And there you have it, folks. Today was the end of the trip. But you knew that between me and my mother-in-law, shuttling the kids several hours north to Dallas would be an adventure in itself. Let’s go.
After waking up and getting myself and the kids dressed, I headed downstairs. Wilma had brought just about everything from the inside of this beach house down to the picnic table next to the car. It was my job to make it all fit somehow and still leave room for four passengers. It always seems like we bring so much more back with us than we brought with us. That’s a problem because we barely had room to breathe on the ride down. But somehow I made it work. And like that we were headed out of Galveston. Once we were back on the mainland we made our very first stop of the day — for breakfast! I was looking for a place where I could get something heavy on sausage for my carnivore daughter and heavy on chicken nuggets (at 10:30 in the morning) for my chicken-nugget-avore son. Wilma and I are pretty easy to please. I found my answer in a Jack in the Box just off I-45 in Texas City. You know what’s really funny about having kids who love and adore you as much as my kids do? They have a natural urge to beat the holy living crap out of each other in order to show that affection. It’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that my son and my daughter almost came to blows over who would get to sit next to Daddy. Believe me, I tried the old “hey look, kids, let me pull up an extra chair and sit between you” routine. This time, they wised up. She wanted a booth, he wanted to sit at the counter. To bring about a lasting peace I was forced to order to meat-stuffed breakfast burritos so that I could eat one at the booth and one at the counter. Work with me here.
Breakfast consumed we were off to NASA! As you can imagine, it’s the Space Center and we took the public tour. There’s not a whole lot I can say about the place other than that one should visit if one is really into this sort of thing. Just make sure you bring plenty of money. They charged $42 for me and my son to enter (that was after $6 to park). Literally every “attraction” inside was an additional ticket with the exception of the tram tour of the facility. Wilma and Baby Girl got a free 45 minute Gift Shop Pass in order to come in out of the blazing Houston sun for a bit and catch a glimpse of what this place was all about. Toward the end of the tram ride, my son and I explored a little of the area known as Rocket Park. It’s where that giant Saturn V rocket I mentioned yesterday is housed and yes, it is on its side. It’s impressive, I won’t lie. But my son just absorbs information like a wet sponge and as we waited for the return tram he delighted the other tourists with his theories as to why Apollo 1 burst into flames. “Don’t you see, I think that, maybe, uh, there were some bad wires, and they started a fire, and um, that’s why the astronauts burned.” Glad to know you’re on the case, Big Man. Gus Grissom can rest in peace.
After NASA it was time to inch further north to visit what has become my favorite museum in the world — the National Museum of Funeral History. I wrote about the place five years ago after my only other visit. Hidden on a side street north of Houston, this museum is remarkable in the size and scope of their collection. The exhibit on presidential funerals features the actual hearse used to transport the body of Ronald Reagan during the California portion of his funeral. In fact, the collection of antique hearses alone is worth the visit. But the real reason we went was to check out an exhibit on papal funerals that had not yet opened last time we were there. Me and the kittens entered the exhibit and wound our way through with delight. Not only was it presented very well, but everything was accurate! I really felt like I was in St. Peter’s praying before the body of John Paul II. By the end, we realized that Wilma had not yet made it over to this part of the museum. I should say we realized that after we walked through the exhibit a second time. We finally found her over by the celebrity death exhibits and encouraged her to make her way to the popes as the museum would be closing soon. For a third time, me and the young ones wandered through the death of JPII. And you know what? It was still cool. The kittens had a bit of a meltdown in the gift shop as I proceeded to inform them that I would buy them a small token but only if it was related to the museum in some way. Baby Girl, you see, wanted a life size set of rainbow butterfly wings. I asked the woman behind the counter how these related to funerals and she had no answer. That’s not good enough for me to drop six bucks on. Instead, I bought my daughter a little plastic sarcophagus filled with a candy called, wait for it… Gummy Mummy! Kitchy, but it works.
Finally back on our way, we hit the road just in time for Houston’s world famous rush hour! The twenty mile ride north to The Woodlands took over an hour. When we got rolling in earnest I had to stop twice to try to “fix” the DVD player in the rockin’ Town and Country. You see, the middle unit (where the kids were) has a short in it and it must be placed and adjusted just so in order to show anything on the screen. After broadening the kittens’ vocabulary I had it working and we were off! Until one of the kids called out for a bathroom break. In fact, I spent more time this evening looking at the GPS, specifically that section in the corner that tells you how many more miles/minutes until your destination, wondering why it wasn’t decreasing. We stopped at a place called Buc-ee’s (it’s famous in Texas for being the cleanest roadside stop around) and grabbed a snack. Then we grabbed dinner. Four people, four fast food drive-thru’s, and NO, I don’t care. My goal was happiness tonight. One more stop for a bathroom and another for a roadside, impromptu bathroom (far exit spacing), and we miraculously made it home by 9:30!
The kids fell asleep pretty easily. Who am I kidding? I left that part up to their mom. Sorry, babe. I was just too exhausted from having too much fun with them all day. Why should I keep that to myself?