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Week 78: Heading South
Posted By Rhona On September 24, 2010 @ 4:49 pm In Uncategorized | No Comments
photos to come…
In Denver we hung out with Brett’s sisters and their partners/husbands/kids, did far too much shopping at the local outlet mall, met up with some of Brett’s friends and watched Brett’s niece’s first ever basketball game. That last one was really fun, imagine a team of 6 year olds who have never played basketball before, apart from the two practices they’ve managed to squeeze in. put two teams of equally clueless cuties on the court, add a ball and blow the whistle. There were kids going in every direction, urged on by on-court coaches who pointed them in the right direction and an umpire who was as much rule coach as rule enforcer. It was the cutest thing ever, and I have to say that even though officially nobody was keeping score, Megan’s team kicked butt. Mostly thanks to Megan’s multiple goals. Nice!
It was also really cool to hang out with Josh and Zach, for me it was my first time to meet Zach as last time I was here in 2007 he was just a big lump in Janell’s belly. Now he’s a charming little rascal who took quite a liking to Erica, complaining with wide eyes and frustrated hand gestures “but I never see you!” It was good to see Josh again too, at the moment he’s into Star Wars and anything that comes in series or episodes. He was keen to read some of his books to Brett, when Megan and Zach gave them a bit of quiet time. I also met Scoobie the dog again, a member of the house that I’d forgotten about. He’s a little black mutt who, when they got him as a puppy was apparently meant to be a black Labrador. Instead he didn’t grow much past puppy size, oops!
Both of Brett’s sister’s were doing well, as were their partners. Janell’s husband Jason was actually the basketball coach of Megan’s team, and managed to fit that in between a suddenly hectic again work schedule as people finally find money to use his company’s services again. Hez and Dan also seem to be doing well too, though apparently her cat is on his last legs. Poor thing. They joined us on our shopping trip to the outlet stores though I don’t think they did as much damage as we did. The things Brett and I bought will be shipped to Germany along with some of his furniture and other stuff that’s been in storage for the past 10 or so years.
That’s our job when we go back to Helena; go through his storage unit, the stuff in his room and the stuff in the attic and other nooks and crannies in the house that belongs to him. We’ll have to work out what’s going to be worth shipping, what can be thrown out/sold and which things belong in neither of those categories and instead will stay in storage indefinitely. I’d be lying if I said it’s a job we’re looking forward to, though it will be cool for me to see all his stuff and for him to rediscover things that have been in storage for over 10 years. The worst part? When we’ve done it for all of his stuff we get to head to Australia and do it for all of my stuff too. Yay?! Still, it’ll be nice once we’ve got it all done and have most of our stuff in one place in our flat in Munich.
From Denver we drove south to Houston, via a night in one of the dodgiest motels we’ve ever stayed in. If you’ve kept up with our travels you know this is a bad thing. Actually the room wasn’t too bad, considering we paid $33 for 3 people; it was just the feeling of menace whenever you opened the door. As we pulled up to the back of the building we were watched by a group of big, beefy guys loitering with intent. In front of our parking spot an extra from a Wild West movie sidled up to his door, watched us pull in and smoked his cigarette as he leant on the doorframe in his dirty wife beater singlet and cowboy hat. The entire door frame and window extension shook as we pulled open the door and we decided to keep our valuables with us. The car was parked out the front, under the lights and near the main road. It was indeed a classy establishment, and a classy town.
Thankfully our car was still there in the morning and we made it to Houston that evening, in time to have a late dinner with a friend of Brett’s who lives there. We spent a few steamy days there, not quite adjusting to the humidity which is apparently not too bad at this time of year. Ha! Scratch Texas off the list of places I was considering living! Still, we had a good time there, hanging out with Dan and his family, meeting up with some of Brett’s old work colleagues and visiting NASA’s Johnson Space Centre.
We spent a full day at the Space Centre, far longer than we were expecting. There was a lot to see and even for someone who never got all that excited about space exploration there was plenty of interesting things to learn. One thing I realised was just how precarious every expedition is. Obviously years of expert work goes into the planning of each one, but things go wrong, and it can be hard to get spare parts in space. When Apollo 11 first landed on the moon in 1969 they did so with only 17 seconds worth of fuel remaining and nearly aborted the mission. In total there have been six manned landings, with a total of 12 men walking on the moon, but there are no more planned. At the moment the focus seems to be on the International Space Station, which has been carrying out microgravity experiments since 1998 with a crew of 6 people. It is due to be finished by late 2011, when it will be the size of a football field, and will provide support for future missions to the Moon and Mars.
One of our evenings Dan invited a group of Brett’s old work colleagues over for dinner which was nice for everyone to catch up a bit. It’s been nice on this trip to meet some of the people Brett talks about and who I’ve had little bits of contact with over the years. For Erica it wasn’t as interesting but she took it all in her stride and seems to have enjoyed her time travelling with us. This afternoon I saw her off for her bus to Baton Rouge to meet up with a friend. She’s then heading down to Mexico will spend a bit more time in the States before I catch up with her in Australia again.
Yesterday we arrived in Lafayette, Louisiana, just in time for Brett to do his biannual physical. Today he managed to get through his survival training without drowning and tomorrow we get to start the drive all the way back up to Montana. Yay… it’ll take us three and a half days of solid driving, something neither of us are particularly looking forward to, though it did make car rental much cheaper doing a round trip.
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