Sunday, December 2, 2012

Welcome home, Dustin Smiley!

Yesterday (Saturday, December 1st) was the long awaited arrival day for Dustin Smiley.  He has been on a 13-month deployment with the US Navy.  You may recall that we were guests of the Smiley's back in May!

His wife Sarah is a syndicated writer and for the past year, has had a guest over for Dinner With The Smileys. 

Besides having us over in May, they have also had visitors such as Senator Susan Collins, Senator-Elect Angus King, former Governor John Baldacci and many, many more.  Its been an amazing journey, for them and for all her readers.  

As you may know from following my blog, my R2 was in need of serious fixing when I noticed the frame had some issues.  After two years of adventures, visits and so forth, the original frame was showing its age, with a side structure piece beginning to fail.  I had a newer frame available so the process of transitioning everything from one frame to another began.  Well, there were complications.  Much like taking everything from a 2000 model car into a 2012 one, modifications were needed.  Then, I managed to tear the ligament in my left hand (Gamekeeper's Thumb), which completely halted my building progress for a few weeks.  However, despite the complications, progress continued on my new and improved R2 !

The airport would provide some new challenges for R2 and I.  The idea of pulling up in front of the airport and rolling inside with an R2-D2 sounded easy enough.  Then, I thought better of it, with beefed up airport security, a busy terminal and so on.  However, the 4 Points Sheraton hotel is connected to the airport via a connecting, enclosed bridge.

Calling the Four Points Sheraton was a very amusing experience, as my coworkers who overheard the phone call can share.  How do you call, out of the blue, and ask if it is OK if an R2-D2 parks in your lobby for a few minutes to get setup to greet a flight home?  

I did manage to communicate my intentions to the general manager, who, after a long pause, said "Okay.".  Well, that sounded promising!

The flight was scheduled to arrive just before noon, so I planned to be at the Sheraton, ready to go, by 11:00.  When R2 and I rolled into the lobby, the front desk staff were quite surprised, and excited, to see us.  I explained that I just needed to fire up R2's computer, do a safety check, make sure the sound remote was working (my Windows XBOX controller) and head over.  That took a few minutes to do and then we made the journey across the enclosed bride to the airport terminal...

Four Points Sheraton staff listen to R2 share his thoughts

Big thanks to the Four Points of Bangor for allowing us to quickly setup from their lobby!

Hey!  Very color coordinated to R2!
 Once inside, we were pretty easy to spot.  R2 posed for pictures with guests waiting for passengers, passengers waiting for flights and the general public !

While awaiting Dustin's commercial flight to land, another aircraft was a chartered flight of US Army soldiers just flying home from Afghanistan.  Their final destination was Colorado.  It turns out that these ladies and gentlemen do EOD work, the demolition work of detecting and destroying IEDs/bombs....using robots!  They posed for pictures with R2-D2 and I made sure to thank them all for their service.

 Just after I finished chatting with the soldiers, Dustin arrived!  I was too far away to get any good pictures but I can tell you that a TV show film crew was there to cover it.  More on that at a later date!

The Smiley family has been reunited and after saying Hello to each one of the guests, they headed for home.

While at the airport, R2 wanted to see if the TSA would screen him =)  We couldn't resist some good natured fun with the SEE something SAY something sign...

We made our exit and headed back to the Four Points Sheraton.  R2 posed for some pictures by their beautiful Christmas tree before heading back to the van.

Next Friday will be our next event, which will be a gathering of all the visitors to the Dinner With The Smileys over the past year.  It should be a very special event I look forward to attending with R2-D2!