Monday, July 4, 2011

Florida, I'm Back!

The long road trip from Indiana to Florida started on Sunday. After spending way too many hours in a car, we arrived today, July 4 at our destination at a hotel very near the Kennedy Space Center. I reminded my boys that unlike on our car ride to Florida that when the astronauts went to the moon they traveled in a capsule smaller than our car, and they couldn't even get out to stretch their legs until they reached their destination on the moon.

The road trip was a bit of deja vu as we (my boyfriend and kids) had spent a family vacation in Florida last year in July visiting the Universal Studies theme park and the new Harry Potter attractions. We drove last year, my first time driving to Florida. It was a long drive then too. And it was very hot at the theme parks. The running joke last year was that we wouldn't vacation on the sun again next summer. And by vacation on the sun we meant anywhere that gets very hot in July, like Florida.

I really don't mind the heat, but I seem to be the only one in the family. We also agreed that the drive to Florida was too long so we would never do that again and instead fly when coming back to Florida again (preferably in a cooler month.)

Well never say never...Against pretty high odds, I was selected for this amazing NASA Tweetup experience, and so here we are again. And with the excitement of this adventure in front of me, the drive didn't seem quite so long this time. Plus, driving sure beats the price of trying to fly four people to Florida and back! Seeing the last shuttle launch and this NASA tweetup experience is priceless...however paying to get here and stay here is quickly becoming very expensive.

It is good to be back in Florida though. I really love the weather here (again, I don't mind the heat, and I love the water, sand, and palm trees.) I'm also glad that the boys will get to experience the Kennedy Space Center again. I took them to KSC for the first time five years ago (my first trip there too.) It was Florida in June that time, and we got to see a shuttle on the launch pad which was really cool...but we weren't around for the launch.

Before I was selected for the tweetup, we had planned a vacation this summer to stay in northern Michigan on a lake. I'm glad we still have that relaxacation coming up because I will probably need another vacation just to relax after all of the excitement of this one! We got our itinerary of events from NASA today, and it is packed full of wonderful experiences and events.

Here is a brief overview of the itinerary that NASA sent us today:

Thursday, July 7/L-1: Tweetup Day 1
10:30 a.m. – Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters (NASA TV starts
10:50 a.m. – Elmo, Sesame Street (@SesameStreet) interacts with STS-109 and STS-125 Astronaut Mike Massimino (@Astro_Mike)
11:10 a.m. – Massimino answers questions from the tweetup participants
11:30 a.m. – Tracy Thumm (@ISS_Research) and Justin Kuglerm (@ISS_NatLab), International Space Station Program, NASA's Johnson Space Center
11:50 a.m. – Angie Brewer, space shuttle Atlantis' flow director, Kennedy Space Center
1:15 p.m. – Board buses for Launch Pad 39A to view the retraction of the Rotating Service Structure at 2 p.m.
3:15 p.m. – Tour of NASA's Kennedy Space Center, including visits to the Apollo Saturn V Center and the Vehicle Assembly Building and a drive by the Launch Control Center, Mobile Launch Platform and Orbiter Processing Facility.

Friday, July 8/ Launch: Tweetup Day 2
6:30 a.m. – Robotic Refueling Mission demonstration
7:00 a.m. – Group picture beside the countdown clock
7:05 a.m. – Astronaut Tony Antonelli, STS-119, STS-132
7:40 a.m. – Tweetup wave to the crew as they drive by in the astrovan on their way to the launch pad
8:00 a.m. – Bob Crippen, STS-1, STS-7, STS-41C, STS-41G
8:30 a.m. – Lt. Col. Patrick Barrett, 45th Weather Squadron, U.S. Air Force
11:26 a.m. – Launch of space shuttle Atlantis on the STS-135 mission

I'll make sure to document and post as much as can of this amazing week to share with everyone on this blog as well as Twitter and Facebook. Stay tuned...

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