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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The First Offical Daddy Day

Today was the first official Daddy day. We are going to do this every Saturday as long as possible. Daddy day is every Saturday morning and includes the Larrison boys (Dryver, Stryde, and Daddy) on a trip out to the wilds of DC or Virginia. Note – we will travel to Maryland or other less exciting areas if we get desperate.

The day started out with our planning to go visit the new Air and Space Museum out at Dulles Airport. This new museum is in a very large hanger at Dulles and has many of the most famous airplanes that ever existed, including the Enola Gay and Concord. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles International Airport is the companion facility to the Museum on the National Mall. The building opened in December, 2003, and provides enough space for the Smithsonian to display the thousands of aviation and space artifacts that cannot be exhibited on the National Mall. The two sites together showcase the largest collection of aviation and space artifacts in the world.

We arrived around 10am and ran to the front to start our adventure. The place was massive; it includes multiple hangers combined together that have been modernized for the 21st century. There is even a control tower on this massive structure. Dryver and Stryde knocked over a few kids (and adults) on their way to the ultimate in real life aviation. Dryver had seen the Shuttle launch last week and we were going to see the Shuttle in real life.

We entered the giant hanger, and started wandering around. I was amazed to look at the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, Martin B-26B Marauder, and of course the Boeing B-29-45-MO ("Enola Gay"). The kids loved the Aichi M6A1 Seiran (Clear Sky Storm) and most of the missiles and guns. While we were walking the halls of this hanger, Dryver immediately spotted a ride. This is one of those rides that are enclosed and they show you a video, while you are jerked around (up and down). They had an airplane (fighter jet) version and a space version. I immediately told Dryver that he would be too scared to go on the ride and we would wait until he was older. He looked at me and said, ‘Daddy, I am not a baby, like Stryde.’ I knew that he would not like the ride (though Stryde would love it). Dryver kept pushing and asking to go on the ride every 2-3 minutes. I told him we could go after lunch, which I assumed would distract him.

We continued to visit the different exhibits (away from the rides), and even went to see the Space Shuttle Enterprise up close. We saw all of the old space ships and landing pods. We spent time looking at the airplane engines, walking through the Concord, and even looking up close at the missiles. We went to the gift shop, rode the elevator, and ran up and down the ramp. We even visited the bathroom a few times and picked-up some snacks and drinks. The whole time, without thinking about it, Dryver would remind me that we needed to go on the ride. He even had Stryde joining in the campaign to visit this important part of our day out. I kept informing him that he would be too scared and Stryde was too small. This did not faze him. Finally, there was nothing left to do. We had somehow ended up right in front of the ride entrance (I think Dryver tricked me somehow) and I had no out. I looked down at the two rug rats and said, okay, we can go. They both jumped up and down and started singing ‘We are going to fly; we are going to fly…’

I went to the ticket booth, spent $20 for the tickets and we got in line. Now, during the 3 hours we had spent walking around the museum, the line had grown from 3-4 people to a 45 minute wait. The kids were fine and excited to go on the trip. We talked about the different planes and our day together while we were waiting. We made friends with the people around us. After almost an hour, we were next entering the pod for the ride of the day. As we stepped up to present our tickets (note: Stryde had eaten about 1/3 of his ticket already). Dryver started to cry. I knelt down and said ‘Buddy, we are almost there. This is going to be fun!’ He looked at me and said… ‘I am scared Daddy, I don’t want to go on the ride.’ By this point, of course, Stryde was very excited and hanging off the ropes that separated the lines. I said to Dryver that everything would be fine, but no luck. The many ‘friends’ around us told Dryver that the ride was fun and not scary, with no luck. Stryde even took a cheap shot at Dryver by calling him a baby, with no luck.

We left the line, sold our tickets to someone else in line for a discount (no refunds allowed), and went off to get our lunch at McDonalds. This was a great trip, an excellent time with my sons, and educational. I was proud of Dryver and Stryde when we left for really being engaged and interested in the airplanes. I realized that I gained my interest in science and airplanes from my father, and I hope I will be able to pass as much knowledge and excitement to Dryver and Stryde one day.

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