"I've Been Everywhere, Man" Living the song on two wheels.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by swedstal, Jun 5, 2017.

  1. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    Wednesday, July 10th

    I made my way back into Ferriday to check off one attraction I had missed: The Delta Music Museum, which had been closed the previous day. It is housed in the old post office, a neat building.

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    The museum broadens its focus from the Ferriday area and features musicians from the whole Delta region. That said, Ferriday still accounts for a good number of them.

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    If you say “the cousins” to someone from Ferriday, they will naturally think of the three people in the picture above. I’ve already written about Jerry Lee Lewis (at the piano). The other two are Mickey Gilley (left) and Jimmy Swaggart (center). They are first cousins, all from Ferriday, all born within a six month span, all talented self-taught piano players.

    Gilley went more of the country music direction, scoring 17 number one hits. He also opened a successful honky tonk bar in Pasadena, Texas and now a theater in Branson, Missouri.

    Swaggart started from poor beginnings, preaching the gospel across rural Louisiana. He went on to become a successful televangelist. He had a prolific recording career, totaling over 50 gospel albums. In the 80s and 90s, he had a number of scandals and was ultimately defrocked (not nearly as fun as it sounds) by the Assemblies of God church.

    The lady who checked me in was helpful in so many different ways. She gave me a couple of souvenirs, a Delta Music Museum jar opener and a helpful list showing all seven wives of Jerry Lee Lewis. :hmmmmm

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    It was definitely worth sticking around an extra day to see this museum.

    I saw a couple more sites before deciding to roll out of town. I left with a really positive impression of Ferriday. I had numerous “I just want to shake your hand and tell you good luck,” interactions with the locals. I’m glad Ferriday found its way into my song.
    Mark Thom, DC950, SmilinJoe and 10 others like this.
  2. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Map for the coming days:

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    I was feeling a little “fuzzy,” for lack of a better term, this day. My focus was just off a bit. I took the wrong road out of Ferriday and ended up in Natchez, Mississippi. I dumped Annie over while making a U-turn in a hotel parking lot. I don’t think anyone saw, so it is OK.

    Finally back on the correct road, I was now passing through Louisiana plantation country.

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    I saw my first sugar cane since Brazil.

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    Around 2pm, I stopped near Baton Rouge and was tasked with a tough decision. My plan was to continue to Baton Rouge and then on to New Orleans. “Louisiana,” the state is one of the places mentioned in the song. Visiting these two noteworthy cities seemed like a requirement.

    However, Hurricane Barry was brewing in the gulf, threatening to hit New Orleans in less than two days. There was already flooding in NO due to all of the rain up-river, so I feared that I could end up stuck if I ventured on. Sadly, the timing just wasn’t right. I said goodbye to the Mississippi River and headed west.

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    Another sad part of this is that I was unable to visit Baton Rouge, home of the tallest state capitol in the US. Picture from my last visit in 2015:

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    (Quick side note: This is my missing Chiefs sweatshirt that may still be at the Hospedaje Centenario in Abancay, Peru… in case anyone is in the area.)

    Nebraska has the second tallest capitol building, which was completed around the same time. I suppose the thinking was that Louisiana’s would eventually sink enough to put Nebraska in the top spot. Accordingly, Nebraskans are obligated to place a few stones on the Louisiana capitol at each visit to hasten the process. I’ll have to place double the standard amount the next time I’m here.

    Best I could do this trip:

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    Though I was pretty bummed about Barry’s arrival (July hurricanes are very rare), he essentially solved a conundrum for me. I knew my picture to represent Louisiana should either be something in New Orleans or something swamp related. My goal for the rest of the day was to find a good swamp picture and get as far west as possible.

    I rode through the Atchafalaya Wildlife refuge and saw some nice sights, but there were not enough cypress trees.

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    I returned to I-10 and kept heading west. This road is so impressive to me. It is built right on the top of a marshy swamp and goes for dozens of miles up on stilts before it is back on solid ground. A road through the Darien Gap (to connect Panama to Colombia) is often talked about as if it is an impossibility. I think we just need to have some of these Cajun engineers geaux down there for a few months and they would get it built!
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  3. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

    Joined:
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    There was a visitor’s center for the Atchafalaya Basin, which was a gold mine of information. I told the lady at the desk about what I was looking for and she acted like she had people asking about how to get a swamp-themed motorcycle picture every day. She was great!

