Space, Lemons and Lemonade

So. Houston doesn’t get one of the real space shuttles. Fine.  As a friend with ties to NASA says, “What would you expect from people who can’t even get our most famous quotation right?” 

Of course she’s talking about the film Apollo 13 and the transformation of astronaut Jack Swigert’s, “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here” into “Houston, we have a problem”.  The film makers had their reasons for the change, and it certainly didn’t detract from the film or from the space program. Still, a lot of things have been irritating folks since the announcement that Johnson Space Center will be home not to Discovery, Enterprise, Endeavour or Atlantis, but to Explorer, a shuttle replica built with a high percentage of plywood.

Be that as it may, communities surrounding Johnson Space Center have unbreakable ties with NASA. We continue to embody the spirit that enlivened our nation’s space program and we certainly know how to party. This weekend was party-time in Houston, as the city engaged in “Shuttlebration”, a city-wide tribute to the role of space exploration in our lives.

From the early pleasure of sitting in the morning shade, anticipating our shuttle’s arrival at the Kemah-Seabrook bridge, to the delight of the evening’s fireworks display, the first day of Shuttlebration was marvelous fun.  At Seabrook Shipyard, the parking lot began to fill in the mid-morning hours, long before Explorer was scheduled to arrive.  Across the channel, the crowd was increasing just as quickly. By noon, it felt like any other holiday, with plenty of eating and drinking, a little swimming in the Portofino pool, good music and lots of NASA gossip.

There was more than a touch of patriotic fervor, as well. As flags began to fly everywhere – from lawn chairs, flagstaffs, children’s hands and boat rigging – it could have been mistaken for the 4th of July.

As always happens on a holiday, the crowds on the water soon became as large as those on land. Law enforcement was everywhere, keeping an eye on speeders, inattentive boaters who weren’t keeping to the correct side of the channel and the occasional hotshot who thought he just might test the limits by making a run under the bridge.

Despite the party-like atmosphere, there was a real security operation taking place, and everyone was there – fire boats, sheriffs, police, towing services, the constabulary and the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Even the game wardens and the Texas Highway Patrol came to the party. Who knew the Highway Patrol had boats?

It probably was a good thing for the gendarmes to be out in force. No one wanted anything to happen to the hordes of gathered people, our beloved bridge or even our faux plywood shuttle, and you just never know. If you looked around and allowed yourself to indulge in a little paranoia, you could imagine threats everywhere – can you find some in these photos?

Eventually, the gossip and laughter died away as we got our first hint that Explorer was nearing the bridge. All traffic was stopped, both on the bridge and on the water. A small flotilla of security boats and a large Coast Guard helicopter cleared the channel in front of us, allowing free passage for the barge. Here and there, people commented on the sudden resemblance to 9/11, when all air and sea traffic was stopped and the waterways became so terribly silent.

But this was a day of celebration, and the biggest question remaining was whether the shuttle would make it under the bridge. It had been riding high in the water, but a combination of low tide and purposefully flooded compartments in the barge made passage possible. Accompanied by a buzzing cloud of security and television helicopters, it made its slow way  under the bridge and into the channel that would take it to Clear Lake.

When the shuttle finally reached the Lake about an hour later, some of the first people to greet her were the girls we’d nicknamed “Wynken, Blynken and Nod”. They knew how to paddle, and seemed to be having a marvelous time. They thought they might go over and volunteer to take the shuttle the rest of the way home but, not wanting to shame the slow-moving tugs, they decided to hover at the periphery and watch with the rest of us.

Explorer’s arrival in Clear Lake was somehow both theatrical and old-fashioned, a combination of community theatre and family reunion.  I’m sure the other shuttles will have fine receptions with great speeches and polished presentations. Certainly the folks at the Kennedy Space Center have their own attachment to the shuttle program, and feel some of the same affection for its equipment. Still, there’s something to be said for a red carpet made of red-painted plywood, and that’s what our plywood shuttle mockup had waiting for it – one of the best red carpets in the world.

