2011 Summer Vacation, Day 13

Waking up Monday morning in the Coconino National Forest:

SumVac2011_Post08_01

 

The nice thing was that we were very close to the entrance to Walnut Canyon National Monument.  We drove over and hiked down the trail:

SumVac2011_Post08_02

SumVac2011_Post08_03

 

The trail explores 13th century cliff dwellings:

SumVac2011_Post08_04

SumVac2011_Post08_05

 

More cliff dwellings across the way:

SumVac2011_Post08_06

SumVac2011_Post08_07

SumVac2011_Post08_08

SumVac2011_Post08_09

SumVac2011_Post08_10

 

After Walnut Canyon, we headed into Flagstaff to visit Lowell Observatory.  The first thing we saw was the 1896 24-inch refractor Lowell used to map the features on Mars:

SumVac2011_Post08_11

 

The 1930 reflector used to discover Pluto:

SumVac2011_Post08_12

SumVac2011_Post08_13

 

The reflector’s observatory:

SumVac2011_Post08_14

 

Research observatories:

SumVac2011_Post08_15

 

A reflector chassis:

SumVac2011_Post08_16

 

After Lowell, we went to Sunset Crater National Monument, a volcano.  We hiked up adjacent Lenox Crater:

SumVac2011_Post08_17

 

Trees growing in the ash field:

SumVac2011_Post08_18

SumVac2011_Post08_19

 

Sunset Crater, seen from Lenox Crater:

SumVac2011_Post08_20

 

SumVac2011_Post08_23

 

We went for a hike through the Bonito Lava Flow:

SumVac2011_Post08_21

  SumVac2011_Post08_24

 

Next we went to Wupatki National Monument to see 11th century pueblo dwellings:

SumVac2011_Post08_25

SumVac2011_Post08_26

SumVac2011_Post08_28

SumVac2011_Post08_29

 

Ancient ga-ga court:

SumVac2011_Post08_30

SumVac2011_Post08_31

SumVac2011_Post08_32

 

Heading north, we arrived at the Grand Canyon.  We stopped first at Desert View:

SumVac2011_Post08_22

SumVac2011_Post08_33

SumVac2011_Post08_34

SumVac2011_Post08_35

SumVac2011_Post08_36

SumVac2011_Post08_37

 

Enjoying Lipan Point:

SumVac2011_Post08_38

We arrived at Mather Campground in the Park towards sunset.  This is the first official campground of the trip.

We drove about 140 miles today. Walnut Canyon NM (B), Lowell Observatory (C), Sunset Crater NM (D), Wupatki NM (E):

image

2011 Summer Vacation, Day 12

We left Phoenix early Sunday and headed North to Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, the largest travertine bridge in the world.  The “trail” goes along the bottom of the canyon:

 

SumVac2011_Post07_02

SumVac2011_Post07_03

SumVac2011_Post07_04

 

At last we reached the natural bridge.  A spring dissolved the limestone canyon wall, and the dissolved limestone came out of solution to form a travertine dam across the canyon.  The creek at the bottom of the canyon then wore through the dam to form the natural bridge.  There’s some nice diagrams here.

The hole is 187 feet tall, so the travertine wall must be about 500 feet high:

SumVac2011_Post07_05

SumVac2011_Post07_06

SumVac2011_Post07_07 

Textures and contrast:

SumVac2011_Post07_08

 

Trish and the kids are on the right side of the photograph:

SumVac2011_Post07_09

SumVac2011_Post07_10

SumVac2011_Post07_11 

Looking back the way we came.  The tunnel is 400 feet long. There was quite a bit of water seeping down through the ceiling:

SumVac2011_Post07_13

 

A surface creek cascades over the edge:

SumVac2011_Post07_14

SumVac2011_Post07_15

SumVac2011_Post07_16

 

There was a side trail to a nice little waterfall:

SumVac2011_Post07_17

 

Saw this rice-grain-sized spider on the handrail.  He appears to have caught something:

SumVac2011_Post07_18

SumVac2011_Post07_19

 

Heading back up:

SumVac2011_Post07_20

 

Continuing north, we crossed the Mogollon Rim and stopped at Meteor Crater.  It’s 3/4 of a mile across.  Click on the image for full resolution:

SumVac2011_Post07_small

SumVac2011_Post07_25

SumVac2011_Post07_26

 

Tasty rock:

SumVac2011_Post07_27

SumVac2011_Post07_28

SumVac2011_Post07_29

SumVac2011_Post07_30

SumVac2011_Post07_31

M looks around:

SumVac2011_Post07_32

 

Storms on the horizon:

SumVac2011_Post07_33

SumVac2011_Post07_34

 

Heading west on I-40, we visited the ruins of Two Guns, Arizona.  There was a zoo and other attractions here until I-40 was laid down, at which time Route 66 was decertified.

