Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Day 31 - Johnson Space Center

We visited the NASA facility for all manned space flights located south east of Houston. It was an almost two hour drive from the RV park and we needed to go through downtown Houston. We went on the tour and the first stop was a training facility. This was the most basic one as it doesn’t match the ISS. Mostly just familiarization with where things are. 

This is Artemis, a proposed moon landing vehicle, being used for development. It seems small. 

Here is a mockup of the Orion capsule being developed by Boeing. I thought it was interesting that there was little or no mention of SpaceX. All of the displays talking about future manned missions seemed to focus on the Boeing vehicle. I think it’s because it’s familiar. More of the same old thing.

We then went to the Saturn V building housing the actual launch vehicle for the cancelled Apollo XVIII. Not a model or a mockup. It is housed in it’s own building right next to Rocket Park where there is a Redstone rocket used on the Mercury missions and a test vehicle for the emergency rockets for Gemini. It’s amazing to see the size difference between the Redstone and the Saturn V. BTW, the five stands for the number of engines on the first stage.

Within the visitor’s center, there was a nice mockup of a moon landing. There was a room with numerous moon rocks as well as a history of space suits including one still coated with moon dust. Very dusty. There was an excellent movie on the history of manned space flights including mention of both the Challenger and Columbia disasters.

Outside, was one of the 747s used to ferry the Space Shuttle from its landing spot back to Florida. The landing sites were usually Edwards Air Force Base or White Sands. Many of the later missions used the landing strip right at Cape Canaveral which simplified getting the shuttle ready for its next flight.

The snack bar was closed in the visitor’s center so we stopped at Buc-ee’s for a late lunch. We needed to fill the car up anyway. If you aren’t familiar with this Texas chain, there are lots of pumps and the little market is larger than many grocery stores.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Day 30 - Columbus, TX - TT

The cold night (27°F) was followed up by a nice morning. Once it was above 40°F, we switched from the propane furnaces to the heat pump. The last couple of days, we used around a quarter tank of propane for the two furnaces. But they’ve did a reasonable job of keeping the RV warm. This is something that they struggled with in the past before the repair. We will need to switch back to the furnaces around 10pm as the temperature will be in the 30s (°F). A few days ago, we had to use the furnaces all day as it never went above 40°F. 

On my walk this morning I ran into quite a few deer. They must be used to people as they barely acknowledged me walking by. There were quite a few groups about this size totaling around twenty or so. 

This mornings walk was slightly longer than yesterday’s and I avoided the really muddy areas. I did stop at the office to get a jacuzzi reservation for the afternoon. That’s where I’m writing this post. I just finished one test session and have another one later this afternoon. That’s sort of my average day. 

Monday, January 11, 2021

Day 27, 28, 29 - Columbus, TX - TT

Saturday (Day 27) - According to the weather app, it was down to freezing last night, I had switched to the heated water hose yesterday. Probably not really needed but I figured that it couldn't hurt. The propane furnaces did a decent job heating the RV though I did drop the front temperature down to 65°F and had the electric radiator up there as well. The furnace didn't run all night which was the goal.

The water level of the river seemed to drop a bit more. Kind of hard for me to tell l since I rarely look at the river from the same location. It just looks like there is more ground showing. Today's walk was only 1.65 miles as the first hame radio license test session ran long due to Zoom issues. We learned that if you "boot" someone out of a session, they can't reconnect later unless a flag is cleared on the meeting configuration which is only accessible through a web portal not through the application.

Sunday (Day 28) - I think this is the warmest it’s going to be today. It’s snowing to the west and north of here. I think that it has been raining on and off since about midnight and will be continuing throughout the day. The furnace has been getting a workout but at least the front heater is actually working. The air from the vent under the sink is putting out 100°F air where it wasn’t putting out any air before. The living room is a very comfortable 70° according to my HomeAssistant temperature sensor. 

There has been a gradual cooling trend that started yesterday and continued all day long according to the HomeAssistant outside temperature sensor. This sensor is about 3’ above ground level in the open space behind the propane tank and the diesel fuel tank and the storage bays. The temperature is moderated by its surroundings but I wanted to find a location protected from the elements.

Monday (Day 29)
 - Another chilly day but at least we didn’t get any snow like other areas in Texas. We heard that it snowed at the last RV park we were at in Athens. I don’t think that snow here is a fluke it’s just not that common. The forecast looks like there is a slight warming trend which is nice since we are planning on tourist-ing on Wednesday.

Did a 2.5 mile walk after the first radio test of the day. The trail section was pretty muddy in some sections requiring some detours through the brush. The water level in the river seemed lower than the last time which seems odd given yesterdays rain. This is a nice park for walking around and the trails are nice and quiet. I think Bridget said that this was some sort of wildlife preserve. The only wildlife we’ve seen are deer and birds.

Time to get ready for the next test session. Volunteering for these test sessions are really a nice diversion and an opportunity to do something useful with my license.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Day 25, 26 - Visiting Friends + - TT

Thursday (Day 25) - Another walk around the park this morning. The weather was “brisk”. I think that’s the term. Windy with temperatures in the low 50s (°F). Lots of mud from yesterday’s rain so I avoided the trails. Even with the rain, the water level of the river looks like it dropped. 

We headed towards Houston on I-10. Lots of construction. Stopped at Petsmart and Jo-Ann with an opportunistic stop at Dick’s Sporting Goods before heading north to Cypress, TX, to visit with CCJon and his wife Amparo. He is another sidecar rider with lots of epic trips on a variety of two and three wheeled rigs and an incredible photographer. You can find him on his blog, Riding the Horizon, I had missed him on his Alaska trip on a Ural but caught up later at the MOA rally in Salem, OR. Then again on another trip to Alaska with his sidecar camper. Here the sidecar camper is now paired with a real beast of a bike. A Triumph Rocket III. With an engine much larger than some cars. Ready for more adventures.

They took us to Julio’s Cantina, a fantastic Mexican restaurant in the area. The food, company, and margarita were fabulous. Thank you for dinner and the wonderful visit. I'm looking forward to the leftovers tomorrow!

Friday (Day 26)
 - Another Apple virtual award for the new year. I’m not sure why these things motivate me to exercise but I guess I’m glad they do. I need the exercise. Today’s walk was around the circumference of the RV park and added 2.5 miles to my monthly total. The Apple (for me) goal for January is 56.7 miles. I’ve got 17.6 miles to date.

I have another test session later this afternoon but did manage to snag a jacuzzi slot for 1:00. I’m looking forward to that as it is only getting up into the low 50s (°F) today. But it is sunny with blue skies. It’s going to be cooler temperatures through the beginning of next week.