Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rocket City!

Work has been busy lately, with much traveling.  Cordelia Cat isn't too happy about it either, which means petulant little meows for me all night long.  At the beginning of the month I was in Maryland for multiple days.  Last week I was in Huntsville, Alabama.

During my layover, in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Unsurprisingly, there are no direct flights from Philadelphia to Huntsville.
View from my hotel window.  The large building to the right is yet another hotel.  The shorter building on the left is a Hooters.
So I arrived in Huntsville, got the rental car, made it to the hotel without problem, and went up to my room.  It was kind of weird, really wide, and everything was low.  Whatever, I'll just clean up and head out into Huntsville.  I open the bathroom door - surprise!  It is now clear that the hotel gave me a handicapped room.  (Have you ever seen a handicap hotel bathroom?  Terrifying.  Big enough to wash a car in, and equipped with what appeared to be multiple hoses.)

I'm not sure you can assign handicapped rooms to clearly non-physically handicapped people, who, during the reservation, requested no such special facilities.  What if somebody in a wheelchair showed up and needed a room?  Do they turn them away?  (Sorry folks, no room at the inn.)  Or does the handicapped person have to bumble around a non-handicapped room?  Or do they kick me out?

Whatever their hotel policy was, the only think I knew for certain was that I was not getting anywhere near that shower/car-wash.  So I called down to the desk to get a new room.  If they didn't have one, there was another hotel on the other side of the parking lot...

All was resolved without difficulty, and I hopped into the rental car and sped off to the Space and Rocket Center!

 The entrance to Space Camp!
Huntsville is nicknamed Rocket City for a reason.  Some chunk of NASA is there, Boeing (sponsored some lovely escalators in the airport - then covered the whole area with photos of the night sky and the word "Boeing"), and there is some sort of arsenal/testing range outside the city.  I was amused by the advertisements all over the waiting area of the Huntsville airport: uniformly defense contractors.  The graphic design was poorly executed but delightfully propaganda-laden: eagles carrying missiles in their talons, men in camouflage, tanks, explosions, American flags.

I arrived too late in the day to see the interior exhibits at the Space and Rocket Center - there is a big temporary one about Werner Von Braun up right now.  But that didn't even matter, because guess what the museum grounds are covered in?  That's right.  Rockets!
 Moon lander!  In a faux moon landscape!  I was a little disappointed that it wasn't shiny like the actual moon lander, but I suppose that you can't just go around wrapping things in copper foil (or whatever they use) because kids will get it all fingerprinty and gross, and unhappy Huntsvillians might try to steal it for scrap metal, and our environment would make it all green and patina-covered.
I appreciate that it's a polite request.
This was a chunk of the Skylab satellite, which I assume was used for the astronauts to practice Skylab things.  It had a pretend astronaut outside, upside-down, tending to a dish of some sort.
I'm not sure why they had the Yellow Submarine parked on a wagon next to a bunch of rockets and weapons.  Maybe the British left it here, during their Invasion?
More Skylab.
You'll need to know where this is.
The best subtitle ever.  I bet everyone on the creative team for this had kids under 8 year old.
Space Shuttle!
This was the test rocket booster.  Apparently they fired this one off five or six times, in some sort of giant fireproof test hangar.  I'm guessing the firery-end pointed down into the earth, not out into the open.

1 comment:

Mary Ann said...

Sounds like you had a blast! :)