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Unread 9 Aug 19, 10:04 PM  
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BONZO's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 02
Transylvania to Pennsylvania and beyond! Day 7 Tuscon, Sonora Desert & Pima Air Museum

Monday 15th July 2019

Cast list (the usual):

Me: Shaun, Intrepid Traveller

Her: Alison, Slightly less intrepid traveller, but planner supreme and finds the good deals!

Trip Report Index HERE

Up quite early again this morning (Alison saw the sun rise as usual!)

and after a quick cup of coffee in the room and a shower we were on our way. Well, almost as we dropped by the lounge to pick up a couple of pastries to keep us going.

Today we were going to head south towards Tucson and our first port of call was the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Not a natural choice for us but its a renowned combination zoo, natural history museum, botanical garden and art gallery that reflects the diverse flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert, featuring wildlife such as coyotes, bears and mountain lions in their natural settings and two aviaries; one for hummingbirds and the other for varied desert birds according to the glossy leaflet.

It was really hot again!

The drive was uneventful apart from going past Picacho which looked nothing like the yellow Pokmon character! We followed the road signs which took us up a road into the desert, not quite a dirt track but close, and nothing, literally nothing for miles around. It certainly looked like a road to nowhere. We eventually arrived at the center entrance, paid our money and went in.

Looking at the map we were given it was a bit overwhelming, 98 acres of zoo and 21 acres of desert landscape, all to discover in the searing heat and boy was it hot! Water bottles filled up, floppy hats on and a buff round my neck we were ready to venture out and follow the route.

We followed the signs and found a cave area that had some insects and other animals set into the walls to view and an off-shoot that led you up some faux stalactite / stalagmite type caves.

Alison didnt fancy it so I said Id go and meet her at the end of the trail by the exit to the caves. I marched off and did the extra route only to get temporarily stuck as I tried to get through a small gap with my rucksack on. I tried to move backwards or forwards but not much movement. There was no one around to give me a shove so I wriggled about a bit freeing one arm and eventually got one arm free and pushed off the rucksack.

Not quite 127 hours but I did wonder how long Id be there for. (Alison here: he was gone for ages and ages so eventually I thought Id missed him so I left!)

With one bound he was free not quite but at least I was back on track and ready to meet up with Alison again, if only I could find her. I looked this way and that and then doubled back to the start but no trace. I assumed she got fed up with waiting and moved on so I set off at double-quick speed outside to the desert area.

No sign of her anywhere and I had a good overall view. Ah well not to worry I look round all the desert area and the animals/birds etc

then I started to feel a bit like one of those cartoon characters crawling through the desert gasping for water. I ended up back at the start having done a full loop and spoke to one of the rangers. I said Ive lost my wife to which he said is that a good or a bad thing?. I went back out to the car park as Alison had the keys, to see if she was sitting in air-conditioned luxury taping her feet. Nope, not there so I went back into the park and picked up some free Wi-Fi by the gift shop and sent a couple of messages.

Shortly after sending the messages I had quite a few asking where the hell was I as Alison had already connected to the Wi-Fi and was sitting down in a shaded area waiting for me, after done the whole desert walk and seen the animals as had I! We eventually met up and had a laugh about the whole episode. I stopped and had some more drink before moving in to the Hummingbird enclosure.

Fascinating to see these birds, absolutely tiny things flitting about.

We left the attraction and felt it was really worth the trip, something very different and very well organised. We traveled out on the well beaten track and headed towards civilianisation and onto the AV geek heaven that was Pima Air and Space Museum.

So heres the advertisement.

360+ aircraft, 80 acres, 6 indoor air-cooled hangars... just plane awesome! Were one of the world's largest aircraft collections including 3 hangars of WWII planes, the SR-71, the world's smallest biplane, and many other unique private, military, and commercial air & spacecraft documenting the evolution of flight. Theres something for everyone from a flight simulator Boeing 720 cockpit, the Women in Flight Gallery, and an all-around mecca for the aviation aficionado. We give the only tour of the "Boneyard" (M-F, no holidays, 16-day advanced reservations required) plus a tram tour of the museum's 80 acres and one-of-a-kind planes. You can actually touch aviation history like "Freedom One" (that flew American hostages home after 444 days in Iran), presidential crafts, planes that launched astronauts, others with wingspans the length of a football field... ogle helicopters, MiGs, an Oscar, a rare German buzz bomb, a moon rock, and much more!

