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Thursday, August 05, 2010  

Road Trip Day 5: Far, Far Away

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

We're running out of space centers to take M. Edium to. He's already been to Kennedy and Johnson, and today he's going to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, where they used to build the Space Shuttle. That right there is excitement enough, even as we spend several months gently breaking the "used to" part to him. Kid still thinks he's going to grow up to fly one, after all.

But it's even better today, because there's a Star Wars exhibit going on in the museum all this summer. This is one of the high points of the trip, as it would be for any Star Wars fan. And M. Edium is pretty excited about it too.

As she decided yesterday, Trash stays behind to work in the cabin. Which is her loss, but also ours, because if she had come along, she probably would have stopped me from parking way on the wrong end of the complex. We park outside Space Camp (which he is still too young to attend, because there's no justice in the world), which means a long-ass walk. Inside the front entrance, a Space Center employee checks our "tickets" for the Star Wars exhibit (actually an e-mail), marks them with a highlighter, and sends us on our way, following C-3PO's "footprints." I'm no expert tracker, but if those are his actual footprints, his finish is coming off at an alarming rate. But at least he's making up for it by taking up traveling in ten-foot bounds.

We're allowed into the exhibit hall, which is more or less as different as what we saw in Houston could possibly be and still be related to Star Wars. Whereas that was essentially a Clone Wars-branded playground, this is an actual museum exhibit. One of the first things you see is the original four-foot-long, seventy-pound model of the Millennium Falcon they used in the first film. It's like being in the presence of a holy relic. But that's just the beginning. Everything from a star destroyer to a podracer is here, even if it is a little distressing to see that most of them are actually about the same size. There's also the actual Luke Skywalker's landspeeder vehicle. You could hop right into it if you wanted, and didn't mind hurdling the ropes and getting arrested and probably getting every piece of Star Wars merchandise you own repossessed.

Enhancing the experience is the fact that every exhibit is accompanied by a video monitor with a small menu of educational clips you can watch. This is even more of a bonus for M. Edium, because many of these clips feature original Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt. Who also happens to be the voice of WALL-E, which in M. Edium's world makes him a minor deity. And perhaps not even that minor.

Which makes it extra surprising that M. Edium seems to want to rush through the exhibit hall and get to the next thing. Soon it becomes a full-time job for me to chase him away from the exit, from saying "Look at this!" with increasing desperation, to physically carrying him away from the door. It's making it rather difficult for me to take as many crappy cell phone pictures as I'd hoped. I don't know what it is he's so keen to get to, but I'll soon learn. The problem is that tickets are sold for specific times, so once you leave the exhibit hall, you can't get back in.

But leave we do, and I discover what was making that irresistible siren call that only he could hear: the gift shop. Should have known.

We spend almost as much time in there looking through cheap crap as we did looking through the priceless artifacts in the other room, and he ultimately settles on a plush Boba Fett toy to join the other stuffed friends that he's brought along on this trip (now 14 of them, and we do a census of them every time we pack up). Then we have lunch and go back to the cabin to meet Trash before the afternoon is half over.

"So what did you see? What did you learn?" she asks us. We excitedly tell her about all the costumes and props, and how computer-controlled cameras were originally invented for Star Wars adapting technology that was used to manufacture wooden millwork.

"But what did you learn about the space program?"

"…" M. Edium says.

"We saw a Saturn V," I offer.

See, I told you it would have been better if she'd been along.

posted by M. Giant 6:44 AM 0 comments


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