Though my daughter had some ideas, I came up with a shortlist that would fit my budget. Her choice was the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI).
I couldn’t pull away from work too early, so we set out Friday afternoon. Only stopping for fast food, and a Ninja-infused stretch/potty break, we pulled into our hotel around 8:30 pm. The Dalles, Oregon would be a brisk 1.5-hour drive from our destination, and just far enough to be 1/2 the price! The kids watched TV while I logged in to finish up some work at the office.
The next morning there was much protest over the early hour and snoring-induced apnea. Hunger overcame grumbles, so we grabbed breakfast and hit the road. My tire sensor light came on, so I pulled over to see if I was low, or developing a flat. No particular tire seemed lower than the others, so I pressed on until Hood River where I could buy a tire gauge. Mine had vanished from the toolbox…
Finding that they were all equally low, I topped off on air and gas. We then had to try and retrieve the head-sized pine cones next to the Chevron. Alas, they don’t come off easy, and the attendants were out of souvenirs, so we continued on.
We were greeted at the OMSI parking lot with electric vehicle charging stations, and parked next to a Prius. “Yup, we’re in the right place,” I thought. We got through admissions with only 20 minutes until the first Laser show, so we spent that time fiddling with nearby exhibits including a capsule, satellite orbit visualizer, cameo frame, ball bearing kinetic art machine, & ISS model! (See Album—>)
We then watched the laser show, where pictures aren’t allowed. Needless to say, I grinned like a silly child for the first10 minutes, at least. It eventually lost luster at the end, but was still one of my most favorite activities. WAY better than a movie, in my opinion.
Next, we had another 20 minutes to burn before our submarine tour, so we browsed the grounds, gift shop, etc. (We hadn’t yet redeemed our main museum admission yet.) OMSI is the home of the USS Blueback, a Diesel-electric attack submarine decommissioned in 1990. It is by far my favorite exhibit, and the tour was awesome! Our guide had served on subs (including this one) for 12 years and gave us a very detailed, but brief account. Fortunately, my new camera worked well in low-light, so see the gallery below for details.
In summary, everyone hears how cramped a submarine is, but it’s an extraordinary experience to actually feel it. They showed us all about life on a submarine, including differing torpedo types, loads, & missions. It had more personal meaning to me, knowing that my uncle served in such a capacity, too.
For safety, everyone must pass through a hatch unassisted, groups are limited in size, and staggered. There was ample ventilation in the submarine which has a convenient (but steep) stairwell installed in the side of it’s hull. Personally, I’d love to come back for the full ‘tech’ tour to fully satisfy my inner geek.
Next was a stop at the Theory Café for lunch. Here we had gourmet food, and were educated about sugar content in modern drinks. We then used our museum admission to enter the first exhibit area, making full use of our rare escalator opportunity.
The travelling exhibit was based on animation and had tons of popular cartoon-based activities. We didn’t have time to do them all, and the birthday girl wasn’t that interested. We played in the sound-effect booth, and had some fun with a green-screen capture. While our antics might appear on a Youtube channel, it hadn’t as of the publish of this blog.
We ventured over to the Life Science area where there were many body/medical activities. Many had a health and nano-tech emphasis. It was here I learned my supervisory style. Many of you may have heard of ‘helicopter’ parents who ‘hover’ over their kids all the time? Well, I think I’m a “spy satellite” parent. I want to give them room to explore and have fun, but keep an eye on them at all times. However, this room had a LOT of stations, all facing different directions. Having an eye on a particular kid often meant losing track of the other. Anyway, the kids directed most interest towards the back, where they kept the live Geckos, Snakes, Bugs, etc.
The Physical Science room was really neat too. Lots of energy, recycling, & more nano stuff here. There were simulations comparing wind generation methods, solar/wave info, and many games demonstrating basic theory & conservation. Out in the hall, we played with the brain teasers, I solved two.
Riding the elevator (another special treat) down, we progressed to the Turbine Hall. <—This is where the action was… so much (in fact) that I had to save it for another blog. Stay tuned!