On Hampton Roads

Yesterday, Jimmy, Justin and I had a fantastic day on Saturday to conclude our trip. I, however, did wear Justin out.

We started at the NASA Visitor’s Center in Hampton. This was a really fun place with all sorts of space and aircraft exhibits. While it does not have the same kinds of artifacts then the Omnisphere in Hutchinson, it did some other things extremely well.

They have a bunch of interactive exhibits that show the physics involved in air and space travel. Justin and Jimmy had a lot of fun (and I as well, though of course I was too cool to tell them that) playing and learning about the physics involved.

One of the highlights was the enclosed flight simulator that moved in all directions. The first time Jimmy and Justin went on it the simulator stopped about 30 seconds in and locked up, but they got it fixed and eventually they went twice. The first time Jimmy was in the pilot seat and decided to try a barrel roll which prompted a loud “Hey” noticeable to the people outside the capsule. Justin’s eyes were huge when the capsule opened. The second time Justin said he’d drive and took the pilot seat. This time was a much wilder ride, partially controlled by Justin, partially controlled by Jimmy, and partially chaotic because Jimmy kept changing who was the pilot. That was hilarious to watch from the outside as the capsule was flipping upside down and rolling and doing all sorts of things. I too took a turn and though I wasn’t as wild as them I had a lot of fun trying to skim the land, eventually crashing of course.

There was also a magic exhibit. This exhibit showed the math and physics behind the illusions of several tricks. Many of these exhibits were interactive and people could participate in them. They both thought this was fun.

Upstairs there’s more space exhibits, including exhibits on what is involved in getting into space and also colonizing the moon and Mars.

After spending nearly 4 hours there, we went down to Norfolk. We went through one of the many tunnels under Hampton Roads to get there. We went to see the USS Wisconsin and we were hoping for a harbor cruise, which fortunately we were able to do as well.

The Wisconsin was great, even though you could only wander around topside. She’s actually still in the Reserve Fleet so technically she could be re-commissioned and they keep the belowdecks in a controlled environment. Nevertheless it was amazing. Justin and I wandered around everything we could. Jimmy couldn’t because of his knees.

Then we lounged and shopped for a bit until 5:30 and the harbor cruise started. The cruise was fantastic. We all loved the cruise and I took a ton of pictures. We got to see a bunch of ships in the harbor and then went past the Norfolk US Navy base to see what was currently in port and there was quite a lot. 2 Nimitz-class carriers, CVN-75 Harry S. Truman and CVN-69 Dwight D. Eisenhower, another carrier CVN-65 Enterprise, and a slew of other ships. The Arleigh Burke-class destroyers included the Burke herself, the Winston Churchill, and the Cole, the same ship damaged in the terrorist attack a while ago. There were several Ticonderoga-class CGs as well. You couldn’t see them very well, but there were also 4 Los Angeles-class attack subs. Finally, there was a slew of support and amphibious ships. It was very very cool. I was in heaven. So were the boys.

After that, we made the drive home and ended the trip. We chatted for a bit but we were all tired and went to bed fairly quickly.

Today I’m at Vels’s house, in preparation for meeting with Dr. Richard Abels tomorrow. More on that later.

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