Thursday, June 27, 2013

Road Trips, Flights, and Space Travel?

I love to travel. In fact it is one of my very favorite things to do. The only problem, I hate to fly. I am really terrified. In my opinion, if God had intended for me to fly, He would have put wings on my back. As a child my family traveled all a great deal. We traveled back and forth to the Texas coast to visit my paternal grandparents a number of times each year. We also traveled to a number of different states so my genealogist father could, "Search for old dead grandfathers". I remember so well packing the car for our trips. I would get so excited. We had a four door Chevrolet (I don't remember what kind ~ it was blue) and I would usually have the entire backseat to myself. Sometimes my maternal grandmother would travel with us, and then I would have to share the backseat. But, when it was just the three of us, the backseat was mine! My dad would  put a board in the backseat so I would have a wider area to sit , lie down, play,etc. This was the time before seat belts were required of everyone. I had a huge area to play. I remember my big plastic tub (I still have it) where all of my books, games, puzzles, crayons, etc. were stored. I could us it as a desk because of the flat surface of the lid. I didn't have a television, radio, video games, or anything electronic. I didn't need it. I had my books and my dolls to keep me busy and my blanket and pillow when I got sleepy. Those road trips were wonderful.

As a tween / teenager, my maternal grandmother took me on a number of bus trips. We traveled all around the United States. First starting with short trips to Eureka Springs, Arkansas to see the Passion Play and then to the Ozark Mountains of Missouri to see the Shepherd of the Hills. We then moved on to longer trips.On two different occasions we took three week trips. The first we traveled up the middle of the United States and then up into Canada and then back down the eastern coast. The second trip (my mother went with us on this trip as my grandmother had become ill, but still wanted to go on the trip) we traveled the west coast and again up into Canada and back down through the middle of the United States. I was always the youngest person on these trips. The next person closest to my age was usually in their forties (which now doesn't seem so old!) This is how I was able to visit the majority of the 50 states and will always hold a very special place in my heart for the experiences she provided for me during these trips.

While my husband and I were dating we went on a road trip to Arkansas for a family reunion. We traveled with his mom and dad in their conversion van. I have to say, it was quite a trip, as his father was used to long haul driving and wasn't much into stopping for anything. Bathroom breaks were few and far between, at least it seemed that way at the time.

When we got married, my husband and I continued the road trip tradition. In fact, when we returned from our honeymoon (we flew) we decided to go out to Arizona to visit my husband's grandmother. We had a wonderful time on this trip. It was a great adventure, and I loved staying with Ma and visiting with my new husband's aunts and uncles.

 Even before we had our son we traveled on road trips.My husband took great care of our traveling. He was the driver. For this particular trip we borrowed his parent's conversion van. One of the most memorable days was when we had to detour around a forest fire. The only road we could take was an extremely bumpy gravel road. I was pregnant at the time and I am here to say bouncing on the gravel road and a pregnant woman's bladder do not mix well. I still remember the bouncing and bumps eighteen years later!

After our son was born, because we loved traveling in the van so much, my husband decided to purchase one for ourselves. I have to say it was one of the best decisions we ever made. It allowed us to continue to travel around the country. My parents would travel with us most of the time. We traveled to Chicago, Washington D.C., St. Augustine, and Orlando any number of times, visiting tourist spots, cemeteries (remember my dad is a genealogist!), libraries, museums, and any number of other great locations along the way. We followed the American Library Association's annual conference most of the time traveling to the conference city in order to attend the events. It was a perfect way to mix business and pleasure since three of the five of us are librarians.

Through the years we have taken many road trips. We have traveled with his parents, with my parents, by ourselves, with our son, and even with friends. Each trip has been enjoyable and fun in their own way.  I have to admit, if I am going to travel, I would prefer it to be a road trip. However, that is not always possible.

Five years ago, my parents surprised all of us with a trip to Menorca and Italy. My husband's family originally came from Menorca and my father wanted to go and do some research in the library. It was the greatest trip of my lifetime, even though we had to fly. (I have been told there are no plans to build a bridge long enough to drive across the ocean to get me to Europe by car!) The five of us had a fabulous trip together. We saw so many wonderful sites and had such awesome experiences I think it will be a long time until that trip will be exceeded ~ at least for me, for my son it is a different story.

My son returned from his latest trip abroad yesterday. This is his third trip overseas in the past four years. He went with all of us to Menorca and Italy. Since then he has returned to Italy and gone on to Germany and Prague. His latest trip took him to Spain, where he spent a week in Seville. He was there for his "Frog" Camp (TCU Honors College Freshman Camp).

TCU Honors College Class of 2017
aboard Columbus's Piñta

I have to admit, when he asked us about going on the trip to Italy, German, and Prague, I was reluctant. I didn't want my baby (okay, he was 16) to go off to a foreign country if I was not going to be there. However, I was convinced when a family friend, who was leading the group, talked to me and said she took care of all of the kids as if they were her own. I was no less worried the entire time he was away, but I was comforted knowing he was with friends. For this last trip, he did not know anyone going on the trip. I did not know anyone going on the trip. However, I trusted my, now well traveled, son. I knew he was able to handle the trip and everything he would have to do along the way. He had a fabulous time abroad and is currently planning two more trips for next year!

How Do You Burp in Space?: And
Other Tips Every Space Tourist Needs to Know
by Susan E. Goodman

All of this reminiscing and traveling down memory lane has to do with the book I just finished reading, How Do You Burp in Space?: And Other Tips Every Space Tourist Needs to Know by Susan E. Goodman. Now I know that space travel has been occurring my entire lifetime and for many years prior to my birth. I also know there are currently people bidding to be one of the first tourists in space. What I didn't expect was a book of tips to be written at this point for those space tourists. I really thought it was too far in the future to even be considered with at this time. In fact, the reason I chose this particular book to read was the title. I mean who doesn't want to know how to burp in space?!?

Ms. Goodman's delightful book for children (8 - 12) targets the exact population for potential space tourists. I found the layout of the book to be well organized with chapter headings including : Planning Your Trip, Getting There, Getting Oriented, Accommodations, Dining, What to See and Do, Going Home, and Learning More About Space on Earth. The text included in each chapter is clear and very informative. It is quick read and provides a number of interesting facts. Did you know that it costs approximately "$10,000 for the shuttle to carry each pound of weight into orbit"? Each astronaut is limited to 2 pounds of personal items. Plan your packing very carefully.

I was intrigued with the information provided in this tourist guide and truly believe anyone with a passion for space will also find this book an enjoyable read. Did you know your watch will not help you to know the time when in space? Astronauts measure time using Mission Elapsed Time (MET). The time begins at launch and is read as how many days, hours, minutes, and seconds have elapsed since take off. Throughout the book there are beautiful photographs showing various shots taken while in space of the earth, astronauts, and equipment. Also included are astronaut quotes, and personal stories of space travel. The inclusion of astronaut expressions, favorite menu items for the astronauts from other countries working on the International Space Station, and exactly how one uses the bathroom in space will be points especially favored by most readers.

I'm not sure if I would ever consider taking a luxury trip to the moon, but if I were to pursue such an adventure I now know a little bit more about planning my trip, how to prepare myself for launch and re-entry, as well as the items I should not pack for the journey.

I would highly recommend this book for school and public libraries serving children from 8 - 12. I'm sure younger and older children alike would be interested in the topic and find this book to be not only fun, but also very informative. Who knows, the readers of this book may in fact take their own children on a very different "road" trip in the future. One that leads them on a journey to places far beyond our imagination.

*To comply with new guidelines introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Bloomsbury USA has provided a complimentary electronic copy of this book through

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