Trekonderoga 2024!

Before you read this post, you need to go read this one if you haven’t already.  Go ahead–I’ll wait!

Back?  OK.  That was 2018.  In 2020 I ordered a Cameo video from Jonathan for Amanda and played it for her on Christmas.  She loved it.

Last year we moved to the Keeseville area–about an hour away from Ticonderoga, home of (among other things) the Star Trek Original Series Set Tour.  Throughout the year they have various Star Trek celebrities visit and you can purchase photo ops, tours, and bridge chats with them.  Earlier this year I noted that Jonathan Frakes would be visiting in May.  I asked Amanda if she’d like to go and she said yes and so we went!

What can I say?  It was incredible!  The event was for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; but we decided to just make a day of it on Saturday, which was when our events with Mr. Frakes were scheduled.  We got there a little after the doors opened.  This was actually a little too early, but the web site warned that there would be lines.  (There were, but they came later.)  We got checked in and explored the gift shop and museum for a few minutes.  We then made our way to the local elementary school where the vendor fair was setting up and where the presentations and round table discussions would be.  I scored a complete set of Star Trek Fotonovels–a set of 12 for only $5 each!  That’s half of what they go for on eBay.  I had a couple of them when I was a kid.  My great grandfather would come from New Brunswick to visit.  When it was time for him to go home, we would bring him to the train station in Montreal.  While my Dad brought him to the train and go him on board, I would explore the station concourse.  I found a book store that had these Fotonovels.  I think I wore them out from reading them so much!  I never saw them anywhere else–I am glad to finally have the complete set!

Amanda bought a figurine of Will Riker.  She thought she might like it autographed, but wasn’t willing to pay what was being charged, especially since we already have his autograph (for the price of a stamp!).  We attended a talk about the 50th anniversary of the premiere of “Space: 1999” a sci-fi show I watched on CBC when I was a kid.

We made our way back to the tour site and had lunch at a diner across the street.  When we were done, there were 2 lines running halfway down the parking lot!  One was for the photo op with Jonathan Frakes, the other was for LeVar Burton.  We made sure we were in the correct line and waited.  We took a few pictures of the 1966 Batmobile, owned by James Cawley who created the Star Trek sets from original blueprints.  And oh look–there he is, walking around like he owns the place!

James Cawley

Later in the day I approached James when I saw him standing in the parking lot.  As I got close he reached out his hand and shook mine like we were old friends.  “Thank you for what you’ve done here,” I said.  He smiled and thanked me for being there.  Later on Amanda and I both spoke with him.  Amanda dropped her Dad’s name and James immediately recognized it, “sure, I know Kevin!” he said. 

The photo op was honestly underwhelming.  We were herded through the set of the bridge of the original starship Enterprise.  Frakes was sitting in the captain’s chair.  We stood behind him, the picture was taken, verified, and then we looped around and left the same way we had entered.  So that was that!

We had some time to kill before our set tour, so we went back to the school to look around again.  At 2:00 we returned for the set tour with Jonathan Frakes, followed by the Bridge Chat.  The tour was late to start because the tour ahead of us was still in progress.  Author David Gerrold was giving the tour and no one thought to send a chaperone with him.  The man likes to talk and was way behind.  We finally entered the sets and started in the Transporter Room.  It was…small.  I knew these had all been built from original blueprints, but I couldn’t get over how small it was!  Some of it was due to the fact that there were about 40 of us in the same room.  But it was small!  But I could tell later when I looked at my pictures that it really was what we saw on TV.  Frakes joined us to applause and proceeded to interact with us.  He took questions, told stories, and just generally mingled with us.  I don’t know what I expected, but this was nice!  He was genuine and personable and obviously actually cares about the Star Trek franchise and its ongoing legacy, even if he can’t remember every single thing about it!

TOS Transporter ROom

As he milled about us in the Transporter Room Jonathan eventually made his way to the control console.  There were a couple of museum staff there, but they got out of his way.  He had been there last year, but since then the technicians had beefed up the controls so that when you slid the sliders they actually “activated” the transporter!  The lights blinked the the sound effects played.  Frakes, fiddling around as he was talking, moved one of the sliders and tripped the effects.  “NO SHIT!!!,” he exclaimed as he stopped mid-sentence of whatever he had been saying. 

Jonathan Frakes

“No Shit!”

The tech then explained that yes, it actually “worked.”  He tried it again and the look on his face was positively…orgasmic:



From the Transporter Room we moved through the set hall to Sickbay.  During the Q&A there Amanda actually interacted with Jonathan, providing details about a TNG episode that is a favorite of hers (“The Host”) because he was sketchy on the details.  The look on her face in that moment confirmed that this gift was totally worth it!  She was SO. HAPPY!

We then moved to the briefing room.  There was a 3D chess set and other familiar props from the strewn about the table.  Frakes sat at the end by the computer console.  Amanda was across the room, and I stood next to Jonathan.  More stories, more Q&A.  And then, as he was making a reference to Deep Space 9 (another Trek series) he instead, in a Freudian slip I’ll never forget, instead said “Deep Throat 9” and didn’t even know it.  “Wait…WHAT was that…???” I said, getting a lot of laughter.

Amanda and Jonathan in the Briefing Room

The tour then entered the Engineering section/engine room.  Wow.  I had been amazed until then, but this set just blew me away!  Everything was so familiar!!!  And just as I have seen it dozens and dozens of times before. 

Amanda and Jonathan Frakes

After that, it was time for the Bridge Chat.  Those without tickets were escorted away from the main entrance to Engineering.  The rest of us left through a back hall that led to the Turbolift.  The doors were slid open and we were back on the bridge!  It was ringed with folding chairs.  The people who had tickets for the chat but not the tour were already there.  We were told to sit anywhere.  “But not THERE!” someone laughingly said to me as I braced myself on the arm of the Captain’s chair as I stepped down into the well of the Bridge.  Amanda and I sat in chairs right in front of the helmsman’s (Sulu) station, facing the Captain’s chair.  Frakes came in and took his seat and we spent the next hour with him.  After discussing a few topics and hearing a few stories, I raised my hand.  “I don’t have a question–just a personal comment,” I said.  “This visit is the culmination of a series of gifts to my wife Amanda.  I will make a long story very short, but several years ago I sent you a handwritten letter to an address I found on Google.  In it I told you the story of how my wife met you when she was 14 and how all she could say in that moment was, ‘you’re pretty’ and asked you to send her an autograph.  You were kind enough to do that and I am very glad that she finally has the chance to meet you again.”  Amanda was positively beaming at this point, and gushed, “and you’re still pretty!!”

“You’re pretty too,” Jonathan Frakes said.  And the whole room applauded.

We went back to the school to pick up our photograph and took the scenic route home along the lake.  It was the best day I’ve had in a very long time!

Jonathan Frakes and Us!