Before it could take to the red carpet, however, it had to get to its berth at the Hilton. For that to happen, the tugs that had been guiding it had to give up their responsibility and allow smaller push-boats to guide it through the shallow lake. The whole process of switching took only ten minutes to complete, and didn’t even disturb the boy fishing off the back of his dad or grand-dad’s boat.

Once the switch was complete, the tugs headed off to wherever happy tugs go at the end of their day, and the flotilla that had accompanied Explorer began milling about, heading off to their docks or back down the channel for a little more fun on the water. With the first half of her journey nearly complete, our little shuttle seemed more than ready to dock and rest a bit before being loaded onto her land transport vehicle for the final leg of her trip to Johnson Space Center.

Things never go exactly as planned, of course. Early this morning someone discovered the careful measurements that had been taken were “off” just a tad, and the shuttle’s move across Nasa Parkway to the Johnson Space Center ended up involving the dismantling and reassembly of a few light poles along the way.

But never mind those troublesome details. When you get right down to it, we probably expected them. I wouldn’t even be surprised to know someone ended up saying, “Houston, we have a problem” in the middle of the transfer.  But in the end, the challenges were met, the problems were solved, and Explorer is home.  That’s just the way it should be, and that’s worth a weekend’s celebration.


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Published in: on June 3, 2012 at 8:54 pm  Comments (54)  
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  1. So interesting!

    • Julie,

      It’s been very interesting to live and work around the Space Center. We don’t have the launches that folks in Florida and California get to experience, but that makes the hard work – and the fun – of space no less real!

      Linda

  2. Philistine that I am, I have to say that the original line, “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here,” seems dramatic enough to me, and it has the minor little virtue of being true. If I’d been the filmmakers, I’d never have changed the wording. But then I’m never going to be a filmmaker, nor will Hollywood ever ask my opinion about any of its creations.

    • Steve,

      That “minor little virtue” you mention lies near the heart of the offense taken over Explorer coming to Houston. The people at JSC who were responsible for helping to make the shuttle program work simply wanted a real shuttle – one that had flown, one they had tracked in the course of their work.

      On the other hand, we may have the last laugh. When the display is completed, people will be able to explore the inside of the shuttle as well as look at the outside. Kids of all ages surely will enjoy that, and Explorer may turn out to be the most “alive” of all the shuttles.

      Linda

  3. It’s good to see the Explorer welcomed back home, but personally, my flag would have been flown at half-mast.

    • montucky,

      An understandable response. The hollowing out of the space program and the politics involved haven’t been inspirational, to say the least. But this weekend my sense of things was that the people involved wanted it to be a celebration of NASA as a whole and the people of JSC particularly.

      There was a lot of remembering going on. Some of us even remember the Mercury flights of the early 60’s, the chimps who made those suborbital flights and the excitement of watching such a thing on television. There have been successes and terrible failures since then, but the one constant has been the people who’ve made it possible. I suspect that’s who all the flags were flying for.

      Linda

  4. I was surprised that Houston would not get one of the real things after all the hard work that was accomplished there. But nobody said the world was rational or perfect.

    Your pictures were awesome and the underlying narration of the event was detailed and colorful.

    Apollo 13 is one of my favorite movies. I recently viewed it again, maybe for the fourth of fifth time. How those guys made it back to Earth alive is absolutely unbelievable.

    Thank you Linda for this great post.

    Omar.-

    • Omar,

      Like every human endeavor, the space program’s been filled with bureaucratic wrangling, imperfect people, wrong-headed decision making and lack of vision. Still, the achievements – including Apollo 13 – have been remarkable.

      Very soon after I moved into the Clear Lake area, I went to the grocery store and discovered myself standing in line behind a fellow wearing a JSC badge around his neck. I’d never considered the possibility that my neighbors might be making those birds fly!
      As time went on, I met more and more ordinary people doing those extraordinary things – and I hope they have even more opportunities in the future.

      Linda

  5. Well, I had no idea this major event was going on in your neck of the woods! I love your pics of the shuttle being shuttled in.

    And the threats? The only obvious ones that jump out at me might be overloaded boats and kids without life jackets. Not sure the age of those girls, but my guess is in all that motor boat traffic, they should have been wearing them, no matter how old they were. If they were life-jacket age, I’m surprised they didn’t get some kind of warning or ticket from one of those enforcement agencies! Or did they? And what about the pontoon boat? Was it overloaded? Okay, now, tell me the threats you saw!!!

