A man reflects at a tourist site
Just a step
Yes, I know it’s corny but I could not resist stopping.
My name is Ivan Ortega Wilson, a real lunar name and Johnny to my friends. I am a third generation resident of the moon a true loony.
Almost of us have the same kind of family lives that the people of Earth. So most of us work fairly close to where we live and don’t travel much farther than that for years.
But sight-seeing is not a hobby here. I travel on business more than most being a Tech for the Lunar Government and have been all over, even to one of the habitats on loan. But a corridor is a corridor and even a window seat on one of the hoppers is just landscape just like I could see at home.
I had a few hours wait between Hoppers. I was just starting the new job in the Archimedes Crater. Of course the shortest hop had the longest wait. Can’t complain, my home is in Crater Apollo on the far side and there are some times days between hoppers.
I looked up at the three quarter earth in the sky through the lobby window. It is always worth a serious look, it is beautiful.
A glance at the Info Scrawl didn’t have much local advertising for coffee or wet bars but a lot of garish ads for tourist destinations. I stretched, wanting mostly to move around but one of the ads caught my eye.
I had not thought about where I was. I wanted to walk around anyway, so off I went in the shuffling lunar stride which seems so odd to Earth folks. Nobody runs or jumps much on the moon. Cracking your head on the three meter high ceiling is a great teacher.
When I arrived at the Park there was no queue but the place was spotless and surrounded by trees from some place called Ohio. Foliage is rarely seen on the moon, most of our oxygen comes from plankton. I stopped to look at a few, realizing inside what I had always known as an objective fact: all the things my grandparents had left behind.
To me the earth pictures looked untidy and the vids I’d seen of earth wilderness were just impossible to really believe.
There were a few tourists over at the broad window that faced the exhibits. I walked over slowly thinking more about my irregularly spaced areas full of those trees or even larger ones.
I stopped, glancing down at the old fashioned laser cut stone.
“Tranquility Base established July 20, 1969, at 20:18 UTC
Unmanned since July 21, 1969.”
Less than twenty four hours on the ground, I reflected and looked out at the base of the LEM still sitting as if waiting for the return of the Eagle. Inevitably my eyes went to the occasional footprints.
They didn’t look much like the modern surface suits that we all had and had to practice with twice a year. By the depth of the prints they must have been carrying a terrible weight in gear.
384,000 kilometers to put these footprints here. It had started without a manned program at all and in less than 10 years they had done it. Without a computer on board worth the name, and the computers on the ground that would be outdated within a decade. Any home screen now have more capacity and flexibility than all the computers on earth then.
They must have been crazy or driven. I remember a statement by an astronaut made at the time when asked how it felt at launch.
“Imagine, being on top tons of volatile fuel in a machine of more than a million parts,” he had drawled, “ each made by the lowest bidder.”
It had caused the astronaut no end of trouble. The reporter took it as it was meant, as a joke.
When the comment had reached the ears of sensitive political ears it was not taken that way. It was taken as a slander on the quality of the work on the system. The fact that it was true was not considered.
Then I did something most moon folks rarely did except as necessary. I went outside.
I had to rent a suit but luckily they had a few scaled for the lunar population, we were generally half a meter taller than earth residents.
I checked the suit then the tech. I went through the lock with an Earth couple. Fortunately they were only interested in each other.
I walked out into the open, away from both landing site and other buildings. The Sea of Tranquility was not chosen for its sight, but for its assumed safety and available rock samples.
I stopped and looked for a long moment at the Earth. I had never done that before and despite the suit I felt like I was experiencing looking at the Earth for the first time. The meridian of the sun line was moving through central North America and parts of Central and South America. The homes of three of my ancestors were down there, the other five homelands were out of my sight.
When I lowered my eyes again I could see my home again in a different way. A glance around me showed my boot marks discernible over the last several meters.
I stared down for a moment. It was just a step after all.
I looked up at the star field and remembered Mars again. They were recruiting vigorously for Techs, and my wife Chy was an MD who could get work anyplace in the solar system. She had been interested but hadn't push it.
It was just a step along the way.