successful missions landing men on the moon.” At 363 feet tall (or long as it lays in this exhibit) and a launch weight of 6.2 million pounds, this thing is a sight to behold! -NASA website

With my NASA tour complete, I headed to the north side of Houston to visit my godmother, Pris.  We enjoyed a leisurely evening of visiting and catching up before I rolled out the next morning for Louisiana.

Visiting with Aunt Pris outside of Houston. Always great to reconnect with family in-person after so many years 😊

Now, off to Cajun country!

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