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Inky & John The Saga Continues

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N. A. S. A. At Last!

We pulled into the parking lot at Johnson Space Center just as the doors were opening. All the way over from Galveston Inky had badgered me with questions like 'Are there going to be astronauts?' and 'Will we see a space shuttle?', and 'Will we be allowed to take a tour?' I tried to answer him, but I had to remind him it was also my first trip. We soon discovered that the entry to the facility was next door at the Houston Space Center, a beautiful facility fronted by four flags on tall poles. When we went in, we were greeted by a young lady named 'Brandi'. After introductions all around (including a hoist up for Pancho so he could flirt), Brandi told us she had been waiting for us and that she would escort the mob to be sure they did not miss a thing.

We started in the area called 'The Feel of Space'. We watched a very informative film on how the astronauts eat, sleep, and work in space. Libby and I tried our hand at the shuttle landing simulator while Inky and the mob quietly made fun of our futile efforts. Inky said he could do better than I did even if he did have only one eye. I decided to be nice and let him get away with that one - - for now. From there we were taken to the Space Center Theater where we saw an exhibit of all the different space suits the astronauts had worn, then we watched a film on the training program astronauts go through and Inky was particularly interested in that. Later there were other areas to see, and so many exhibits I had a hard time keeping up with Inky, because he wanted to see everything. We decided to go to lunch, so we told Brandi that we would be back in an hour and catch the next Tram Tour, which would take us into the Johnson Space Center.

The Tram Tour was great. Our first stop was the X-38 Assembly building where many of the systems were actually put together. From there we went to the Shuttle and Rocket display, which was awesome, as the kids say. Inky insisted I take him on top of, and into everything we could get into, and I think he asked every question that had ever been asked. Our guide, Brandi, had to help me out on most of them, because I was totally blown away by the whole thing. After that, we toured the Mission Control facility, which was also of major interest to Inky. Our last stop was a briefing on the status of the latest missions, STS 105, which was one of our later trips to the International Space Station, and the Genesis Project, which is an extended trip to the sun to gather solar wind particles and return to earth with them. We all thanked Brandi profusely, and Pancho gave her a kiss on the nose (I'm not sure how she felt about that, but Pancho was thrilled).

All the way back home, Inky sat quietly and seemed to be deep in thought. It was late when we reached home and we were all very tired, so I told everyone we would have a chance to talk after breakfast the next day. The next morning, just as soon as I made it into the den, I found the mob waiting for me. Inky hopped up in my lap and gave me a really big nose kiss.

"John, first we all wanted to tell you and Libby what a wonderful time we had. EVERYTHING, the beach, AND the tour was fantastic!"

"Well, thank you, little pal, I'm always glad to know you enjoyed it, hopeful that you all learned something."

Inky nose kissed me again and said, "Oh, yes! It was by far the most educational thing we've ever done! But, John, I have something very important to tell you."

I said, "Sure, little pal, lay it on me."

He stood up and put his paws on my right shoulder, fixed that beautiful, black eye on me and said, "John, I've decided to become an astronaut!"WHAT HAVE I GOT MYSELF INTO?