    • Wendy,

      Oh, my gosh! I forgot I had at least one Captain out there who might take me seriously! There might have been a few life jacket infractions floating around, but threats? I didn’t see a single one. That was the point of the photos – serious threats from the kayakers and canoers are a bit like the airport threats posed by wheelchair-bound grannies and toddlers. They’re possible, but seriously improbable.

      People around here are pretty good about having life jackets available even if they’re not wearing them. And that pontoon boat cruised right past the CG Auxiliary and waved and chatted, so I would guess they were fine. The only obvious infractions I saw were the law enforcement boats that were seriously over the speed limit. A lot of people along the bank had a lot of fun yelling, “No wake zone! NO WAKE!”

      Linda

      • Ha ha, yelling NO WAKE at the law enforcement boats! I thought your question was like a Where’s Waldo question, lol! Sorry I took it literally, but as a captain, I certainly didn’t want to fail your test : )

  6. I can just imagine how exciting that would have been, Linda! Enough excitement to last many years of celebration. You’d think you’d get more than something made out of plywood, however. That would be a tough pill to swallow, for sure!

    • Ginnie,

      It was exciting, and it was a lot of fun. Even people who couldn’t get out to the water to see the real thing had fun, as this video proves. Where else can you see the “Historic video capture of the transfer of the miniature lego shuttle from one office to the next”?

      Were Houstonians going to sit in a corner and suck their collective thumbs while pondering the unfairness of the universe? To quote our favorite Senator, Charles Schumer, “Fugetaboutit!”

      Linda

  7. “In space no one can hear you scream.” Except for the folks at JSC who, unknown and unheralded, guided so many rockets, lunar landing modules, and shuttles through the stuff of science-fiction. They used real science. They deserve a real shuttle.

    Still, how exciting! And if the kids can actually climb around inside your model, how thrilling for them–and their parents.

    • ds,

      “Unknown and unheralded”, indeed. The astronauts and a few commentators are the public face of NASA for most people, but there are uncounted numbers working for companies and contractors who support NASA and related programs.

      One of the most interesting to me is Oceaneering. I bumped up against them during the BP oil spill – they build the wonderful ROVs, or remotely-operated vehicles, that helped bring us video footage of all that undersea activity. But they’re also deeply involved in space projects – if you’re interested, you can take a glance at the menu on the left side of this page for an overview. I drive by their building frequently, but didn’t know for years that they’re part of the space program. Now, it makes sense. There are many similarities between working in deep space and working in the deeps!

      Thanks for stopping by – good to see you. I’ve noticed that most people involved in the MC read-a-long are around less frequently. From the reviews I’ve read, I can understand why!

      Linda

      As

  8. As an aviation enthusiast in addition to my many hobbies, I really enjoyed this blog! I was pretty disappointed to find out JSC was not going to get a shuttle that had actually left Earth’s grip, but at least we get the next best thing! Great pictures and great account. I was out of town or I would’ve been there myself. Thanks for sharing!

    -Larry

    • Larry,

      It was a fine day – you would have enjoyed it. There was a little grousing here and there, but every time I heard someone start with the “It’s just not fair” business, there was someone else close by to say, “Hey! Put a sock in it. This is party time!”

      The first photos were taken from Portofino. The lake photos were taken from some accessible land that’s a little off the beaten track but that directly fronts the south side of the lake.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post – thanks for stopping by, and for the comment. You’re always welcome!

      Linda

  9. Oh, this sounds like a wonderful way to spend a weekend! Probably something you’ll never forget, I’d guess. I loved your description and photos, especially the connection to that favorite quote.

    PS: You were one of the Frozen Planet winners! So shoot me your mailing address via email and I’ll send a bit of awe-inspiring-chill down to sunny TX. :)

    • Emily,

      It was a great weekend in the neighborhood. And “neighborhood” is the right word – once the shuttle got to its dock at the Hilton and was being prepared for the move across the road to Johnson Space Center, it felt rather like a big block party. Lots of kids were there, which is always good. ;)

      I can’t believe I’m one of your winners! What a thrill! I’ll send along my address and look forward to receiving it. It’s so beastly hot down here already a little coolth of any sort is more than welcome – I’ll look forward to seeing it. Thanks so much!

