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7/17/96 - T+16
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7/17/96 - T+16 - Land of Lakes

First off, I have just arrived at my hotel for the evening and have received the news of the crash of TWA Flight 800. I ask all of you to take a moment off silence right now to say a prayer for the victims of that crash and their families. I myself have over 1,000,000 flight miles in my life and am always moved with catastrophes like this.

My day started off to be a low profile day of travel. I didn't expect to have much to report to you this evening. Well, like everything else on this adventure, this didn't turn out to be true.

I started out westward across Minnesota. Interstate 90 runs about 10 miles north of the Iowa border and runs right through America's farming heartland. I spent a lot of time thinking about those men and women who make their living feeding us. The run great risk from weather and work many long days to bring in their crops. In my mind, they are some of the unsung heroes of America!

Cruising along westward about 100 miles outside of Sioux Falls, disaster struck. I had just finished my watch driving and was in the back fixing us something cold to drink. Sancho was at the wheel. I immediately noticed a rapid change in our cabin environment. I didn't hear any thing before the change, but could feel it immediately. I intercommed Sancho up front and he confirmed what I suspected, we had a major failure in the ECON or Environmental Control System. At that time I immediately returned to the bridge. Concerned with the immediate safety of our ship, Sancho and I ran a complete systems check. Fortunately the propulsion, direction control, ECM, communications, and guidance systems were operating correctly. This was very fortunate because we were cruising through space at Mach .75 and a propagating failure would have meant utter disaster. This told us that the problem appeared to centralized to environment control. Sancho began running a low level diagnostic of the system while I contacted Houston Control. Sancho's testing concluded that all controls indicated proper operation, but the cabin temperature and humidity continued to rise. Houston verified that their sensors also indicated no problem. With our craft under immediate control our attention turned to problem of the rapidly changing environment. A quick scan of the external environment told us that it was more desirable than our internal environment. I gave the immediate order to vent cabin pressure to the outside space. The effectively lowered the internal temperature to 90 degrees and 85% humidity.

At this time we attempted to complete a more detailed diagnostic of the system. We did the best that we could under the situation, but both Sancho and I are operations officers and not engineering officers. It would have been nice to have had Jordie or Mr. Data on board to help with the engineering task. But this is the problem that you face when you have a failure in a small attack craft such as ours. With things basically under control, Houston recommended that we plot a course to dock with the neared Star Base repair facility.

We were lucking in finding an independent star base a few sectors away from our current position. Once we docked, Sancho and I went to work on more in-depth testing. The problem was isolated to current control unit located underneath the directional control system. Sancho went to work on removing the faulty components while I went out to locate replacement parts. Once these parts were secured, Sancho installed the quickly and the system tested out all OK. The repaired system quickly began to lower the cabin temperature and humidity to normal levels. Sancho turned out to be a quite skilled craftsman and was very helpful in this situation. I think he may have the making of a fine knight someday.

With Rozinante repaired we continued our trip west into South Dakota. Our next stop was to Mitchell SD to a place called the Corn Palace.
The Corn Palace is the local arena for basketball and concerts. What is unique is that the outer surfaces are completely covered with corn. All of the designs are formed with corn cobs, silk and husks.

After a quick dinner in Mitchell, it was back to the road. Our final destination was the entrance to the Bad Lands National Park. Tonight was the first time that I've had trouble in finding lodging. The motel that I selected from the travel guide turned out to be the South Dakota version of the Bates Motel. It was really spooky. The second alternative looked like the Hotel California. At this point it was getting late so I continued down the road to Wall SD and quickly secured lodging there.

This next image is what the scenery looked like for most of the day. Can we say "Flat!" After spending a lot of time in hills and mountains of the east is was interesting to see seriously flat land. An interesting change but it gets rather boring after a while.

Here we see a view inside the cabin of our craft. We see Sancho manning the navigation and communications systems. Speaking of Sancho, he has asked me to pass on a message to his many fans.

Many of his female fans have been sending him presents of their undergarments. Sancho as asked that instead of their garment, that they send picture of them selves in these garments or out of these garments as the situation my be. I myself find this request to be rather crude and unbecoming of a gentleman, but then Sancho is just a squire and not a knight so I can understand his actions.

Well it's been a long day. We covered almost 500 miles today which makes it our longest travel distance of the trip. I'm headed off to bed and I hope you also have a great evening!



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