Tuesday, September 8, 2009


The title for this blog comes from Dana's repeated demand on our trip to Florida. It was first uttered the night before we left while we were packing and continued for the duration of our mini-vacation. We heard it so many times even Cade was saying it. "Hey Mommy! Don't smash the bread!"

Guess what. The bread got smashed.

So as everyone probably knows by now, we drove 273 hours to Florida to watch Discovery launch on what will probably be the last night launch of a Space Shuttle. We arrived at our hotel on the beach just as the sun was setting so we made a quick trip down the water to let the kids play for a few minutes. It only took a minute or two for the boys to "accidentally" get soaked.

Fresh out of the car. Haven't even unpacked the Expedition yet.

We were officially in Florida as an award honoree and were supposed to go to a nice banquet dinner and bus tour of KSC followed by half a day at the KSC visitor center. Unfortunately, the rules changed for the previous flight and kids under 12 were no longer allowed on the bus. They still gave us free passes to the visitor center so we took advantage of that. I also had the pleasure of seeing a couple of my former coworkers from WSTF who were also there for the award. It was nice to chat with them again.

Bruce, the roving photographer, took this photo for us. It's nice to drive 700 miles from home and still know someone who will take photos of your family.

Cade was a little freaked out about the spaceman. He liked him from a distance but not so much up close.

They had all these cool rockets and space artifacts and the kids' favorite thing was the play area.

Me and my boys.

We had a great time at the visitor's center. I could have easily spent a few more hours there looking at all the neat displays. Two of the more memorable things we saw/did was ride the Shuttle Launch Experience and watch "Magnificent Desolation" in 3-D. The SLE was really cool. You get strapped into your seat in the cargo bay of the orbiter and then it rotates you 90 degrees so you're lying on your back looking out the "windows". The whole thing rocks when the main engines fire and then you start shaking as the solid rocket boosters ignite. When they burn out the shaking immediately stops. A moment later, when the main engines cut off, you pitch forward and hang weightless in your seat. I just couldn't stop grinning the whole time. Everyone else came out with a smile on their face so I know they enjoyed it too.

The movie was absolutely incredible! It was somewhat of a documentary of the Apollo missions and had some awesome views of the moon. It was so realistic you feel like you're really on the moon in several scenes. When Dana walked out of there she made the remark that all the NASA critics should go watch that movie. Absolutely wonderful movie.

We played on the beach a little more that afternoon before taking a nap and getting ready to go watch the launch at 1:30 or so in the morning. We were also supposed to get a ride on the bus out to the Banana River Causeway to watch the launch but again, kids were not allowed. Fortunately, I had the connections to get a personal vehicle pass to the causeway.

It was really exciting to drive out and see the Space Shuttle lit up under all the lights. We had an excellent view of the launch pad. We were about 3-1/2 miles away and looking right at Discovery. Our camera just couldn't focus on it so I wasn't able to get any decent pictures. Poor Kevin was sick so he slept in the Expedition the whole evening. We arrived 4 hours before launch and got comfortable on a blanket on the grass. They had vendors set up and speakers so we could all hear the chatter between Discovery and Mission Control. I really enjoyed listening to all that. Dana and the boys all slept so I guess it wasn't that exciting to everyone else.

Here it is! A picture that I didn't take of the launch of STS-128 that we didn't see! Photo courtesy of NASA.

All that chatter included a lot of weather talk and the countdown never came out of the T-9 minute hold. If they'd had another 1/2 hour the weather likely would have improved enough to launch. So it was a scrub and they decided to try again the next night. I'll save the suspense and tell you they scrubbed that launch too due to a suspected valve leak. We took a nap the next afternoon and missed the announcement so we didn't find out about it until we drove the 40 miles out there and had the guard at the gate look at us like we were idiots. The next attempt was going to be at least 2 days later and we just couldn't stay that long. Darn it darn it darn it!!!

Anyway, we spent that second day playing in the water again. I was afraid the boys were going to grow gills and webbed feet.

I think this is a neat picture. I like the reflections in the sand.

Cameron looks cool no matter what he does. Here's his Baywatch run up the beach. Cade doesn't quite have the cool gene. At least not in this picture.

Another nice picture.

Dana's self portrait with little Mr. Talksalot.

We also drove to Orlando to eat at Rainforest Cafe. We had a little drama on the way in the form of a separating tire. I heard a thump and felt some vibration so I pulled over and found a patch of about 6" x 6" missing out of the rear tire. One worn out spare later, we were on our way. Cade absolutely loved the restaurant. He was in awe and spent the entire time there with his mouth agape and eyes wide open as his head whipped side to side trying to take in all the animals and action. I wish we'd had the camera with us.

Four new tires and no launch later, we were on our way home. We still enjoyed our mini-vacation though.
It occurred to us during our trip that we have now driven the Expedition all the way across the country. It's been to the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean and as far north as Montana and all the way down to Florida. All we have left is to take it to the Gulf of Mexico and we plan on doing that next summer. I love that vehicle. It's a great road trip cruiser.
On Labor Day weekend we took the boys to the something-or-other state fair in Huntsville. It was about the same size as the Southern NM State Fair, not huge but not dinky either. Cameron wanted go in the haunted house but couldn't talk Kevin into going with him (Kevin wanted to go on a different ride). Cameron marched right in and disappeared behind the door while Dana and I discussed the whole thing. We decided it was more scary on the outside that it was on the inside. A few minutes later, Cameron came charging out the door with his eyes as big as saucers and his mouth wide open and a horrified look on his face. Yet another moment I REALLY wish I'd had the camera ready. We all cracked up at the look on his face.

Cade chilling out while he waits for one his brothers to finish a ride.

Before we left we watched 2 riders enter the Sphere of Death (say it in a deep, booming voice) on motorcycles. It was actually pretty neat and the kids got a kick out of it.

My wonderful family.

In another instance of "I'd better watch what I say", Cade asked me to take him to a Halloween store that was near another store we were in. So we walked over there and as soon as we walk in we see a scary display and hear the creepy music. He immediately got stiff. I explained to him it was all fake and showed him a rubber snake like the ones at Wal-Mart. After a minute or two he asked if we could leave. I told him we should go look at the kids costumes first. Well, it turns out it was all the way across the store in the back corner so we had to walk by all the scary things to get to it. Cade saw a zombie thing that looked like it had pulled it's head off and had one eye hanging out of its socket. Cade told me he wanted to go again and pointed at the zombie and said, "Dad, he's a jerk!" We left and as soon as we met up with Dana again, he told me to tell Dana about the jerk. Dana and I both thought it was funny (especially when you hear him say it with all seriousness) but I think perhaps I'd better be more careful what I say. Unless, maybe it's Dana that says that. Well, there are certainly worse things I've heard kids repeat.

And to wrap this up, on the way to soccer practice tonight, Cade told Dana out of the blue, "Don't smash the bread!"