Sunday June 26, 2011
Sunday started much like any other day, waking up bright and early feeling wonderfully refreshed. Surprisingly, the Ramada brought to you by Denny’s Inn had a Denny’s restaurant where you could get two meals in less than a 6 hour span.
Continuing the trend of just being a normal, average day at the academy, we then proceeded on to Cape Canaveral to tour the launch sites. After being thoroughly impressed with the tour of the Redstone-Mercury bunker, we spent some time seeing the collection of rockets in the base’s rocket garden. Michelle somehow missed seeing all the rockets, for as soon as her eyes met the grill of the powerful, navy blue train. It was clear that an inseparable bond had built between Michelle and that “Iron Horse,” but soon we had to continue our tour, and Michelle sulked back to the van, tears swelling in her eyes, never to see her love again.
As the tour continued we were able to be awed and inspired. We stood where Wernher von Braun once stood, pressed some buttons, flipped some switches, and hopefully didn’t blow anything up. In all truth, we were extremely humbled when we stood at the accident of Apollo 1. It is a touching reminded that these things we dare to do have huge risks, and the sacrifices these people make lead to some of the things that we as Space Acadamites campaign so hard for today.
After this we turned our eyes back to the focus of the tour: launch sites. We also got to see, from a distance, a Delta 4 rocket ready to be launched. Because of forgetting to shut doors to the van during a photo shoot, the van became infested with mosquitoes. Still bitter after her heartbreaking separation from the train, Michelle began a murderous revenge on dozens of mosquitoes that dared enter the van. Mosquito free, we made our way to the gift shop. Barton found a shirt that read “Show me the Monkey,” which seemed to fit David. To David’s discontent, no monkeys were to be seen that day.
After waving goodbye to Cape Canaveral we ventured back to the hotel for a quick change and then out to lunch. We went to a quaint little seafood diner nestled within the confines of paradise. The weather was perfect, except for the rain. Some folks were getting wet, so the idea to turn the umbrella so that the run off went directly to Mike N. seemed like a fine idea.
Upon finishing a glorious meal and digging some fine tunes from the band at the restaurant, the crew ventured off in search the beach. The group spent their time with Frisbee, wave jumping, whilesand castle making went wrong under acting manager Mike N, turning our turtle into a horrible mess.
The day was a success, but with the end of day comes the beginning of night, where really small people eat really large pizzas, waitresses are unimpressed with jokes, and early bed times because of too much sun.
Monday June 27, 2011
For some, the day began long before the sun cracked the horizon. The Academy tour of Kennedy Space Center wasn’t to begin until 9AM, but Michelle, a recent recruit into the United States Navy nuclear program, needed a military ID badge. An entire car of sleepy passengers was driven to Patrick Air Force Base far to the south of Cape Canaveral.
In the meantime, Team Avenger Awesome Double X 3-9er double U slept in until long after sunrise, and then enjoyed a delicious breakfast at a wondrous restaurant which was on the house due to celebrity status. After checking out of the hotel rooms, the Academites were off to revisit the skydive airfield to look for the Infamous Lost Mollywood Telephone.
To Team Avenger’s dismay, the Skydive Space Center was closed on Mondays, most likely due to the fact that everyone must have been at work. Luckily, Molly was able to flag down a guy on the runway from outside the fence. He was probably working on time sensitive critical flight hardware, but he stopped what he was doing and came right over. I will not be the next person to use the parachute he was folding.
The mechanic opened the door to the skydive facility, but there was no need to search for the phone. David already had the scent and went right to it, immediately pulling it out of a stack of pillows on the couch.
It was then off to parking lot 4 at the Kennedy visitors center. This was clearly a parking lot reserved for NASA engineers. In order to get there, you must first navigate a parking lot maze, with each turn more treacherous and complicated than the last.
The Academites then met up with our guide Greg Hale, a man who knows everyone and everything about Kennedy Space Center. Mr. Hale gave a tour of the clean room where the ISS modules were taken before launch, the building where the Space Shuttle is refurbished between each flight, the enormous Vehicle Assembly Building where the Apollo rocket and Space Shuttle are assembled prior to launch, the Apollo launch pad, and the launch pad where Atlantis is preparing for the final shuttle launch.
Later, at the visitor’s center, Michelle took us to one of the greatest live theater experience in history, Star Trek NASA Experience. From the beginning it was clear that the show was not geared toward an audience of over the age of ten, but the group enjoyed all the same.
Off to the airport for another great airplane experience. Since it is such a small airport, everything Daytona Beach airport closes early, so the Academites were forced to purchase convenient store sandwiches at hefty prices. The aircraft arrived in Atlanta late and couldn’t find a parking space due to traffic. The connecting flight to Akron/Canton airport, located at the far end of the next terminal was due to leave in five minutes. Luckily NASA Space Academy is in tip-top shape. Elbows were flying as Space Academy sprinted to the next gate. Nobody was safe, as it was every man for themselves, especially businessmen in $3000 suits. Cameron, steaming forward, clocked Andrew with his roller luggage battering ram right out of the gate to gain the upper hand. It was a back-and-forth battle racing to the next gate. Luckily, for our convenience, the flight was slightly delayed. The Academy reached the gate with plenty of time to spare, with Andrew coming in first, Michael “Golden Shoes” Johnston second, and Mike N. third. No points were awarded to fourth place and below. With everyone in attendance, the plane was boarded and everyone made it back to Cleveland, safe and sound.
