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  1. #11
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Southern California
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    4,537

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    CONTINUED, DAY 5:

    When they resumed Tram Tours in the afternoon, after the threat of a lightning storm was over, we got into the line for the Red Tour. (You can do both tours.) This one takes you to the Astronaut Training Facility, instead of the Historic Mission Control, and therefore past a couple of other buildings that you don't pass enroute to HMC.

    One sees many mockups, may see an astronaut training inside one (we could barely see someone inside the Orion trainer), but otherwise sees lots of equipment and a tour guide tells you about what you're seeing -- from above. If you want inside Mission Control, or inside the ATF on the same floor as astronauts, one takes a VIP tour or an expensive "Level 9 Tour".

    NASA Houston 1129 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    NASA is getting into robotics in various ways, which is in some ways good and in some ways disappointing (IOurHO).

    NASA Houston 1140 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    After another stop at the Rocket Park, it was back to the main building for more exhibits. We checked out the astronaut gallery, with many spacesuits on display, as well as this display, which any self-respecting Trekkie will recognize:

    NASA Houston 1181 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    Yes, it's been lovingly restored, after many Trekkies had their hand in financing and getting all of the details correct!

    Here's one of the ugliest spacesuits, but come to find out that it was what protected our Skylab astronauts -- their "underwear", so to speak!

    NASA Houston 1190 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    The rest of our day was spent poking around yet-another-neighborhood of Nassau Bay, this one off of Upper Bay Drive. These were just lovely homes, on the outside, and some of them backed up to the waters of Nassau Bay. Our dinner was at a wonderful Italian place, recommended by many in the Nassau Bay/Webster/Clear Lake area, called Franca's. The service, the ambiance, and the food was all great, and the owner of the place even came to ask us how everything was. I especially enjoyed the music -- I don't often get to hear the likes of Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr while dining, any more.

    Our motel in the area was Super 8 Webster. The room was clean, good water pressure, nicely decorated, everything we needed, and the only thing we found to be "cramped" was the parking! We were in each evening in time to get a decent spot, but we did a lot of walking between room and vehicle with stuff because we were in mid-lot and on the 2nd floor. Heave ho!


    Donna

  2. #12
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
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    4,537

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    DAY 6: TRAVEL DAY

    This was a day with more driving, but through some lovely country. Remember that we live in Southern California, which is normally brown and dry by this time of the year. To drive through areas with beautiful green groves of trees, rolling hills, big lakes, and rivers that actually have water in them, is pure pleasure. Less pleasurable, however, is the humidity that goes with said lakes and rivers!

    My husband wondered if the Houston metropolitan area was ever going to end, as we seemed to still be in it, 75 miles after we left! Finally we got into more of a country area, and out of the traffic that was surprising for the time of the morning. We chose not to stop for a full breakfast, because our meal the night before had been so heavy. Instead, we stopped at a McDonald's, picked up another coffee each, and a light snack.

    We hit Dallas and once again, more traffic. Trying to get fuel again with our prepaid vacation card, I figured out what the problem might be and called the bank. Problem fixed while on the phone, but we are getting so that we want to go back to traveler's checks -- we had less problems with those "before plastic"! In the Dallas area, though, we found some of the lowest-priced diesel fuel in Hutchins, so far on the trip. ($3.49/gallon, compared to the $4.09/gallon that it was at home).

    US-75 and then US-59 was a breeze between Dallas and Checotah, OK, where we picked up I-40 for the last 40 miles of our trip. Most of it is freeway-style, though there are parts that are four-lane divided "less access" sections. There were a few traffic lights, but they weren't one-after-another.

    As we pulled into Oklahoma from Texas, of course we stopped at the state visitor information center! They had a number of things on display, plus free wifi. Here's a photo I took outside - a mock-up of a Choctaw hut:

    photo(10) by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    We pulled into Sallisaw, OK, to another Super 8. Similarly equipped to the one in Webster, it's also clean. Both of these Super 8's were great improvements over the Motel 6 we used in Fort Stockton. The other choices in Sallisaw were Days Inn, Economy Inn (which shares the pool with Super 8, though I'm not sure it's purposeful), America's Value Inn, and Motel 6. The only one that advertised a pool was Super 8, and there was no coupon. We'd stayed at the Days Inn, three years ago, and the rooms were super-tiny and there's no pool.

