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On to OBX

We rolled out of Mercedes on March 26th, heading for Waco with much anticipation about the Silos and Magnolia Market.  Magnolia is the creation of Joanna Gaines from the HG tv show, Fixer Upper. She and her husband, Chip, have done an incredible job of giving Waco a much needed shot in the arm economically.  Most people relate Waco with the tragedy that occurred with the Branch Dividians back in 1993, however lately most think of Fixer Upper or the Gaines’ when they think of Waco.

The store at the Silos was well done but we found it to be pretty expensive.  It was a beautiful store, well done but the merchandise was largely things you could buy elsewhere for a lot less.  Nothing really unique or that stated “I came from Magnolia”.  The experience of visiting it and the Silos was nice and I am glad we went there.

We also visited the Dr. Pepper plant and were amazed at the number of brands they own besides Dr. Pepper.  In addition, we toured a 111 year old beautiful Baptist church which was actually across the street from the Silos.  We were fortunate to find a docent named Roy, who gave us a private guided tour of the historic church.

We next went to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to visit cousins Deanna and Peter.  The last weekend in March was Peter’s birthday and Deanna went all out.  The festivities started at their house Friday night in Keller with a family get-together with their children and grandkids.  Deanna’s sister, Kismet and their step-mom, Patti.  Great family!

Saturday everyone met at Peter’s studio, Red Kitchen Foods, for a special evening of food, drink and charity.  Peter is a well-known gourmet chef and regularly does work for a local food bank.  The admission to the party was a shopping bag of food for the charity.  Great turn-out by all the family plus many of Peter’s friends.  A highlight of the evening for Mary was reuniting with another of Deanna’s sisters, Renee, whom she hasn’t seen in something like 50 years!  All the sisters are wonderful and have added a whole new dimension of life for Mary.  FYI – Peter’s company, Red Kitchen Foods, also produces and sells some of the best seasoning and condiments in Texas. Check them out!

Sunday morning, we went out for breakfast and when we were leaving the restaurant, our truck would not start.  We had it towed to a service garage where they diagnosed bad batteries (we have 2 in the truck).  After replacing the batteries and assuring us the charging system was working normally, we returned to our campground.  That afternoon Deanna had purchased a suite at the Rangers’ baseball stadium for act 3 of Peter’s birthday, so we joined the entire family for partying and baseball.  Unfortunately, the Cubs lost but it was a great game and the perfect end to the weekend.

The next day we headed east toward Atlanta and a planned several days with my nephew Mike and his wife Meg in Duluth, GA.  We got a far as Longview, TX, and the truck again broke down.  Fortunately we were able to get off the interstate before it shut down completely.  Since we were literally motionless on a 4 lane road, we first called 911 to get a police officer.  A few minutes later a patrolman showed up and got us towed to a Ford service garage.  Did I mention it was April 1st!  The garage determined our alternator was not working but would not be able to replace it until the next day, so we got a room and had dinner at Panera.  It was late the next day before we could get on the road again.  We made it as far as Monroe, LA, and found a campground.  Had a nice dinner and went to bed early, trying to put the stress behind us.  When we closed the living room slide we heard a brief grinding noise that turned out to be the slide cover binding, so the next day we found an RV service center close by and had the cover replaced. One more day of travel lost!

The lost travel days forced us to make some changes since we needed to be to the Outer Banks around the 10th, so we notified Mike & Meg that we would have to see them in the fall on our way west.  This was going to be one of our high points of the trip, to see them, visit the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and the Atlanta aquarium.  We hated to pass by but we will definitely stop in September.

The next morning we headed to Vicksburg, MS.

I will post more in a day or 2.

Heading East

We have had a pretty good winter, especially in comparison to the rest of the country.  A few nights in the 30s, some days in the 40s, but all in all it’s been pretty nice here in the Rio Grande Valley.  We aren’t completely sure we want to be “Winter Texans” permanently but there are definite advantages to the idea.  Between the cool weather, strong winds and an issue with Mary’s shoulder we were not able to play any golf.  We did get out to the  bay near Port Isabel for fishing and even though the fish were not biting, the boat trip was enjoyable.

