Friday, November 20, 2009

It's Pretty Here

Sanctuary Moon


The Santuary Moon generally and inaccurately called Endor is actually the fourth moon of the gas giant planet of Endor. It is a forest moon, and the only inhabitable celestial object in or around Endor, hence it often being referred to as Endor. It is also the home to the University of Endor and their 9-Time Champion Cross Country team The Goraxes.


Destiny is a funny thing. Just a short time ago, I was on a harsh desert planet called Tatooine. I am not a fan of the desert. I am more of a tree person to be honest. Forests are filled with life and hold a unique beauty not found anywhere else. As such, it would suffice to say that I am a fan of The Sanctuary Moon or Forest Moon of Endor. You can imagine my surprise and pleasure when I returned from Tatooine to be tasked to explore The Sanctuary Moon. To top it off, I had a message when I returned from Professor Cal Rissian of the University of Endor. He was asking if I would be willing to give a lecture to his Metaphysics class. The school of course, would be picking up my travel expenses. Naturally I jumped at the opportunity.


My hyperspace flight was less than eventful, which is always a good thing. However when we got into orbit, we were notified that we were going to be delayed in a holding pattern due to the construction of a nearby space station. I don't like delays and to add to it, the Goraxes rival cross country team, the Dewbacks were also arriving for a cross country meet. Eventually they put us on the shuttlecraft and sent us down to the moon's surface. In this photo you can actually see the mammoth space station and the two shuttles that were in front of us heading to the landing platform.


Landing Platform

Landing Platform


When I deboarded I felt an overwhelming sense of awe as a I gazed out at the massive forest spread before me. It was magnificent! The stunning beauty of the forest had me giddy with anticipation. I would have expected it to be a much more tranquil place as well, but with the cross country meet, the moon was bustling. It was such a huge event that the Holonet crews erected a massive antenna to make sure that the meet would be broadcast around the galaxy. Here is a picture of it from my landing platform.


Holonet Antenna

Holonet Antenna


I went into the terminal and picked up my rental walker which would take me to the University. I was shocked at the size of the cannons on the front of it. The Hertz representative explained that it was just in case of a Gorax attack. They are such huge and powerful beasts that one needs tremendous firepower just to deter it from attacking. I got a local to take a picture of me climbing into the walker.


Hertz Rent-a-Walker




Gorax




Professor Rissian met me upon arrive to the campus. He and I have been friends for many years. He was the one who suggested I attend the Cheddar Monk Academy. He is a brilliant Metaphysicist and a wonderful mentor. He is also living proof that you cannot judge someone by their appearance. After all, who would think of a wookiee as a Metaphysics professor at a major univeristy? Here we are together.


Me and Professor Cal Rissian

Me and Professor Rissian


After meeting up we proceeded to his class. He knew how eager I was to explore the moon, so he scheduled my lecture soon after my arrival. The lecture went quite well. I explained how Metaphysics and the Cheddar are linked and gave a demonstration of how it works by levitating a ball for them. It was a wonderful experience and helped me better appreciate the effort the Cheddar Masters put into the teachings they give.


Once the lecture was done Professor Rissian introduced me to the stars of U of E cross country team. I even got a picture with them and their two droid trainers. I am a huge fan, so this was quite the moment for me. Here they are starting at the back, from left to right: (Team Captain) Scruffy "The Scoundrel" Nerfherder, Leia "Princess" Skytalker, Luke "Who's Your Daddy" Skytalker, Me (Darth Mandinga), Tre "Chatty" Seepeo (Athlete/Cyborg relations), Ardee "Shock Treatment" Tooee (Medical Examiner), Chewy "Walking Carpet" Bacca (Physical Fitness Coordinator).


University of Endor Cross Country Stars

UE CC Stars


The team talked me into staying for the cross country meet and the after party. Of course it didn't take much talking to convince me. They even took me out to a couple parts of the course (they wouldn't let me see the whole thing). I got a couple of pictures and was stunned at the difficulty of the terrain they would be running on.


Course Start

Starting Line


Course Terrain

Terrain


Course Map

Course Map


It was a long race and it was wrought with danger. It isn't uncommon for the runners to get predatory animals chasing them as they race. That being the case there is always a group of armed hunters at the finish line to take anything down that may have followed the athlete in. Here you can see Scruffy taking the win and the hunters poised to bring down any predatory creatures.


Victory

Victory


After the meet was over, I headed out for a little exploration. I got a couple of pictures of two of the most rare animals on the moon, the boar wolf and the blurrg.


Boar Wolf

Boar Wolf


Blurrg




As it was starting to get dark I ran into a couple of Ewoks, one of them a chieftan by the look of things. I asked where he thought I could get the most stunning picture on the planet. He pointed the way to what would be the most startingly beautiful vista I have ever seen in my life. It was a vantage point from atop a mountain overlooking a valley with a river. In the sky loomed the planet of Endor. It's beautiful swirling clouds of gas illuminated the valley with an ominous glow. I must have stood there for an hour before heading back to the campus for the afterparty.


Ewok Chieftan

Ewok Chieftan


Magnificent View

View


When I got back to the arboreal campus, the party was in full swing. Ewoks from various villages had arrived to partake in the fun. It didn't take long for things to get a little crazy at the party. There was some crazy dancing going on around the bonfire and I joined in. One of the Metaphysics students suggested I use my laser sword as a glow stick while I was dancing. Probably not the best idea and it was fortunate that only a couple of Ewoks ended up with singed fur by the end of the night.


After Party - Laser Sword Show

Glow Stick


The next morning the campus was silent. I awoke early to make sure I caught my flight out. I would have liked to have stayed, but the university only agreed to have me on for the day. I will certainly have to go back again, preferrably when there are fewer people around. I would very much like to enjoy the tranquility of the planet.


Quiet Campus

Quiet Campus


On another note, never let an Ewok use your camera. They don't really have a sense of tact or timing it would seem. I asked the little guy to get one last shot of myself and the Gorax stars prior to heading down to the landing platform. I guess I should have been more specific about when to take the picture. Scruffy, suffering from a hangover, ended up hunkered over a log hurling his guts up when we were going to get together for the picture. It caused a chain reaction that got Leia and Chewy doing the same. I was using the Cheddar to keep myself from being spewed on and that Ewok decided to take the picture at that moment.


Hangover




I said my goodbyes and boarded the shuttle back to the orbital transport. Again, the hyperspace trip back was uneventful and pleasant. I really enjoyed my short stay on the Sanctuary Moon and am determined to return there someday soon to further my exploration.

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