Sunday, March 1, 2009

02-09 Tucson Arizona Adventures

Tucson Adventures.

From 14 mile bike rides, eating in old downtown Tucson, picnics at Desert Trails, exploring the desert surroundings, my time in Tucson is nearing it’s end.

I’ll be back on the road again in 4 weeks, but before heading out I’m continuing to enjoy the Tucson area. My neighbors, Chris and Tom and I went up to Biosphere II the other day for one of their tours. I’ve written about Biosphere II before, but just had to go see it again. If you enjoy architecture, earth sciences, learning about our planet, this is the place to come too. It’s been turned over to the University of Arizona who’s using it for experiments on affects of green house gasses on our planet as well as many other experiments that can be done using the controlled environments of 5 different eco systems. Many other universities and scientists from around the world are now using it as well for their experiments.

The location of the Biosphere is at the base of Mount Lemon, which is on the outskirts of Tucson. Mt Lemon is the southern most location for skiing in the U.S. and yes, we were able to see the snow high up on the mountain range. Haven’t gotten up on the Mt yet, but would be tons of fun to see snow again and go skiing.

Last night I went to a concert in the club house of accordion players. They did a most eclectic mix of Easter songs, cowboy western and show tunes. You haven’t lived to you’ve heard songs from Porgy and Bess done on an accordion. I felt like I’d been transported to the beaches of Fla and the Keys at sunset with songs like Moon River and other 50’s classics. When the Geography Professor did a solo number of Rhapsody in Blues, I was transported to Moe mart in Paris and to Italy. And of course when the musicians did The Hills Are Alive from the Sound of Music I was racing across the hills of Bavaria. It was most unusual. Perhaps it was the slower rhythm of the accordion playing that permitted the mind to wonder to these places.

Then, half way through the presentation, a good friend, Grace, said she was going outside to see a comet. Before I knew it, I joined in on the search. We drove with a few other folks up into the Saguaro National Park to get away from the city lights. The mountain range shielded us from the city lights and the lights down in the valley as we climbed up to the higher elevations. We finally stopped off of the pitch black road onto one of the pull-outs that are all along the twisting and winding roadway. Except for the occasional car going by it was pitch black, the silhouette of the saguaro cactus and the black outline of the mountain range was all that could be seen. Until we looked up and saw an explosion of stars, the big dipper and little dipper, the north star and Pleiades were all seen against the blackness of space and the blanket of stars, the sliver of a crescent moon with Venus off to its side, now dimmer due to thin patches of cloud cover moving in. Standing there in small groups, talking quietly about life and the expanse of the universe, each connecting in their own way to this most unusual night. The stillness of the cool air, the quiet only interrupted by a car going by, it’s blinding lights going by, then fading off into the distance as it dipped around one last curve in the road. Silence once again. I never was able to see the orange blob that was the comet through the binoculars, but it didn’t matter. I’d experienced being in the darkest part of the desert, stars above, what more could I ask for.

The following day I drove over to the Tohono O’odham Swap Meet. A great Indian flea market with tons of cheap stuff. I found a whole slew of Tony Hillerman novels which I’ve been reading lately and ended up purchasing about 10 more books. His characters are Navaho Indians living in the 4 corners region and through his writing one is able to learn so much about the Native American Indians life. If you enjoy western novels, Tony Hillerman is a great writer and worth checking out.

I’m beginning my preparations for leaving the Tucson area and it appears I will be heading up to Globe AZ and Roosevelt Lake before heading to Cottonwood where I’ll have another eye exam to insure my eye drops are working correctly for my Glaucoma.
We’re almost “on the road again”…..

For more info on Biosphere 2:

Book: Life Under Glass by Ailling, Nelson and Silverstone
Book: Eating In by Sally Silverstone
Book: The Human Experiment by Jane Poynter (recommended)


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