"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Saturday, February 2, 2019

The Desert Museum & The Biosphere 2

Tucson, AZ
Dustin's Diamond J RV Park

We finally were able to go to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and it was very well done.  It's a combination zoo, natural history museum, botanical garden and art gallery which reflects the plants and animals of the Sonoran Desert.

 Lots of very happy Prairie Dogs playing in their habitat.
 Many birds to see.  Great Blue Heron Above.  Not sure what type of bird that is below but look at that wingspan!

  A restful spot with a great view.
 The coyotes were very active and howling for us.

 The Javelina's were also out and about. 
 The Raptor Show was pretty good too.  First the Raven flew all around.  There was a Great Horned Owl and Redtail Hawk that flew all around us as well with their trainers nearby.  
 The otters were playfully swimming and showing off.
 I've not seen a Black-Bellied Whistling Duck before.
  I think I liked the cactus, plants and flowers the most.  The shapes, colors, textures.


The Totem Pole cactus is my favorite.
Some early blooms.
A Crested Suguaro
We had lunch at one of the cafĂ©'s.  The drinks were good, especially the Prickly Pear Margarita.  The food was so promising, but it didn't have much flavor.
  The Big Horn Sheep were hanging out soaking up the sunshine.
 It was nap time for the wolves.
The bear was hiding inside his shelter so we didn't see him, but this squirrel was happily munching away on his lunch.

 Just these large paws were visible on the Mountain Lion who was also napping away.
 There were small reptile and salt water exhibits too. 
 Garden Eels swaying in the current. 
My and my brother, Steve.
 Afterward we took a short drive up to The Gates Pass Overlook.

 Beautiful view of the desert below.
On Sunday the storms came in and it was very rainy and windy.  We thought an indoor day at the Biosphere 2 would be a great way to stay dry. The Biosphere 2 facility serves as a laboratory for controlled scientific studies.  There are several types of tours, we too the general tour for $20.  Since we had the Tucson Passport which gave us 1/2 off admission here as well as many other Tucson attractions.  RV friend, Cori, told us about this great savings.
Just inside the door was this huge crystal display. Pretty awesome.  It was over 3 feet tall.
So what is the history of the Biosphere 2:
It opened in 1986 to research and develop self-sustaining space-colonization technology. There were two missions, between 1991 and 1994, where Biospherians were sealed inside the glass enclosure to measure survivability for two years.  Behind this highly public exercise was useful research that helped further ecological understanding.  The property is now run by the University of Arizona. I had heard all about this as a young kid and it fascinated me.  I was thrilled to be able to visit it.  It's a fascinating place.
 This is the ocean area that opens up to a transitional Savannah.
 The warm and humid Rainforest.
 They are running some experiments about Aquaponics in the desert. 
 After the Marsh is the Desert environment you see above. 
There is a huge agriculture area where crops were grown as well as the Lung Habitat that does all the "breathing" for the facility.  Truly an amazing thing to see.   Our first week in Tucson has been busy.

Monday, January 28, 2019

A Show, A Church & A Look Out - Tucson, AZ

Tucson, AZ
Dustin Diamond J RV Park

Even though we've been to Tucson a few times over the years, there are a few things we still haven't been able to do.  We couldn't get into Catalina State Park this time and we didn't want to take a chance on FCFS at Gilbert Ray, so we took the recommendation of our RV friends, Greg & Cori of The Restless Youngs and made a reservation for two weeks at the "Diamond J". 
While Cori prefers the sister park next door because of the extra frills, we are really enjoying this park for what it is.  Clean, quiet, nicely landscaped, decent spacing and facilities.  Full hookups with laundry is all we really care about in a private park.  We rarely stay at them, but it works great for our 2 weeks here with my brother and sister-in-law.
There are several very nice hiking trails that lead right out of the park.  My brother and I usually go out each morning with the dogs while the spouses are working.
Hungry critters enjoying this cactus. (L)

The clouds made very interesting patterns in the deep blue sky.
Small labyrinth.
The fruit of the Barrel Cactus is edible.  Tried it, didn't like it.  Somewhat bitter, even without the skin.  Maybe in a couple of weeks it would be better?
There was a Hamburger Night in the park with entertainment so we brought a side dish and sat for a while, enjoying a fantastic sunset.  The variety of food was amazing and delicious.
Me, Steve, Steve and Diane.
Another night we drove a few miles into the town of Tucson to see the Retro Game Show in the old Congress Hotel.  We also got this recommendation from Cori.  They have seen many of the shows put on by Tempest DuJour, the “Delicate Flower of the Desert.” She is Tucson’s largest drag queen with a hysterical sense of humor. Definitely not your Grammas game show! Fun night!
Wyatt Earp, Steve and Doc Holiday
After a great dinner and the game show, we walked across the street to get a geocache that just happened to be at the location of the shooting of Frank Stilwell by Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday.  We love the history of the Earps and have been to many locations they lived, fought and died at while fulltiming.  More of Stilwell's death HERE.

One place that we never made it to was the Mission of Xavier del Bac.  A National Historic Landmark, the mission was founded as a Catholic mission by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692. Construction of the current church began in 1783 and was completed in 1797.  Also known as the White Dove of the Desert.
More of the history of this mission can be found HERE.

Extensive renovation has been done inside and outside of the mission.
You can see the cross that sits on top of the hill next to the mission.
The ceilings are made of Saguaro wood. (L)  The grounds are nicely landscaped (R) 
There is a beautiful outdoor patio with a fountain that overlooks the valley.
The west tower at the San Xavier Mission stands in contrast to the eastern one, which has been in disrepair for many years. The overall mission has needed extensive restoration over the years.

In 1939, lightning struck and destroyed the 18th-century lantern atop the west tower. It was rebuilt out of common house brick and mortar and rebuilt again 2007 using threaded fiberglass reinforcing rods in the minitower legs so that metal rods would no longer attract lightning.

The Grotto of Lourdes
 A view of the valley below.
Looking down at the mission.
The cross at the top of the hill.

One of those RVs that look like they came from the Australia Outback.
After the mission we took a drive up to Sentinel Peak for a little hike to the top.  Sentinel Peak is a 2,897 foot peak in the Tucson Mountains.
We thought the rules were interesting.  While beer drinking and firearms are ok, loud music and glass containers are not.
Please Do Not Disturb Others With Loud Music?
They aren't doing so well with the loud music.  Play the video to hear what was coming out of many of the vehicles in the park.  There was also smashed glass everywhere.  Shame.
A small memorial near an overlook.
Goofin' off.
Some interesting cactus growth up here.
A view of Tucson from the top.
This rock was sitting on a bench at the top.

Beautiful sunset from up here!
Goodnight Tucson.