Wednesday 1st August, 2001
The alarm was set for 5:00am. Completed packing and at 6:30am we were on the hotel shuttle bus to the airport where we had quite a stressful check in.
We were on AA781 flight from Chicago to Houston. We departed from gate H18. Take off was at 10:51am and the plane was a Fokker 100. We flew over St Louis and south east Missouri before Little Rock and then into Louisiana and into Texas.
We were scheduled to land at noon and started our decent at 11:44am and landed at 11:58am and taxied to gate A25.
Here we were met by another friend Choya and his wife Vicki and their two children Casey and Aaron.
ON the way to our hotel for the night we called into a furniture shop for some items that Choya and Vicki required – it’s true everything is bigger in Texas, this was a BIG furniture store.
At the hotel we had about an hour’s rest before we headed into Houston. Had dinner at McDonalds and then to Enron Field and a baseball game between the Astros and the New York Mets. This is a great venue and a great game. Good time.
After the game it was back to the hotel and off to bed.
Thursday 2nd August, 2001
Up at 7:00am and on the road at 8:00am, heading for the Johnson Space Centre. On the way we stopped at a Shipley’s Donuts store, wow these were good donuts – best ever.
At 9:15am we arrived at the Space Centre and we spent the rest of the day there. So much history and interest, this is a really interesting place.
We took the Blue Tour to the old mission control and then the Red Tour to the new mission control.
In the Visitors Centre we touched a moon rock, saw the podium at which JFK made his speech about getting a man to the moon before the end of the decade. We had lunch and saw an Imax movie. Then there was the gift shop.
We were on our way at 5:00pm and once again called into a furniture store on our way to where Choya and family live, Bryan where we arrived around 7:00pm. Watched some TV and took it easy.
Friday 3rd August, 2001
Today was a quiet day.
We went to a Best Buy and a Barnes and Noble.
Choya took us on a tour of Bryan and College Station. We saw the famous Texas A&M University – go Aggies.
We also had a look at the George Bush Presidential Library; this is particularly interesting because a statue of horses leaping over pieces from the Berlin Wall stands on the plaza of the library. The statue depicts the fall of the wall in 1989, when Bush was President.
In the afternoon we watched some TV and Scott went with Choya, Casey and Aaron to a batting cage where he tried to impress them with his batting skills.
Saturday 4th August, 2001
Choya is a police lieutenant in the Bryan Police Department and is an avid Hot Air Balloonist. This something that none of us have ever tried before.
Today we were up early to meet Choya’s crew and we went to a rural community where we would go up in the hot air balloon. We were over a farm and shortly after takeoff we were buzzed by a crop duster who wanted to dust the field we were over. Hard to just change direction and get away because there was only very light winds. We managed to land on a road and the crew picked us up. Our total flight was only half an hour and we only got to a couple of hundred feet but it was a real experience. We are thankful to Choya to going to the effort, he is a good friend.
On the way back to the house we stopped off at Shipley’s and had some health food for breakfast.
Once home at around 9:00am we packed and loaded Choya’s truck and at noon we headed to the town of Reagan where we stayed the night with Jo, Choya’s Mom.
Jo lives on a sizeable property and has a lovely home. Rayls talked to Jo for hours about quilts and teddy bears. Jo and her late husband lived for some time in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
Sunday 5th August, 2001
Today was a very pleasant and quiet day, spent in Reagan.
Gary got to drive for the first time on this trip. Choya, Scott and Gary drove to Marlin for some shopping and then later Rayls, Choya and Gary drove to Hearn to meet up with Vicki and Casey at a Dairy Queen. This was just straight driving but was good experience for later.
The evening was spent watching TV and talking.
Monday 6th August, 2001
Today we packed the car and at about 10:30am we headed for Dallas.
At 1:45pm we arrived in Dallas and headed straight to Choya’s sisters house. Here we stayed for the next two nights. Honda is Choya’s sister and she and her family were very good to us at a difficult time.
After settling in and having lunch we headed to DealeyPlaza. This was the moment Gary has waited for since 1963. Since that November day he has had a dream to go to DealeyPlaza and see it for himself.
At DealeyPlaza we checked it out from all aspects. Gary couldn’t believe he was finally here.
At 4:45pm we returned to the house and soon after Choya, Honda and Rayls went to shops to get photos developed and also check out a craft and books store.
That night Gary helped Choya’s husband to assemble a table tennis table. This was time consuming and hot work but fun.
Tuesday 7th August, 2001
This was a day for Gary. Bad start though; he lost a filling whilst cleaning his teeth. An appointment was made with the dentist and then at 9:45am Choya, Rayls, Scott and Gary headed off to DealeyPlaza again.
This time we went up to the Sixth Floor of the TexasSchoolBookDepositoryBuilding. There is a museum there and Gary got to look at the snipers nest where Lee Harvey Oswald is alleged to have shot JFK. A very interesting site and a good gift shop to.
Afterward we looked some more at DealeyPlaza, Gary was reluctant to leave.
At 1:20pm we headed to Parkland Hospital where JFK was taken after the assassination. Then it was off to a house that Lee Harvey use to board in. Then to the house where Lee Harvey Oswald had the backyard photo taken, this caused some excitement as Gary and Scott took photos in an area which is not the most exclusive of areas.
After this we went to the site of the killing of Officer JD Tippit and then to the Texas Theatre where Oswald was arrested.
We got home around 2:30pm and Gary was off to the dentist at 3:15pm.
Dinners was nice and afterwards, believe it or, we returned to DealeyPlaza so that Gary could have one last look.
Around 6:30pm we arrived home again for a quiet night and a few games of table tennis. Scott went swimming and all in all we had a great time in Dallas.