An awesome way to destroy your comfort zone

DNU Paul

Those who know me know that I’m a big fan of the “comfort zone.” For example, I’m the guy that goes through a set routine every morning, and orders the same food time and time again at favorite restaurants. My reasoning? It’s simple…I know exactly what to expect, and I like that feeling.

Don’t get me wrong. I love an adventure just like everyone else. It’s just that, whenever possible, I like those adventures to be a bit predictable.  Cue next week’s NASATweetup.

On Wednesday, I’m heading to Florida where I’ll be part of an exclusive group of 150 “tweeters” from around the country, invited by NASA to witness up close and personal, the final launch of the Space Shuttle.

Keep in mind that, although I’ve been “invited”, a NASATweetup is essentially a no-expense-paid trip. If you ask me, this is a brilliant strategy on NASA’s part — “Let’s invite 150 people out here, require them to find their own transportation (air and ground) and accommodations, then, ask them to talk about us like crazy to their networks of friends.” Again, brilliant!

I won’t lie. It’s a totally incredible feeling to be in this position. After all, as NASA stated in one of their early emails to me, “You are being provided an opportunity and access most NASA employees have never had.” It’s literally an opportunity of a lifetime.

So, why is my wife still so amazed that I’m even going? Because this little adventure is destroying my comfort zone…and it’s thrilling! Check out these travel plans:

Air Travel to Florida:

I’m planning to fly “standby” on a buddy pass on either American or Southwests airlines, depending on flight loads. Why a buddy pass? Well, for one it’s free and that’s always a bonus. More importantly, however, is the fact that it allows for fantastic flexibility should the launch get delayed, which is always likely. This way, I’m not stuck to catching a certain flight back.

The drawbacks are that I am depending on flights having open seats in order to make it to Florida. This  means I technically don’t know when I’m leaving, what cities I’ll be connecting through, or if Orlando will even be my final destination. The entire journey will be a “game-time call.”

Rental Car:

Since I don’t know if I’ll be landing in Orlando, I’m just planning to rent a car wherever I happen to land. Hopefully, they’ll have some inventory. Odds are that will be in Orlando, but is it worth the risk to book a car in advance, knowing that landing at a different airport is a realistic possibility?

Hotel:

Fortunately, a family time-share was available in Orlando. Whew!

Transportation to and from the Kennedy Space Center:

NASA has strongly encouraged carpooling with other “tweeters” because of lack of available parking at Kennedy Space Center. What this means is that I’ll be carpooling with “Jess,” a guy I’ve never met from Great Falls, MT. He seems nice via Facebook. We’re meeting at a hotel by the Orlando airport and I’m looking forward to meeting him in person.

Air Travel back to Utah:

Once again, I’ll be flying standby in the same fashion I used to get there. Don’t know what flights I’ll be on or at what times.

When all is said and done, I’m sure everything will work out fine. Is this journey something that’s out of character for me? For sure! But, it’s nice to realize that doing something so out of character can be one of the best experiences ever!!

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