Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Enterprise.

These are the voyages of the star ship Enterprise.
Its five year mission... to boldly go where no man has gone before.

There is something interesting about Vulcan that few realize. During World War II the town of Vulcan housed the BCAPT Base that provided flight training to British Commonwealth members and the United States. At it's peak the base had 163 aircraft on site. But that's a story in itself and best told by those who are much more knowledgeable than I am. What I wanted to to show you was the an aerial view of the Vulcan Aerodrome. Check out the shape of the runways!
Now, look at the Vulcan Idic symbol on the plaque below. Coincidence, I'm sure, but I wanted to point this out. It leads me to ask a very strange question. Did Gene Roddenberry know about this little town and it's war time history when he chose to name Spock's home world Vulcan? As a commercial airline pilot he may have known the air strip existed and possibly even been aware of its purpose. We will never know.
We tried to enunciate the Vulcan Welcome but failed miserably. My daughter literally fell onto the grass laughing hysterically at me. She and her new pet Tribble, sprawled on the grass and laughing so hard I think they came from her toes. I was glad to have been the source of her amusement and I'm sure everyone who knows myself and my family would gladly point out exactly where she learned to be so twisted.
It really was a sight to see and the pictures don't do it any justice. It's huge, much bigger than I expected it to be, yet strangely small. Next time I hope the skies are brighter and the temperatures a bit warmer.
I also hope to see that they have updated the face board, or added a new one with all the new faces of Star Trek. The faces on this one kept falling backward and I finally gave up trying to get a picture with all the faces.
I have only a few more pictures to post and then my trip is done. The little town of Vulcan has the biggest spirit and happily welcomes everyone who wanders in, either by design or mistake. If you go, take the time and wander around the town as there are several Star Trek themed buildings, parks and murals to see.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things!

We could have spent hours and hours just looking at all the memorabilia inside the Vulcan tourism Centre. They had things that I didn't know existed! Like a cereal box with the Enterprise and her crew pictured on the front. Phasers that cost the earth and very reasonably priced cute plastic Vulcan ears one could purchase. There were Federation, Starfleet and Vulcan Idic pins. Even a deck of cards with the original series major characters' faces.

There were water bottles, coffee cups, T-shirts, jackets, hoodies. Replicas of the Enterprise. Most intriguing was the chocolate Klingon Bird of Prey. I really wanted that, but I knew it would melt before I got it home.
This is Spock's beloved I-Chaya, a Vulcan Sehlat, who was quite old and had once belonged to Spock's father, Sarek. I-Chaya was killed when it followed Spock and they were attacked by a fierce beast. I-Chaya saved Spock's life and thus inspired him to live the Vulcan Way (remember that Spock was conflicted by his half Vulcan-half Human nature). This particular representation of I-Chaya is encased glass.

Now this is my all time favorite piece of memorabilia housed at the Vulcan tourism Centre. Click on the photo for a full size version as Spock's ears perk up after he's had a drink of Heineken! I so wanted a copy of that, but alas, it was a one of a kind.

Next time, we see the giant Enterprise, the welcome plaques on it's base and the really fun walls.

Friday, July 31, 2009

What's It Like Inside?

So, now you have seen the outside of the Vulcan Tourist Centre as well as the Vulcan Experience Game. Let's take a look inside the building, shall we?

The walls are darkly painted, as I had expected them to be. There are posters promoting the new and old Star Trek, plenty of paraphernalia collected through out the years. I mean everything from a Star Trek cereal box to a tooth brush with William Shatner's face.

As you can see, the walls are covered with collectibles. I'm not sure if any of it is for sale, but the main lobby of the centre sells all sorts of Star Trek themed gifts. My daughter bought herself a Tribble and for the following two days as we drove home every once in a while I'd hear a smack and the Tribble making a giggling sound.
I got a T-shirt with a picture of the reboot Spock. Unfortunately I haven't been able to wear it since the temperatures have been hovering around 38C. That's approximately 100F for my friends south of the border.

The first thing I noticed was the large cardboard cut out figures of all the Star Trek characters. I'm talking every major character from TOS to Voyager. I didn't get photos (there was a couple there who were taking pictures of themselves with every character and I just couldn't get anywhere near it), but there's a corner of a room to the side that has a back drop painting of the Enterprise D Bridge. I swear that the next time I go I'm taking pictures of the Bridge with Spock and Bones. Hopefully by then the new Star Trek actors will have life size cut outs as well.

You can buy coffee mugs, water bottles, mouse pads, and, of course, Vulcan Ears. I skipped the ears because I couldn't find any that had freckles. They sell sew on crests, Starfleet uniforms in all colours, replica communicators. You name it, you can buy it here.

