Sunday, December 21, 2008

35-08 Peace On Earth, Tucson AZ

Peace on Earth

Peace on Earth Good Will to Men. That’s a phrase you hear all the time around this time of year. And for good reason. Of all the gifts one could receive, peace is one that all mankind can relate to and desire for ourselves our families and the world.

Well we’ll get back to that thought in a bit. My stay here in Tucson has been full of activity. The time is moving along so quickly. The park I’m staying in for the winter, Desert Trails, is filled with good people and lots of activities to keep me busy. I’m enjoying the writers group I’ve joined, along with a computer club and a bike riding club. I’ve done some hiking in the desert and look forward to much more of that in the coming weeks. Entertainment is provided almost every night of the week.

The writing club has been very inspiring and one of the writers has encouraged all of us to write stories about our family to share with family and friends. Encourage your older relatives to tell their story and to write them down. Time goes so quickly, it’s a gift you can give your children. I’ll be forwarding another story I wrote shortly.

We had a crafts show up at the club house the other week along with a white elephant sale. I sold about $35.00 worth of stuff. How do I keep collecting all this stuff in such a small camper/home? Actually part of it is that I have to continually see if I’m using something, if not, it’s time to pitch it. So it either gets donated to Good Will or sold at a garage sale. And no to the “other Doug” I did not get rid of the small plastic bins that you wanted. They are very helpful and I may even purchase a few more in the future. Well, about 10 minutes before we were going to wind up the elephant sale, someone backed into my truck as it sat in the parking lot. Darn. After a bit of hassle, the guy who hit my truck has paid me $1,000 and still owes me a few hundred more. Decided not to go through the insurance company. Probably a good thing for both he and I since neither one of us wanted our insurance to get canceled or go up. The truck has already been repaired and looks as new as the day I purchased it.

I’ve finally gotten out and done a bit of local exploring. Tucson is an easy town to get around in as long as one avoids the congestion of construction on I-10. I’ve discovered a great back road to get to town, Gates Pass which goes through the Senora Desert over the Tucson Mountain range and drops down into the valley where Tucson sits.

Out in the desert is Old Tucson Studio’s where they’ve filmed a number of westerns. It’s still an active film studio but mainly a tourist attraction. I visited it the other day and really enjoyed wondering around, watching the various outdoor shows and looking at the sets used in those old John Wayne movies.

Much of the desert has become populated with 1-5 acre home sites. Double wide mobile homes, simple homes to communities of newer adobe homes. Most are single story affairs that at first glance are hidden behind the desert landscape of mesquite trees, scrub and cactus. After driving around the area for the past month, I’m able to see that the desert is much more populated than I ever imagined especially in the outlying areas surrounding Tucson.

South of town is a huge open pit copper mining operation. And at the edge of that is the site of the last remaining Titan Missile Silos. It has been preserved as a historical museum and I visited in yesterday. Originally there were 13 Silos that surrounded Tucson, manned 24 hours a day for over 20 years. A small team of military personnel manned each site in 24 hour shifts. Turning over control to the next team who had to inspect every aspect of the site each time they did the turn over.

I descended into the underground control room, down metal stairs, the clanking sound of our feet echoing against the 4 to 8 feet thick reinforced walls. Locked doors at each entry point. Black phone on the wall used to identify and provide security codes for entry. We reached the control room, a round room built on huge spring shock absorbers to protect it from the day the Titan rocket would be launched.

I sat at the control panel with key in hand, simulating a real launch. I turn the key synchronized with the backup person. Target one, two or three. They wouldn’t tell me what the targets were set on. Lights flashing, codes verified and accepted, bells and sirens piercing the air. The launch sequence had been accepted. Lift-off. Thank God it’s a simulation only. We walk down a long concrete tunnel filled with metal girders and thick black cables to the silo containing the Trident missile. It’s warhead and fuel removed 25 years ago. A symbol of Peace through mutual deterrence. We’ll annihilate you if you annihilate us. The cold war over, we and Russia have dismantle hundreds of sites like this. Over 100 Titan Missile sites have been destroyed. The missiles have all been able to be used for peaceful purposes, launching satellites into space. Probably many of the satellites you utilize to watch TV, make phone calls and for your GPS signals.

Is it all over. Hardly. They tell me over 400 other missile sites exist throughout the U.S. Still providing that deterrent. Keeping the peace we all hope for. Peace on Earth, good will to men. A bit eerie to be visiting a site like this a week before Christmas. But this is the reality of the world we’re living in.

I haven’t purchased anything for Christmas, just being able to enjoy this wonderful desert scenery is gift enough for me. They tell me that Mount Lemon has snow on it and I may drive up there to frolic in it in a few days. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas.
From Tucson AZ, your buddy, Doug P

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