Route 66 bridge:

SumVac2011_Post07_35

 

Abandoned buildings:

SumVac2011_Post07_36

SumVac2011_Post07_37

 

Checking out the zoo enclosures:

SumVac2011_Post07_38

SumVac2011_Post07_39

SumVac2011_Post07_40

SumVac2011_Post07_41

 

The sky grew stormy, but as the sun approached the horizon it punched through, so the ground was brighter than the sky:

SumVac2011_Post07_42

SumVac2011_Post07_43

SumVac2011_Post07_44

SumVac2011_Post07_45

SumVac2011_Post07_46

SumVac2011_Post07_47

SumVac2011_Post07_48

SumVac2011_Post07_49

SumVac2011_Post07_50

SumVac2011_Post07_51

SumVac2011_Post07_52

SumVac2011_Post07_53

SumVac2011_Post07_54

SumVac2011_Post07_55

SumVac2011_Post07_56

 

The zoo entrance back in the day:http://lookbeforeyoulive.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/zoo.jpg

 

…And now:

SumVac2011_Post07_57

SumVac2011_Post07_58

SumVac2011_Post07_59

Leaving at sunset, we continued West to dispersed camping in the Coconino National Forest, just outside Walnut Canyon National Monument.

We drove 244 miles today.  Tonto Natural Bridge SP (B), Meteor Crater (C), Two Guns (D):

image

2011 Summer Vacation, Days 10 and 11

Friday morning we headed North to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.  We got to see a screech owl:

SumVac2011_Post06_02

 

B mimics the gila monster’s tongue:

SumVac2011_Post06_03

 

The kids coming out of their non-shell:

SumVac2011_Post06_04

SumVac2011_Post06_05

SumVac2011_Post06_06

 

We saw javelinas and coyotes too.  It was a great museum!

SumVac2011_Post06_07

 

Next we went to the Western unit of Saguaro National Park:

SumVac2011_Post06_08

SumVac2011_Post06_09 

Next we visited Biosphere 2.  Imagine their surprise when it turned out replicating the planet in a glass box was more complicated than they thought.

SumVac2011_Post06_01

 

Having said that, it was an interesting tour.  Looking up!

SumVac2011_Post06_10

 

We toured the various biomes.  Here’s the “ocean”:

SumVac2011_Post06_11

 

The rainforest is well on its way to taking over the dome:

SumVac2011_Post06_12

 

There’s a desert biome too:

SumVac2011_Post06_13

 

There’s quite a bit of equipment down below keeping everything up above running smoothly:

SumVac2011_Post06_14

SumVac2011_Post06_15

SumVac2011_Post06_16

 

Since it’s a closed system, the air pressure changes as the temperature changes.  To avoid popping the facility, the “lung” has a flexible membrane that raises and lowers the center disc, changing the effective volume of the facility:

SumVac2011_Post06_17

SumVac2011_Post06_18

After the tour, we headed to Phoenix for Shabbos.  It was in the low 110s, and fairly humid due to the monsoon thunderstroms.  We had meals with wonderful families, and the community was great!

2011 Summer Vacation, Day 9

We left the casino and headed down the street to the Titan Missile Museum:

SumVac2011_Post05_02

 

Looks fairly non-descript from the surface:

SumVac2011_Post05_17

 

We went down in for a tour.  Entry is through a non-hardened underground stairwell, which leads to the blast door into the hardened launch control bunker.  Behold the thick steel door:

  SumVac2011_Post05_06

 

Everything was spring mounted (the cylinder on the wall), and the cables have slack so when a nuclear strike occurs, the equipment bounces up and down and stays working.

SumVac2011_Post05_07

 

The launch room:

SumVac2011_Post05_08

SumVac2011_Post05_09

SumVac2011_Post05_10

SumVac2011_Post05_11

 

We went through a launch sequence, complete with lights and sirens.  After the launch, the docent said that the launch crew would wait for further instructions, but there probably wouldn’t be any, as the Air Force base would have been a Soviet target.  The crew could either suffocate once the air ran out in the bunker, or they could go up the ventilation tube and be exposed to fatal radiation.  It was sobering.

SumVac2011_Post05_12

 

We walked down the accessway to the missile.  The entire passage is suspended on springs.