Tuesday June 28, 2011
Tuesday was a bit of a rough morning, since everyone was not only recovering from the exhausting and eventful weekend, but also from the late arrival home from delayed flights. Work was still accomplished with each respective PI during the day. We will prevail. The day ended and then came evening, filled with a wonderful rap session. We discussed our past week including our crazy week that involved spelunking, white water rafting and skydiving — all in one week! After the meeting, some group project work was done — ordering parts and figuring out how it would all fit together.
Wednesday June 29, 2011
After work, some Academites went to play ultimate Frisbee. Mike J. stayed behind to work on the group project while Michelle cooked meat loaf, and Molly went out to dinner with her dad. Everyone ate the wonderful dinner and didn’t leave any for scraps. The group then watched Santa Defeats the Martians (an actual title of a movie). It was quite riveting with amazing special effects and an exceptional wardrobe department. Everyone went to sleep early.
Thursday June 30, 2011
Thursday began with eyes focused forward on the weekend ahead. Upon the completion of work, a new focus was established. “JOHNSTON!” was the theme of the afternoon when rousing games of pool volleyball with numerous other fellow interns. It was obvious that Space was the dominant crew when in the pool. Loud cheers and brilliant play lead to an obvious obliteration of all forthcoming competition. Of course, the competitive attitude of the space Academy didn’t prevent friends from being made, as every other intern at the pool that day immediately realized that Space was in fact the best, and that they were also the most awesome ever.
Once the Academites realized their feet were sufficiently torn up and the supremacy made clear, they returned to their rooms and packed for the weekend ahead.
Friday July 1, 2011
At 4:30 p.m. EST, the academites left work for a quick stop at the Studio Palace to pack for the weekend. Team Bravo loaded in to Andrew’s near sub compact, while DC Car Team Awesome loaded into Logan’s spacious and luxurious chariot.
During a quick stop at Five Guys for dinner Michelle won a somewhat less than intense game of quizbowl, sponsored by the Jungle Drum and Bass Foundation; first prize: $8 dollar dinner! Meanwhile, Molly explained the rules for her newest master piece: Ginger Tag.
After a delightful meal, DC Car Team Awesome was crestfallen to find that Logan’s vehicle was struggling to run at its normal peak performance. No words were said, but it was clear from everyone’s faces in DCCTA that suspicion of sabotage loomed just below the surface.
DCCTA enlisted the use of the Academy’s most reliable vehicle. Michael B.’s CR-V is well known for both its magnificently fast maximum velocity and majestic handling, except when going uphill. Little did the academites know, the mountains of West Virginia loomed over the distant horizon.
With Michael B. at the helm, DCCTA was making such great time, that he decided to take the scenic route for a little while. The high way was left behind for the back roads, destination: the highway. About an hour into the journey a pit stop was made for beverages. This is when Logan came to the realization that he had forgotten his wallet which contained his only entry pass to freedom and delight. This error would set DC Car Team Alpha back two hours as they needed to return to home base to recover the missing documentation.
Team Bravo arrived in Morgantown first, rendezvousing with Mike N.’s roommates. The two hour early arrival was likely awkward at best, but since the group is so loved it didn’t take long the new faces too much time to warm up.
DCCTA barreled toward their destination. Michael B. meticulously navigated the corners as if he was born in the mountains of Tennessee. Wasted time is inappropriate at the NASA Academy, so the rest of the passengers studied up on comedic one-liners which would become a major theme of the weekend to come. Academedians… Alright.
Finally arriving at their destination, the lag team made an incredible entrance. The night was fun with new friends and some good quality time together.
Saturday July 2, 2011
The Academites arose anxiously to begin the day. Mike N. had made a brilliant meal of bacon and eggs, while the rest of the crew showered and watched a river pass by. Cameron and Michelle seemed especially read to go; others… not so much. Lots of time getting ready later, the group headed out to some scenic spots in the West Virginia mountains, namely Cooper’s Rock.
The crew then continued on to the Udvar-Hazy, whose first name has to be something awesome like “Thor.” One crew arrived in splendid time, while the others stopped to mingle with the local yokels and buy bubbles and hats. Meanwhile back at Udvar-Hazy, the Academites took in the space portion, looked confusingly at a “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” model, and soaked up all the information like a sponge. The other group arrived much later than expected, but still managed to see some awesome planes and take some pictures.
Once this was concluded the group made their way forward to the home of George. Arriving in the district, they prepared to hit the streets. After completing a mighty fine dinner of Sushi, los nueve amigos returned to Michelle’s friend’s apartment. Two members of the Academy retired to Michelle’s apartment building, working diligently outside of Michelle’s actual room. The rest of the super best friends wandered about DC finding some Academy alumni along the way until they couldn’t take it anymore and turned in for the night.