    At her instruction, I navigated down to Lake Martin. I knew immediately that I was in the right place.

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    The bald cypress trees! The Spanish moss! The random green things floating in the water! This is Louisiana!

    I found a little boardwalk out over the swamp on the south end. The cypress trees there were so beautiful, with lots of exposed “knees.” I went back and forth about whether I should try to push Annie out there. There was no space to turn around so I would have to back her the whole way. Moving around 650-ish pounds this way is always tricky and I’d already dropped her once this day, but I needed the picture. No one was around, so I jumped on it.



    Obviously, the video is sped up. It took about five minutes to get her in position. I had a couple of little bobbles, but I went slow and steady. In hindsight, I maybe shouldn’t have tried it, but can you argue with the results?

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    So swampy!

    Getting her off of the boardwalk probably took less than a minute. Going forward is a lot easier since you can push with both hands on the handlebars.

    There was a place for some boat tours and I overheard a family that had come from New Orleans that morning. They had had to wade out of their hotel in knee-high water that morning. I made the right decision.

    I explored the other end of the lake, even squeezing Annie onto a walking path.

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    There’s actually an alligator in the left side of the frame above.

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    The area seemed secluded enough and I thought about putting up my tent here. A couple of local guys came by and changed my mind. They said that it is nesting season for the gators. They are normally no risk to humans, but they can be unpredictable at these times. They also told me that there are lots of poisonous snakes around. I decided to pass on my swamp-side property.

    They recommended an area about twenty minutes away. I could tell a storm was coming so I rode as quickly as I (safely) could. Unfortunately, the area was a bust and I did not beat the rain. I ended up just throwing my tent up in a terrible spot, hardly hidden at all. Picture from the next morning.

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    I had a terrible night of sleep. This just happened to be one of the most dense mosquito areas I have been in, probably since northern British Columbia. No matter how carefully I exited the maroon cocoon, dozens got in each time. I spent so much time just hunting them down this night. Most of the time, I was too late.

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    The dense, humid air didn’t help matters either and what meager sleep I got came in short little spurts.



    But you know what….I got my Louisiana picture this day. That will be the enduring memory.



    Thursday, July 11th

    I hopped back on I-10 and continued west to the Texas border, only stopping for some coffee and some gas station fried okra.

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    I definitely wanted to do and see more in Louisiana, but the storm really left me no choice. Though I visited a good number of places in the state, I left with an incomplete feeling. Like MacArthur said, “I shall return, but definitely not in July next time.” …or something like that.

    I also missed out on meeting Louisiana's own @HPPants , who has been a wonderful supporter of this quality publication. I think he is still the only person who has contacted Honda on my behalf. I'm still waiting on the sponsorship check, but I'm sure it's in the mail. I'll meet up with you next time. Get the gumbo ready!

    14 to go!

    Keep shakin’, everybody

    BA
    Mark Thom, simbaboy, DC950 and 18 others like this.
  4. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    Realtime update: We are in Santa Fe! I haven’t done anything here yet as I wanted to make finishing this post the top priority. I’ll probably be here for two or three nights, then head north to our family reunion in Colorado. Stories of song places Houston and Amarillo are pending, along with some very special time in San Antonio. With each place, each mile, I’m getting more excited. Does anyone else feel it? We are so close!
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  5. derblauereiter

    derblauereiter Mostly made of cheese Supporter

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    This museum and the ladies who run it sound totally wild!
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  6. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

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    Location:
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    Allow me to suggest that when in Colorado for your reunion and to check off Grand Lake, be sure to ride Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mtn Nat Park and get some snow pictures. Trail ridge is the highest paved through road. And ride to the top of Mt Evans, the highest paved road in North America at over 14,200 ft. More snow pics
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  7. BarryB

