Monday, September 01, 2008
It's August, 1976. I'm with the parents and the two brothers in Penticton, staying at the Golden Sands Motel, just across the street from the SS Sicamous and Okanagan Lake. The Parental Units and the Grand Parent Units are there for (shudder) the annual Penticton Square Dance Festival. Brothers and I have turned down several requests to join them at the festivities. "There are kids your age there! They have dancing for teens just like you".
I hesitate to tell them my street cred at school is below acceptable levels as it is... square dancing would just be another boot to the head - we decline. Parents are disappointed - too bad.
I decide to go for a bike ride to the hobby store I saw on my way into town - "Penticton Hobby and Shaver store"... I recall several hobby stores I visited that sold model kits and electric shavers - there is still one on Fort Street in downtown Victoria - weird combination.
Anyway, once there the $20 the grandparents have given me is requiring spending. I choose a model rocket kit - Estes Mars Lander, skill level 5. I've decided it's time to leave the tube/nosecone/four fin level 2 and 3 kits to try something more challenging. Besides, when else am I going to have $20 to spend all in one place? (Effectively, this is the equivalent today of me having about ten times as much).
I return to the hotel and dump the contents on the dining room table ( we've got a suite, of course ).
There's like, six million pieces here!
The instructions are a hundred and twenty five pages long!
Skill level 5? More like skill level 50!
I quickly come to the conclusion that my abilities are not matching my ambition i.e. Screw this noise. No way I'm going to be able to build this.
It's got to go back...
I carefully repackage everything and bike back to the hobby store. The guy there is pretty unsympathetic - It's already opened... How's he going to sell it if he takes it back?
At this point, I remember feeling pretty stupid. I've just thrown away more money than I see in months, and there's no going back. I'm guessing the expression on my face, plus the tears welling up in my eyes must have softened the old guy's heart. Store Credit? Oh... yeah, absolutely.
I end up with the Sky Dart, which makes me happy. Probably my second favourite model of all time next to the Orbital Transport.
So a couple of weeks ago, I see a copy of Sport Rocketry magazine in the local hobby store. On the cover is a picture of that same Mars Lander, now a collectible ( built or unbuilt ). A company called Semroc builds a replica kit.
It arrived on Friday.