Here at The Pink Heart Society once again we continue the travelogues from Trish Wylie's great America trip and all the sights she saw whilst winging her way to and from the RWA National Conference in Dallas... So where did she head after Southfork Ranch???
So after a few days rest after the conference I headed from Dallas to Houston, cos it seemed a shame not to go see the Houston Space Centre when I'd flown halfway around the world already... And tip number one... don't fly into the International Airport... cos it's the OTHER side of Houston... but who knew???
It meant I got a nice trip along freeways and through rush hour traffic to have my driver drop me at the wrong hotel where I then had to wait for a cab to the right hotel which turned out to be one of those quaint American hotels with doors on the rooms that open out well... to the outside... Hmmm... Wasn't quite sure how I felt about that. Cos the only outside doored hotels I had ever seen before were on - erm - Psycho the movie... and Supernatural the TV Series (neither of those titles filled me with confidence here you understand)... so I was a little nervous to begin with. But apart from some *interesting arguments* from my new neighbours two rooms down it was an okay stay. No-one died. I ordered in pizza and New York cheesecake (yum), I discovered an IHop across the street and I even visited some shops... How brave was I??? Sean was a tad nervous tho...
Anyway, it RAINED... LOTS... so getting a cab to the Johnston Space Centre took me a wee while and when I got there it was filled with a gazillion kids... but that was okay and what was even more okay was that as well as surrounding myself in lots of things I hadn't known or seen up close, I also learnt that I can pretty much fine a romance thought or two ANYWHERE... And that's an encouraging thing as a writer I feel. Turns out that occassionally LEAVING the cave is a GOOD MOVE.
It really really is a terrific places for families to visit. There's a little something for nearly everyone. And remember that for a long time the Johnston Space Centre was where EVERYTHING was launched from and it's STILL where the control centre is for any Space Shuttle missions - so as well as having the visitor centre there you also have huge great buildings without any windows that house the massive computers and people actually monitoring the brand new International Space Station that's being built thousands of miles above our heads. And it's also a great place to realize the kind of technology that is part of or will become part of our daily lives which has been developed because of NASA.
I have to say I was in my element. And some of the things that fascinated me most were the 5 STOREYS HIGH IMAX screen where they showed films on the new developments in technology for the Space Station (if you haven't seen someones head five stories high then you really haven't had a Godzilla moment yet I feel... frightened the LIFE out of me the first time!) - the International Space Station itself (because somehow from my writing cave I had managed to have the fact there even WAS one go straight past me...) - the technology for that very station in the forms of things like Robonaut (I jest you not - that *is* it's name!); a robot whose hand movements are so real in order to make sure the station doesn't have to carry two different sets of tools for various tasks that they say the work they've done on *him* has meant that prosthetics will jump forwards DECADES (I thought that was AMAZING myself - the movements were just so so human) and the fact that once said station is built the Space Shuttle will go out of service to make way for new rockets to take men back to the moon where it's likely a permanent base may be built! Living on the moon. WOW.
Now if like me you grew up on a diet of Sci-Fi shows that made space travel itself seem like it was centuries away and we'd all be wearing outfits made of tin-foil when we got there then all this information kinda makes you take a step back and think about the changes you've already witnessed in your own lifetime, doesn't it? I thought about things like Microwaves and Mobile phones and how far games have progressed from Space Invaders and the INTERNET (and where would we be without the internet gang? huh?). All things we take for granted - but all things we could only dream of as kids. (And that kind of sentence makes my neices and nephews look at me like I'm approx 1000 years old and was born when men walked in front of horseless carriages with red lamps...) But how amazing is it that we've lived to see all those things?
And of course me being me - it led me to thinking about the kind of men that worked through all those early years of the space programme and still do today - which led me to thinking about heroes... See - inspiration can strike pretty much ANYWHERE, can't it? So PAY ATTENTION all those who ask *where do you get your ideas from*... Cos the answer is *anywhere*...
In one display at the visitors centre there was a glass case with a little slither of rock in it. A piece of rock from the moon. That you could touch with your fingertips. It was as smooth as glass, probably from being smoothed over by hundreds upon hundreds of fingertips like mine. But there was something magical in touching it... and I thought, hmmm... would it be very corny if a guy brought a girl to see it? Is that romantic? Possibly not with a gazillion kids around... but what if one of the *ordinary* guys who go into space these days brought it back to give to someone he loved who had stood on the earth and looked to the stars - waiting for her guy to come home? That's pretty darn romantic! Or what if as an annversay gift you were given Real Estate on the moon? (cos you can buy that you know and many movie stars HAVE - Donald Trump probably has planning permission already...) And then there's the having a star named after you thing... And although I doubt I can actually *use* any of those examples in an actual story anywhere in the near future... it showed me that I never really stop thinking about plots and stories and scenes and characters. We never do I guess. But sometimes, just sometimes, it's nice to be reminded that the well hasn't run dry yet, you know?
So the Space Centre at NASA didn't just give me a fun day out to learn about the people and the science behind the things that have made so many changes in our lives, it also gave me a little boost of confidence that there are still plenty of stories out there just waiting to be found. And that meant by the time I travelled back to New York... I was ready to start PLOTTING...
And if you wanna hear that story - then you'll just have to come back next month and see my travelogue from New York, won't you???
So have you ever had an idea for a story from an unusual source? Have you ever had somewhere in the world you'd like research personally to put in a book? Am I the only one who can find inspiration in the seemingly unrelated?
Oh, and if you don't live in Florida and you want to see the next Space Shuttle take off to the International Space Centre then you can check out the NASA SITE when it launches on the 7th August. Or if you have some kids nuts on space then you can check out a fun site here or here.
H's & K's
Trish is THRILLED to bring her first Modern Extra book White-Hot! to the USA & Canada this coming month as part of the Promotional Presents mini-series - Eligible Bachelors along with books by Kate Hardy, Kelly Hunter & Julie Cohen.