Road trip to Space Camp, part two

Saturday morning we got an early start, and by 9:30 we had crossed the Mississippi River. We stopped for lunch in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (a city that made this Longhorn twitch a bit) and continued on to Birmingham.

My students study the Civil Rights movement every year, and I teach a novel that refers to the 1963 Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing. So when I knew we’d be driving through Birmingham, I made plans to stop there. Being able to see it for myself was really important; teaching my kid about it was priceless.

Sixteenth Street Baptist Church from Kelly Ingram Park

Sixteenth Street Baptist Church from Kelly Ingram Park

I’m not religious, but it was really powerful for me to stand in front of this structure, knowing what it represented–both as a location of an act of hatred, and a symbol of perseverance.

From there, we drove another two hours to Huntsville. Our hotel was on the grounds of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, so after we got our stuff in our room, we walked around a bit, checking out the facility’s space shuttle, the Blackbird, and the massive Saturn V rocket.

Later in the evening, my run took me back through the rocket center’s parking lot, by now deserted.

Welcome to Space Camp!

Welcome to Space Camp!

Another runner had the same idea, and we exchanged greetings, comrades on foot in a facility built to display powerful engines. As I turned around and headed back to the hotel, I saw an amazing sight: the big Saturn rocket backlit by a fiery sunset.

Saturn V, the rocket that launched men to the moon

Saturn V, the rocket that launched men to the moon

The view from our hotel room

The view from our hotel room

The next morning, we met my friend J and her son at the airport. The boys swam in the hotel pool all morning, and after lunch they grabbed their stuff and checked in to the Habitat at Space Camp. We helped them get settled in their room, then toured the facility until it was time to say goodbye. They could not have been more excited as they ran off to their orientation.

This evening, I decided to go out for my run a little earlier since I wanted to watch Nik Wallenda walk a tightrope across the Grand Canyon. I took the same route as the evening before, and as I passed the Space Camp entrance, I smiled, knowing my kid was in there somewhere.

Hope you're having a blast, B!

Hope you’re having a blast, B!

Tomorrow: Nashville!

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4 thoughts on “Road trip to Space Camp, part two

  1. I used to live in Birmingham and the Sixteenth Street Church is amazing. Birmingham also has a wonderful, state of the art Civil Rights Museum – did you get a chance to check it out?

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  2. How are you finding your routes while on vacation? Are you just taking off from your hotel?
    Totally impressed with your streaking, btw.
    Oh, and your running isn’t bad either 😉

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    • Thank you! Honestly, since I’ve just been going a mile or two, I’ve taken off from the hotel. In Louisiana there was a park/path right there, and in Huntsville I just ran around the rocket complex. Tonight we are in downtown Nashville, near the waterfront, and I ran along the river for a while, then turned around. No plan. Tomorrow we are going to go a bit longer I think, but we’re still mostly winging it.

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