It’s pretty silly writing about the events of a beautiful fall day while us Minnesotans are in the midst of a snowstorm. But that’s what I’m doing & I don’t care! It’s a reminder of how crazy-fast autumn flies by.
Rocket Day is one of the best events of the year.
Every September, my Uncle Whitey & Aunt Colleen invite a hundred people to their place to hang out, make apple cider, share hotdish and bars (duh, that’s how we roll in the midwest) and launch model rockets. It’s a blast, no pun intended.
Okay, pun intended.
A regular Go Fork Yourself podcast listener (that’s my show with Andrew Zimmern, btw) owns a model rocket company and sent me this kick-ass WAC Corporal rocket kit. The husband and I decided to build it.
If you’re anything like me, when you hear model rocket “kit,” you think, I dunno, IKEA. Snap a few pieces together and BOOM. Rocket!
Hahahahahahaha…. I guess that’s not how this works.
We needed a drill. And superglue. And epoxy. And sandpaper and latex gloves and loads of patience.
Half of this couple was really excited to build a rocket.
Can you guess who?
I, on the other hand, was all butterflies (#279).
These rocket things take quite some time to assemble (we worked on it three separate nights), require all sorts of tools and ingredients I don’t understand. It’s also the exact type of situation where Josh and I would get into some stupid argument. And then at the end, we have to launch this sucker in front of 100 people and it might explode in the air (#280). All that work down the tubes!
Of course, facing these fears is exactly what Hey Eleanor is all about.
I put on my gloves and started epoxying the crap out of our rocket.
Though there were a few tense moments and I may have superglued my fingers together at one point, we built the rocket mostly unscathed.
We didn’t have time to paint our rocket (apologies to model rocket purists!), but were okay with that. It would’ve taken another hour or two and we weren’t even sure it would fly.
Here’s Josh & I are with our Apollo WIP. (That’s “Work In Progress.”)
Josh & I set ‘er up on the launch pad. Of course you have to wear a helmet whilst launching your rocket. It makes everything substantially more fun.
We braced ourselves as a hundred of our friends and family counted down from 10.
Miraculously, our rocket not only launched successfully, but after the parachute opened (whew!), it landed right back at our feet. Hugely satisfying & exhilarating!
After watching a dozen or so launches, Josh and I decided to fly ours again. We followed the exact same steps.
However, this time we used a slightly larger engine.
We put on the helmets.
We counted down from 10.
We pressed the launch button.
We watched as our rocket blasted into space.
We screamed as the equivalent of an over-sized lawn dart plummet toward earth from thousands of feet above.
We ran for cover.
I guess whoever stuffed the parachute back into the rocket hadn’t done a great job (I swear it wasn’t me. Okay, it was me). And maybe we should’ve used a little more epoxy on the fins.
Even though our rocket basically exploded, the experience was so much more rewarding and fun because we’d built the rocket ourselves. Usually, I’m content to just bring food to Rocket Day, but now I’m not sure I’ll ever go without my own rocket.
I have to give a shout-out to the real hit of Rocket Day 2014:
Josh brought a drone. And a GoPro.
I’ll skim over the part of the story where Josh went to the hobby store to buy a parachute for our rocket ($2) and came home with a drone ($400). Not exactly in line with our current budgeting, but at least the video he shot was pretty darn cool. You can watch it here:
Big thanks to Whitey & Colleen for another successful Rocket Day. I’ll work on my parachute-stuffing skills for next year.