Houston Space Center

For our Christmas vacation, one of the things we did was go to  Space Center Houston.

 

family shuttle
At the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

 

They had an Angry Birds Space exhibit, but I didn’t find it very interesting.There was also a film. It told about how humans wanted to find out more about the universe. They also had a simulator for the launch sequence of the Apollo Missions.

 

kiddos sort kate
The film looked like it was on a film reel.

Next, we sent a message that was supposedly to Mars. There was a delay. After our cousins arrived, we had a snack and went on a tram to Historic Mission Control, that was used for the Gemini and Apollo missions. They didn’t even have computers during that time. Next, we went on the other tram to the astronaut training facility. There were a bunch of cool spaceship parts there.

astro training3

Finally, we went to the Space Shuttle Endeavour. It was taken through Los Angeles on top of a plane. To make the plane, which was a Boeing 747, lighter they removed all the seats and everything else passengers would use. Even most of the insulation that was used to keep the passengers warm was removed. Somehow, the plane and spaceship were driven through neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Workers even had to chop off some tree branches! We also saw the SkyLab.

 

skylab sport
The man behind me was rotating.

 

My grandfather worked on it. To hear more about what he did, see my post Interview with My Grandfather about Working on the Apollo Space Missions.

It was very fun there. I want to go again.

 

 

Archaeology Field Trip

For our nature school, we went to a simulated archaeology dig site. We did find more artifacts than was probably normal. Two of my friends and I went early to do some work for the archaeology merit badge. The most fun part was using the precursor to the bow and arrow. You set it on this thing that you hold. You move your arm kind of like a throwing a baseball.

We had to try and match tin cans from the 1800’s to what we have now. We only got about half of them right.

 

arc pt1 examin
We had to match tin pots.

 

After that, we got to go dig. The excavation was fun. Once you had enough dirt to fill up your bucket 1/3, you were supposed to sift it. That meant putting it on a thing with a netting.

 

arc2jsieve
I literally could not explain what the sifting device looks like so this helps.

 

All the small dirt got out, but if there was anything good it would still be on. My team was almost able to pull a vase out, but we didn’t dig deep enough.

Ian, Jayson and I went back for more requirements for the badge.

 

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We did more digging on Friday.

 

We dug in the Iron Age site next to it. The artifacts in it were over 3,000 years old. Once we arrived, we started digging. Some of our friends who were taking the class there came over to talk to us. Since we dug up a firepit, the wind blew the ash everywhere when we sifted it. There were pieces of stone with ridges. There was also a half handstone. A handstone was used to grind things. They were used in pairs. We also found a few pottery shards. When we thought we had been digging for 2 hours, we had only been digging for 80 minutes. About 45 minutes later, Ian suggested sifting a full bucket. It took about 20 minutes to get it full. It was somewhat hard to carry. The effect was amazing, though. We made good progress. I had to leave 1 minute early to go to the Newport Sea Base. It was extremely fun, but it was hot.

Vacation to the Bay Area: Day Five

On the final day of our vacation, we went to Alcatraz.

 

listening
During the audio tour.

 

The boats departed from Pier 35. There seemed to usually be one boat on the water. When both were on, they were going opposite directions. The first boat we went on was the Striker. It was raining.

 

sport pting alcatraz boat
The boat we were going to go on.

 

We sat on the top deck because it is better for viewing. The rain kept us from seeing much. When we arrived, there was a film. It wasn’t working though. We went through a couple of exhibits in the first building.

 

sport looking thru
The ads said you could see starving prisoners. Not true.

 

Then we waited in line for our audio tours and went to the actual prison.

Once, when we had to go outside, it was super windy. In Southern California, you do not see that much wind. The thing I remember most is how the kitchen knives had outlines where they were hung up. If one was missing, it was easy to spot. There had been multiple people killed in there. If it got too rowdy, one of the officers cocked his gun and everyone fell silent.

We were allowed to go in the isolation cells. They were barren rooms in the dark. One of the games a guy played was to pop a button off his jumpsuit and try and find it. Once, when someone tried to escape, there was a battle that lasted for a couple hours. Surprisingly, there were only 10 casualties.

We went back to our hotel room and packed up to leave.

Vacation to the Bay Area: Day Four

We went to San Francisco on our fourth day of vacation. We started off by driving over the Golden Gate Bridge.

 

Golden Gate Family pic
Golden Gate Bridge. Without the fog.

 

We went through two tunnels on the opposite side of the bridge and stopped in Sausalito. They had the boats that my sisters and I sail on the racing team.

We went back across the bridge and drove to Chinatown. They had the best clothing deals you could imagine. I remember seeing four scarves for $10. Near it, they had skyscrapers.