      Linda

  10. Big weekend on the water, your way and on the Thames! Enjoyed particularly Winken, Blinken and Nod paddling away, having such great fun. Reminded me of the inclusion of Dunkirk’s “Little Boats” reported on across the Atlantic. I think you’re right, that your wooden replica may end up being the most “alive” of the the shuttles.

    • Susan,

      Wasn’t the River Pageant wonderful? I kept looking at the varnish on the Royal Barge, thinking, “I’ll bet they don’t do that out in the pollen, humidity and wind!” There was so much to enjoy, from the kayakers to the gondoliers to the Maoris. It was just splendid – I was working at the computer and kept the BBC on for most of it.

      i’ve been pondering the events today, and realized the word I’d use to describe both is “nice”. That poor word and the quality it represents gets a bit of a bad rap these days, but I like nice people, and nice events. Our Shuttlebration and the Queen’s Jubilee both qualify!

      I never imagined when I watched the coronation on our new television so many decades ago I’d be watching her Diamond Jubilee on something called a computer!

      Linda

      • I only caught a glimpse, in some still photos (my mother keeps me informed!), but there is something about all those boats on the water that’s quite magical. Got quite a chuckle out of your speculation about the varnish–they don’t call you varnish gal for nuthin’!

  11. I remember the Mercury astronauts quite well, in fact. I had my wisdom teeth extracted the day John Glenn went up for three orbits. I had it done in a hospital and after the initial premedication had already been given, my surgery was delayed. Being pretty well sedated added an aura of surreality to the proceedings I watched on the TV in my room.

    • WOL,

      I remember that same air of surrealism during the moon landing. At one point, I walked outdoors and looked up at the moon, trying to get my mind around this new reality – that humans were there, looking back at us. It was hard to imagine – perhaps the reason some people still remain convinced it all happened on a Hollywood set.

      Now that imagination and dedication seem slightly less obvious in our governmental agencies, it’s interesting to see that a Dutch company is vowing to colonize Mars in the most out-of-this-world reality show yet. Of course it isn’t possible, any more than sending men to the moon would be.

      Oh. Wait….

      Linda

  12. I think your plywood shuttle looks pretty darn good, and don’t you love how we celebrate? It’s just so… American!

    • Bella,

      I drove past Johnson Space Center this afternoon, and saw the shuttle in its new resting place. It looks wonderful – surrounded by big live oaks, and beautifully green grass.I don’t know if it’s staying in exactly that spot – I doubt it – but for the time being it looks very happy.

      I swear – it was a Norman Rockwell kind of day. The funniest incident involved a guy grousing about the tax dollars being spent to shuttle around all these shuttles. One of his beer-drinking friends gave him a look and said, “Oh, hush.”

      I thought my grandmother’d shown up at the party.

      Linda

  13. Outstanding post – you really captured it!

    Did you see them trying to ‘bend” the palms along NASA Rd 1? And they were banking the shuttle over some of the oaks! Just the engineering involved is fascinating. (but glad traffic is back to normal). History lives here. Still, welcome little lawn decoration!

    OK to put link to this on a post about Enterprise’s eventful trip to NJ (and Explorer’s just a little)?

    • phil,

      I captured it, all right. It took three tries to get the grass stains out of my shorts. That shot of Winken, Blinken and Nod was worth it, though.

      The best surprise of the day was the fireworks display. I’d forgotten about that, and of course I had a perfect view from my place. It was fun to see – Tilman F. had to be in charge of that. It was his style.

      Sure, you can add a link. We might as well share the fun. Speaking of which – someone even caught the fireworks for us!

      Linda

      • Cool! (really fighting the mosquito bites here – there’s a small window during the day none of them bite)

  14. Celebrations like this make me swell up with patriotic fervor – and that takes a lot for me these days!

    P.S. Love the mini shuttle celebration :)

    • Bug,

      Just to add to the fun, you can watch the fireworks up above, too!

