First Shakedown Cruise and Leonid Meteor Shower

Leonid Meteor Shower

First Shakedown Cruise and the Leonid Meteor Shower

Our first shakedown cruise and the Leonid Meteor shower both happened on November 16th of 2020. It makes for a good story. I hope you have better luck than we did, but at least we laugh about it. This excursion was initially planned as a field trip for homeschool with a rental rig. We happened to find the ‘perfect for us right now’ rig right before this planned outing. That is when it became a combination event.

What is the Leonid Meteor Shower? Mother Nature puts on this show every year. Once every 33 years, it turns into a meteor storm as the comet passes on its closest orbit to the sun. Seeing a falling star is a sure-thing with clear skies and low light pollution.

We planned to educate our boys (and my nephew) by them researching the answers to the meteor-related questions, watching space-themed movies, and watching the shower ourselves.

Did I mention that, in my great aspirations for our meteor shower viewing, I purchased a telescope? Hold on, before you crucify me, I know you don’t need a telescope to see a meteor shower. I was on a theme! The problem came when I could not ‘site-in’ the telescope. We live in a very wooded area, and I could not find a target far enough away to be able to set it up correctly. My aspirations of planet and moon viewing before the meteors arrived were dashed alongside the dream of a decent night’s sleep.

Leonid Meteor Shower Curriculum

This excursion was initially planned as a homeschool field trip to experience our first meteor shower. 

Learn about the Leonid Meteor Shower

These are the questions I had my boys research and answer (in complete sentences) to prepare them for the experience.

  1. What is a meteor?
  2. What is the Leonid Meteor Shower?
  3. How often does the shower occur?
  4. How often does the Leonid Meteor storm instead of shower?
  5. When was the last time it stormed?
  6. When will it storm again?
  7. What is the official name of the comet associated with the Leonid Meteor Shower?
  8. When is the best time to view the shower?
  9. Where is the best place to view the shower?

Learn about the constellations

  1. What is a constellation?
  2. Where is the Leonid constellation?
  3. What is the story of the Leonid constellation?

Learn about planet locations in the sky

  1. What planets should we be able to see the night of the shower?
  2. What does it mean when a planet is in retrograde?

Name one or two activities you would like to do during our camping/stargazing night.

That was the plan.

That was the plan. I love making plans and enjoy seeing those plans come to fruition. It did not happen this way.

I think we went wrong by planning this excursion less than 7 days after my hysterectomy. At home, after resting for most of the day, I had little to no pain. It lulled me into a false sense of security. Read more details about the reason for my surgery here: Yolk Sac Tumor, Age 38, Female.

First, the misadventure kicked off when our propane grill failed to work. We should have anticipated the malfunction since it began on our Branson trip. We had planned to grill burgers and serve bagged chips – easy to cook, easy to clean. After half an hour of working on the broken grill, we drove to the closest gas station and bought a terribly unhealthy dinner. The boys were happy.

Blackstone Griddle 22″

This is the grill we will be purchasing if we don’t get one for Christmas from our folks.

Travel Telescope

This is the telescope that I bought but have not yet used.

Next, we retreat inside The O’Neill until meteors time (around three AM.) The boys chose Guardians of the Galaxy from the space-themed selections; It is a family favorite. It was nice to relax in our rig as a family but we all get regular whiffs of a nasty sewer smell. Husband and I really don’t want to say anything that might suggest our purchase was poorly researched. But we can’t deny it for long. There is a problem. Okay, so we need to flush the black tank. I wish that had resolved our situation. When writing this blog, we pray we have a poo pyramid that our second shakedown cruise can remedy. I will let you know.

In addition, I discovered the trampoline effect. I was able to doze in and out. The youngest spawn bounced the entire trailer when he moves in his bed at the other end. This must be fixed.

To add insult to injury, we still had a factory mattress on our bed. Husband and I dozed but never achieved REM.

Leonid Meteor Shower

Can you imagine the family’s mood as I woke at three am for the meteor shower?

I made coffee and hot chocolate. We bundled up and gathered blankets. Thankfully the campsite had a wooden deck for us to layout yoga mats and blankets. It was so cold. We lie flat, staring at the sky in darkness for about thirty minutes. I saw about 7 different meteor flashes across the sky.

Husband had to work early the next morning.

We assumed that it would not be an issue because we chose a campsite very near home. It is a good thing Husband enjoys riddles! We stayed at a State Park where they close the gate and lock it. I am so glad I grabbed the paperwork to hunt a four-digit code to try in the combination. Success!

Did I mention that I had a hysterectomy five days before this excursion?

Husband had to shower and go to work. The boys did school and games. I curled up in my chair and napped for the rest of the day.

From the Boys' Mouths

Challenges discovered during our first shakedown cruise:

The suspected poo pyramid. 

It took a bit of research once we had recovered from our first trip to fall on this diagnosis. Our second shakedown cruise is very soon. During this time, we plan to fill up and dump our black tank multiple times.

The factory mattress.

Mother bought us a new mattress. It is already installed. I am very excited to sleep on it.

The trampoline effect.

We have not even begun to research this. I have a sneaky suspicion it’s related to the twisted, mangled messes that are our back stabilizers. Looking back on our purchasing process, we should have asked to lower the back stabilizers for our review. You don’t know what you don’t know, am I right? Our pride is a bit damaged on this one, so I imagine we will put the research off a bit.

Stay tuned if you are even slightly entertained by our shenanigans listed above! I am sure they will continue. And we are so very grateful because the alternative sucks!

Shakedown Cruise

What did we learn?

  1. Everything looks better after proper rest. We know and expect challenges. But they are only challenges, not plan-ending events. Problems to be solved.
  2. Don’t make life harder than it needs to be. There was no need to combine a shakedown cruise with a meteor shower experience right after a significant surgery and work the next day. 
  3. At the end of the day, we will remember this trip and all its incidents fondly. Challenges make great stories, and our kids will tell these stories for the rest of their lives. And maybe, just maybe, they will say to their kids about the one time the old folks woke them in the middle of the night to see the shooting stars. And our grill broke so we had to go to the gas station to get dinner. 

Issue Solutions

The Suspected Poo Pyramid

Every YouTuber we have seen recommends Happy Camper Black Tank Treatment.

The Factory Mattress

Mother has already purchased us a new mattress. It is installed and ready for our second shakedown cruise.

The Trampoline Effect.

Our wheels are farther apart than the average; therefore, we need the X Large X Chocks to help with stabilization.

🎁 My Rig Wish List 🎁

I have been shopping for my rig for months. So much so, in fact, that I just had to put together an entire blog about it. The funniest part was that we had not found our rig yet! I didn’t know the first thing about what the rig would actually look like when we got it. Now that it is here, these are the items still on my wishlist.

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This blog was written and designed by Haley Reggio Pederson. She also owns and operates The Social Media Lady, Social Specialist, a digital marketing agency specializing in social media marketing for small to medium-sized businesses. 

By Haley Reggio Pederson