On Friday I told my son, Cameron, about model rockets that I used to fly in my youth, and he immediately asked if we could get one. For some reason I said, "Sure, we'll go buy one."
After his soccer game, we went to an amazing hobby store in Lake City called American Eagles. Not only did we buy an Estes starter kit, which contained two rockets and everything you need to launch your rocket, but we bought a model of an X-Wing Fighter (not a rocket).
Cameron and I worked on the easier-to-build Astron Outlaw rocket in the afternoon, and he had absolutely no patience for letting glue dry. He wanted to carry around the rocket like a toy. When we weren't working on it, he asked me "Can we work on the rocket?" so many times, I thought my head was going to explode.
When I woke up on Sunday, Cameron came in the bedroom and said, "Can we go work on the rocket?" His mother said, "Cameron, I thought you said you weren't going to bug your dad today?"
I realized that if I was going to get any peace I needed to launch the rocket. So I called up some friends in Carnation, who live by a river and have a farm, and we drove out there.
Our friends have three kids who were just as excited as Cameron to see a rocket take off in their backyard. After many failed attempts to get it off the ground, I did a cursory "3... 2... 1" countdown and the rocket streaked off into the bright blue sky. I was astounded at how high it went -- almost as if I had expected it only to go up 50 feet like some cheap toy.
But somewhere above 600 feet, the parachute came out and the rocket drifted in the opposite direction than what I had predicted and was heading toward the river. By the time it came down, it had drifted onto the other side of the river and into a bunch of trees and brush.
The oldest of the kids, Alexis, volunteered to go across the river and look for the rocket. But she couldn't find it. Then a teenager, Scott, who was there on the farm with his dad, volunteered to wade up to his chest in the icy warter and help Alexis. It took them 15 minutes to find the rocket, and Alexis had to climb a tree to get it. I owe those kids.
I realized we wouldn't be having any more countdowns on this day -- the wind was too strong and too unpredictable, and the rocket needed more room than I thought.
But for a moment, the kids and I realized how cool it could be to shoot a rocket into the sky.