Saturday, August 2, 2014

Catalyst Brave Challenge 1: The Nebraska Star Party

I have always loved looking up at the night sky.  Knowing that people on the other side of the world see the same moon, the stars and constellations, and even the setting and rising sun, makes me feel connected to something bigger than myself.  

Since I first heard about the Nebraska Star Party (NSP) many years ago, I have always wanted to go. But I never seriously looked into it for several Very Important Reasons, including:

  1. It's held on a primitive campground in far northwestern Nebraska in late July. That's a long drive from Lincoln. Riding long distances in a car is one of my least favorite things to do in life.
  2. Primitive campgrounds have pit toilets.
  3. It's usually blistering hot in Nebraska in July.
  4. I don't like to sweat if I can help it.
  5. Primitive campgrounds have no electricity to even plug a fan into during said heat blast.
  6. I have never pitched a tent or camped alone.
  7. I have never gone on a "road trip" alone that was not for work.
  8. July is a busy month for those of us who work with technology professional development.
  9. The annual school administrator conference almost always overlaps the dates of the NSP, and I don't like to miss any activity or event that might help support our schools.
  10. I imagine the NSP is full of expert astronomers, and my knowledge of the night sky includes the ability to locate the moon, and, most of the time, the big dipper.  
  11. Tim, our volunteer guide at the Rocky Mountain National Park public astronomy program earlier this summer, told me that the year he went to the NSP, grasshoppers were so intense they ate the coatings off the wires of his telescope battery. Ugh!
Well, you get the idea.  Despite knowing I would love learning more about the night sky, it was way out of my comfort zone so I never seriously considered it.

But, since the brave project is all about stretching out of my comfort zone, I included it as my first challenge of the Catalyst project:  Solo road trip, complete with primitive camping, to attend my first Nebraska Star Party, July 27-30, 2014. 

I packed up the Rogue with my $50 recently-purchased-but-never-looked-through Craig's List telescope, a rented tent and camp stove from UNL campus rec (both insisted upon by Kevin, for which I am very thankful), a sleeping bag, a self-inflating, 3 inch "mattress", a bowl of vegetables from the garden for meals, a big can of Deep Woods Off, a journal, my Nightwatch backyard astronomy guide and a bucket hat.  Had I known then what I know now, I would have also included leather boots, stronger mosquito repellent, tweezers to remove cactus thorns and a pair of binoculars.  

But even without those things, the experience turned out to be more wonderful, and challenging, and awe-inspiring and meaningful than I ever could have imagined. Too many lessons for one post, so the next several blog entries will be devoted to my experience at NSP 21:  the place, the people, the experience, the road trip, and best of all, the stars.

What activity or adventure have you always wanted to experience, but your Very Important Reasons have kept you from pursuing it?  What steps could you take now to make it happen?


  1. Hooray for you, Lynne! It takes real courage and commitment to actually do things you only dream about doing.

  2. I don't have words but my heart is 10 times bigger for having read this! I love watching you get your Brave on and blow past the Very Important Reasons Not To's (VIRNT - said as a word makes the sound of coming to a skidding stop...)

  3. Ditto what Lisa said ..... my heart is HUGE from reading this! So very proud of you my friend!

  4. You are a ROCKSTAR and I want to be just like you when I grow up (or after my kids grow up) :)

  5. You are very BRAVE! Looking forward to more details!!

  6. You are rocking the "Brave Project" and inspiring me to start a list!