In a little more than 2 weeks we will head out, this time to the outer banks (OBX) of North Carolina.  Mary and I were there a year and a half ago, and we want to return during nicer weather.  We plan to be there from about mid-April until after Labor Day which is the height of the tourist season.  The park we are going to be staying in has hired us to work reservations and at the front desk.  We are so looking forward to being on the water and some great seafood.

When we leave Mercedes our first stop will be Waco and a visit to Magnolia, the creation of Joanna Gaines of the Fixer Upper tv show.  Then off to Dallas to visit relatives for a couple days, continuing east through Atlanta and arriving at OBX around the middle of April.  The winter weather seems to be dragging on so we are hopeful of an uneventful trip.

Mercedes una mas tiempo

We arrived at Llano Grande RV Resort in Mercedes on October 28th and got settled in.  Our site is on the west end of the resort where it is nice and quiet.  The site is a bit small compared to where we were 3 years ago but we are making do.  I am again working in the I.T. department doing pretty much what I did before – helping residents with their cable TV and Internet problems.  The biggest difference this time is that I have fewer service calls each day.  This is due mainly to a change the park made in it’s I.T. manager.  The new manager, David, has worked in the Cable business for more than 38 years and he has done a super job of upgrading the quality of the entire system.  They offer each resident 115 tv channels, most of which are digital.  Llano Grande has always offered WiFi in a not so common way.  Most RV parks offer park-wide WiFi which usually is mediocre to poor in quality.  Here they give each resident their own cable modem which gives each one their own, private WiFi.  Quality is outstanding also with speeds of 50 to 75Mbps.  And every building has available WiFi, giving everyone Internet access wherever they are in the park.  We spend a great deal of our time replacing cables that were affected by the flood they had in June.  There were some 2 dozen homes destroyed by the water in one end of the park.  Rebuilding is painful but everyone is dealing with it and making good progress.

Mary is busy with making jewelry.  She has branched out to making chain maille pieces in addition to the beautiful bead pieces she has done for some time now.  She really has a great eye for colors and styles.  You can click this link to see some of what she has designed and made.  Maybe I am biased but I think they look beautiful!

We haven’t played any golf down here yet, in part due to the coolish weather we have been experiencing.  We hope to get out there soon though.

In a couple weeks we are planning to go to South Padre Island for some bay and/or gulf fishing.  The funky weather has kept the waters pretty stirred up but they are projecting that after the first of the year things will improve.

I will have another update in about a month.  In the meantime, everyone have a Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Winter Texans Again

We finished our 3rd summer at Woodland Trails on September 16th, after a really nice 4 months. Mary’s diabetes seems to be at bay, due in part to her daily walks. She walks in the morning with Dawn and after dinner in the evening with Tom. Definitely helps. We will continue the walks when we get south.

We had a pretty good fishing year, though we still haven’t caught any walleye. Plenty of sunfish, bluegills, and some really big bass. They are all in the freezer for this winter. We didn’t do as much sight-seeing as usual this year but we had plenty of time to relax and visit with our friends.

We have decided to go back to Llano Grande Resort in Mercedes, Texas. We were there in 2015-16 where I worked in their I.T. department. They have so much to do their and we have friends there also so it seemed like a good choice for us. We don’t need to be there until October 28th so we made a few stops on the way.

We left Woodland Trails on 9/19 with driving rain, thunder, lightning and some heavy fog, all the way to Yankton, Nebraska. The next day,with a break in the weather, we stopped in Creston, Nebraska, to visit the grave of Mary’s great-grandmother. It was located in a tiny cemetery out among back roads and cornfields, much like her grandfather’s grave near Broken Bow that we visited last year. After paying our respects we continued on to Salina, Kansas, staying at a very nice KOA. Rain started again during the night and continued all the next day to Oklahoma City. We stayed again at the Roadrunner Rv Park. In 2015 it had been almost completely destroyed by tornadoes but they did a beautiful job of rebuilding and now it is one of the nicest we have stayed in. Rained all night again.