SumVac2011_Post05_13

SumVac2011_Post05_14

 

The missile, waiting for a war that never came:

SumVac2011_Post05_15

SumVac2011_Post05_16

 

After the tour, we toured the museum upstairs which contained a mock-up of the warhead:

SumVac2011_Post05_19

 

Here’s a painting of the complex, showing, left to right, the ventilation shaft, the command bunker, the stairwell, and the missile silo:

SumVac2011_Post05_20

 

Next, we went to Asarco Copper Mine Museum, which is on the grounds of the Asarco Mission Mine.  It was interesting, if a bit propaganda-ish:

SumVac2011_Post05_22

 

SumVac2011_Post05_03

 

SumVac2011_Post05_21

 

Leaving the Museum, we headed Southwest of Tucson to visit Kitt Peak National Observatory.  It was 3000 foot climb to the top of the mountain.  The SUV transmission got a bit warm towing the RV up there, but it was OK.

Kitt Peak is one of the largest collections of optical telescopes in the world:

SumVac2011_Post05_26

 

The Mayall 4-meter reflector (right), next to the Bok:

SumVac2011_Post05_18&#
160; 

We took a tour to the Mayall.  We walked by the Bok:

SumVac2011_Post05_23

 

 

Sun over the Mayall:

SumVac2011_Post05_27

 

We got to see the Mayall on the inside.  Its mirror is 158 inches in diameter and weighs 15 tons.  The instrument is 92 feet tall:

SumVac2011_Post05_28

 

Looking down from the Mayall:

SumVac2011_Post05_29

 SumVac2011_Post05_31

 

Next we visited the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope.  Pretty neat:

SumVac2011_Post05_32

SumVac2011_Post05_33

 

After a long, slow drive down the mountain, we came back down to Tuscon and hit the bowling alley:

SumVac2011_Post05_25

 

That night, we stayed on BLM land outside Tucson:

SumVac2011_Post05_34

 

We drove about 140 miles today.  Titan Missile Museum (B), Asarco Museum (C), Kitt Peak (D):

image

2011 Summer Vacation, Day 8

We got started pretty early to get to a tour on time later in the day.  But I was enjoying City of Rocks too much not to capture more photographs:

SumVac2011_Post04_01

SumVac2011_Post04_02

SumVac2011_Post04_03

SumVac2011_Post04_04

 

Panorama from the campsite.  Click for the full-size image:

SumVac2011_Post04_pano1

 

Looking back as we left:

SumVac2011_Post04_05

SumVac2011_Post04_06

 

We made it to Kartchner Caverns State Park in time for our tour.  The cave was discovered in the 70s, and a good bit of effort has gone into not disturbing the hydrology of the cave so its formations continue to grow.  There’s a misting system that hosed us down as we entered the cave, to keep lint and other particles on us from floating off and sticking to the formations.  The walkway is a concrete trough that is hosed out every night.  It was pretty expensive, I thought, and perhaps not sufficiently different from Carlsbad to be worth it.  No cameras (or anything else for that matter) are allowed in the cave, so this is the best I could do:

SumVac2011_Post04_07

 

Next, we continued West towards Tuscon, where we stopped at the Pima Air and Space Museum.  We first did a bus tour of the “Boneyard”, a storage facility for 4,400 planes.  M and I enjoyed the tour, and B and Trish got in a nice nap:

SumVac2011_Post04_08

SumVac2011_Post04_09

SumVac2011_Post04_10

SumVac2011_Post04_11

SumVac2011_Post04_12  SumVac2011_Post04_14

SumVac2011_Post04_15

SumVac2011_Post04_16

SumVac2011_Post04_17

SumVac2011_Post04_18

SumVac2011_Post04_19

 

After that, we toured the museum itself.  It has a number of hangers, as well as 300 or so planes on display outside.  It was over 100 degrees out, so we didn’t spend much time walking the tarmac.

SumVac2011_Post04_20

SumVac2011_Post04_21

SumVac2011_Post04_22

SumVac2011_Post04_23

SumVac2011_Post04_24

SumVac2011_Post04_25

SumVac2011_Post04_26

SumVac2011_Post04_27

SumVac2011_Post04_28

SumVac2011_Post04_29

SumVac2011_Post04_30

 

After leaving the museum, we visited the Eastern unit of Saguaro National Park.  There was an odd storm coming in, so visibility was pretty poor, and there was a good bit of lightning in the distance.

SumVac2011_Post04_32

SumVac2011_Post04_33

SumVac2011_Post04_34

SumVac2011_Post04_35

SumVac2011_Post04_36 

We left Saguaro and headed a bit south to Sahuarita.  The Walmart there doesn’t allow overnight parking, so we overnighted at the Desert Diamond Casino.

SumVac2011_Post04_31

 

We drove 307 miles today.  Karchner Caverns (B), Pima Museum (C), Saguaro National Park (D):

image