Sunday, December 12, 2010

Adventures on the Space Coast

We have just arrived in Fort Lauderdale after a week in Cocoa, FL.  Despite the bitter cold, we found it a lovely town.

To date, I’ve avoiding writing a list of our adventures.  What is more boring than reading someone else’s blow-by-blow of their vacation?  I might as well just give up right now and buy myself a powder blue, elastic-waistband granny suit and a slide projector.  “And here we are passing red buoy number 30.  And up ahead, you can see the green daymark...”  I’m asleep already.  But I am going to take a little break from my random storytelling to recount our trip to the Kennedy Space Center.  Because it was AWESOME.  It was, in fact, SO MUCH BETTER THAN WHATEVER YOU DID YESTERDAY THAT I NEED TO GLOAT IN ALL CAPS!

As a young Amy, I briefly entertained notions of becoming an astronaut.  This dream was sidelined in part because I lack any discernable blood pressure.  On the plus side, I’ll probably never have a heart attack.  On the minus, my vision often greys-out from such simple activities as riding a roller coaster with a loop in it.  Or standing up.  Anyway, I imagine that circulation and the ability to retain consciousness are advantages on a space mission, so tough for me.

When I realized that Cape Canaveral was an easy stop for us on the boat, I couldn’t pass up the chance.  Stylish and I have been working on a Space unit for school, so, bam!  Instant field trip.

Well.  The Center did not disappoint.  We took a bus tour of the facility, saw the launch pads, the enormous assembly building (which is so tall that it was actually in view from the ocean for hours as we came into Cape Canaveral), actual rockets, space gear.  We touched a moon rock.  We saw an IMAX movie about Hubble, which was simply beautiful.  My favourite part: moving through the nebula below Orion’s belt.  Stylish’s favourite part: an astronaut eating lunch in space, spinning his tortilla around.

We met astronaut John-David Bartoe, an expert on the outer layers of the sun, who gave a great little talk.  Stylish spoke with him afterwards, got an autograph and a photo.  (We learned through this chat that a prominence and a filament are really the same thing from two different angles.  Are you geeking out right now or what?)

Indy greatly disapproved of the astronauts’ suits on display.  She tapped on the glass and yelled, “Take the helmet OFF!” at each display.  (Only Alan Shepard was spared this harangue, as his suit wisely had the helmet tucked under one arm.)

Now, no trip is complete with a trip to the gift shop.  Stylish has recently been granted an allowance, to do with as she pleases.  (There is nothing like a disappointing purchase to teach you the value of being choosy with your money.)  Carefully hoarded dollars in hand, she went through the two-story gift shop like a pro, considering and discarding options with efficiency.  And what did she choose in the end?  Pink glow-in-the-dark nail polish.  Nothing says “I visited the Space Center” like glowing fingernails.  And while I am not a nail polish kind of girl – I’m kind of proud when I manage to brush my hair in the morning, now - I can’t fault her choice.  When I was six, I got a bottle of Cabbage Patch Kids peel-off nail polish for Christmas.  I painted, dried and peeled my nails for three days straight until the bottle was empty.  Watching that burgundy-coloured goo turn to rubber and then peel off as though it had never been there?  Magic.  And if that stuff had glowed?  Pah.

As if all this space tourism weren’t enough, there was a SpaceX COTS rocket launch scheduled for the next morning.  The girls and I patiently did school on deck (one of us always on Rocket Watch), and then, at about 10:45, there it was!  A super-bright light shooting into the sky, leaving a gorgeous, puffy contrail.  Hooray!  Take that, traditional schooling!  I might as well retire my teacher’s cap right now, because I’ll never top that.

I'll leave the last word to Stylish.


Anonymous said...

That certainly topped our visit to the space center with the 4 of you! Totally triumphant.

Anonymous said...

I love the way you write Amy, Thanks for the great story!

Nicolas Turcotte