Friday, July 22, 2011

These Are the Voyages...

Ok, y'all know that if I could live at the Kennedy Space Center I would, so guess where I was on Thursday? As mentioned previously I missed the launch of Atlantis, so Unkk graciously invited me over to view the landing. Since Atlantis was coming home in the wee small hours of Thursday morning I drove over Wednesday night. Unkkhouse is one of the most welcoming places in the known universe, and I had a great time with Unkkwife, Unkkchild, and the man himself. Something I don't know if I've mentioned about Daniel previously, but he, and his family, are the most generous and giving people you will ever meet. I hadn't been there an hour before he was bestowing upon me NASA tee shirts for every member of my family, and something incredible. Every shuttle has a flag designed for it...well, every shuttle except one. The Enterprise never got a flag since she never went into space. Never, that is, until now. Only 420 of them were made, and Unkk gave me one!

I was, to say the least, floored. The flag now hangs on the wall to my left:

I will treasure this flag always.

Shortly thereafter Unkkwife 'threw together' a delicious dinner, and great nomming was had. Finally around 1:40am she mentioned that we might want to get some sleep as we had to be up in a few hours. She is wise, and we retired. At 4:15 I was awakened and we watched the deorbit burn on the NASA Internet feed, then came to the realization that there was no point in going over to the space center as Atlantis would be touching down just after 5am, and sunrise wouldn't be for another hour, and unlike in movies spaceships don't light themselves. So we watched the landing on TV, and heard the twin sonic booms as they shook the house (which was freaking AWESOME!). We pondered going to breakfast until the Visitor Center opened, but decided that, being the old men we are, more sleep would not be unwelcome, so we went back to bed.

Around 10ish we sallied forth, hit up the BK lounge for some grub, and went to the Kennedy Space Center. It wasn't too crowded, since it was a Thursday morning, and we bee-lined it straight for Star Trek: The Exhibition. This is a touring museum of Star Trek props, costumes, and a full size mock up of the original Enterprise bridge. In between the exhibit and the entrance, however, is a motion-simulator ride where you are on a Starfleet shuttlecraft and have to fight the Borg. Of course we had to go on.

Sadly it was pretty weak sauce, with lame graphics, and no air conditioning to speak of, but it was free so we didn't complain too much. Thence we made our way to the TOS(The Original Series) display. The first thing you see when you enter is a full scale reproduction of the Guardian of Forever, from the episode City on the Edge of Forever. The best thing about this exhibit is that much of it is hands-on, so of course, we had to play:

I had to get just one more 'action' shot:

And as I did that, a gentleman just a tad older than me laughed and said, "Now there's a man who knows his Sci-Fi." We shared a chuckle at that.

Next were displays of props, costumes, and a beautiful model of the original Enterprise.

All of this was groovy, but the real thing I was there to see lay just ahead...the bloody A, B, C, orrrr D...bridge. It is very hard to describe my emotions as I set foot into what was very obviously a museum reproduction, yet felt as familiar as my bedroom back in my parent's house. None of the buttons or switches worked, but that didn't matter. I was on the Enterprise! It may seem silly to you, but Star Trek has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember, and standing on this set, this construct of plywood and plastic, felt so right to me, so at home, so good. It was something I've been waiting my whole life for, yet never expected to be able to do. Here are the pics.

Then, finally, the moment I had dreamed of my whole life. I got to sit in the captain's chair.

The only way this could have been better was if I was in a Starfleet uniform, but being at one of my favorite places on Earth, sitting in the captain's chair of the original USS Enterprise, in the company of one of the grooviest humans on this planet was about as good as it gets for a geek like me.

We lingered about a bit more, then wandered across the way to the Next Generation display.

The last things in the display were some captain's chairs from Enterprise D, B, and a Klingon Bird of Prey. You could sit in the Klingon chair:

After that we went on the Shuttle Launch simulator, a ride I never tire of, then called it a day. Unkk and I recorded a podcast, and then I had to take my leave and return home. I cannot properly express my gratitude at the hospitality, generosity, and just-plain niceness of Daniel and his family. He has allowed me to see, experience, and have so many things that I never dreamed would be possible, and I thank him, Marina, and the Unkkchild for their unparallelled wonderfullness. And, dear readers, I thank you for sticking around. If you want to see more pics from my trip they are on my Facebook page: So I'm going to end this novel now. We are still unpacking, but at least the cats seem to have mostly forgiven us for moving, and life is settling down into a semblance of normalcy. We are almost ready for baby Sharon to arrive, and Mrs. Marius is very ready to no longer be pregnant. One more month. :-) So that's all for now, dear friends. See you again real soon.

Live long, and prosper.


Janet said...

This is AWESOME, Rick! Thanks so much for sharing all the pictures. I'm super jealous, but also super happy that you got to live your dream.

Camille said...

Very cool stuff... I really gotta visit that place one day.

Mary said...

Fantastic blog post Rick. Thanks for sharing :-)

Stinkypaw said...

Looks like a great time to be had. Reading and looking at your pict. I've realised I know more about Star Trek than I thought I did, as I coudl ID the uniforms... it's all because of my husband! I'm turning into a geekette! Argh.

Marius said...

Resistance is futile. ;-) And Camille, if you make it to the Space Center I'll gladly join you, should you wish.

flurrious said...

As I was scrolling down through the pictures of the Enterprise, I actually started to get nervous that you didn't sit in the captain's chair. You showed the empty captain's chair and then you showed the seats where Sulu and ... that Russian guy whose name I totally remember but just choose not to say right now sat. And I was here going, "didn't you sit in Kirk's chair? Why didn't you sit in Kirk's chair???" I'm sorry I doubted you.

Rosebuckle said...

That just makes me smile :)