I’ve spent the last few days at a extravagantly lovely resort in Central Florida. Not because I found myself in need of warmer weather, but accompanying my rocket-scientist husband to a large technology conference: SciTech. This isn’t my first rodeo.
We married when my husband was in grad school, and literally came back from our honeymoon and took off for an academic conference a few states away. Honestly, it was fun. Rather like an extension of vacation (for me, at least). We stayed at boutique hotel a few minutes drive from the conference location. I got to relax and explore the small town while my new husband attended sessions and keynotes. Over the years, I’ve come along on many of these trips. Often Jonathan is busy most of the time, presentations and networking and all that. Usually he also needs to build in time to work on his own presentation or other responsibilities.
Of the ones we also brought our boys along to, a couple of them stand out. There was the time when Eddie was only a few months old that we brought him to a hotel only a block from a Florida beach in June. It was hot and humid, and I realized what a snob California had made me in just a few short years (#snobsofcalifornia). There was the week we spent just a few hours south in San Diego when Eddie was two. It rained all week, so we were limited to indoor activities. Thankfully, our hotel room overlooked the harbor, airport runway, a train station, and several city streets, so my transportation-loving toddler was well-entertained.
Just last year we took on the challenge of traveling with an active 3-year-old and his infant brother. While the amount of paraphernalia we lugged along was obscene, especially for the rental car mix-up in which we were to fit 4 people and all the stuff in an economy-size car, once we were settled I rather enjoyed being removed from our “normal” and having a little mini vacation with the boys.
This time we left the kiddos with my parents and I get to treat the week like a getaway! Only parents of young kids can truly appreciate my current reality. I hardly know what to do with myself! And I miss the little crazies like crazy. But…I also don’t. The sleep alone is the stuff of fantasy!
Last night I had the delight of joining Jonathan as he met some colleagues for a late dinner and drinks. These folks were all involved with Nasa Innovative Advanced Concepts, and had the crazy cool ideas to prove it! Jonathan asked them all to share a little bit about their proposed concepts, partially for my benefit. You’ll recall his is a mechanical rover for Venus. One guy is working on a linear centrifuge idea so astronauts don’t have to spend all their time in space floating around (I guess while it sounds fun, it gets old). Another one, a professor, has actually built microchip-sized satellites. The size of a Cheese It, guys! Whole arrays of them have been sent on missions and had great success! How cool is that? He also worked on an idea for an underwater rover that takes its energy consumption and mobility mechanisms from the real-life, earth-ocean-dwelling eel, and could be perfect for the exploration of moons like Europa (Jupiter) and Enceladus (Saturn). (P.S. Ask Eddie about Enceladus sometime!)
There were descriptions of kilometers-long, fishing-wire thin “sails” that harness the solar wind to propel them into interstellar space and probes that could bounce like a ball onto a planet’s surface, sprout legs and walk around, even talk of research being done to put astronauts into a deep sleep for months on end for longer space flights, just like in the movies!
And I’m proud to say this conversation was planned and facilitated by my super-smart husband, the youngest of the group! He’s kind of a big deal.
While work functions are not usually my favorite thing to attend alongside my husband, when talk goes technical at a NIAC event, at least it’s super interesting. Trust me, there were plenty of times they lost me and launched into the language of science. So after several hours, I said my goodnights and nice-to-meet-you’s and headed back to my fancy hotel room to stay up super duper late reading simply because I knew I could sleep in as late as I wanted the next morning, no rocket babies to attend to. Life is good.