    Dinner was once again at Shad's Catfish Hole, 7 miles south of town on US-59. It's a very unpresuming place, but it was packed. It's only open 4 nights a week and Sundays for brunch-time, only takes cash or local checks, and the food is good. The catfish dinner is all-you-can-eat for $12.95 (I think it was a few dollars cheaper a few years ago, but that's understandable). If you don't like fish, there's chicken fillets (which is what I had) or a small steak. I had plenty to eat and realized that I need to walk like I did at NASA!



    Donna

  3. #13
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Southern California
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    MORE PHOTOS FROM DAY 6:

    This was Eufaula Lake, along US-69.
    Mansfield, MO (LIW) 016 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    The inside of Shad's Catfish Hole, Sallisaw OK.
    Mansfield, MO (LIW) 024 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 06-16-2014 at 11:11 AM. Reason: corrected spelling of lake name

  4. #14
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
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    DAY 7: LAKE OZARK OR BUST

    We left Sallisaw a little later than our other departure days, 6:30 am. Fueling up at a Pilot station a few miles down the road (because the cheaper station in Sallisaw wasn't even open yet!), we headed down I-44 and then up I-540/US-71/AKA I-49. A storm had been chasing us north since Houston, and it finally caught up to us around Fayetteville, AR.

    Tunnel along I-49
    Mansfield, MO (LIW) 028 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    All along, I had debated whether or not we should stop at Bentonville at the Wal-Mart Visitor Center AKA Museum. Considering it was pouring in that town, and we are rather upset with Wal-Marts in general these days, we decided to forego it and pass on through. Besides, it wasn't quite 8 in the morning and though some online sources say it opens at 6:30 am, 7 days a week, other sites say 10 am on Sundays. So, it was on to Joplin.

    We had a lovely breakfast with "GLC" from this forum -- GLC, it was so nice to meet you in person! We met at Denny's and since we had discussed how to find each other in advance, that was easy. It was not raining in Joplin, though it looked menacing.

    After breakfast, we headed east on I-44 and then US-60 towards Mansfield, MO. We had called our daughter, a mid-MO resident, from Joplin. All the way east, those winds coming from the south hit us. This wasn't just a breeze -- it was so heavy a wind, I started dialing around on the CB's NOAA stations to try to find a weather report. That was even spotty at best!


    Donna
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 06-16-2014 at 11:13 AM. Reason: corrected grammar

  5. #15
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    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
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    DAY 7 CONTINUED:

    Arriving at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, MO, just as it opened, we found we had to wait for our daughter and granddaughter to arrive. They were a bit behind us. Rocky Ridge Farm is where the 6 books, starting with LITTLE HOUSE IN THE BIG WOODS, were written.

    Mansfield, MO (LIW) 040 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    We spent several hours touring the museum, the white farmhouse that Almanzo Wilder built for Laura, the rock house that daughter Rose had built for her parents, and looking about the property. Since Laura was rather short (4'11") and Almanzo was not much taller (5'4"), the kitchen countertops in both places were lower than today's standards.

    The white house.
    Mansfield, MO (LIW) 042 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    The outdoor chapel, where an ant bit my granddaughter when she tried to sit on one of the chapel's "benches".
    Mansfield, MO (LIW) 047 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    The rock house.
    Mansfield, MO (LIW) 033 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    The day ended with the 88 mile drive north on MO-5 and US-54 into Lake Ozark, dinner out with the family at KFC/LJS, and just visiting.

    Donna

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,056

    Default POG Photographer!

    Somewhere along here, you also met up with George (GLC) and captured his POG photo (Proof of gas) from the Spring Opening for the TPP!

    Well done!

    Mark

  7. #17
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Southern California
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    I was honored to be asked, and I think I took about 5 or 6!

