Listen now (27 mins) | In this episode: They didn't want us to talk about this place. We're sorry to disappoint them.
As a kid, I grew up with the USA's space program. When I was 12 years old, my Boyscout troop camped across the water from the launch of Apollo 8 - the first manned mission around the moon. I will never forget the slow movement of the rocket at first, and when the sound later hit us and the shock waves came through the ground.
Years later, in professional school, NASA had its first launch of the Space Shuttle STS system. A friend who was a pilot happened to be in Titusville, trying to watch the launch. At a fast food restaurant he struck up a conversation with a girl whose dad had given her two passes to the base for the launch. He called me and I drove up from Miami, and after several launch delays and cancellations, it launched. We went on the base and were very close to the launch site. So close, they never let observers be that close again. Supposedly because of toxic emissions from the solid rocket boosters to the downwind areas.
The large crowd was so excited, standing by a fence. I remember the difference, as the solid rocket boosters made it take of so quickly. We were not really supposed to be there, but were so happy we were.
Years later, I travelled to Titusville, and saw the last launch of a Space Shuttle, the STS flight of Atlantis, from across the water. Not as close, but pretty awesome, too, and I shared the experience with my wife and daughter, too.
This is my forbidden place story. Years ago, we lived in Beijing PRC. A young lady in my husband’s office had an uncle who worked in The Forbidden City. One morning, extremely early we were given a guided tour of the Forbidden City, including an up on the dais of the Emperor. I didn’t dare ask to sit in it but we did get our photo taken standing beside it. We were told not even presidents were allowed behind the roped off area and there we were! Uncle was either a curator or a maintenance person. Either way, he had an extremely large key ring full of keys. We got to see a lot of the Forbidden City that people never see. It was a morning I’ve never forgotten.
Prior to planning a first time extended trip to Australia and New Zealand, I was seated with a couple from New Zealand and another from Australia. I asked them for their opinion on visiting their homelands. The Australian immediately told me the places to visit there. When he finished, the New Zealander said to us, “If you are going to visit both Australia and New Zealand, go to New Zealand first.” I then asked why? He responded slowly and very clearly….if you visit New Zealand first, YOU WON’T VISIT AUSTRALIA. He was correct….New Zealand is incredible..
A women’s only trip to Iran in April 2019. One of my favorite all time trips. Wonderful people who were so happy we were visiting. Everyone was very open to talking politics.
Now you understand why I lived in NZ for 2 years and return every yr. Tip - Auckland is just a big city, walk to ferry terminal and go to Waiheke Island for a beautiful and fun day trip. 45 min trip and worth every scenic minute.
Forbidden - Abu Dhabi because misconception is Taliban, Saudi Arabia, morality police, etc. with burka clad women and hotels that are tents in the desert. Thanks to Chris and his boys and their posts, I went to Abu Dhabi. Safest, cleanest place, beautiful hotels and beaches. I will travel there 3 times this year, it's that good and not "forbidden," and will add Doha, again thanks to Chris and the boys.
I was attending a Conference at The Homestead in Virginia. It is a short walk from the Natural Bridge. A group of us (NONE qualifying as "young & stupid") decided to take a walk to see the Natural Bridge - after hours of course. (There may have been a bottle of vino in the group but no one was even slightly tipsy) It was a lovely, moonlit night in January. The Natural Bridge in moonlight is awesome! One of the few times I ever "broke the rules" and one this grandmother at the time, has never regretted.
New Zealand had no sense of humor when we were flying repatriations in 2022-21.
The train from The Pas and Churchill is a wonderful 30 hr trip. I would recommend.
Little tip: NZ'ers always say 'the' South Island or 'the North Island'. Only tourists call them South or North Island. Glad you're enjoying Christchurch where I was born 83 years ago.