Over the years we wandered in and out of each others' lives, but we always stayed firm Trek fans. Our take on the various shows and movies are almost identical (love "Wrath of Khan" – "Enterprise", not so much). So it was only fitting that when the Galileo's location became known and was put up for auction, we would both get to see her in all her world-weary glory.
As luck would have it, Mike and I have always lived within 20 minutes of the Galileo's various locations since it came to Ohio. Countless times, both of us passed by the boat storage facility in which it was finally stored, having no idea of the treasures held within. So when the auction was announced, Mike was the first person I called.
And that's when her condition overwhelmed me – she looked like absolute crap. Yes, she was the Galileo of my dreams, but she was also forty-plus years removed from her glory and she showed it. Over the years I had read everything I could find about the Galileo. About how she had been unceremoniously stored outside in the California sun, seen time at an RV yard, and had been hauled across country to end up in my back yard. I had read about "restorations" and repaints, and of course I had seen the on-line shots of her that had shown her current dilapidated state. But pictures did not prepare me for what I saw in person.
I went to the door opening and peered inside the shabby ship. She didn't look much better on the inside, though it wasn't the total disaster of the outside. I tentatively climbed aboard to look around when I heard a familiar voice from outside – Mike had finally arrived. I poked my head out to greet him. :He had a huge smile on his face and simply said "This is amazing"!
And he was right. Whatever her condition, it was amazing that this piece of Star Trek history even existed at all, let alone in our neighborhood.
Mike and I then spent the next half hour or so crawling all over the old girl, looking into every nook and cranny, trying to understand how the door mechanism used to work (still haven't figured that out), checking out the roof (replaced), the impulse engine bay (empty), and every surface possible. We were like kids in a candy shop with the Galileo being the ultimate lollipop. We couldn't get enough! I took tons of pictures as we made our inspection, wanting to preserve the experience not just in memory but pixels as well. All too soon, our time was up. We couldn't come up with any more excuses to linger with Galileo any longer. Reluctantly, we thanked the owner and the auction rep and slowly walked away from a legend. I grabbed one last glance at the shabby hero and took one last photo as we reached the exit.
While I can share those photos with the world, the experience itself is more elusive. This is my attempt to share some small part of my adventure with my friend Mike on that excellent, hot afternoon in June. I wish all Trek fans could have the same, in-person experience. Mike and I will remember it for the rest of our lives.
Mikey got it right. It was amazing!