A Moon Picnic in The Mothership

To the moon and back…

Lately, the headlines have been full of with stories of rocket ships hurtling through space discovering new planets, comets and galaxies and beaming the images back to earth. The universe certainly seems smaller than it did before. Likewise, we’ve been doing our own exploring in The Mothership,the Ford Kuga MkII, our futuristic car on loan courtesy of Ford Australia as part of  Kidspot Voices of 2015.

My five year old daughter aka Little Earthling has been asking to go on the night watch to spot stars and planets. I’ve been resisting due to the cold night time temperatures. But after driving around in the Ford Kuga, I’ve come up with a great idea involving snacks, stars and a sunroof for our last adventure in The Mothership.

We arrive at Strzelecki Point just before sunset to snag a prized parking space facing out to sea.  It’s a clear day so it looks promising to be a beautiful starry night. We wander down the walkway to scout out a good location to watch the sun set.

Recently opened in April 2015, the Newcastle Memorial Walk was built to commemorate the ANZAC centenary and the 100th anniversary of the commencement of steel making in Newcastle.The 450 meter cliff top walkway stretches from Strzelecki Lookout down to Bar Beach and features 360 degree views of Newcastle from coast to city.

It’s a poignant tribute to locals who fought in the First World War. The walk features steel silhouettes of ANZAC soldiers engraved with 3,860 family names of almost 11,000 known Newcastle and Hunter Valley men and women who enlisted during World War I.

We lean over the railing searching for dolphins and whales but they’re nowhere to be seen in the calm Pacific waters.

Our attention turns to the west as a dramatic sunset commences.

The sun glows as it sinks into the west with large dark clouds threatening to block it from view.

The day might be ending but our fun night is just beginning. We return to the car and tuck into a space-themed picnic while sitting in The Mothership looking out to sea.

The Mothership feels like it was built for family picnics in mind with convenient pop-up tables in the backseat.

With the “moonroof” open, we munch our way through Moon Cheese and Space Slime (avocado and cheese) sandwiches, Fruit Rockets, Galaxy cupcakes and Moon Rocks (Darrell Lea chocolate mint balls wrapped up in foil).

Stargazing

After gorging on all the food, we decide to go for another walk along the Memorial Walk.

In the dark lit up with LED lights, it definitely resembles a spaceship landing pad suitable for the likes of The Mothership.

It’s starting to get a bit windy so we head back to The Mothership for some stargazing. We recline our seats back and gaze at the stars and moon through the moonroof.

We watch in silence as more stars start to pop out from the sky. We’ve come prepared to identify the stars. Little Earthling has packed her favourite space book and is trying to use the constellations map to identify what the stars are.

“Hard to spot The Great Bear constellation as it’s more visible in Northern Hemisphere”  Mr Mummy Project advises after identifying it as an American book. Mr Mummy Project doesn’t need any guides. He points out constellations like Orion’s belt and the Southern Cross as well as more obscure constellations that I haven’t heard of.

Undaunted, I pull out my tablet and use the Google Sky app to identify the stars myself. This super cool app allows you to view celestial objects, including stars, constellations, galaxies, planets and the Earth’s moon. It works like a treat. Maybe the next iteration of the Mothership can include a built-in high-tech star identifier.

ERA

As we sit watching the sky light up with distant stars, we reminisce about how much fun that we’ve had over the past five week in The Mothership. Sometimes you don’t need to travel far to discover what you’re looking for. These family moments are the ones I savor.

Away from the distractions of TV and Internet and the general busyness of life, it’s refreshing to just enjoy uninterrupted time together. There’s nothing like looking at the skies to make you feel philosophical and focus on the vastness of possibilities.

As Stephen Hawking said “Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious”

That curiosity seems to be rubbing off on my daughter as Little Earthling asks “Do you ever think we will be able to drive to the moon?”

I begin to answer “No” but then realise as I’m sitting in our space-age car, the possibility might not be that far away. It might not happen in my lifetime but perhaps in Little Earthling’s life, it could very well be possible. Maybe 40 years from now, she’ll be driving or flying a version of The Mothership along a Moon Highway.

As more stars emerge, it’s time to get home. I throw The Mothership in reverse and the reversing camera engages automatically. Like the rest of the dashboard, it glows in the dark and provides a 130 degree view up to 10 metres behind the vehicle. The wide-angle fish eye lens clearly shows me what’s behind me, handy when I’m trying to avoid walkers, joggers and other cars in the dark.

As I slowly reverse the car, my daughter excitedly exclaims that she’s seen a shooting star streak past. “Make a wish’ I suggest explaining that wishes made on shooting stars can come true. She closes her eyes and then announces she’s made a wish to go to the moon.


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