We arrived in Roanoke, Texas, still raining. We were there for a week, taking the opportunity to visit with Mary’s niece, Deanna, and her husband, Peter. He is an award-winning gourmet chef so you know we always eat well with them. Kismet, Deanna’s sister had flown in from Chicago so Mary was able to spend time with her also. The Dallas area has a public transportation train system much like the one we used in Minneapolis. We used it to go downtown to the Perot Science Museum. Nice museum but we have seen a few others like it so it’s hard to differentiate one from the other. We did have a very nice dinner at El Fenix (Mexican), then Uber back to the train station and home. Uber has been an excellent mode of transportation for us at many stops. It is not real easy to get around in a strange city with the truck but a quick entry on the Uber app and we go where we want, when we want, and in most cases for less money than driving.

While in the area, we also visited a Buddhist Temple complex, the Fort Worth arboretum, Fort Worth stockyard district, and had dinner at Babes in Roanoke. The day after we arrived, Peter fixed a killer brunch for us at his studio, then the night before we left had a fish fry (with Strawberry Lake fish!) that Peter also cooked. Really delicious!

We left Roanoke and traveled to LaGrange for a couple nights, visiting the local antique scene in nearby Warrenton and Round Top, then on to Rockport, Texas, for a month. Our friends from Woodland Trails, Ron & Nancy are right next door, while Sherry & Larry are right across the street. Nice to be near friends for awhile. The 3rd couple from WT, Wayne & Betty, won’t be down until the first of the year, so we will miss them. They have said they might come visit us down in the valley.

One of the high points so far in Rockport was the fish I caught. It was a red drum which measured 40″ and about 30lbs.

Lots of fun!

 

Sum, Sum, Summertime

We have just passed the half-way point of our summer at Woodland Trails in northern Minnesota and we can hardly believe how fast the time is going.  Summer actually had a late start with ice on the lake being fully melted only a week before we got here in May.  That kept swimmers out of the lake for awhile but the hot weather finally settled in, the water temperatures went up and everyone is enjoying their time.  Cold weather kept things pretty quiet on Memorial Day weekend but the July 4th break was very busy.  Falling in the middle of the week gave everyone an extended holiday and the weather cooperated.

We have had several severe storms roll through, which is typical for this area.  Fortunately there has been no significant damage to any of the RVs, just lots of wind, lightning and rain.

There have been a few bear sightings and a couple bird feeders wrecked by them.  This is the 2nd year that we have had a bear in camp and it is thought it might be a young, newly weaned bear, on his (or her) own, looking for food wherever it can.  It was only around for a couple weeks and is pretty much gone now.

Fishing is pretty good as usual.  We still haven’t been able to catch any walleyes but there are plenty of good size sunfish and bass.  We are again trying to stock our freezer so we can enjoy occasional fish frys next winter.

Speaking of next winter, we don’t know yet where we will end up.  Our desire is to go back to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas but we are also looking at other parts of Texas and also Florida.  Last season we spent in Arizona and we have come to the conclusion that we don’t particularly like the desert.  Maybe some day we can go back to northern Arizona but it really isn’t on our radar.

Fortunately, Mary’s diabetes seems to be a thing of the past.  Her numbers have been normal for almost a month, and without taking insulin!   Hooray!!!   As quickly as it hit her, it seems to have left her.  She has been working extremely hard to stay healthy – counting carbs and exercise – so this bout with diabetes turned out to be a health wake-up call for us both.  We have both been blessed with good health and will try to keep it that way.

We still enjoy being on the road, as we approach the end of our 3rd year.  We both marvel at the places and things we have seen, and all the new acquaintances we have met.  We are looking forward to much more.

Return to Woodland Trails, pt. 2

Bryce Canyon was another “must-see” place on our trip north.  We stayed at Ruby’s Inn, which had a shuttle running to all the observation points.  The gal driving the shuttle was very knowledgeable and humorous, and made the tour a lot of fun.  Bryce Canyon is everything it’s advertised to be.  Beautiful and magnificent, and while not as large as the Grand Canyon, Bryce should still be on every travel list.  Interestingly, the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon are both part of the Grand Staircase, encompassing several parks and geographic areas.

