#GRAIL #NASATweetup Part I

I’m back, and it hardly seems fair that over a week has transpired since I left Florida and Kennedy Space Center. This is the first of several posts that will be a photo travelogue of my adventures during the #GRAIL #NASATweetup (for some background info about the NASATweetup and my participation, go here). My traveling companion is Gnoome, the stuffed (or plush, if you prefer) Moon. He is a traveling gnome wanna-be, hence, his name (which, pronounced in reverse is the object of the GRAIL mission).

If you want details of the science and rocketry (which are really pretty amazing), you should check out the references page on the wiki that I helped to administrate for our tweetup group. NASA does a wonderful job explaining the mission and, frankly, I couldn’t do it better.

The #GRAIL #NASATweetup was scheduled to begin on the morning of September 7, 2011. In order to arrive in time (and pick up my credentials early), I left at 2:30 AM on Tuesday, September 6th.

Gnoome and I headed out in the dark of night, armed with snack food, map, and plenty of coffee for the 10+ hour drive.

Our trip progressed quite well. No other travelers in the car, so we could just keep moving along (read: no extra long rest stops, food stops, etc). Before we knew it, we were in Florida. It's hard to tell from this photo, but it was actually raining. An ironic greeting to the Sunshine State!

Next stop (or at least, next photo) was Cocoa Beach! This is Gnoome checking out the view just outside our condo! We stayed with 5 other tweeps who we met online in through the GRAIL NASATweetup Facebook group. What a great group of people (more about them later)!

Oh boy! Time to pick up our credentials. We weren't actually given Press Accreditation, but the NASA Social Media team did use the Press online registration procedures for the tweetup.

Gnoome was so excited to meet Stephanie (@NASATweetup) that he couldn't hold the camera still enough to take a non-blurry picture. Stephanie organized just about EVERYTHING that had to be organized. I don't think she slept all week.

Gnoome wasn't the only silent attendee. Here he meets up with Bo (from the UK) and a Twitter buddy. Space Tweeps are very into science and geeky things, but they also can be pretty silly. Don't worry, the photos of the behind-the-scenes tours and NASATweetup speakers will be much more serious. Maybe.

We're official!

At registration, we also received the first of many NASA goodies! Thanks, NASA!!!

On to the pre-tweetup dinner at Dixie Crossroads. Eating at Dixie Crossroads has become a kind of tradition for the NASATweetups. Over half of the attendees had arrived in town and were at the dinner. We had a great time meeting each other and figuring out IRL names vs Twitter handles. We also had to learn to recognize each other by something other than an abstract avatar!

Prior to coming to Florida, many of the NASATweetup tweeps worked together on our wiki, created artwork for tshirts & patches, and organized a thank you for our NASA hosts. Here, Gnoome and Neven, sign the poster the group presented later to the NASA Social Media team.

More fuzzy animals alert! Gnoome found some friends at the table next to ours. These were the buddies of two children of a husband/wife team who were fortunate enough to BOTH be attending the GRAIL NASATweetup.

Back at the condo, we took one more walk out on the beach before heading inside to prepare for our very busy day on Wednesday. There was not an outlet in the condo that did not have a charger in it. Phones, computers, cameras, backup power supplies, and iPads were all being made ready to document what was to come when we arrived at Kennedy Space Center.

Stay tuned for Part II…