Friday morning I got up early to get in a short run, knowing it would be a busy day. I ran through the Rocket Center parking lot, then back the other direction, past the hotel and into the area where the kids had test-flown their rockets. Rocket debris and random parachutes littered the ground, and a few wayward rockets dangled from tree branches.
I wasn’t feeling great though–a week of restaurant food was taking its toll, perhaps. I cut my run short just over a mile and headed back to to the hotel to get ready for the boys’ Space Camp graduation.
At first, I thought graduation sounded a bit over the top, but then again, this wasn’t just regular sleepaway camp either. They call the kids trainees, and their group leaders are crew trainers. They didn’t just play around on space equipment and shuttle simulators–they experimented with the physics of rockets, they learned about the history of the space program, and they had hands-on experience with G-forces and moon gravity. It’s camp for brainiacs! So graduation really was that–the kids finished the training program and earned their wings, presented to them by Col. Bob Springer, a real astronaut.
After graduation, the boys wanted to show us all the cool things throughout the Space and Rocket Center, so we spent an hour or two being led around by two 10-year old tour guides. They chattered about everything from Black Holes to Apollo missions, climbed the rock wall, took my dad on the G-Force trainer, and explained all the equipment. At the shuttle simulator, B miraculously found his baseball hat he’d left there several days previously.
As we were eating lunch, we greeted a family we’d seen at the hotel pool the day Space Camp started–the boys had played together most of the morning. The mom returned the greeting, saying, “I didn’t recognize you at first, with your clothes on.” I wondered what the people at adjacent tables thought about THAT!
And then it was time to go. We retrieved their luggage, packed everything in the car, and said our goodbyes. B asked if we could look for his wayward rocket in the rocket graveyard I’d passed earlier, but we couldn’t find it. We hit the road around 1pm, hoping to make it somewhere into Mississippi before stopping for the night.
As it turns out, it was a good thing I’d gone running in the morning. As we got settled into our hotel room in Vicksburg, Mississippi, ominous clouds moved in. I let B swim in the pool for a few minutes since he’d been cooped up in the car for six or seven hours, but when I saw lightning off in the distance, that was the end of that. As soon as we got back into our room, a deluge hit.
The next day was a long one, and we arrived home around dinnertime. It was over 100* so I waited until about 8pm to run. I made the three-mile loop around my neighborhood, catching up on my Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me podcasts. I had a great trip, but it’s good to be back. I’ve got five more days of this run streak–I think I’ll make it. 🙂