My last post Chasing The Sun and WINning! brought you up to speed on my quick visit to Mexico, the chance encounter with the RV singles group Wandering Individuals Network, and the injury which resulted from a clumsy tumble I took on a Puerto Penasco sidewalk.
A few days out of Mexico, and equipped with my new purple cast, I found some of the WIN family camped at the Casino Del Sol parking lot on the southwestern edge of Tucson. I wasn’t wild about spending time in a parking lot, but the doctor wanted me to stay in the area for a week, and with plenty of friends around and free camping I couldn’t resist.
The “challenge” to dry camping here was the bathroom issue. In order to make this campsite work, I finally broke down and purchased a Campa-Potti from Wal-Mart. This new appliance eliminated several trips to the casino (I don’t gamble) and was way more comfortable than my former accommodations.
Trying to find a place for the new addition, however, made me realize how small my beloved Sprinter is. I have lots of “stuff” hidden in the basement and garage (all under the platform bed), so playing Tetris to get one more item in the space was a bit of a reality check.
I’ll get back to that issue later. The saving grace with my week-long stay in Tucson was the WINs. They always have at least one activity planned every day. We hiked around the Saguaro National Park, shopped the local thrift stores, did laundry and settled into a comfy routine. One day we checked out the San Xavier Mission, not far from camp.
This National Historic Landmark is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona where the Catholic priest, Father Eusebio Kino, first visited the village of Wa:k in 1692. Construction started in 1783 and was completed in 1797. Over the centuries, the indigenous Tohono O’odham people helped build the structure, sought solace here, restored the aging buildings and continue to protect their beloved place of worship.
Another day found us at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, a 98-acre collection of desert plants and animals. This national treasure features an aviary, hummingbird sanctuary, aquarium, acres of cacti and arid landscape plants. Put your walking shoes on and grab a bottle of water – this is a fantastic way to see creatures and features of the desert without getting too far from civilization.
To me, one of the most intriguing places we visited was Biosphere 2. Now owned and operated by the University of Arizona, this unique complex was built, in part, by one individual who was determined to see if humans could sustain life on other planets. In 1991 Biospherians were introduced to the then-sealed environment where they stayed for two years while documenting the challenges and successes of sustainability. Another experiment lasted for about six months in 1994 before it was shut down.
Artifical ocean poised near the rainforest
Since 1994 various universities have used the buildings for large-scale experiments related to climate change and how certain “what-ifs” might affect our earth – biosphere 1.
Above left is a picture of a micro-sized water purification system designed and built by local school children. After the theory was proven, several larger-scale systems were installed in local schools. On the right is another experiment where solar panels are held aloft over wire hoop houses planted with shade-loving plants. This experiment aims to improve the efficiency of the solar panels (typically running between 14%-15%) by cooling them through transpiration and evaporation.
My last day with the group was a trip to the Pima Air and Space Museum where over 150 planes are exhibited outdoors, and easily that many under roof. This is another facility which takes education and experiences seriously. There are regular tours, a “boneyard” tour, the space exhibit and a plethora of winged vehicles to keep you amused for hours. Check out the website to see what might interest you when you visit!
The week zoomed by faster than this little bumble bee and soon it was time to make my way back to the Tucson Orthopedic Institute to get clearance to fly north. After an hour’s wait for a two-minute doctor’s consultation, I was given permission to hit the road. As good luck would have it, my Colorado camping pal was making her way south so we could meet at Roosevelt Lake. Woo Hoo!
After a few short days at Roosevelt Lake, it was time to start the journey back to Colorado. Saying goodbye to the desert was a little harder than I thought it might be. There is so much to do in the Southwest, and although I got to see more cacti, sand, birds and new friends than I ever anticipated, I still felt like I had only sampled a small portion of it. Guess there is always next year!
Stay with me as I start the journey back to Colorado and wrestle with some big decisions.