Lynch family reunion in Sugarland, Texas

Thanks to Louise's inspiration and energy, the Lynch family has had its first ever family reunion. Although Louise's Lynch grandparents lived in Chicago, one of her father's brothers moved to Dallas, Texas, raising a family of three girls - Margaret, Fran and Joan. Each of them lives in or close to the Houston area and their children are all in the general central Texas region, providing a nucleus for the reunion. Louise and all her siblings came - George from Chicago, Kathy and Wallon from LA, Paul and Roberta from downstate Illinois and their son Mike who now lives in North Carolina. In addition, Jerry and Mary (who had started in Chicago but now live in Florida) and Eileen (still in Chicago) attended.

Louise drove down alone on Friday so she could take care of some preparations and have dinner with the attendees. Antonia and I drove down Saturday morning and got to the hotel around 10:30, in time to join the rest of the gang having breakfast. Then Louise and I went to get the sandwiches and such for lunch at the biggest supermarket I think I have ever seen. Then we headed to the very pleasant park hosting the lunch and the afternoon festivities. The weather couldn't have been nicer - sunny and warm. There was food and drink and croquet and frisbee and lots of congenial company; I believe that a good time was had by all.

Croquet Baby Caroline Paul, Eileen, Fran and Peter
Madeleine and Wallon Jerry and John Madeleine, Kathy and Mary

On Sunday, a group of us went to tour the NASA Johnson Space Center. It was the very hub of the space program back in the 60ies and continued in use up to the 90ies. Now it is strictly a tourist destination.

The first thing to greet you is a real live 747 that was used to shuttle the Space Shuttle around the country. (How did they get it there?!) The Space Shuttle is just a mock-up, but it vividly shows how the shuttle was able to carry enormous pieces of gear, like the Hubble, into orbit.

The mission control room is a real blast from the past. Of course, in the 60ies they did have computers, but there are no computers in this room. Instead, they had four room-size black boxes in the basement, feeding information to monitors in the control room. And the processing power of these mighty machines? Somewhat less than today's iPhone.

They also have various pieces of antique rocket hardware outside and, in a huge one-story building, a Saturn 5 rocket - the rocket that took them to the moon and back. On the walls of that building, there were panels celebrating each of the Apollo missions, with pictures of the astronauts and details of the missions.

After the tour, we got to spend time in the museum, which had a variety of real historical artifacts (a real Gemini capsule after re-entry), mock-ups of other important space objects (a lunar lander, a lunar rover) and a whole bunch of vaguely space-related fun and games. I wandered through the vast gift shop, ending up buying a fine metal replica of the shuttle and a coffee mug.

Space shuttle on 747 Door to mission control Mission control room
Rocket engine Another rocket engine Saturn 5
Saturn 5 rocket nozzles Antonia by rocket nozzle The boys from Appolo 11
The vexing problem of space rot The first step The crew of Apollo 13, safely home against all odds
The final mission, Apollo 17 Mercury capsule - only $6 a ride Extra-vehicular activity
Fembot Historic photo of first hand-shake between Americans and Ruskies in space Lunar rover

After spending several hours at the space center, we returned to our hotel. Antonia and I packed up and headed back to Austin, arriving in the early evening. Louise stayed an extra night so she could take Madeleine to the airport at an ungodly hour on Monday and then she too headed for Austin.

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