Utah has 5 major national parks with lots to see.  Unfortunately our schedule didn’t let us check out any of the others, but we plan to return another day.  So, after 3 nights at Ruby’s, we headed north toward Salt Lake City.  We stopped 2 nights in Fillmore, Utah, to have the truck looked at.  We had an issue with overheating in the mountains and the service garage replaced a thermostat.

We stayed at the Salt Lake City KOA which was adjacent to the shuttle train pick-up, making it easy to see the city.  First on the agenda was going to Temple Square to listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in practice.  They have practice on Thursday evenings open to the public, since the actual performances on Sunday in the Temple are open only to members.  While waiting for the doors to open we found a shady place to sit and were approached by a member who asked who we were and why we were there.  She indicated her husband was the leader of the Utah mission teams and invited us to join them.  We were ushered to the rooms beneath the tabernacle where the director of the choir was meeting with about 25 couples from all over Utah.  We then were led to the rooms where the music is kept and the choir has their robes.  Following that we were taken up to the main floor of the tabernacle to listen to the choir’s rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In”.  What a treat!  We thanked our friends and made our way back to the campground.  Altogether a great evening made even nicer by the friendliness of 2 strangers.

The following day we toured the state capitol building, as is our practice whenever we visit a capitol.  Beautiful building and grounds, high over Salt Lake City.  It seems everywhere we go, we run into genuinely nice people and Salt Lake City was no exception.  If you are wondering, we didn’t see the lake.  Since the Great Salt Lake has no inlet from any other source, it has somewhat dried up in the past few years and tends to smell, or so we were told.  So we passed on it.

Mary didn’t seem to be getting any better and really tires easily. Beginning to doubt Desert Fever.

From Salt Lake City we headed east toward Rollins, Wyoming.  We had considered going north to Yellowstone but not trusting the weather that early in Spring made us go east instead.  Rollins was just a stopover on the way to our next big stop, Mount Rushmore.  One night in Rollins then we stopped in Lusk, Wyoming, at BJ’s Campground.  At 20 sites it is the smallest RV park we have stayed in yet, but it turned out to be one of the nicest.  Clean, wide sites in a quiet neighborhood and the owner was a delight.  We had further issues with our truck and she directed us to a mechanic who was right next door.  We stayed 2 nights and got part of our truck problems solved but there was nothing bad enough to delay our trip so the next day we headed for Custer, South Dakota,

Usually when you think of Mt. Rushmore, you associate it with Rapid City.  In reality, Custer was very close to both Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse memorial.  We had been talking about Mt. Rushmore for 3 years since we have summered so close, so finally we made it.  It is truly a truly amazing sculpture, particularly in light of the tools they had in the 1930’s.  It really is a must-see!  For someone like me that has a bit of vertigo, I can’t imagine lowering down the rock faces by rope, day after day, but those men got it done and created a lasting tribute to arguably our 4 greatest presidents.

We toured the Crazy Horse monument which, like Mt. Rushmore, is being carved from a mountain.  Eventually it will depict Crazy Horse atop his pony with his arm raised in a pointing pose.  So far all that is done is his head and they run buses up to it.  It is being privately funded so it will be a few more years to complete.  Interestingly, the face is actually a composite created by recollections of other chiefs who knew Crazy Horse, since no actual photograph of the chief exists.  However, they say it is pretty close and as a monument to native Americans, it will serve well.  There is also a very well done museum that features, among many other things, an account of the Battle at Little Big Horn from the native American perspective.

Next was our trek across South Dakota to Mitchell.  We passed on Wall Drugs this time since I wanted to get back to Minnesota for Mary.  She was feeling pretty tired and weak, and I wanted to get her to a doctor.

We did spend 2 nights in Mitchell and saw the Corn Palace.  It is now an auditorium where basketball can be played but the outside is completely covered in murals constructed entirely of corn.  And it is changed regularly for different seasons and events.  Pretty cool.  We also tried to attend to that other nagging issue with the truck but we have an appointment in Detroit Lakes once we get back to finally get things fixed.

Once in DL we made an appointment for Mary and got her in.  Wow!  Her blood sugar was through the roof and the doctor told her it was diabetes!  The good news is she is on a program to correct it and is well on her way.

