The weekend passed by with a blink of an eye. This was by far the most memorable weekend in US. This was my second visit to a big city in US. The first one was Charlotte (around 2 weeks back). But the city of Houston is much bigger then Charlotte.
Almost everything went on as planned and I am writing this on an Airplane heading back to Kingsport. I started off on Friday evening from Kingsport at around 5 PM, and since there are no direct flights from Kingsport to Houston, I had to take a flight via Atlanta. The flight was pretty much on time, and I didn’t have too much of time with me to explore the Atlanta airport. Reached Houston at around 8.15 PM CST, pretty much on time.
We had made an online reservation couple of days back for a rental car for the weekend from National car rental. We had actually booked for a Compact car to go around. But when we went to pick up the car from National on Saturday, they told us that they did not have a compact car with them to offer us …. and guess what? … they upgraded it to a SUV for free. Jeep – Grand Cherokee. Wow… Both of us (me and Chitra) were thrilled!! Well … this was my first (major) driving, and what a vehicle to drive. It was almost brand new, with just 1750 Miles on it, and it rocked.
The rental Jeep that we got! – (Click to Zoom)
So, at around 9 AM on Saturday morning, we started our journey to the NASA Space center. Driving through the big city traffic thought a maze of flyovers and exits was a good experience and was much easier that I had actually thought. My wife had done all the homework of getting routes and maps to reach NASA. We reached NASA space center at around 9.40 AM. We had to wait for a couple of mins for the Space Center to open up, but that was not a problem.
Space center entrance – (Click to Zoom)
The NASA space center is a must see if you are to Houston, especially if you are interested in space, science and technology.
Controls Inside the Space Shuttle Cockpit – (Click to Zoom)
Controls Inside the Space Shuttle Cockpit – Top – (Click to Zoom)
Some Capsule – (Click to Zoom)
Lunar Vehicle – (Click to Zoom)
Skylab mockup – (Click to Zoom)
They showed us a couple of movies and then there was a Tram tour of the NASA facility at Houston. They showed us the Historic Mission control center, from where more then 100 space missions were controlled. They have preserved it with all the original equipments. i.e., we are talking about the equipments that were present in the 1960s and 70s timeframe.
The Historic Mission Control Center – (Click to Zoom)
After that, they took us to the current Mission control center. Actually there are two; one is for the space shuttle program, and the other one for the International space station program. And, since there is no Shuttle in orbit as of now, there were no people at the Shuttle mission control center. But we did see people working at the International space station Mission control center. Live. Real people. Real stuff! And everything is just state of the art!
Space Shuttle Mission Control Center – (Click to Zoom)
International Space Station Mission Control Center – (Click to Zoom)
From NASA space center we travel to a place near by called Kemah Board Walk. It’s a recreation center in the Galveston bay area. And that was too good. This place has a mini amusement park, and lot of fun. Both of us enjoyed it thoroughly.
Kemah Tower – (Click to Zoom)
From the top of the tower – (Click to Zoom)
Kemah Area – (Click to Zoom)
Kemah Parking – (Click to Zoom)
We specially enjoyed the “Beast” speed boat ride. It’s a super speed boat which can carry around 60 people, and it cruises at full speeds splashing water all over. In fact, many of the passengers sitting at the rear end of the boat get fully wet!
Boat Ride (not the one we rode on… this one is a slow moving boat)- (Click to Zoom)
Sunset – (Click to Zoom)
It was 6.30 PM by now, and we were already late. Actually, we had decided to have a dinner/get together with Chitra’s lovely & very helpful friends at a restaurant called London Sizzler on Hilcroft Ave. And we had a map with us showing how to go from our house to this place. But we did not know exactly where this place was. The map showed us the end point, but it wasn’t detailed enough. And the end result was, we were going round and round the same area to find the restaurant. And to make it worse, we did not have any contact numbers with us. (I know its stupid… but that’s precisely what Murphy’s Law states!) After around 45 mins of searching, going round and round, we managed to find the place. It was like so close but still far. We knew it was just somewhere round the corner, but just could not locate it.…. and by this time, all the people had already come and were waiting for us, and were worried too!
It was a major relief for us as well as all others to see each other
The food at the restaurant was good, but the company was better. We had a nice time chatting. The best part was the surprise at the end………:) A birthday cake! Yes… my birthday is just around the corner… March 7th.
My Birthday Cake – (Click to Zoom)
Was a wonderful evening! On the way back home from the restaurant to home, we made sure that we had numbers of all the people with us, and that we knew the route properly. Reached home safely at around 11.45 PMish.
Today morning we went out again, but this time to a shopping mall called “Galleria“. It’s a pretty big mall. We spend some 2 hours in the mall, had some food, went around etc. There is a huge Ice skating ring in the mall, but we weren’t adventurous enough to try it out (also, the timings for public staking did not fit our schedule).
We started back home at around 11: 30 AM. Returned our rental SUV back to Nationals at around 1 PM. Athul & Saki (Chitra’s friends) were kind enough to drop me back to the IAH airport. And that too on a Merc!! Wow!…
My return flight to Kingsport is via Cincinnati and it started of a bit late. I.e., by around 30 mins. But I have a 1.5 hr stop over at Cincinnati, which should take care of the delay!
All in all, a great weekend!
Update : Also I would say I am lucky to have some great friends at Kingsport!. Sugatha dropped me all the way to the Airport on Friday, and Andy picked me up on the way back!.. Had dinner at Andy’s house on saturday night. Thank you guys!