      I think there are a lot of people who are looking for an opportunity to affirm their love and pride in the country – and its people – without someone putting them down for it. This was a great chance, and a whole lot of people took advantage of it.

      Isn’t that lego shuttle great? One of my friends went to a party where there was a shuttle-shaped cake and a meringue moon. She said her husband gave her the business about the moon, since the shuttles never went there, but she said she felt like taking some culinary license. ;)

      Linda

  15. Linda, We feel no less let down here in Huntsville, AL about the NASA programs and cutbacks. The NASA programs and the Redstone Arsenal have been this area’s bread and butter since the end of WWII, when Wernher von Braun came to stay. So much pride and history making ventures have taken place both in Houston and here. And now our government has just cast it aside as useless and unmerited for funding. I think it is sad.

    You mentioned the 60’s and I remember standing in the living room with my grandfather watching Armstrong take his first step. Grandpa turned to me and he was crying! He said, “I never thought I would live to see the day that a man would walk on the moon!”

    I am also glad that my Mother-in-Law is no longer here to see what has happened to our space program. She was from Wapakoneta, OH and learned to fly an airplane at the “Wapak” airport. Doesn’t seem like much does it? Well, she happened to have taken those lessons with Neil Armstrong, and there is a “graduation” photo of her and the rest of the “Wapak Gang.” She was the only woman in the group, and the back was signed by Neil after he came back home (my sister-in-law has the original now). She was always interested in the program and proud to have known Neil Armstrong.

    I have to say that when I saw the news about your getting the replica shuttle I was shocked! I didn’t even know a replica existed. I makes no sense to me that Houston shouldn’t have received the real thing. That said, we do have a retired Shuttle here at the Space Camp/Space museum. It is mounted on pedestals and you can’t go inside. So I guess a viewable, touchable replica is a lot more interesting for visitors. Yes? ~ Lynda

    • Lynda,

      Can you see me exercising all my self-control to stay away from the political aspects of the selection process? Good. Then I don’t need to say any more. ;)

      That’s quite a tale about your MIL. I think there’s a fascination with the astronauts – not only the going into space, but the motivation to do so, and the effect of the experience on them as men. A couple of years ago – maybe 2009, actually – there was an exhibit celebrating the 40th anniversary at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. Alan Bean’s work was exhibited – I think you’d enjoy the three-part interview with him on youtube. Here’s one to get you started.

      I do hope for continued success for the private initiatives. The success of the SpaceX Dragon resupply mission is a hopeful sign. In the end, it may by that public/private initiatives will do a fine job of moving us into the future.

      I’ve never been to Huntsville or the Rocket Center. I’ve got it in mind that I have to go back to Oxford, MS – it wouldn’t be much of a side trip from there.

      Linda

  16. Thank you, enjoyed that.

    • burstmode,

      I’m glad you enjoyed it. It was a great day for kids – of all ages!

      Linda

  17. I remember the day “we” walked on the moon. I was entranced and have been ever since, thrilled each time we went into space, and horrified by the loss of life when it occurred. The risks of exploration and exploring brave new worlds…isn’t that what Captain Kirk was all about?

    However, I have a nephew who is a conspiracy theorist who scoffs at the idea that we actually walked on the moon, thinking it was staged. I think, poor him for such a lack of imagination. And now, as you pointed out, there are more than a few politicians who lack imagination and vision.
    Loved your account and photos of the shuttle’s homecoming; even if it is made of plywood, it’s beautiful.

    • Martha,

      Sometimes it’s very hard for me not to draw a direct line between the insistence on bicycle helmets and the dying away of the space program. We’re living in an increasingly risk-averse society – not precisely an environment conducive to the nourishment of grand visions and grand accomplishments.

      Beyond that, what I’ve read and what little I know first-hand suggests there weren’t many participation trophies being given out in the astronaut training program. There was competition for a place on those missions, and the competition helped to ensure winners who were capable of dealing with whatever came their way.

      Of course there were problems – that O-ring, for example. Bureaucracies are what they are, and a willingness to turn away from warnings, to roll the dice, is common human behavior. Still, as Alan Kay once said, “If you don’t fail at least 90 percent of the time, you’re not aiming high enough.”

