An Unexpected Side Trip

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

DSC01293We left Louisiana in the morning and had a beautiful drive to Mississippi. The roads were quite bad for most of the trip so we stopped at The Hancock County Welcome Center to check out the rig. Fortunately, all was well. At the Welcome Center is a NASA Visitor Center that offers a free shuttle and tour of Stennis Space Center in Hancock, MS. We had planned on heading strait to Alabama so we could get set-up and rest for the day. Since we hadn’t been able to visit Space Center Houston because of cost, we decided to seize this opportunity.


A lot of times people are surprised when we don’t visit some of the more famous places in the areas in which we stay. If we were on aDSC01285  regular vacation we would save the necessary money to do so. Most of the more touristy things are very expensive and count two of our girls as adults. Since we don’t want to go broke on this trip, we tend to avoid these places unless we get a really, really good discount. As a bonus, we have found that the free or very inexpensive things are the best stops. As a matter of fact, we now seek these types of places out and put them on the top of our list.

It worked out perfectly that we found the Stennis Space Center. The twenty minute shuttle ride was also a grounds tour of the Space Center that tests rocket engines. I’m glad we didn’t drive there ourselves because we would have missed some important facts about the area. For instance, the large forest that borders the Space Center was purposely planted to act as a sound barrier to protect the surrounding area from the extreme noise caused by the testing. We also learned that the mosquitoes can be so thick in the area, that workers who didn’t wear repellant while building the Center could get up to 200 bites/minute. (Yikes!) The shuttle also took us past the massive test sites before dropping us off at the Stennis Visitor Center.

DSC01292 The tour was definitely worth our time. It was very hands-on. After watching a movie about Stennis, the girls climbed into replicas of aDSC01296 space shuttle cabin and space station. The room in which you can shoot off a rocket, look through a periscope and simulate a rocket test was very interesting. There were also exhibits dealing with how the Space Station and surrounding community dealt with Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, NASA’s relationship to the U.S. Navy and nautical mapping, and NASA’s relationship with NOAA and the weather. Mikayla and Eva studied space last year in Science. This definitely galvanized a lot of what they learned.

One of the best parts of traveling with our home behind us is that stopping for lunch is very convenient and less expensive. After the  tour, we took a few minutes to eat before hitting the road again. The drive through southern Mississippi was really pretty. It’s amazing how different the states are from one another. Most of the time the difference seems to be instantaneous at the border. It wasn’t long before we crossed into our destination state: Alabama. We hope to be back to Mississippi in the spring. I was born in Mississippi, my mom grew up there and my dad was stationed there while in the Air Force so we want to make sure we can take our time.

  DSC01304 We were greeted at our new park by a nice man from Nova Scotia whose name happens to be…Barry. He helped us find our new spot and we were soon set-up. After a busy week of school and sight-seeing, we did nothing at all for the rest of the day. Barry (Daddy) was happy to find a TV that was airing the Patriots/Broncos game. Eva found some little girls to play with and Jenna dove into her book while Mikayla and I watched Sarah, Plain and Tall. Somewhere in there we ate supper.

Right now, the plan is for a pretty low-key week of school and hanging out by the water. We really like the laid back atmosphere of ourDSC01306 new park. We need a vacation from being tourists for awhile! 


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