Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Guy Who Came in from the Cold

Once again I will be heading south to work, but not THAT far south.  I have actually accepted an actual offer for an aerospace-related position in Houston, TX.  I will work at National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Johnson Space Center (JSC) in mission control as a Visiting Vehicle Officer (VVO), supporting flights to and from the International Space Station (ISS).  I will not start until later next month, but am already in the thick of doing hiring paperwork, background check data collection (daunting), and the usual interstate relocation song and dance.  It feels great to have gotten this opportunity at long last, and I look forward to much learning and professional development in years to come.  A door has certainly opened at an opportune time.
“Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks, and the setting sun with the last light of Durin’s Day will shine upon the key-hole.”
~J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Hobbit”

Monday, August 19, 2013

Northward, ho the wagons!

I had a nice little road trip and visit to Omaha, Nebraska last week.  It was a new destination for me, and having some local friends from the Ice to see the sights with was certainly fun.

The first big destination was the Strategic Air and Space Museum, which had many remarkable vehicles on display.  Getting to see a B-29, let alone go in the cockpit of a B-36 was pretty novel.

Downtown Omaha with its NPS visitor’s center for the Lewis and Clark Trail, multiple monuments to organized labor, relatively new pedestrian bridge over the Missouri River, and proximity to my most newly visited state of the Union (Iowa) was a fun outing for day two.

The last day there we went to the really big and excellent zoo.  I didn’t really photograph anything there, but really enjoyed the day.  Animals of note for me were a giant Japanese salamander (head the size of a large cantaloupe), sleepy aardvarks, snow leopards, and pygmy hippopotami.

The drive to and from was nice as well.  We visited the Atomic Cannon above I-70 at Fort Riley, the Pony Express barn (last home station in existence) in Marysville, and the Homestead National Monument of America near Beatrice (that’s pronounced be-AT-tris, FYI) on the way up.  On the way back we had lunch in the oldest restaurant west of the Mississippi (Hays House in Council Grove), visited the verdant National Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, and watched muddy flood waters of the Cottonwood River at Cottonwood Falls.

“The slow cavalcade of horsemen armed to the teeth has disappeared before parlor cars and the effeminate comforts of modern travel.”
~Francis Parkman, “The Oregon Trail”