      And yes – our shuttle is beautiful. It’s especially lovely now that it’s snuggled down into its new home, surrounded by trees and grass. I’m sure it will move soon, or be shrouded to be protected from the rain, but whatever they do, I suspect it will be first class, in a down-home, Texas kind of way.

      Linda

  18. My late uncle would have thoroughly enjoyed this. He used to work for Johnson Space Center back in the 60s and early 70s. In what capacity, I don’t recall. All I remember as a kid was visiting my uncle and aunt and how that part of Texas sure seemed different from where I lived in Texas. A child’s memory and toggled reading this post. :) You know what, I would just love to have a Texas flag to fly with a Kansas flag. Native with adopted, respectfully, and flag flapping happy.

    That must have been a sight watching the shuttle making the bridge and coming in. Enjoyed the delightful post and photos! :)

    • Anna,

      You mentioned one thing I love about Texas – the incredible variety in geography and culture from one part of the state to another. I still remember moving to Houston and being shocked by the presence of so many pine trees. I suppose I thought the whole state looked like the Panhandle.

      How neat that you have that connection to JSC through your uncle. It’s amazing how many people do have connections to the space program, one way or another. Back in the 70s, my dad had the thrill of his life when someone he knew who worked for a subcontractor arranged a personal tour for him. I can’t even remember the details now, but I know he spent a whole afternoon at JSC and didn’t stop talking about it for months.

      I just took a look at the Kansas flag. It’s very nice, but I am wondering about those mountains…. I know a woman who decided to plant her Texas flag – did it in the garden with red, white and blue flowers. It was neat – but I think for Kansas you’d have to just stick with sunflowers. That flag is pretty complicated!

      Linda

  19. I like “we have a problem”. Saying “we’ve had a problem”, means it’s all over and sorted, not nearly as dramatic.

    The shuttle looks magnificent. It never occurred to me that it has to go somewhere and that there are people lucky enough to see it go there. A wonderful occasion for a celebration and I am glad that the old dear was given a suitable send-off; after all, she earned her retirement after a grand performance.

    • friko,

      Your reasoning on the “we have a problem” issue is precisely that used by the film producers. They, too, felt that “we’ve had a problem” could imply that it was over and done with – which it certainly wasn’t.

      Whatever the phrase, it still lives on in the collective memory here. There’s an advertisement for an air conditioning company currently running on Houston radio. It begins, “Houston, we have a problem – the summertime heat is here, and it’s not going away.” I can’t tell you the number of unique and creative ways that phrase has been used. Silly ways, too – people being what they are.

      Some people are calling our shuttle a “lawn ornament”, but it’s a term of affection and endearment. She looks wonderful on her lawn, and we are happy to have her, and with any luck at all she’ll provide some entertainment and inspiration to the people who see her there.

      Linda

  20. It seems that right now, anywhere is better than here. What I mean is, exciting and interesting things are happening everywhere while I have to resign to celebrate the greening of my lawn and the red buds on the pine tree… or, a book sale.

    This is just marvelous. How often do you have a space shuttle cruising down your neck of the woods… even if it’s a replica. I wouldn’t even consider that a lemonade-making situation. I mean, from these photos, that’s one huge symbol or icon of an important period in human history of space exploration.

    Oh, BTW, a big event coming up this July in Cowtown is the Centenary of the Calgary Stampede. Guess who we get as a Parade Marshall (An honored guest, a celeb usually, who leads, riding on horseback, the long procession of the Stampede parade): Ian Tyson. Hope that rings a bell. ;)

    • Arti,

      Ring a bell? I’ve already checked the dates and the cost of airfare!
      Oh, how I wish I could come. It’s just not going to happen, but I’m thrilled that he was chosen for the honor. It’s just so “right” – and the nice thing is, they didn’t have to drag him out of some dusty corner for the honor. While I’ve got fond memories of his early music – especially when Ian and Sylvia still were a duo – he’s done some marvelous writing since then.

