STS 135 Tweet-Up Day 1… Well, Day .5, Really…
By Matt Mira on July 7, 2011
Wednesday was early check-in at NASA for Tweetup participants, or invitees, or Twitterers, or Tweeps, if you will. I borrowed my mom’s car (just like I was 18 again) and headed down to the coast. My folks moved from Massachusetts to Orlando in 2004. It was only these last 2 days when it has seemed like it was a good idea.
I stopped off at Sam Ash in Orlando on the way. I needed to pick up an AUX cable for my mom’s car. She didn’t have one in her car, nor did she know that you could plug an iPod into it. Sam Ash in Orlando is great, if you like to be alone and appreciate first-hand examples of a crippled Orlando economy. There were literally 2 other people in the store (not counting cardboard cutouts of Slash), a guy and his girlfriend, who looked helpless as he fumbled for the chord progression of “Stairway To Heaven.” I am not kidding. This actually happened. After surprising the clerk with my mere presence, I was handed an auxiliary cable and a trip to the store’s only working receipt printer (roughly a half mile away).
I got back in the car and threw on last weeks Howard Stern Shows. Travel Tip: Don’t listen to Stern the week before a trip. That’s 12 hours of entertainment at your beck and call. I have been doing this since he went to Sirius in 2006.
On my way down the 50 I saw many things that reminded me of why I never moved to Florida. Some of these things included a giant Alligator Farm, and some shirtless guys carrying cases of Bud miles away from the closest store and flat land. Let me explain that last one: If you come from a place that has geographical features of any sort, flat land is very off-putting. I can’t really explain it, it just seems wrong.
I eventually made it through the Everglades and ended up at Cape Canaveral. The vehicle assembly building (once the largest building in the world; you know, the place where they assembled 360 foot tall space ships that brought people to the moon, YES THEY DID THAT IN A BUILDING) was visible to the left. As I approached the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex I was struck by the rockets they had towards the back, Redstones, Saturns and Titans (seen above), all just there for the public to enjoy for a nominal fee. Bonus: FREE PARKING.
Personally, I have always been fascinated by the early astronauts from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. Seeing these things up close was a great pleasure. I read each and every plaque, learned about the early days of the space race, and experienced the cramped quarters of a Mercury capsule. I was doing a lot of reading and learning…. then I saw this…
Yup, Turns out this is Sci-Fi SUMMER! That apparently means the Star Trek Exhibition is at the Kennedy Space Center. I have been to the STE three separate times, twice in Long Beach and once when it was at the Kodak Theatre or whatever that weird empty space next to the Kodak is in Hollywood. There were things to behold; I took incredibly detailed photos of Captain John Harriman’s (I sadly knew it from across the room) captain’s chair and even more detailed ones of Captain Picard’s chair. I wasted entirely too much time in there, but I did this with the knowledge that I would be back the following day for a pretty regimented Tweet-up schedule, a schedule that for some reason includes 40 minutes with Elmo of Sesame Street.
If you look closely, the Port Plasma Conduit is glowing brightly to my left. That’s pretty cool, right? I took a ton of pictures, which I will upload to Flickr soon. I anticipate even more pictures tomorrow because of the tour and the Muppet and the Saturn V complex. Tomorrow morning, I have to be at NASA by 8 am… I’ve always wanted to say “Tomorrow morning I have to be at NASA at 8am,” and actually mean it. Follow me on Twitter for less reading and more updates.
If you prefer a link twitter.com/mattmira .