E x p l o r e r s

One of the movies that impacted me the most as a kid is the movie,”Explorers”. It's one of those films that I wanted so badly to happen to me. It's so vivid in my mind. The music, sights, and sounds are ingrained in my brain. Every time I watch the movie as a grown up, a wave of pure nostalgia sweeps over me. It's tangible, like I can almost touch it. Some movies and shows give me similar feelings like Star Wars, The Goonies, Transformers, and even Voltron. “Explorers” is a movie that felt personal. It's almost like it was my own little adventure. No one I talk to these days seems to remember it. That's why I thought, I would write about it and the adventure that was inspired by it.

In short, the movie is about a group of kids who discover a way to travel to space to meet a couple of aliens. Ben (Ethan Hawk) has a dream, where he sees a diagram of a circuit board. He gives this diagram to his friend a wana-be scientist Wolfgang (River Phoenix). He creates a computer that looks like an old Apple II, to interface with the circuit board. They discover that it creates a blue sphere. With their new friend Darren (Jason Presson), they build a spaceship and set off on an adventure.

Like the movie I lived near a junkyard. It was somewhere I was not allowed to be, but that does not stop a kid from trying to realize a dream. A friend of mine and I raided the place for weeks trying to scrap together the parts to build our own Thunder Road. I even taped the music from the movie and played it on an old Fisher Price tape recorder while we built it. It took me and my friend a couple of days to complete it.

Some the parts we used we quite funny. We used a Transformers tent for the ship. We didn't have a Tilt-a-whirl like the movie. However, we did have some old washing machine portals for the doors. We had a trash can for the nose. We placed this contraption on a wagon and a couple of skateboards. We tied it all together with rope and duck tape. While we were savaging my friend found a clear blue rock in the junk yard. I think it might have been a round piece of glass, like a snow globe or something. In any case, we believed it would power the spaceship.

The night we finished it, I convinced my mother to let my bud sleep over. When it got dark and my parents fell asleep, we snuck out into the back yard. We inserted the power globe. Prepped the ship for launch, and then quietly pushed the ship out into the street. We maneuvered the craft into the woods where we had built a make shift ramp, the day prior. We lived in a North Carolina suburb and there were rolling hills everywhere at the time. All the houses sat nestled in-between the tress.

We placed the ship on top of the ramp. We entered the space craft and I pressed play on my trusty Fisher Price tape player. My quiet neighborhood rang with the music of, “Explorers” and the sound of the Thunder Road rolling down the ramp. It began to gain momentum as it barreled down the platform. It reached the end of the ramp and flew for a second. Then, the ship started to come apart. As it disintegrated, we crashed into an adjacent hill. The sound of the crash was like someone has dropped a hundred ports and pans.

When the ship made the impact it did not go unnoticed. The Thunder Road and my tape recorder proceeded to wake, nearly the entire neighborhood. Lucky, we did not get hurt. We looked around and saw lights beginning to come on in the houses near us. We abandoned our ship and booked it back home. We snuck back into the house and pretended like nothing had happened. For some reason it did not wake my parents. How we did not get caught, I have no idea? The next day we got up and cleaned up the mess we made in the woods.

I look back at that time and it makes me laugh. It's funny how a movie can inspires such imagination. I wish I still had it. Maybe it's a price for growing up. I always thought I would be a Toys-R-Us kid forever. It didn't work out that way, unfortunately. It's still great to see a movie like, “Explorers” and feel those feelings again, even if it's for the duration of the film. Go back and watch it if you don't remember it. It's still as good today as it was back then.