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On the Road to see the Shuttle Launch

Posted on June 10th 2009 by Arthur in Space, Travel

We left this morning at 6:00 and have been driving all day from Chicago toward Florida to see the shuttle launch of STS-127 on Saturday morning. It became gradually warmer as we drove south until it was about 34oC / 92oF this afternoon. That is quite different from the cooler weather we’ve been having in Illinois lately. We’re about 8 1/2 hours away from Kennedy Space Center and are looking forward to the launch on Saturday.

I read something disconcerting about the cancellation policy of our launch viewing tickets. It says everywhere that our tickets are for the launch and not for the day. That makes sense, so that if the launch gets delayed to the next day or next month then our tickets will still be valid. But there’s a catch to that. Apparently, if the launch gets scrubbed after you have boarded the bus at the visitor center to the launch viewing area (which is about a 15 minute ride) you have ‘used’ your tickets and that’s it. You then have to buy new tickets if you are lucky enough to obtain them. I just don’t understand this policy. What difference does it make whether you have boarded the bus or are still waiting to board the bus?

It even says the following in the paperwork:

All new sales of Launch Transportation Tickets will be on a first come, first serve basis. Priority will not be given to previous ticket holders.

So what I understand is that if we’re already sitting there on our folding chairs on the causeway at 4:00 in the morning and they announce that the launch has been canceled, we have to race back to the ticket office to stand in line for next day’s tickets at about $50 per person each. But if we’ve been slow and are one of the last ones to get on a bus we may be lucky and keep our tickets for next day’s launch attempt. That’s just weird.

We’re now wondering if we should try to get on the bus as late as possible, if we even have a choice. I’ve signed up to get text messages from the Spaceflight Now Twitter feed about the latest news about the launch, so if we’re standing in line for the bus and we get a message that there’s something wrong we can still jump out and keep our tickets.

There’s generally about a 50% chance that a launch happens, and the weather forecast for Saturday is favorable for a 80% chance. I hope the weather will be fine and there will be no technical problems so we can see a beautiful launch on Saturday. 🙂

Received our Tickets for STS-127

Posted on May 31st 2009 by Arthur in Space, Travel

Whoo-hoo … yesterday we received our package from NASA in the mail with our tickets for the shuttle launch on June 13th. Being at a shuttle launch is one of those things I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. In ten days we’ll drive down to Florida, which will take us about 20 hours over two days. Launch time is targeted at 7:19 AM on the 13th and I knew that we’d get a specific time slot to be there. Well, we now know our time and it is shocking:

STS 127 arrival time sticker

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Foto Friday: View from the 94th

Posted on May 15th 2009 by Arthur in Chicago, Illinois, Travel

I took this picture earlier this month from the 94th floor of the John Hancock Observatory when visiting downtown Chicago with my parents. They have a great new audio guide, the Sky Tour, in which David Schwimmer tells you all about the sights on 16 stops around the observation deck.


Foto Friday: Tiger at Ranthambore

Posted on May 8th 2009 by Arthur in Nature, Travel

This week’s foto friday and my entry to today’s photo friday wildlife challenge is this picture of a tiger at Ranthambore National Park in India. We visited this amazing park in 2006 and were extremely lucky to see this tiger walk right in front of our jeep, about 5 meters away from us.

Tiger at Ranthambore in India

Pictures of The Chicago Bean

Posted on March 18th 2009 by Arthur in Chicago, Illinois, Photos, Travel

Cloud Gate, nicknamed ‘The Bean’ because of its bean-like shape, is a sculpture in Chicago by British artist Anish Kapoor. The highly polished 100-ton steel structure was unveiled in May 2006 and forms the centerpiece of the AT&T Plaza in Millennium Park. I’ve seen it several times and think it’s a really cool sculpture. Here are some photos from our visit last Saturday:

Chicago St Pat Day 2009 175 (14-Mar)

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Happy Holi!

Posted on March 12th 2009 by Amy in Events, Travel

Today marks the day when India plays Holi. Holi is the festival of colors and we had a lot of fun when we were in India during Holi in 2006. This Bollywood music video gives you an idea of the chaos that is Holi.

Foto Friday: Chott el Djerid

Posted on March 6th 2009 by Arthur in Foto Friday, Travel

Today’s photo is from our visit to the largest salt lake in the Sahara, the Chott el Djerid in Tunisia. A road of 60 km crosses this 7,000 km2 salt pan. We were passed by hundreds of white Land Rovers racing south to take tourists on desert safaris when we drove this road from Tozeur to Kebili. There were some rest stops with refreshments along the way and at one of these places they had left this row boat.


Vårt besøk på Evenstad, Norge

Posted on February 14th 2009 by Arthur in Travel

(Note: The title says Our Visit to Evenstad, Norway, at least I think it does according to Google Translate)

Seven years ago today we left on a trip to Norway in search of the town of Evenstad, which is where some of Amy’s ancestors are from. It was her great-great-grandparents from this town who came to America. Evenstad is a small Norwegian town on the east bank of the Glomma river in the Stor-Elvdal municipality. It is a very small town with a population of only 77 (in 2005 according to statbank) and is best known for its small campus of the Hedmark University College which has a Faculty of Forestry and Wilderness with about 120 students.


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Tintin Exhibit at Château de Cheverny

Posted on January 27th 2009 by Arthur in Comic Books, Travel

Yesterday I wrote about the new Tintin movie by Steven Spielberg that started production this week. This reminds me of Château de Cheverny that we visited in the Loire Valley in France last year. Belgian comic book creator Hergé used Cheverny as a model for his fictional Marlinspike Hall (Château de Moulinsart in French), the residence of Captain Haddock. In the Tintin version the two outermost wings have been removed, but the rest is almost identical.

Marlinspike Hall and Chateau de Cheverny

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Our Visit to Abuko Nature Reserve

Posted on January 14th 2009 by Arthur in Birds, Nature, Travel

Two years ago we were in The Gambia where we stayed at Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi. We were in this great country from 5 to 15 January 2007 and during this time we did a five-day birdwatching safari upriver to Georgetown under the expert birdwatching guidance of Ebrima Sidebe. We had a great time and saw over 175 different species of birds. After the 5-day excursion and on our last day in The Gambia we visited Abuko Nature Reserve.

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