Arizona Sonora Desert Museum
International Wildlife Museum
Mission San Xavier Del Bac
Tucson is at once a city in the desert. Both old and new, surrounded by Indian reservations, mountain ranges, dry river beds, Saguaro National Park. A modern city being reinvented by boomers moving in to take advantage of good weather and cheaper home prices than California and other high priced areas.
I drove into the heart of the Sonora Desert and of course was delighted to see those majestic Saguaro cactus. They’re in bloom this time of year which is a real treat to see. I stumbled upon the Arizona Desert museum which is a combination zoo, geology park and desert habitat. Surprising, fun and just the place a kid could learn so much without even knowing they were learning new stuff, just like me!
I’m always amazed that so many homes are in an arid area like this. But they tell me it has always had natural springs and artesian wells that used to tap the water only 50 feet below the desert floor. Today the deep wells have to go over 250 feet to get that same precious water and the artesian wells are no more.
Which brought me to explore the one and original Biosphere 2. What an awesome tour. Being able to see up front and close, including touring the 2 stories below ground level. It’s a sealed off environment designed to study the earth in a controlled encapsulated bubble. 8 people lived inside of it, sealed off from the outside for two full years. The structure is considered one of the 10 top engineering feats of the world. Containing 5 biomes, a rainforest, desert, savanna, marsh and ocean. The originator of Biosphere spent over 150 million dollars to build it for research and had eventually turned it over to Columbia University, who later backed out. No reason given. It is now searching for a sponsor/University to take over the management and research studies. I’m amazed that the Government or some environmental group has not taken it over for research into our planet. Under it’s strict controlled environment, scientists could better determine how pollution, CO2 carbon etc will affect our planet and to what extent. And just think about the potential for determining what would work in outer space or on other planets.
Well, it was a great experience for me…. I then had the opportunity to see the International Wildlife Museum. Now I wasn’t going to go, thinking, who wants to see a bunch of stuffed animals and butterflies pinned up to boards. But it was free for only one day, so of course I went! Again, sometimes one happens upon the most interesting museums and exhibits. Who ever paid for this, sure had a ton of money. The displays were first class all the way. From bug displays, butterflies (wow were did they have some colorful ones!) all the way to horned and antlered animals. Each display showed the wondrous diversity in nature, all leading to educating the tourist into realizing that we have a wonderful world that needs to be preserved. The Safari Club International Foundation runs this most awesome exhibit. Just to be able to stand so close to an Alaskan Moose and feel the size and power of such an animal has changed my understanding of nature as nothing else could.
Another tour of a Mission, the San Xavier del Bac topped off my trip to Tucson. It resides on the Pascua Yaqui Indian Reservation. I was able to not only tour this huge mission, but I was able to drive around the reservation and see how this Indian tribe is surviving in this world of today.
Oh, and I tried one of their famous fry breads. It’s a flour based bread that’s deep fried and comes out all puffy and light. I had mine with honey, cinnamon and powdered sugar. The Indians invented this bread treat to help feed their tribe while being forced onto the reservations in the desert. Plain, sweetened or filled with cheese and now Mexican flavored taco fillings, it’s a fun treat and definitely a western treat.