We are back at Woodland Trails or as Mary says, “Home” for another season.  Closing in on the end of 3 years and still loving it!

Return to Woodland Trails

We decided to return to Woodland Trails Resort in northern Minnesota once again, for year #3.  At this point, it’s almost like coming home – familiar location, beautiful setting on Strawberry lake, lots of friends, and great people to work for.  Each year we say we are not coming back since we want to travel, but WT is a good place to relax and get grounded.

Leaving Tucson on April 17th, we headed for Prescott Valley for a few days.  We stayed at the Fairgrounds RV Park which turned out to be one of the nicest parks we have stayed in.  Nothing in the way of activities but it was clean, had large sites and it was well located to see the area.

Our first side trip was to Sedona.  There was 2 routes, one was over the mountains, the other around the mountains.  On recommendation of the park office, we took the mountainous route.  Wow!  Picturesque with a lot of switchbacks, it was reminiscent of the road to Mt. Lemmon in Tucson.  It was a bit of a “white-knuckled” trip but  beautiful all the same.  We ate lunch at a very nice restaurant in Sedona, the Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill which had great views of the surrounding red and gold hills.  The restaurant was filled with unusual but beautiful artwork made from glass and framed like a picture.  After finishing our tour of Sedona we traveled back home, this time the long way, around the mountains.

The next day went went to Prescott, which we actually liked a bit better than Sedona.  We ate lunch downtown then went to the Chamber of Commerce office for some area information.  What a coincidence – the Chamber director was the same person who was director back in Rochester Hills, Sherri Heiney!  We had a brief reunion and she told about the area and that she and her husband John had realized their dream of moving to the Prescott/Sedona area and really love it there.  Nice to see her again.

Mary found a couple nice bead stores to restock her supply.  She is really getting good at designing and making jewelry.  (Actually, good enough to have her own website at www.mddesigns.biz.  Check it out!

The next day we were on our way to one of the most anticipated stops on our trip, the Grand Canyon.  Mary had never been there and it had been about 64 years since I was there, so we were excited to see it.  We stayed in Cameron, about 45 minutes east of the canyon then made the trip the next day.  We sort of hit the “perfect storm” of visitors since we were there on a Saturday and it was Earth Day.  We did finally find a place to park, and the trip was definitely worthwhile!  We stopped at Navajo Point and Mather Point, what a view!  If you haven’t been there, put it on your must-see list.

The only damper was Mary feeling tired rapidly from what we thought was an allergy or maybe Desert Fever.  Whatever, we hope she snaps out of it soon.

Tomorrow it’s on to another high point on our trip, Bryce Canyon.

Tucson, Part 2

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.

Yuma and…back to Tucson

We arrived in Yuma on October 22nd and got settled in for what we thought would be 6 months.  We were staying at the Cocopah Golf and RV Resort which is located in the extreme northwestern corner of Yuma, where the Colorado river bends and forms a natural border between Arizona and California.  From our rv site we were actually only about a quarter mile from California.  In addition, just about a mile south of us was Mexico and the city of Algodones.

All around us were fields in various stages of growing, from bare ground to lush greens, ready for harvest.  As we learned, some 90% to 95% of the green leaf vegetables in the United States are grown in Yuma.  Since the early part of the 20th century, the Colorado has been dammed and diverted to make the land along the lower Colorado River some of the most productive in the country.  Greens like cabbage, spinach, lettuce and even dates are all grown near Yuma.  At any one time, a field is either under planting, growing or being harvested.  Quite a different landscape than the stark desert we crossed on the way there.

We did manage to get to Algodones, Mexico, one afternoon, and it’s pretty much like most other border towns.  I guess if we had to choose, we like Progresso a bit better.

In most of the seasonal parks we have stayed in have been in areas with much to do and see, usually within 30 – 45 minutes drive.  Yuma is different in that it is primarily agricultural.  We had the golf course and beyond that there wasn’t much to do.  So after 3 months in Yuma we decided to return to Tucson for the balance of our winter.  We enjoyed our week in Tucson and there are a number of activities we didn’t have the time for.  In addition, we have friends and family in Tucson, so on February 1st we left Yuma.

 

Tucson

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!