After that, our dad took us to Lombard Street. It is the most crooked street in America. The wait for it was long, and it was also very steep. The curvy part is made of bricks. My mom tried to take a video through the sunroof but it didn’t turn out well. Next, we drove to Union Square. It was kind of dirty and had a lot of homeless people. We then went to the Presidio. My mom loved it. There was a Lucasfilm building. They had a fountain with Yoda and some cardboard cutouts of Star Wars characters.

 

Yoda
Use the force.

 

There were also some statues of Star Wars people. Next, we walked to the Palace of Fine Arts.

 

palace family
It looks somewhat like the dome at MIT.

 

We could see it from the tunnel by the Golden Gate Bridge. It had a giant dome. We didn’t go inside the theater. Next, we walked back to the Presidio and went to the Walt Disney Family Museum. We weren’t there long, though. We drove to our new hotel and after we checked in, we went to Fisherman’s Wharf. For dinner at Boudin Bakery, the line was very long.

 

santa fw family
Pictures with Santa at Boudin.

 

We walked around and saw where we would depart to Alcatraz the next morning. Ghiradelli Square was awesome. There were three shops. Only one had the milkshake, though. We didn’t go to that one because the line was so long. There was a giant sign that said Ghiradelli.

 

Ghiradelli sign from Alcatraz
The view is from a boat but I also saw it from Alcatraz.

 

 

ghir tree kids2
It’s kind of hard to tell but the Christmas tree has a G on top.

 

The hot chocolate we got was great. After that, we found the way back to our hotel room and went to sleep.

Vacation to the Bay Area: Day Three

On day three of our vacation to the Silicon Valley, we went to the Tech Museum of Innovation.

It was really fun. Unlike the Computer History Museum, it was targeted towards kids. I think the most fun activity was Social Robots. I gave my robot a hook that it could wave up and down if I turned a knob. I connected two wires to the power source for the lights. There is only supposed to be one wire connected. Instead of the lights staying on, they flickered.

 

social robots sp good pic
The lights do not go well with the picture.

 

That had a really cool effect. They also had an earthquake simulator. There were foam blocks that fell almost immediately.

 

earthquake pose
I made the tallest building. It was no surprise that it would fall first.

 

They also let you design an earthquake. I made the craziest earthquake possible and used the best material for a building. The building survived. There was also a jetpack simulator where you try and get the laser on the dots. I almost got three dots but the timer ran out just before.

 

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I was going to get the third dot here.

 

After that, we went to the bodies exhibit. I didn’t think it was very interesting. There was one good thing where you tried to do a challenge with blocks.

 

upstiars spkt
The biggest issue was that there weren’t enough blocks.

 

After that, we went to have lunch at the cafe they had there. We went back to the museum. I built the same robot I made last time. Then I went over to where my sisters were, and we tried to get a ball across a stream without building a bridge. Kate almost built a bridge, but it didn’t reach the other side. Most of the other people made slingshots.

They also had a camera where it took a picture of your face, split it into three parts, and put it with parts of other people’s faces. One time, part of my face got mixed with my sister. We had planned to do other things, but we ended up staying there the whole day. After that, we went back to the Residence Inn for the last night there.

Bay Area Vacation: Day Two

On day two of our vacation, it was Thanksgiving. We hiked Sweeney Ridge. We also visited the headquarters of Facebook and Oracle. Finally, we went to Stanford.

We woke up in our hotel, had breakfast, and drove over to Sweeney Ridge.

Sweeney Ridge sign family pic
The sign.

Strangely enough, the person who discovered it was Gaspar de Portolá. The hike had a lot of uphills even though it is only 4 miles total. The summit was interesting. There was only one small bench and a small bathroom. There was the abandoned Nike Missile Site. It was built during the Cold War. Now it was caved in. There was also a ton of graffiti.

 

sweeney ridge nike missile site
There is a ton of graffiti.

 

Partway down, we stopped to have a snack. We got into our car and drove to the Oracle Headquarters. They had a giant sailboat there. It won the America’s cup.

 

oracle trimaran
The boat.

 

We got back into our car again and drove to the Facebook headquarters. It was at One Hacker Way. Someone took a picture of us in front of the sign.

 

facebook mom and kids
If you like this post please give it a thumbs up.

 

On the back was the sign of Sun Microsystems. The Facebook building was unique. It was painted different colors. There didn’t seem to be a pattern either. We went to the Stanford campus after.

 

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Stanford.

 

It was somewhat fancy. Their chapel was huge.

 

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The chapel.

 

After that, we went back to our hotel room. It had been a long day, and we were all very tired.