      Maybe I’ll celebrate in tandem by taking a trip over to Bandera, the “Cowboy Capital of Texas”. There are plenty of rodeos there, and some good music, too. But now I’m wondering – what in the world do people eat at the Stampede? Is Calgary cowboy food like Texas cowboy food? Inquiring minds want to know!

      As for that old “grass is always greener” syndrome – how well I understand it! I think that’s one reason I was so delighted with the shuttle’s arrival. Since I can’t indulge in the kind of traveling so many people are doing right now, it was nice to have an event come right here to my back yard!

      Linda

      • There are plenty of free ‘Stampede Breakfasts’ everywhere in the City throughout the ten days festivities. There are usually long line-ups for scrambled eggs, sausages, pancakes, the usual fare, and maybe some live music and square dancing on the side. Many will don Cowboy attires, the white ten gallon Stetson is the symbol of the City. And on the Stampede Ground there are numerous rides, exhibitions, rodeos and a grandstand show with the RCMP Musical Ride. And on the midway, all the typical greasy foods like mini-donuts, hot dog on a stick… etc. You know, these are all from memories, I haven’t gone to the Stampede for years myself. ;)

        • It sounds just like the Houston Rodeo, with perhaps some minor adjustments for the menu and music. Pure fun – thanks again for letting me know about it!

  21. What a fantastic photo essay of a spectacular weekend for Houston – you really brought the sense of celebration and pride through clearly! Thanks so much – often your blog posts feel like little vacations I get to take in the midst of otherwise hectic days!

    • Courtney,

      There really is a lot of pride here – in the space community, and about the space community. It’s really not arrogance or boastful, even though Texans have a reputation for that sort of thing. There have been real accomplishments, and people want to hang on to them, even in only in memory.

      I’m living with little vacations myself these days, so I’m glad I could give you on – they’re as valuable as can be!

      Linda

  22. There’s always a ton of things to learn when I come to your blog! I didn’t know about the mangled quote and the celebrated arrival of Explorer or how holiday-like the celebration would be. Fun! You’ve caught some fantastic photos, too.

    • nikkipolani,

      I think a lot of people were surprised by the holiday-like atmosphere. The people planning the events had hoped for such, but the best-laid plans and all that. This time, it worked, and it was wonderful.

      “Catch” is the right word for the photos, too. Apparently, in photography as in real estate, sometimes it all comes down to “location, location, location”!

      Linda

  23. What a huge big deal — and it looks like incredible fun. Great photos which capture the good times of the event — and no one tells a story like you!

    • jeanie,

      It was marvelous fun, and I think there were a lot of people there who were just ready for some fun – focusing on something that brought feelings of pride and reminders of a shared history. Those seem to be strangely absent in the political speechifying that’s going on these days – from the turnout for this event, I suspect I’m not the only one who misses it.

      Glad you enjoyed it – summertime’s for lemonade and story-telling!

      Linda

  24. Linda, so many of your posts illustrate the resilience and strength of Texans as they face difficulty, disappointment, and disaster. This piece did just that, with exactly the right tone. I did find myself wondering, though, if Los Angeles might not have been a better choice for a plywood replica. And is that Nod in the blue tee-shirt? Maybe not overtly threatening, but I think she was up to something.

    • The crack about Los Angeles wasn’t intended to be as mean-spirited as it may have sounded. I was referring, more specifically, to Hollywood — the place where they make those movies with the mangled quotes.

      • Bronxboy,

        Ah, shucks. We don’t mind an occasional slant remark re:SoCal. I’ve plenty of good friends there, and know there are some great reasons to visit and live there. Still, there is that veneer that pops up now and then. Explorer would make a great addition to a set, though. Maybe we need another space movie.

        I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Tone’s important – that’s one reason so many of the big issues in our country today aren’t getting the discussion they deserve. There’s a certain tone that makes it impossible for people across political, social and economic spectra to listen to one more word, thank you very much.

        That is Nod in the blue! And of course she was up to something. Did you know that the other title for the kid’s poem is “Dutch Lullaby”? I didn’t – but of course it makes sense, given that they set sail in a wooden shoe.

        I suppose that’s just another sign of the age you were talking about – that I even remember that poem being read to me. As great-aunt Rilla always said, “Tempus fidgits”.

        Linda


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