Monday, August 31, 2009


I am still getting into the flow with Laura and the kids but one of the things I am really enjoying is the fact that the whole clan is not about TV and Wii. They have both, but life at the house there is more about when the next "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" book comes out then the latest movie, or video game. It is a family of doers which is worthy. This weekend we have a huge amount of stuff on the plate. First off we are going shooting. Michael the oldest is just getting into hunting and this will be his 2nd season and first in AZ. My friend Gerhard has agreed to help sight in his hunting rifle and we are bringing everyone along including Grand Dad to help. After that, we have a date with Nick, to build and launch rockets.

We head out to the desert and find Gerhard has already set up the range. The road out is a hoot with the little ones in the back.

After some formal introductions, Gerhard takes Michael under his wing and starts the lesson. My man has been a hunter for 40 years, knows more about this part of the world than most, and is amazing with kids.

For his age, Michael is an amazingly patient and accurate shooter. You would not think he was 14 most of the time. Gerhard cuts him no slack though when it comes to doing things the right way. The drills are realistic and fun.

Meanwhile, Colyn is also working on learning the basics.

Though most of the time she is in my blind reading Robin Hood.

Ahh the joys of being a grandparent! And I think her face is priceless in this picture. Jackson can be seen in the background hitting targets over 100yds away with a 22 too.

Jackson is a worthy shot too. And he didn't shoot his eye out.

The day though belongs to Michael and his deer rifle. He is having a blast!

Laura waiting for a chance to shoot. She looks good with a gun in her hand.

Remember folks...I am not a liberal...I'm an armed socialist smile

You have to love a woman that can hit a target, and cook a mean Talapia!

But alas we need to head back into town to meet Nick and transition from Shooting to Rocket making. Weekends are short and there is so much to learn!

Nick arrives soon after we get home.

We quickly get down to having a design meeting and talk about what it is we are building and the launch schedule. Laura, Nick and I agree to manage the NASA like Budget leaving the kids to work with Nick on the design of the rockets and launcher.

The initial Design Review

Colyn absorbing the plan and making sure we know what each critical step is going to entail.

I don't think Von Braun took this level of detailed notes.

Nick surrounded by his support staff works to make sure all materials meet spec.

Construction then proceeds in CleanRoom 1. Colyn and Jackson do a really good job of sharing.

Rigorous Quality Testing is done to meet the design spec sheet.

Next it is on to CleanRoom 2 for some work with chemicals to bond the launcher together. Colyn manages to stress that it is ok to be a girl working in Science.

Again it is a total team effort here.

After the work in Cleanroom 2 is complete it is back to Cleanroom 1 to work on the rockets and the launch mechanism. This is our test capsule that will become part of the launch trigger. Colyn is so focused here.

These guys have the right stuff!

As heavy construction continues, safety rules get a lot stricter and we all don safety glasses

Michael has assumed a reserved roll in the build and is working on cleaning the guns from this mornings shoot.

We take a break for the evening and agree to regroup the following morning at 0730 to finish the rockets and launch. Morning comes and the staff is already hard at work even through breakfast.

Even the Chief of the whole facility finds time to get her hands dirty as she drinks her coffee.

Wildcat 1 is ready for launch.

Mission Control Leader Purzer at the ready. Laura's house is in the background.

Only thing funner then a rocket is a squirt bottle smile

But as liftoff gets closer everyone chips in to make launch a go. Michael being the oldest gets to test fire his first. He also babysat for us last night.

The results are spectacular!

Everyone now hustles to get the next rocket up into the air.

Not sure if Colyn likes the rocket flying over 50 feet into the air more then getting drenched by the water it uses to propel itself. Either way it is a worthy morning!

Jackson's Cola Rocket is next up.

Reentry is about 50 yards away.

He is happy.

The Junior Astronauts taking a moment for the press.

And one very happy Launch Manager.

All in all a great day!

See you all down the road


Friday, August 28, 2009

Museums are pretty worthy too!

Grand Adventure is always out there. For me most time it involves the great outdoors and/or Motorcycles. While I don't plan on stopping having those, today I am setting out on a new one as Laura and I are taking the kids to the AZ Science Center. Jackson and Colyn are coming while Michael is staying with his Grandpa to get ready for the big shooting day we have planned tomorrow morning.

After a nice ride on the Fuji this morning, I am ready to head out. We get the kids in the Jeep and make our way downtown to explore the place. Laura is a member but I have not been there ever. I make a few last minute calls before parking and we are on our way in.

It is a modern facility and has an Imax and a Planitarium!

Jackson is totally excited to be here and like all 7 year olds lives for the ability to go into a playground where you can touch almost everything. Laura really does a lot to keep the kids learning all the time. Very Worthy.

Ahh the energy of a 10 year old. I should note for the record Colyn will be 11 Monday. She may not forgive me if I don't.

We make our way in and discover there is a show in the Planitarium in about 10 minutes. Whoo Hoo it is about the Arizona Sky! We sit down in the theater which is almost empty and get a real treat. The man presenting the lecture is a retired teacher named Tom, and he is great not only with the adults, but with the kids too. Jackson is a lot like me in the respect that he has no trouble speaking up and asking questions. Pretty soon he is Tom the Teacher's straight man as we learn all about the Big Dipper, Little Dipper (which looks like a dead chipmunk if you ask Jackson). I am having a ball and Laura is too. We leave the planetarium a lot smarter about the night sky and I can't wait to try it out in Torrey next month.

Some of the tests there are actually really interesting. Firs of read the words on the chart above. Now say what the color of the text is. The brain is an amazing thing!

Balancing on rubber balls is a lot easier at 10 then at 42! Colyn and Jackson are both great kids in the fact that they are eager to learn but also polite and willing to share.

Jackson is a blur as he checks out all of the cool puzzles.

Moments like this really show how cool it is to watch Laura with the kids.

The competition heats up though when its time to race though! Here Colyn proves that she can still school Jackson. Oh and pushing a wheel chair is a lot harder then I thought.

In fairness, Jackson wasn't for behind

Colyn learned about spinning fast and gravity too smile

And I think she is trying out to be one of my monkeys. She still has some challenges saying the word statistics though smile

The kids next challenge is learning about building arches like the romans.

They do pretty good!

After a quick stop at the lego castle, we head out and grab some lunch before they drop me off to write this tale and take a moto back to Laura's so I have one to take to the office next week.

All in all a grand adventure.

See ya all later.