As much as I love seeing JPL, and as many totally uber-cool things will be there, and as many times as I’ve been in the past and taken my kids, particularly when they were much younger, I will not be there this year.
So, in short, by 08:00 the 210 Freeway was backed up in both directions by folks waiting to get off.
The parking gates opened at 08:30 for a 9:00 opening to the Open House.
By 10:45 all parking was gone and the only way to get there was to park somewhere down the hill and walk up. (If you could get off the freeway to begin with.)
By 11:30 the site was filled to capacity and the gates closed, pending possibly being open later if enough people left to free up space.
At 12:17 the site was closed to all further arrivals for the rest of the day.
On Twitter there were people who were upset because they had waited for hours in traffic, only to be turned away. Some had come from out of town or even out of state. The only option for them is to be there really early tomorrow, because it’s expected to be as bad or worse on Sunday.
Please, please, please note – this is in NO WAY intended to be ANY kind of criticism of JPL. The staff and scientists and engineers of JPL walk on water in my view, and it’s incredible that they open up their doors every year for two days to let the general public in to see what they do and share the wonder of their discoveries and exploration.
My point is this:
Isn’t it funny that our Congress-critters believe that space exploration and science are a waste of our taxpayer dollars? Isn’t it amazing that they think that there isn’t any support by the general public for any of these programs?
It’s a good thing that we have our politicians spending more on corporate bailouts and farm subsidies every week than these “silly” and “unpopular” programs get in a year. If it weren’t for the politicians making sure that we spend tax money on their corporate donors and sycophants, we might actually do something stupid like spend on these science and space exploration boondoggles!
Ask any of the 100,000+ taxpayers who visited JPL today. Or any of the 100,000+ who will be there tomorrow. Or any of the tens of thousands who will get turned away each day.
If you get a chance to visit tomorrow, have a great time. We always have.
Then write to your Congress-critter and tell them about it.