We returned to Tucson the first of February and settled in to the Crazy Horse RV park just south of the Pima Air Museum and Davis Monthan Air Force Base. This turned out to be a pretty good spot from which to continue our exploration of Tucson and the surrounding area. Even though we saw quite a lot when we were here in October, there still are many things to see.
Mary has really gotten into making bead jewelry, so we were excited to attend the annual gem show. The Tucson Rock and Gem Show is billed as the largest show of its’ kind in the country. It is held in many locations and lasts for almost 2 weeks. We met Dawn, from our summer place in Minnesota, and she and Mary went off to look for beads, while I had the chance to just browse.
There were 2 big tents set up, the largest of which was as large as 2.5 football fields. Row after row, table after table of gems, rocks, precious stones and a huge variety of things made from them. Just from the sheer volume of stuff, the show was a bit overwhelming but still very interesting.
Our plan was to stay in Tucson for about 2 & 1/2 months, site seeing and getting ready for our trip back to northern Minnesota. Tucson is rich in things to see and places to go, so we kept busy by visiting:
Kitt Peak Observatory – An hour drive from Tucson, Kitt Peak is a 7,000 feet high mountain hosting more than a dozen telescopes as part of ongoing international astronomical research. The drive to the summit is about 12 miles long and in itself is worth the trip. At the peak we listened to the story of Kitt Peak and went on a tour of one of the largest optical telescopes in the world. The telescope was down for conversion to a dark energy detector but the museum had many pictures and displays relating to the work they do.
Mount Lemmon on the north side of Tucson. In Tucson there are mountains in every direction and Mt. Lemmon is the tallest and most obvious. A couple of times the peak was white with snow after a chilly evening. The drive up was again quite beautiful, being able to look back and down on Tucson. We enjoy this sort of drive because there are trees and grass, a pleasant change from the desert. At the top was a nice restaurant for lunch and then the drive back down. When we left Tucson the temperature was 68 and when we reached the top it was only 40, the difference attributable to the altitude.
Titan II Museum, about 20 miles south of Tucson. During the Cold War the United States had 37 Titan II ICBM silo missile installations, several of which were around the Tucson area. When we entered into the SALT agreement, one of the stipulations was to destroy our silos, which we did, however the Russians allowed us to keep one as a museum. They have an actual Titan II missile in a silo without the nuke warhead, and the tour takes you down into the living quarters and control room, where you go through a simulated missile launch. Pretty cool!
The ASARCO open-pit copper mine, which is a short distance from the Titan missile museum. They have a nice gift shop and display about how copper is mined, plus a very nice tour to the top of the mine and into the processing facility.
While in Tucson we also had a chance to take care of some maintenance items on the RV: new tires, new valves for our plumbing, and new carpeting. We still like our little “house” and are looking forward to our trip north, another great summer at Woodland Trails, and deciding where we want our adventure to take us next winter. I know I have neglected this blog but I promise another update before the end of May.