    BarryB Been here awhile Supporter

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    Texas Hill Country
    I second both Trail Ridge and Mt Evans!
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  8. gianttrack

    gianttrack Adventurer

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    Estes Park, CO
    Brett, without knowing your schedule (or mine, to be honest), I really hope that I will be able to host you in Estes Park and escort you over both of those roads. Old Fall River Road is now open as well. It is the unpaved original route, now one way, east to west up to the Alpine Visitor Center in Rocky. If going over from Estes Park to Grand Lake, it is well worth it to take that road up and Trail Ridge Road down into GL. Then return by TRR. If coming over to Estes from Grand Lake, it is worth going back up Old Fall River Road for a completely different experience. Feel free to PM me if you would like a host/escort. In any case, enjoy the ride and thank you for taking us along!
    swedstal likes this.
  9. rhjiii46

    rhjiii46 Adventurer

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    Location:
    Rancho Cordova, CA
    I'd like to jump in here also, Brett. I'm not sure which, if any, city's you're going to visit are in the Sacramento, CA area but I'd like to offer bed and garage space for you.
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  10. HPPants

    HPPants Been here awhile

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    Dude - you were within 20 miles of me. And I was waist deep in Hurricane Barry crap for work. Darn it - that pisses me off. And I'm really wish you would have hollered - at minimum, you could have had a nice Air Conditioned bed and a decent meal.

    I hope I get another shot, and if I do, I won't pass it up.

    PS - I've got no word from Honda yet re: sponsorship. I've got my "manager's fee contract" drafted just in case! :imaposer
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  11. kkja13

    kkja13 Dodging cages

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    Tyler, TX
    It's been a few days? I hope Brett is OK? Has anyone heard from him?
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  12. interceptor1972

    interceptor1972 Been here awhile

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    Lawton, OK
    I think they're having a family reunion in Colorado. He got there a few days ago and will be back on the road soon
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  13. vt700guy

    vt700guy Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2017
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    NW Oklahoma
    He was with me Thursday and Friday night. I'm sure he's still just licking his wounds from the whoopin' I gave him in the go cart race. IMG_2646.jpg
  14. derblauereiter

    derblauereiter Mostly made of cheese Supporter

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    That kid’s not even driving :rofl
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  15. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    I think they were just making sure to sample all of the alcohol that came in before selling it.

    Yep. Got my eye on it. I hope to get pretty lost and take Annie to lots of places I shouldn't while I am in the state!

    That would be great! I've had contact with a lot of Colorado ADV'rs and I'll hopefully be able to organize something once I get my schedule pinned down. I've been relaxing pretty hard since I got here.

    Thank you so much! Could you send me a PM? I have an easier time organizing connections there. I am planning to visit Sacramento since there is a big Johnny Cash mural there. I would take any advice for the best place to photograph that from.

    I was under the impression that you were not even there. I definitely could have used some AC that night! I'll have my lawyers look over the contract and get back to you. :thumb

    This definitely looks photo-shopped...:hmmmmm
  16. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    Houston: The Least Worst Big City

    Our journey continues in place 79 of 92: Houston, Texas. We get adopted by a new family, Annie gets stoned, we turn our eyes to the stars and I celebrate my third birthday on the road.




    Thursday, July 11th, 2019

    Somewhere near Orange, Texas



    Texas!

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    I’d blasted through this state on the way down to Mexico and dipped my toe in its waters in Texarkana, but now I would be spending some quality time here. Song places Houston and Amaraillo are spread out in a way that meant I would be logging a decent amount of miles and time in the state.

    I began by spending about five hours in a library on the edge of Houston. It was here that I learned my first tough lesson about leaving Annie unattended in this state.

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    Rough place. :lol3

    Behind Salvador, Toronto and Chicago; Houston is the fourth largest city mentioned in the song. Big cities are always awkward with my method of travel. There’s nowhere to park, it’s harder to stealth camp, drivers are more rushed and it takes a long time to get between places. Fortunately, someone special was conspiring to remove the second barrier of that list.

    My sister, Elise, and her husband, Brad, have been recurring characters throughout this saga; always seeming to add some joy, love and most recently, a new nephew. Brad’s mom, Beverly, is originally from SE Texas and she has the accent to prove it. When she saw I was in her state, she made numerous calls to try to get me housed.

