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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Trial Separation

"My wife left me...", I said when a coworker asked how my weekend went.

"oh, did she go up to that class at Palm Coast?" he queried, not even remotely phased by what I'd just said...

Isn't it nice to be known as such a couple that a quip like this doesn't give the slightest pause to those who hear it. I couldn't pull it off once ... sigh; and while that might take a wee bit of fun out of the game it also speaks volumes about how Robin and I have been perceived by our coworkers as well as those we've come to know by being 'regular' customers at local shops.
When I dropped the line "she left me" at Starbucks, the fellow behind the cash register stared straight at me and said simply "no she didn't ... now where is she?" ... isn't that something?

Our trial separation began over a week ago when Robin headed about 300 miles north to attend a management class put on by the F.A.A. She'll be learning some of the nuts-and-bolts of labor relations, civil rights and doing projects that will develop her skills as a manager and give her background into management principles. It is a solid two weeks of work involving study, projects, presentations and role-play. All in all a good thing ... but ... it means we're apart.
So ... we planned a rendezvous over the weekend and she drove south while I drove north. We met in Titusville, FL which is just a few miles west of the entrance to the Kennedy Space Center so guess what we decided to do. (OK, not that hard to figure out).

When we checked in at our hotel the receptionist offered us discounted tickets to the Space Center so we solidified our plans right then. Saturday morning we woke up and after the free breakfast headed out to the complex. We connected with Joe and Emerson, managers from Denver and Atlanta who were in the same class that Robin was taking and spent the next couple of hours walking and looking and listening to the various sights and sounds that the visitor's center had to offer.

Being up close and personal with a lot of exotic hardware and watching films of space adventures and looking at timelines and reading all about the history of space flight and climbing on a Space Shuttle and learning a lot of things I didn't know made this a pretty special day. We enjoyed a "ride" in the Space Shuttle (simulator) that shook us and gave us a sense of G-loading. The simulator is a-la 'Star Tours' at Disney and it was touted as 'realistic'. Except for 3 and a half G's on liftoff it did indeed give you a flavor of flight. The primary thing I learned is that when the Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) light off, you're going for a ride, like it or not, and that ride is surprisingly rough. The shaking and rattling of the launch vehicle is something I really hadn't known about until now and I can say that it is harsh for the entire 2 minutes that the boosters are burning then it suddenly smooths out quite a bit after the separation in complete. Very interesting :)

We had the opportunity to watch a couple of IMAX movies. One was about the moon landings and one was about the building of the ISS (International Space Station). Both films were captivating and a joy to see (although we arrived at the last minute for the first one and had terrible seats to try to make 3-d glasses work).

By the time it was all said and done I had a keen sense of being proud; proud to be American and lucky to have been able to witness pretty much all of the milestones that have occurred in the Space Program. Yes, I do remember where I was on July 20, 1969.

We'd separated from the other two as they had scheduled a bus tour but hooked up again to go see (yet) another film. This was the new "Star Trek" movie and has been showing there for a long time. Robin and I had seen it here in Fort Lauderdale on the IMAX at the museum a couple of months ago but that showing was interrupted about half-way through when someone hit an emergency exit forcing the evacuation of the theatre and after a 40 minute delay we got to see the rest of the movie.

This seemed like a good opportunity to see it again all the way through. Robin told the story of our previous IMAX experience just as the movie was starting and - get this - the movie choked and died and the message came over "our apologies, we are experiencing technical difficulties".
So, the curse was real!!! ... heh, actually it only lasted about a minute and it was rolling again and we enjoyed the movie in its entirety this time.

We spent Sunday cruising around and ended up back at Port Canaveral for lunch at the same restaurant we'd visited a few weeks earlier to watch the Space Shuttle launch (which was cancelled due to weather). The waiter remembered us and we got our same table back for the afternoon. We hung around until the cruise ships departed and then we were stuck with having to part ways again.

The cool part of the weekend was getting to reunite with Robin, the hard part was having to say goodbye again and knowing we had a second week of separation ahead. The phone calls are great and I look forward to them, but this long distance relationship isn't working out :).
Well, she'll be home soon (likely by the time you read this) and we'll be catching up on all that happened on our weeks apart. Hopefully we won't have to go through this again too soon although I can be sure that the F.A.A. will have plans for us again. After all, there are always workshops to attend and meeting to get to!