The three of us, my husband Ted, son Bill, and myself, stepped onto the lot in the late morning, with not even a vague idea of the directions to René's trailer or the set of Deep Space Nine. Our only option was to ask for directions. Everyone we met on the lot was genuinely nice and very helpful.

After attaining directions, more than once (it's a very complicated place), we found him. René had just finished a scene and was still in costume when we caught up to him on the way to the make up trailer. He pealed off his Odo mask and his face was swabbed down with a solution to remove the glue and the remainder of his make up. Afterward his make up artist gave him a hot towel to complete the process of again returning to his own self. Then it was off to discover how Deep Space Nine comes about each week.

First, René led us to the set that held the Promenade. It was huge. We walked inside Quark's Bar, which was occupied by some people doing filming not related to the show. It seemed smaller than the scenes we are used to seeing on the program. That didn't detract from the excitement of actually being there. Somehow, I still expected to see Morn somewhere nearby. We walked up the stairs to the second level of Quark's which encircles the lower level and leads to a third level where we see customers ascend to the holosuits. The second level is quite narrow and the third is even more so because there is actually very little up there. It is a beautifully detailed set.

Next, we walked up another set of stairs in the hall to the second level of the Promenade. It was solid, well constructed and looked more like what we are used to seeing on TV than Quark's. It is a long walkway with stairs at either end and a mural at one end. René explained that it makes the Promenade level look like it is more expansive than it really is, and it works. When we looked out the windows, we saw stars against a stark black background. They may not be real, but it was all part of the illusion.

Since, most of filming was over for the day, lights had been turned off through out the set but René showed us Sickbay. Apparently, some catastrophic event occurs on the show and several beds were added to accommodate additional patients. We also visited Odo's office but all of the monitors were off. That didn't detract from the fun of actually standing there and remembering all the things that we have seen happen on that very spot. By that time morning had turned into afternoon and we were all hungry. René led us to the cafeteria where we ate in peace. It must be nice for him to sit down and eat without someone coming up to ask for his autograph. We ate and had pleasant conversation. We didn't see anyone familiar, but then who was looking? After all, we were already sitting with someone very special. What more could we ask for?

Artwork courtesy of Janet D'Airo

After lunch we went to a set where an actual scene was being shot. People were sitting in chairs all around facing the set in progress of filming. René introduced us to all the surrounding people: the director, the AD (assistant director), the script coordinator, and all the others who make the station and characters seem so real. They also assure consistency in what we see each week. He had us watch the filming through the director's video viewer where we saw the image of the actors walking and talking to each other. To stay in the shot, the actor's movements were constrained to fit the scene which was being shot in one of Odo's cells. It was a wonderful bit between Jake and Nog. I think you will really enjoy it.

Next, we walked to the building where the aliens are conceived and created by Michael Westmore and his very talented staff. They were more than happy to show us around and explain to us the process of how a cast is made of the actor and then a plastic is poured in to solidify and produce the masks that we see each week on Deep Space Nine. There were familiar faces: Klingons, Ferengi, Morn, Odo, and many others. Some we will see on future programs and one in particular is absolutely hideous but we will see in on an upcoming Star Trek. I won't tell you which one, but I hope they will run a warning before it airs. Star Trek can be friendly and gentle and it can be what nightmares are made of. Anything is possible.

Lastly we went to the building where costumes are made and stored for the Star Trek programs. Everyone was busily working against the clock to complete their assigned project. If you have ever seen one of Ron Blackman's fashion shows at a convention, you can see the quality of work that goes into each piece. It is the same quality of work produced by all departments that lead to such a well done program. What an exciting trip and what a wonderful place to work. Everyone was friendly and every person we met or walked by said hello to René with a smile.

Thanks René, no one does a better tour.

Ted, Bill, and Lisa Wilcox

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