(Might be worth mentioning at this stage is that this isnt the aircraft boneyard where commercial and military planes go to die or get scrapped. The Davis-Monthan Air Force Boneyard in Tucson is only open to the public on specific tours and after you have the relevant security clearance as its an active Air Force flying establishment).

We toured the indoor exhibits in the calm of the air-con which included a SR-71 Blackbird and an original helicopter from the Vietnam War amongst the exhibits.

We ventured outside to the tarmac and the other exhibits and if we thought the desert museum was hot this was literally off the scale!

In this heat it was difficult to get round the entire collection spread over some 80 acres but there were some real standout exhibits such as a whole row of harrier Jump Jets and presidential aircraft.

In a separate hanger was a fully restored B-17 Flying Fortress known as Ill be around from 390th Bomb Group based in Norfolk. We had an interesting chat with one of the guides who was taken with the fact that we knew the area well and had some historical connection with the Norfolk bases. Alisons grandfather flew in a wellington that took off from Stradishall on an operation to Berlin as a rear gunner but didnt return back in September 1941 at the age of 26. We visited the gravesite a few years ago in Berlin to pay our respects.

Anyway, it was so blooming hot that we couldnt last too long out in the heat which was a bit of a shame so stepped back inside for an ice cream before hitting the road back to the hotel.

There was a couple of bits I had pencilled in as possibilities such as Tombstone, Meteor crater and the Titan Missile silo but to be honest we were flagging and had a good 3 hour drive ahead of us.

We headed back to the air conditioned comfort of the car and had a leisurely drive back, spotting more state number plats as we went!

After arriving at the hotel we freshened up and decided that Cracker Barrel and Crazy golf it was, lets go back to our Florida roots and keep up the traditions. The Cracker Barrel was a complete replica of the one in Florida, right down to the enamel signs and photographs inside and rocking chairs outside, a real home from home.

We settled down and frustratingly, couldnt remember how to complete the Golf tee solitaire game. Service was so slow (I think they were seriously understaffed) that this kept us occupied for some time.

I had my go to meal of meatloaf and Alison had breaded prawns
We pottered around the shop but nothing took our fancy this time round although we normally find something like some random American sweets.

From here it was a short drive to Golfland Sunsplash in Mesa. This was a water park, amusement arcade and mini golf all rolled into one and extremely popular with the locals. It felt a bit like the old Wet n Wild back in the days but with other attractions added on.

There was a choice of a couple of courses to do and all were surprisingly well looked after, we chose a mid-difficulty one and set off. The humidity was off the scale as there was water all round and I was really suffering although I manfully pressed on and gave Alison a good thrashing on the score.

We handed our clubs in and settled down the cooling air con in the car before heading back to the hotel where we enjoyed a drink in the bar before crashing out for the night; what a hot, humid and busy day of travelling weve had.

1988 ~ Contemporary ~ Honeymoon
1989 ~ Off site
1994 ~ EuroDisney ~ Santa Fe
1999 ~ Off site
2001 ~ CBR (Aruba) ~ Poly (Tahiti)
2003 ~ WL & HRH
2004 ~ Pop Century, RPH, CSR, PBH, Contemporary
2006 ~ DLP ~ Newport Bay
2007 ~ POR ~ HRH ~ GF
2008 ~ All star sports, BCV, RPH, Vero Beach, VWL
2010 ~ OKW ~ BCV ~ HRH ~POP Century ~ Vero Beach ~ VWL
2013 ~ AKL ~ HRH ~ BCV ~ Vero Beach ~ VWL

Edited at 10:19 PM.
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Unread 10 Aug 19, 03:05 AM  
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Melbatb's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 13
Boy, that was a hot day! I am impressed by how much you managed to do despite the heat!

Index of my trip reports
2016 Quebec - Kuala Lumpar - New York City 2017 Dubai - Eurocamps France - Ontario and Quebec - So-Cal 2018 Montreal - Bangkok - New England 2019 Argentina - Quebec City
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