    I ended up being accepted in by an amazing lady named Pauline in Channelview. It turns out we are quite closely related. She was my sister’s husband’s mother’s mother’s brother’s wife. (SHMMBW, henceforth) My SHMMBW is definitely someone who puts the “grand” in “grandmother.” Just check her stats: 7 kids, 18 grandkids, 30 great grandkids, 3 great-great grandkids.

    Beyond this, I got the sense that she was deeply influential in the lives of her family members. She was the main parent for a number of her grandchildren and many have stayed beneath her roof when between places of their own. I guess I qualified!

    Pauline had pizza ready for me and I enjoyed getting to know her. A few other family members were around, including Jarod, one of the 18. We hit it off, just like I normally do with one of my sister’s husband’s mother’s mother’s brother’s wife’s grandsons (SHMMBWGs)

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    Interestingly, many of the family members still live within walking distance of Pauline’s house. Despite being in such a major metro area, this gave a really small town feel to where I was staying. People would just sort of come and go at her house and I started having a bit of a hard time remembering who was who. Perhaps with the size of the family, the others just assumed I was one of the members that they had forgotten. I was surely treated as such!
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  17. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    Friday, July 12th

    Yep. It was my birthday. Number 35. It was hard to believe that this was my third one on the road. Number 33 was in Trout Lake, Washington:

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    Number 34 was in Lençóis Paulista, Brazil:

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    …and now number 35 was at my SHMMBW’s house in Houston, Texas. As I said in my facebook post for the day, I really think that I am really becoming more like a fine wine: I’m extremely overvalued, only cultured people appreciate me and it is best to keep me secured in a dark cellar. :thumb

    Where my 36th birthday will take place? I’d like to see the Vegas odds on that! I sure as heck better be done with this trip by then!

    I would spend the first day of the second half of my 30s checking out Houston. I’d been given lots of good advice from my new family and felt fairly well prepared. I began with a ride on the Lynchburg Ferry, the oldest continually operating ferry in the US. The ferry took me across the Houston shipping channel to the La Porte area.

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    There are a couple of historic sites to see in this area. First is the USS Texas. This battleship served in both WWI and WWII. It was also the first battleship to become a permanent museum.

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  18. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

    Joined:
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    Up next was the San Jacinto monument.

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    This towering obelisk rises 567 feet (173m) into the air. The story goes that they were not allowed to build it taller than the Washington Monument in DC, so they stopped a few feet short. But later on, they added the unique, 34 foot tall star on the top which has five points from any viewing angle. That made this monument taller.

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    The battle of San Jacinto happened after the defeat at the Alamo. Texas was struggling for independence from Mexico at the time. Mexican general Santa Anna had been pursuing the remaining Texas forces, eventually catching up to them on this battlefield.

    In what must be one of the strangest military outcomes in history, the Texas forces were able to launch a sneak attack at around 4:30 in the afternoon. Did you catch that? 4:30 IN THE AFTERNOON! There is a joke about a Mexican siesta in here somewhere, but that may be in poor taste.

    It was just $6 to go to the top, a no-brainer even on my budget.

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    Annie’s trunk? Still visible:

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    The limestone is full of shell prints and other fossils. Each piece has its own personality.

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    To the west one can see an endless number of refineries. 14% of the US’s total oil processing takes place in this area:

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    General Sam Houston (above), the city’s namesake and leader of the Texas army, was wounded in the battle, his horse killed. I got a picture in this location too. This is another potential “Houston” image. Nobody took a shot a my steady steed, thankfully.

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    This battle was a true turning point in North American history. At the time, Mexico stretched from Louisiana, through Colorado and California, all the way up to Oregon. Had this battle gone differently, our present-day borders might look much different.

    As well as being the birthplace of Texas as an independent republic, it seems like this was maybe where the “Texas attitude” was born as well. You can hear the tone in some of the words inscribed into stone:

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  19. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    I rode on to the Johnson Space Center. I was kind of on the fence about whether I would visit, as the entrance fee was $30. When I saw that it was an additional $5 for parking, I decided to pass.

