Astronauts, Pioneers & Wet Socks

We went to Spring Mill State Park yesterday with Chris’ friend and his daughter, as well as my sister and her two boys.

So, four adults and five kids in two cars. If you are from southern Indiana, it’s likely you took a school trip to Spring Mill as a kid. They have a museum dedicated to Gemini astronaut Virgil “Gus” Grissom, who was from Mitchell, Indiana. They have a restored pioneer village with people in period dress doing things like weaving and pottery, and a giant functional grist mill that runs powered by the one of the creeks that run through the park. They also have a cave tour by boat (but we missed that part).

I think I probably enjoyed it more than the kids, but everyone seemed to have a good time. At the Grissom Museum, you can see a Gemini space suit and space capsule.

I was looking at the rivets running up and down the seams of the space capsule and thought, “This thing went into space. And it’s held together with rivets. That’s crazy.”

It’s not a slick piece of modern technology by any stretch of the imagination. It’s sturdy, solid metal. The interior looked uncomfortable, to say the least. The craft had minimal pilot control, but there are still a dizzying array of switches, dials and buttons on the dashboard, which reminded me of a military aircraft.

I immediately thought of Firefly, and how the Serenity looked both futuristic and old and battered at the same time. Gus Grissom was a space cowboy, I guess, or at the very least, a space pioneer.

Speaking of pioneers, I loved the pioneer village as much as I did as a kid. Which is a lot.

Was I able to resist the urge to go wading in the shaded and sunsplashed creek in my sandals and sundress? No. No I was not. 

Did all the kids eventually end up following me, even the ones wearing socks whose parents were telling them not to? Yes. Yes they all did. 

Did everyone survive getting their socks wet? Yes. No sock-related fatalities.

Am I still batting 1000 for being the “cool aunt” and the problem-child sister? YUP.

Did we destroy any of this historical artifacts? No. Not even the little bit of dried pottery the docent left out so the kids could see how dry and brittle it has to be to go into the kiln.

We got to see the mill wheel fire up, which I guess they only do when there’s sufficient water pressure to run it. It was pretty cool. Inside, the cogs and wheels and old printing presses got me fired up to work on more steampunk stories.


I love being home. I love having down time and getting to relax and write and read. Those things are important. It’s also important to  get out in the world some, too. It’s important to feed your imagination.  It’s important to spend time with people you care about making cool memories, especially the little kids you care about.

What have you been doing out in the world lately? What sights, sounds and smells have fired up your imagination? I’d love to hear about it.

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