After a long drive we are getting disciplined about taking a day or two to recoup and explore the new campground.
The last drive again wasn’t the easiest. Roads were under construction in a couple of spots and there was a pretty heavy cross wind for the first half of the 4 hours that made me feel as though I was pulling a sailboat.
One positive note is that one of my favorite craft beers was born in Texas (introduce to me by my good friend Josh) and is distributed pretty heavily here – Shiner Bock. So I picked up a sixer at the Shell station when we stopped. Score.
After seeing it, I knew I’d enjoy a cold one after this drive.
Missed a turn that added 20 minutes to the trip but it was a beautiful drive into Hill Country Texas.
Today was a great day. We spent most of it with our good friends Taylor, Elexis, and their kids Bentley, Nash and McKenzie.
Jimmy Buffett just renovated a resort on lake Conroe to turn it into a Margaritaville and the kids spent the day in the lazy River and splash pad, followed by a chicken wing dinner at one of their favorite places.
It is always good to have great company – especially after a year of seclusion with COVID.
The best part is that the kids picked up as if they never skipped a beat (it’s been 4 years).
Then someone started talking about food so we went and got some wings.
We want to do something fun at each of our main stops. Since we are space nerds, Space Center Houston and Johnson Space Center was a natural “must do.”
The highlights from the visit were the following
747 and Shuttle
We got to go inside of both. This was sweet as Kris and I are children of the Shuttle era.
We drove past Mission control and all of the astronaut training facilities. The inside tour isn’t open due to COVID.
Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility
They did recently reopen tours of the Space Vehicle Mock-up Building. This is where they have all of the modules for the space vehicles and ISS. Astronauts have to train in this building for 2 years to learn how to use all of the controls.
It was cool to see people actively working in here. Also it was a great blend of old and new equipment such as new rovers and drones they are building for Mars.
We got to see the start of the future moon space station, the space center where they will send astronauts to stay before they go further in space.
Plus we got to see the current modules that make up the International Space Station.
This was pretty fantastic.
Drove past building 17 where the Orion project is being coordinated. This is the program that will begin once the current program ends in 2024.
Virtual reality mission
This was a quick virtual reality ride of sorts that mimicked being in space.
Saturn V and Rocket Park
This was a really cool display of the Saturn V rocket and it’s predecessors.
Space X Rocket
This was recently donated by Elon Musk. When NASA mentioned that they wanted to pressure wash it, Musk told them “absolutely not.” That it was part of its character and if they were going to do that he was going to take it back.
You gotta love his eccentricities. I agree. It looks better with the flame marks.
The kids also learned that at the international space center, astronauts recycle all water including urine.
That’s right, they drink their own pee. That is all folks.
We finally arrived to our destination outside of Houston TX. The drive was long must mostly easy until the last day. From Lafayette, LA the roads and traffic were bad so it made for some focused driving and not much cruise control.
Two funny stories:
We thought we were home clear of the bad roads once we entered Texas from Louisiana. We were wrong!
Just after the welcome center the road was under construction and wow … we hit a dip without any warning! For a moment we felt like the Dukes of Hazard catching some air – or at a minimum maxed out our shock springs.
Thankfully we were all were if our seatbelts so we didn’t hit our heads on the ceiling of the cab.
I think we scared Low Rider though (he definitely got some air).
We joked the rest of the way about our things in the camper being smashed against the ceiling like “who left the knives in the ceiling?” and “how did the jelly smash against the roof?”
Sure enough, when we arrived, everything was everywhere (although no colored pencils were stuck in the ceiling).
Avoid toll roads
Second story: I guess we didn’t turn on the “avoid toll roads” feature on our GPS. So in busy downtown Houston, the GPS nautically took us on a long and very nice toll road in order to avoid traffic.
That’s great except that we discovered that our toll pass doesn’t work in Texas.
Of course, there were signs the entire way that remind me that toll “violators will be prosecuted.”
By the time we realized we were on it, it was too late to get off.
That is the last thing you want to think about is being in a Texas state prison after a long few days of travel.
Luckily, I found that they have a free get out of jail free card once every 365 days. I quickly created a Texas toll account to avoid this.
Anyway, after traveling the last few days we just wanted to take a couple of days to rest and let the kids play. So that is what we did.
Today was a long day of driving today since we left late yesterday, and wanted to keep our initial check in day at our first campground in Conroe, TX.
We stopped at another Cracker Barrel (how awesome is that) but this time in Lafayette, LA.
We are really looking forward to our first campground tomorrow primarily because we’ll get to visit our good friends who moved there a few years ago. We haven’t seen them since 2018 and our daughter only vaguely remembers them (she was 3-4 years old at the time). Our son remembers their oldest whom he was friends with.
It will be good to visit with them and their kids. Plus it will be good to park it for a few days and not drive.