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    I headed downtown and went to a visitor’s center. It was one of those “for profit” VCs and the guy there wasn’t much help. I walked around downtown a little bit. I’m really not sure what to say about it, as I’ve realized that I am perhaps the least qualified individual to discern what makes a big city unique. They all feel the same to me. It is so much easier for me to see what makes a place like Jellico or Oskaloosa or Gravelbourg or Diamantina special.

    There is a nice green space which runs through the city, the Buffalo Bayou. There are lots of nice trails and definitely makes the towering buildings feel less oppressive.

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    While riding around downtown, I had a special experience. A lady pulled up next to me and said that she recognized me from online. I was a bit unsure whether that was due to this quality publication, or if it was because of my time as a feature model on EpicSwedishNoses.com; but it appeared to be the former. Her name was Autumn and we shouted a few conversations at the subsequent stoplights. The main thing she stressed was that the Space Center was a must visit. I said that my budget was pretty tight, but that I might think about visiting the next day.

    Normally I don’t have too many meaningful interactions with strangers in the bigger cities, but Houston was an exception. There were so many during this day that I can scarcely include them all. There was a groundskeeper who had randomly visited Manaus (the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas), a friendly guy who almost got me into the Bell helicopter plant in Amarillo, and a handful of others who were both enthusiastic and helpful.

    I saw just a few more sites before heading back to my hosts. Minute Maid Park, home of the Astros (who are apparently good now?).

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    Main street:

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    This mural:

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    I headed back to Channelview, feeling like I’d had a productive day. Jarod had invited to take me out for my birthday. He and his husband Brian (my SHMMBWGsH) took me to a nice Mexican restaurant called Ninfa’s.

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    These guys were so much fun and could almost match my lofty level of weirdness. Brian is a mechanic who has a collection of over 500 pairs of basketball shorts. He was in full approval of me using diesel oil in Annie. Jarod is a special ed teacher. If you give him a number between 1 and 45 he can tell you the president’s full name, vice president(s), where they were born, died and buried…maybe even their shoe size (I didn’t ask that).

    At the beginning of my trip, I didn’t imagine I would be celebrating my 35th birthday with my SHMMBWGs and my SHMMBWGsH, but they made me feel so welcome. Just like the previous two, I’ll always remember this birthday dinner.
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  20. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    Saturday July 13th

    I intended to get an early start, but I was pleasantly delayed as more family members kept showing up.

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    We took care of some signatures and got Houston crossed off of my sign.

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    I also had the opportunity to ride a Hyabusa instead of Annie for the rest of my trip. I decided to stick with my trusty transport. :-)

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    My ridiculous acronyms for my new family members were partially a feeble attempt at humor, but they were also an attempt to highlight their generosity. They had no obligation to take me in and care for me like they did. I know that wherever my future adventures will take me, I will always have a home in Channelview, Texas.



    The previous evening I received an email from Autumn, the nice lady I’d had a stoplight conversation with the previous day. She said that she would like to pay for my entrance to the Space Center, as it was an essential Houston experience. I declined her offer, but it was enough to convince me that I really should visit the Space Center…budget be darned! When they waved me through at the gate without paying for parking, I knew I was going to enjoy my visit.

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    The fuel injector for a rocket:

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    Probably the highlight for me was a talk given by astronaut Ken Cameron. He flew three missions to space. He had been a fighter pilot and learned Russian during the Cold War in an attempt to get an advantage on Soviet MiG pilots in potential skirmishes.

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    Ultimately, these skills were used for collaboration rather than combat. He was the first person to dock an American shuttle with the Soviet space station Mir, an important achievement both scientifically and politically. His story of bringing the Russians a bunch of ice cream was especially entertaining.

    Control panel of a space shuttle:

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    Space toilet:

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    This is a special year, as it marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. How they were able to do this with such rudimentary technology remains an astounding feat.

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    It’s pretty rare that I feel like my timing, weather-wise, is spot on. In this case, I could see rains from Barry in the distance as I was finishing up my tour.

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