    WEEK 2; DAY 8 -- In Lake Ozark visiting our daughter and family, we started our day by taking a walk up and down the street they live on. They are renting a house that is along the North Shore of the Lake. The house has property along the water line of a cove, but no dock, nor are the stairs leading down to the water very safe. The house itself has a LOT of potential but it needs a lot of work. However, it is a home for them, they have made it one.

    Up the street there are condos, right on the lake.
    photo(16) by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    The condos have a pool since the lake is not safe for swimming, usually.
    photo(17) by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    My granddaughter peers through the fence down to some other homes.
    photo(19) by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    We also visited two different grocery stores (I walked and walked, as both were massive and I wanted to see what other stores offer), and had a family backyard barbecue for dinner. Three of us cooked -- hubby did the pork steaks, I did the baked potatoes, and daughter did the corn-on-the-cob and the salad. Everybody ate!


    Donna

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    South Central Orange County
    Posts
    249

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    Thanks for the updates. One of these days I'll have to see the Space Center in Houston. Friendship 7, a Redstone rocket, a Saturn V, Skylab paraphernalia and other items would certainly grab my attention!

    It's nice to hear you got to meet up with GLC, also.

  9. #19
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Southern California
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    DAY 9 -- This was a day to "see the lake". We have seen some of it before, first on our honeymoon 30+ years ago, and then 5 years ago when our daughter was married here (in her husband's church). Our son-in-law was off work, knows the area extremely well, and we wanted to see the area. We are always in search of the place we'll retire, in 7-10 years!

    Lake of the Ozarks was formed in the 20s by the building of Bagnell Dam. US-54 used to take everyone over the dam and into Osage Beach. Then a bypass was built around it.
    (This is not my best photo ever. I had to take the photo from a bouncing vehicle.)
    photo 3 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    The lake is used for all sorts of recreation, come summertime. I caught this parasail when we were on some of the residential roads.
    photo 2(1) by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    There are boat slips and marinas galore. Here is a public area.
    photo(23) by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    Some homes come with a boat dock or access to a community marina/slip. There were some beautiful homes. My daughters both told us we should retire here!
    photo(21) by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    We drove down many different side streets along the coves that are part of Lake of the Ozarks. Our son-in-law knows this area well and showed us everything from the Four Seasons Resort, to the mansions, to the dumpy areas. My daughter showed us her work building -- she's also a teacher -- and we stopped at the local Wal-Mart.

    A typical side street in the Lake area.
    photo(24) by jeanniesisters, on Flickr


    Donna

  10. #20
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    May 2011
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    Southern California
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    DAY 10 -- LAKE OF THE OZARKS STATE PARK

    We set out just before lunchtime with a picnic lunch in the back of our truck and our daughter's car. We stopped for fuel for the pickup ($3.59/diesel), and immediately had trouble after we pulled out of the station. The truck hesitated, like it wasn't getting enough fuel. It then jumped up and worked fine until we got to the grocery store where we were going to pick up ice. Then, the truck alarm switch fell apart onto the floor of the truck. It took two of us to put it back together, especially me with two small hands. I was able to screw two very tiny pieces back together.

    We had crossed Bagnell Dam, and THIS time I was able to take pictures out the window. A truck sits up a lot higher than my daughter's car!
    photo(25) by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    We went out to Lake of the Ozarks State Park, just because it's wooded, has lots of good picnic areas and one or two of them have a playground for our granddaughter. The first order of business was eating, because by now it was close to 1pm and we were all hungry.

    Then we let our granddaughter play. She loved the swings, was a bit apprehensive about the slide (she's only 2), but loved climbing up the stairs to the slide all by herself.
    photo(27) by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    When we got back to the house, we called the Ford dealership up in Columbia that had replaced our alternator two years ago. They are going to try to squeeze us in tomorrow and Friday. I'm hoping it's just a sensor or even just a clogged fuel filter/water separator. We were planning to travel up to Columbia tomorrow anyway. We just hope that this does not blow our Gettysburg reservations!


    Donna

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