Day 19

Monday, June 13, 2005Memphis, TN
Miles: 2352Just like Egypt, but less sand.
Unfortunately, Ceridwen’s hopes of getting Paul Simon’s song “Graceland” out of her head upon arrival in Memphis were dashed today. (I have reason to believe we all will be received… Agh, stop it!!!) But first our fun trip to the Huntsville Space Museum:

Nothing brings out the small child in people like space. Space is cool. Since passing the big rockets yesterday, we’d been super giddy to get up close and personal. Of course, the reality of a museum, with its placards and its instructional nature did dampen our unbridled enthusiasm a bit, but not much. We learned that the US space program was pretty much born in Huntsville, AL after the Redstone Army installation started making big rockets to propel things into space. They have built many rockets, did all the static testing for the shuttles and do all ground control for SpaceLab missions.

Ceridwen’s lifelong dream of being an astronaut was shattered when she realized that they have lovely things called poop bags that dangle inside their suits. Gross. She hadn’t been doing so well in her astrophysics studies either, so it was probably for the best. An IMAX movie was included with our admission, so we took a break from the museum to watch Red Flag: Fighter Pilot. It was quite cool, since Ceridwen’s other dream is to be a fighter pilot. And yet she has yet to join the Air Force. Anyway, we watched the movie, which followed newly out of flight school folks at a two week training course called Red Flag. Everyone there was training together: the pilots, the ground crew, the mechanics, the search and rescue guys and the firefighters. It was cool to see them all working together, though the coolest part was still being in the cockpit as they roared over the mountains of the Nevada desert.

We resumed our tour of the museum outside. Around noon. In Alabama. Dude. It was hot. We wandered aimlessly around rockets, tanks, more rockets, a Huey helicopter, a really tiny yellow submarine and some more rockets. The heat was getting to us, so we bought a flavored ice and smuggled it back through the museum to get back to the van.

We spent the day driving through the rest of Alabama and Mississippi. Some things we passed that were not documented photographically: a coon dog cemetery, a bird dog museum and a car junk yard with horses wandering around eating the grass that sprang up between cars. Then we were in Memphis, planning our three days here. Annoyingly, things seem to close early. Apparently the late night hours of the Northeast have spoiled us. Who knew Concord, NH was so cosmopolitan?