October 26-27, 2010 - Just Stuff

The past two days we just got caught up on “stuff” – doing laundry, clean up, shopping – I even got a haircut – :-))).

We have had a great time here and hope to return again – there is so much to see and do.   For those of you who are coming to Tucson, stop at the visitor center and pick up a discount book for $15.00.  It contains many 2 for 1 deals on a number of attractions.   We saved quite a bit in just a few of the attractions.  If we spent the season here, we would have saved even more.   The book is good until September 2011 so we may use it again…

Tomorrow we are heading to Williams.  I think our Dusty will be happy not to hear the coyotes for a few days – their howls have really unnerved him – :-((.

So stay tuned for more adventures.


October 25, 2010 – Biosphere 2

Imagine being sealed into a huge building with seven other people for almost 2 years.  In this building you have to make sure that all of your ecosystems are doing well because those systems supply your air and water.  Then there are the gardens and animals for food.  And all the mechanics…  WOW!!

That was part of Biosphere 2.    Today it is still in use by various scientific organizations and the University of Arizona.

Here is more info:



The Biosphere 2 from the road:

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The Greenhouse:

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The living quarters, farm, and command center:

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The Oceans Area…this “ocean” was modeled after the Caribbean Sea and at its beginning was a beautiful clear blue:

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How about this fish?  Yes, he is real!

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The Desert Area:

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   The Rainforest Area:

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There are acres of passageways underneath the biosphere that contain all the systems needed to run it:

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This was one of the sealed doors to the outside.  When the complex was leak tested before the missions, it was found to be better sealed than the space shuttle – WOW!:

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Going to the lung:

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Inside the lung:

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Now this was fascinating.  Do you see the disk with the legs above?   Attached to that is a rubber membrane.   As the sun heats up the biosphere, the pressure increases and the lung fills up.  This huge disk raises.   As night falls and the pressure decreases, the disk comes down.   This area is open to all the tunnels and passages through out the complex so the atmosphere pressure remains even.  (Not sure I explain that correctly…but it is amazing to watch.)

Around the lung is a passageway with negative pressure.  You can see the black membrane…

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Coming out of the passageway:

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The spare lung:

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The generator buildings:

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The farm area where they grew their food and tended to the animals:

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The Command Area – where they monitored all the systems within the biosphere:

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We took the tour and then went back to some of the exhibits.  Fascinating!!

I had visions of the movie “Space Odyssey” as we walked thru all the areas.  WOW!!

There were many stories on the Biosphere 2 – pros and cons – but in the end, the scientists considered it successful because of all they learned.

By the way…where is Biosphere 1??


October 24, 2010 – Mission San Xavier del Bac

Our sightseeing travels today took us south of Tucson to the San Xavier Mission.   In the valley area of the desert, this beautiful white structure can be seen for miles.  

The Church:

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The Mission School:

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The Mission:

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This is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona.  The mission was founded in 1692 and the construction of the current church began in 1783.   Here is more information on the history of the mission and details of its construction.



When we arrived, Mass was almost finished.  I stepped inside to hear the last part and listen to the singing – Beautiful.   And the inside was, well, take a look:

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If seen from the air, this church is laid out like a cross, with the main aisle and two wings.  I stopped in one of the wings to light candles and say a few prayers, then just walked around taking pictures in awe.  To think this was all done in the late 18th century.   Many of the statues came from Mexico and  were transported here by donkey.  WOW!

In 1992, a team of experts from around the world, started restoring the inside of the church – walls, paintings, statues, etc..   The restoration of the outside continues today.

From the church, we walked to the courtyard:

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One of the side chapels:

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The inside of the chapel:

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From there we walked up to the grotto on the hill:

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What a beautiful place:

We stopped for lunch at a little stand near the mission and tried Menudo – a type of Mexican Soup.   Interesting taste!

Back at the motor home, we still have no water.  They had a problem with their well and shut down on Friday and are continuing to work on it.   We are okay so far – had a full tank of water on board but have decided to go on the conserve mode just in case.

There is also a concert going on at the fairgrounds – VERY LOUD!!!  But supposed to end by 10 – YEA!!!   (Too bad it is Alternative Music and not Rock and Roll – :-))

And a side note – I took it easy yesterday and Andy went to the Titan Missile Museum.  A group of Amateur Radio Operators met there and used that huge antennae for a Special Events Day.  Andy enjoyed himself…  :-)))

Stay tuned.


October 22, 2010 The Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum

The Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum.

“The mission of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is to inspire people to live in harmony with the natural world by fostering love, appreciation, and understanding of the Sonoran Desert.

In a nutshell
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a world-renowned zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden, all in one place!”





What an incredible place!!  We arrived just in time for the orientation tour.  Our docent tour guide, Joe, first gave us an overview of the deserts of North America

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and then the particulars of the Sonoran Desert – of which the Saguaro is its signature plant.   And on we went to tour the “Mountain Woodland” and “Desert Grassland” areas.   We learned so much about the plants and animals of these areas as well as some native uses of the plants, pods, and seeds.

For instance:

There is a male and female jojoba plant that is pollinated by bees.   The plant produces seeds that are prized for their oil.

The Palo Verde tree photosynthesize through their green bark since their leaves are small and it drops its leaves during the warm season and in response to fall cooling. They also drop stems and branches to combat drought.

The agave plant is also know as the century plant – flowers once in 100 years then dies.   Not totally true – the 100 year part, but it does take a long time for the plant to flower and then it does die. 

And, of course, lots of info on the Saguaro:




Pictures from our tour:




Throughout the tour, there were animal habitats too – fascinating:




Joe also told us that at 2 PM, there was going to be a demonstration/training session of their family of Harris Hawks so we went for lunch then met him at the viewing area – another amazing adventure:




My favorite – getting ready to land:

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We finished the day by going thru the cave replica on gems and minerals found/mined in Arizona** and information on bats:

Can you hear me now???

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If our ears were like bat ears, that is how huge they would be.. oh my.


There is so much to see and do here – one day is too short.   If I were to spend a month or a season here, I would get a membership and go a number of times…   Oh my, so much to see, so much to do, and so little time.

**Still on my bucket list – spend a season in the southwest and learn, find, and maybe even mine some of these gems and minerals…..:-))

We took the scenic route home thru Gates Pass Road:




What a nice day!!