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Mojave Journey: Part 6

As I headed back for the very relative warmth of the main tent I was drawn to the life size replica of SpaceShipOne, the vehicle I watched blasting into space above Mojave in the first half of this decade. It now seemed so small, so primitive, a Mercury to SpaceShipTwo’s Apollo. I could not but help imagine what private space will be flying six years from now. Creative destruction has broken free of its chains. The game has changed.

SS1 Replica at night
SpaceShipOne: so tiny, so quaint, so… turn of the century.
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

The first familiar face I spotted upon my return to the main tent was the hard to miss Gary Barnhard of the National Space Society. He and others were chatting in the middle of the floor. Despite being half frozen, I gladly accepted chilled white wine from a lovely lass who was wandering about with a tray of them. I must admit I would have preferred some of the hot ‘Glue Wine’ concoction I used to imbibe when skiing Seven Springs in Pennsylvania, but… it was antifreeze, it was free… so who was I to complain?

Barnhard and wine
It was not surprising to find Gary in close proximity to wine.
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

With wine in hand I started my first photographic round of the party. When I crossed from the main tent to the front balloon tent and glanced out the gap I was taken again by the surreal reality: there is a friggin real space ship out there!

WK2 and SS2
I just saw a spaceship… someone pinch me!
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

As an old hand in the performance arts one of the things which impressed me was the use of light. I have seen no one else mention it so let me be the first to give kudos to the lighting designer!

Balloon tent interior with red lights
Red and blue lights painted the interiors and gave the facilities a very unearthly feel.
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

Balloon tent interior with blue lights
It had sparkle, glitter and plenty of blue. (That is an inside joke for anyone else who has ties into the CMU Drama Department of a few decades ago.)
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

Ballon tent interior
It did however give one that ‘I’m inside an icecube’ feel.
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

This is the infamous coat room.

The coat room
I thankfully did not check my coat or laptop as others did. Does that make me a more experienced pioneer?
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

There was spacey music all night long.

Disk jockey
A disk jockey was a very good idea. I cringed at the idea of putting fingers on guitar strings at this temperature. The very thought causes a male physiological reaction.
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

There was plentiful hot food and the cold Absolut and wine flowed freely. Forget virgins: this was Paradise for my friends of the journalistic persuasion.

Food and drink
We had an Arctic feast complete with dancing aurorae over head.
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

Food and drink
Some even chose to sit.
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

While almost everyone else was trying to keep warm, I slipped outside again and watched them hook up the tractor and tow the ship back into the darkness. The wind was picking up and I presume they got it out of there just in time.

SS2 and tractor tow
It may be large but it does not take much to move it.
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

WK2/SS2 under tow
It was somewhat sad to see it go.
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

To those who think this was all a big party… for some it may have been, but for many it was a long hard day of work.

Alan Boyle at work.
I do not think I ever saw Alan Boyle when he was not interviewing or typing.
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

While I was circulating I was also trying to find Rand Simberg since I had no idea when he wanted to head back and had not seen him in several hours. As he was here with his journalist hat on (as opposed to his really quite serious aerospace engineer hat), he was running back and forth between interviews and the unmarked door to the Press room.

NSS Leadership at work
Rand Simberg chatting with Gary Barnhard and Mark Hopkins of the National Space Society.
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

Once I had arrangements worked out with Rand, I went off on further photo rounds. The main bar was in the rear of the big tent. It was quite a striking place… it was also wide open to the frigid outside although slightly sheltered by the runway jetwash deflector.

Back porch of bar
There was a sort of arctic beer garden in the back… or perhaps vodka garden would be more accurate.
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

Ice spaceman
The now fully carved and colorfully lit spaceman was in Absolut-ely no danger of melting.
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

Main bar seating
I have played in venues that had less seating and a shorter bar than this.
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

Main bar seating
There were many nooks (dare I call them nanooks?) to sit in.
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

Main bar
The bar was long and well staffed. There was Absolut-ely no worry of passing over the threshold to sobriety.
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

Main tent panorama
“It’s Earth Jim, but not as we know it.”
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

The crowd was dwindling but the press and space crowds were still hard at work when I returned to the front of the main tent.

NSS at work
The NSS leadership were plotting the rise of the Space Ambassadors program.
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

Interviews on stage.
Cameras and talking heads were still working on the main stage.
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

Media at work
Journalists filed stories from wherever they could find a cranny to work.
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

On stage interviews longshot
I threw this one in just because I liked the composition.
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

And then the we were told to tune to our local Conelrad station… well not really, but we were told to get out. NOW! Gale force winds were due within minutes and we were to drop everything and go to the buses. NOW! So naturally the journalists ran to their computers to file the story!

Rand Simberg files last story
Rand, and therefor myself, were among the last ones out. Someone has to file the story, right?
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

Barb Sprungman
Barb Sprungman and her significant other, Len David were also among the last ones out of Saigon… er I mean the main tent.
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

We then searched for a bus to the hotel. It was hard to see and hear as the winds were now vicious. It was like walking into a sandblaster. Someone spotted us, came out and yelled which direction to head. Another person pointed us to the correct bus.

DESCRIPTION
Line of buses getting a paint strip job.
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

In the next episode our heroes retire to the local bar after barely escaping disaster in the desert.

This is the sixth part of a photo series. The previous one may be found here

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