We arrived in Tucson on the 15th of October for a week of sightseeing, meeting previously unknown relatives and some relaxation before heading to Yuma. We stayed at a small park that was literally right down town and was close to the light rail trolley so we could see a lot of the city. We spent the first day stocking up at Costco, then we took the trolley downtown, walked around, stopped for a coffee, and just had a nice relaxing day.
The next day we met with Mary’s distant cousin, Bob, and his wife, Kay. Mary connected with Bob through her genealogy search on Ancestry.com. We met at downtown for lunch, then made our way to the library where genealogical information was exchanged. This info has largely been added to Mary’s “tree” and has filled some blanks for her. We said goodbye to Bob and Kay then went to an olive oil store to replenish our stock, then dinner and back to the park. All in all a great day with new friends.
One of our desired stops in Tucson was Biosphere 2, the closed environmental experiment where 12 people spent a year without going outside, in a fully self-contained environment. This was done to test the feasibility of establishing colonies on the Moon and maybe other planets. They had several “climates” represented including jungle, desert, rain forest, and ocean. Very clever and interesting. Nobody lives in the Biosphere now, however they still maintain many of the experiments. Biosphere is located north of Tucson and the drive out there is through desert and mountains. Very picturesque but we think a steady diet of desert would get old. We like greenery.
10/19 – We took the trolley to the University of Arizona campus today. Our rv park has given us a coupon book with several interesting stops at U of A including the Flandreau Science Center and Planetarium, the Space Imagery Center and the Arizona State Museum. First we have to say how lovely the campus appears. Also how friendly the students and faculty that we met treated us. We stopped at the Imaging Center and as we entered (probably the wrong entrance) we were presented with an elevator and no idea where we should go. Fortunately, along came Ken (from Wisconsin no less) who is one of the professors and as it turned out, he is in charge of an electron microscope lab. He very graciously gave us a brief tour of the center, then turned us loose to look around while he got back to work. The center is devoted to visual, remote exploration of planets, moons, asteroids, comets, etc, and there are numerous rooms where faculty members are assigned individual objects. Outside each room are hundreds of large photos taken by telescopes and spacecraft. One of the current major projects is OSIRIS-REx, a mission to analyze data from a craft that would land on an asteroid and gather data. Pretty cool!
While on campus we also visited the Arizona History Museum where a docent was just beginning his tour. Obviously much of Arizona history is centered around Native Americans, so we learned quite a bit about their history, including the Yumans and Cocopahs. The rv resort we are going to when we leave Tucson is on property owned by the Sovereign Nation of the Cocopahs. So now we have some background.
Finally, in the late afternoon, we attended a presentation in the planetarium and strolled through its’ associated science museum. A very nice day overall!
To round out our first visit to Tucson, we went to the Pima Air Museum, one of the largest non-government funded aerospace museums in the world. Virtually every aircraft the military ever flew was represented there and we rode a tour that was narrated by a former mechanic who had information on each plane. Also on the grounds was an indoor display of a B-29 that actually flew in WW2 and some very interesting stories of its’ former crews. There also was several other hangars showcasing the space race and other aircraft, including the SR-71 spy plane. A day well spent!
Much more to see and do in Tucson, but we needed to get on to Yuma. We hope to return!