I really liked this black and white of the some of original crew. I think it was a puzzle, but I can't be sure.

My next post will be about Spock, and the unique item I found in a curio cabinet in Vulcan.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I really enjoyed visiting Vulcan and honestly wished I had had more time to spend in the town itself. Evidence of the farming community is still everywhere and it melds smoothly with their new foray into a special brand of space tourism. They have taken advantage of a quirky though unintended connection to a cult hit and run with it.
Outside the Vulcan Tourism building sits the above pictured red rock with a commemorative plaque dedicated to Gene Roddenberry. It seemed fitting that it would be located at the centre rather than over by the replica Star Ship since Star Trek was about more than just a ship that sailed through space. It was about daring set aside one's fears and biases, venturing into an unknown to discover new and exciting places and peoples.
I like to imagine that Star Trek was really an allegory of life here on Earth and Gene Roddenberry's statement to "boldly go where no one has gone before" could easily be interpreted to say: "Get out there and explore your planet, meet new people. Learn from they who are different to you and appreciate what they can teach you." It could be why I have loved Star Trek since I was a youngster sitting beside my father watching as Kirk, Spock and McCoy enjoyed their adventures on whichever planet.
Hidden behind the tourism station is this life size shuttle craft. I think it was the original Vulcan Tourism Centre and the success of their venture may have caused them to quickly out grow this small building. Or it could be used in parades? There was really no explanation for it, but it is charming and nicely decorated.

This is the view from the back and I am growing more convinced that it was the original tourist info centre. The little green alien looking out the back is somewhat comical and confusing. I don't recall little green aliens (other than the green lady Kirk makes happy with) in Star Trek.

Next post we'll see more of the amazing inside of the Vulcan Tourism Centre.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Vulcan Virtual Reality Game

Don't Forget To Click On The Photos For A Larger View!

So, the Vulcan tourism Centre has a fun virtual reality game. And, of course we just had to go give it a try!
The premise is that you are a Starfleet Cadet and the Federation is under attack by either Klingons or Romulans. You have not completed your training, but since the entire sector is under attack, all cadets are deemed battle ready and, like the new Star Trek movie, the cadets are placed onto starships and sent into the fray.

When first entering the game, you are briefed by Captain Krok. This is a hilarious send up of Captain Kirk using over exaggerated body movements and vocalisms (if that's even a word).
He doesn't like cadets and, ironically, considers them inept and like children. Toward the end of the briefing, he forgets that the transmission is stil engaged and hurls one or two laughable insults at you, the cadet.

Captain Krok will appear once you are aboard your starship to give you other instructions.
The Omega shaped apparatus is called L.E.O.N.A.R.D, and is a new patented aiming and firing device desinged by a company called GestureTek. The game combines light, sound effects and a multi camera technology to place the player right in the middle of the action.
According to Vulcan Tourism, the "Vulcan Space Adventure" is one of only a couple GestureTek installations in Canada, and a first opportunity for Western Canada to see and experience this technology in action.
That aside, I can honestly say that my father, my daughter and myself had a ball playing the game. It only cost us $10.00 for the game and it was well worth it.
It took us a while to figure out which buttons were which and who was pushing what buttons. Part of the fun is the mistakes we made and the missed shots as we tried to recover from our own ineptitude and fits of giggles.
It really was a fun game to play and the props were very authentic looking.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Live Long And Prosper

As soon as we saw the new Star Trek movie by JJ Abrams, we knew where we would be going this summer. The place is Vulcan located in Alberta just south east of Calgary. Maybe next year we will visit Enterprise, Northwest Territories.

A little background so you don't get confused. Vulcan, Alberta was named after the Greek God of Fire by the Canadian Pacific Railroad in early the 1900's. Vulcan was the blacksmith to the Gods.

The town's name has brought some attention that has helped it become a tourist attraction. In the Star Trek television and film series it is the name of the homeworld of the Vulcans.

Capitalizing on this coincidence, the town has built a Star Trek-themed tourist station (the Tourism and Trek Station), which provides tourist information, displays Star Trek memorabilia, and where visitors may participate in The Vulcan Space Adventure virtual reality game. Nearby, a replica of the starship Enterprise from Star Trek V has been mounted on a pedestal which includes writing from Trek alien languages like Klingon. The town has also created space-themed murals and signs, and hosts an annual community-wide Star Trek convention known as VulCON: Spock Days/Galaxyfest.
This convention attracts hundreds of Star Trek fans from around the world.
Tomorrow, I'll add some pictures from inside the visitor's centre and the virtual reality game.