Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ugh. And Hot. And Ugh. But Robots!

We theme-dressed Quinn for our trip to Goddard Space Flight Center today.

Before I start, I'd like to say, "Yay, NASA!" and, "Yay, space travel!" and, "Hooray, scientific research!" and, "Yippee, children learning about and loving science!"

That said, I have to admit that Team Stimey's experience at Launchfest did not live up to Team Stimey's expectations of Launchfest. (Forgive me, Susan.) I was expecting awesome kid-friendly activities and exhibits in a reasonably-sized venue. We experienced a site better set up for grownups with patience and the ability to withstand walking around in the heat.

I talk about the heat because it was 9000 degrees today. Give or take a couple thousand. Good thing I had a sweatshirt with me. I'm not kidding. (The flip side of "always prepared" is "dragging along sixteen items you don't need.")

I have a feeling that Launchfest was probably really fun, but that we didn't plan well enough, or think enough about what Team Stimey does well, before we decided to go.

The phrases "satellite parking lots" and "shuttle buses" should have tipped us off that it might not be our type of event.

First, we drove past the satellite lot and turned into the visitor's center, where we were told to turn around and drive back to the satellite lot, which we did. Only to be told that the satellite lot was full and that we should go to an alternate satellite lot.

We could have just turned around and gone home then, but we had seen from the road and pointed out to the little dudes the following:

In case you're curious, that is the coolest moonbounce known to humankind.

Then we found street parking and walked back to the satellite lot to get on the bus. So we approached some young dude in a camouflage uniform who put wristbands on all of us. "Why do we need wristbands?" Alex asked.

"I think it's to show that you've paid," the dude said. "Only wait, this is a free event. Maybe it's for...I think it's for... I don't know why you need wristbands."

'Nuff said. We got on the bus, and Jack, who generally refuses to even let me put wristbands on him (maybe I should try wearing a uniform), began to pry his off.

I still don't know what the wristbands were for.

We arrived at Goddard where we wandered around in 90- (okay, not 9000-) degree heat for a while until we found robots. And not just any robots, but robots who were playing some sort of game with giant balls.

I think it's possible that Jack wants to be a robot.

Because, like I said, we were super ill prepared, we had neglected to bring lunch or eat before we arrived. So we found a seat and some pricey fried food and sweated through lunch.

Surly much?

Then we went to stand in line for the moonbounce, where we discovered that all of Launchfest did not occur at the first shuttle stop. There were, in fact, six different shuttle stops. You may be able to guess this, but Team Stimey was not prepared to wait in six different lines to go to six different buildings at six different shuttle stops.

We waited and waited and waited for the moonbounce. At some point we realized that Sam had convinced both Jack and Quinn to fight over who got to scratch his back:

Shortly after I took these photos, I kneeled down on the ground and asked Quinn to scratch my back. He refused. Apparently I do not have Sam's charisma.

Then, because we were right next to an ice cream truck, and we were already $24 into food-buying, we got the munchkins ice cream.

We drove all the way to Goddard to go on a moonbounce.

While in line for the moonbounce, we had run into a friend who claimed that the building waaaaaay across the green had something Launchfest-related in it, so we slogged our way back to where we started. (And watched more robots.)

As we approached the building, I felt an almost Pavlovian anticipation for the air conditioning. The doors opened and...bliss. Cool, cool air. Signs pointed our way down the hall. With every sign I passed, my eagerness grew. This was going to be the thing that made our day. I just knew we were going to reach the end of the hall and we were going to find the fucking Mars Rover prototype or something.

(I think you know where this is going.)

The hallway opened into an empty room.


(Evidently a documentary or some such thing was scheduled to be shown upstairs sometime later.) So we went to the bathroom and went home.

And, by the way, the shuttle on the way home involved a bus transfer. Yes. That's right, we had to change buses to get back to the satellite lot.

Still, Launchfest was more fun that the other thing we had planned for today. Which was nothing.


  1. Ha! I'd still be willing to bet that your boys had a great time.

  2. You know, I think they did. Sam even asked to go back next year to see the robots again. Because really, they got to see robots, eat fried food, and go on a moonbounce and a bus. What could be better? They don't care that they didn't learn science. Good point!

  3. It's an endurance course for parents really.

    Those security wristbands cause mayhem over here, yet despite all the squalling, like you say, they ask to go back next year.

    No wonder I dye my grey hair.

  4. HOly shit, you guys earn the bravery awards for today! I'm not sure I would have tried that with ONE let alone three! I bow in your presence! ;-)

  5. No corndogs at Goddard? Or have they gotten over corndogs?

  6. Don't forget that they also had ice cream along with the robots, fried food, moonbounce and bus. Ice cream adds many, many bonus points at this house.


  7. Jack looks so worried about that wristband - I kinda wanna help him with it!

  8. Clearly the wristband was to show that you passed the stringent security exam.

    Don't feel bad, we've driven way further to go on a moon bounce and eat ice cream.

    xoxo, SG

  9. Ha! Part of Camp Mom also went to Launchfest. With about the same experience. Except the line was too long for the moonbounce.

    As soon as I saw all the cars pulling into satellite parking and realized that we couldn't drive on center (Rocket Man works there), I quickly came up with an excuse why I and 3 of the whiniest kids had to go home. The other 2 were back MUCH sooner than I expected because of the whole 9000 degree factor!

    (Later we went to a party with a moonbounce and BEER, so that was more my scene.)

  10. My trip was only better than yours in that my kids had never ridden a school bus before.

    They loved it.

    Waiting in the heat for over an hour for the FIRST bus? They didn't love.

    And yeah, over half our trip was spent on buses, in line for food, in line for the moonbounce, and in line for food again.

    But we did make our way over to building 9, where there were like a million exhibits and machines and stuff. Very cool.

    And yet also sweltering....

  11. Just reading your description makes me squirm from anxiety. Six different stops? That's insane.

    Glad the boys still had a good day, though. A moonbounce like that is really pretty cool.

  12. Dude - did you see the Express today? This post is quoted in it! Congrats!

  13. Elaine, I totally hadn't seen it. I had to get Alex to find it for me. Thanks for pointing it out. Yay!


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