Back in September, there was much excitement in L.A. when the Endeavour shuttle (on the back of a Boeing 747) flew overhead as it made its way to its final destination - the California Science Center, via LAX. School kids waited in their schoolgrounds to watch, and anywhere that had rooftop access was full to overflowing with spectators and their cameras. I was a little limited by the fact that Miss Pie needed a nap, so we were stuck at home. However, I followed the live broadcast on TV as she slept, and when the shuttle approached Griffith Park - not far away - I ran out to our balcony, in the hope that I'd get a glimpse. Sure enough, I heard the rumble of the accompanying fighter jets, looked up, and there it was. I wasn't prepared for my reaction as I tried to take a photo. My hands shook, and there was a definite lump in my throat. I guess you could say I got caught up in the hype I'd been hearing all morning... but there's nothing like witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Last Saturday, we had plans to hang out at L.A. Zoo with a bunch of friends but when we woke up, it was pouring so on a whim, Plan B was to head to the California Science Center and - if tickets were available - see the Endeavour shuttle. If not, we'd still have a lot of other things to see there.
The museum itself is free (and has some brilliant interactive displays that the Faery and her little mates were rather taken with). I didn't want to get my hopes up about seeing the shuttle, but we were able to get timed tickets not long after we arrived - 'timed' just meaning that we needed to join the queue to the exhibit at a certain time, and wait, but once inside we could stay as long as we liked.
These tickets were only $2 each. Two dollars to see a space shuttle, y'all. When I think of all the museums I've been to over the years, in various cities, I am hard-pressed to think of one that would have charged so little.
The shuttle is currently being displayed horizontally in a hangar-type building, until a large permanent exhibition structure is built - one which would allow it to be vertical. Horizontal, vertical... it didn't matter to me. It was incredible to view a piece of history up so close. Seeing it with American friends, and hearing their perspective on it, also hammered home to me how sad it is that this particular space programme is now over. It's truly the end of an era.
As we wandered around, taking in the time-lapse videos of preparation for launches, the kids' excitement wore off fairly quickly. For six-year-olds, they simply don't have the frame of reference that older generations do. I still have vivid memories of being in primary school and watching launches live on televisions that were wheeled into the classroom for such special occasions... but our kids? They just knew we were looking at a rocket ship that had been to space, but whatever. Next. Can we go back to the fish we were looking at before? I hope one day, when the Faery looks back at the photos, she'll remember bits and pieces, and understand how significant that 'big rocket' was, and how lucky she was to be able to see it up close. She's a bright kid, so I think she will one day.
At any rate, the day out was great. Both girls fell asleep almost immediately on the drive home... something which happens with the frequency of a blue moon. I call that a successful day.
Meanwhile, if you haven't seen the amazing time-lapse vide of the Endeavour making its way from LAX to the museum, through the streets of L.A, then I suggest you click here and watch it... now.