Tucson, Arizona  Map

This trip was motivated by several diverse considerations, ie;
 My sister's oldest daughter & family live in Tucson and we wanted to visit them.
 I lived in Tucson after my family moved back to the USA from Guam, and I had not gone back since we moved in 1959.
 We wanted to visit the Sedona & the Grand Canyons, both of which are not only beautiful but are interesting places to explore.
 We wanted to take Jeremy to a dude ranch to horseback ride, and hike Sabino Canyon.
 We wanted to end the trip in Phoenix, hike Piestewa Peak, and visit Celeste's niece.
 To learn more about Tucson and the surrounding area, click here to go to the Tucson Wikipedia Page.

Exploring Tucson, Arizona

The Convair B-36 the largest mass-produced piston-engined aircraft ever built.

The Lockheed SR-71 perhaps the fastest airplane ever built.

Helicopters of all shapes, sizes & types can be found here.

Boeing B-17 from WW2 - only 9 are left out of thousands that were constructed.

Consolidated B-24 Liberator - this aircraft and the B-17 were the primary long range bombers in WW2.

Boeing B-29 - Engines were the Wright R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone; a twin-row, supercharged, air-cooled, radial aircraft engine with 18 cylinders.

One of our first adventures, was a trip to the Pima County Air Museum. This used to belong to the Air Force, where all of the Air Force retired aircraft were stored in a huge area. My parents were stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, and our house (within base housing) backed up to the aircraft storage area. So a lot of us kids would sneak through the fence to go out into the storage yard and play inside the WW2 aircraft stored there. A ton of fun for 12 & 13 year old boys!

The museum has at least one of every thing the Military has ever flown, and even though they refurbish and sell some aircraft & aircraft parts, and destroy others, they maintain a set of aircraft for the museum so that the general public can see where their tax dollars have gone!

Exploring Sabino Canyon, Arizona   Map

Celeste, Jeremy and I hiked up to the top of Sabino Canyon, nice day, got an early start before the heat went up and we had a lot of fun. Sort of "earning" our dinner as they say! Seven Falls is 4.2 miles up the canyon from the parking area, so we felt that we had done a respectful amount of hiking once we got back to the car.

Dude Ranch Horseback Riding   Map

The next day's adventure was to introduce Celeste & Jeremy to horse back riding. This is at a dude ranch near the Tanque Verde Ranch. I used to work at one of these riding stables when I was a teenager, but I could not begin to identify which ranch it was after all these years!

Everyone is saddled up and ready to ride. Because my back was not in good shape, I helped them get ready and I let them take the ride, while I waited for them. I would have preferred to go, but my back was never going to deal with that kind of movement & bouncing!

Exploring the Biosphere Oracle, Arizona   Map

We drove out to the Biosphere which is north of Tucson near Oracle, AZ. This was an interesting tour, as there was a well known study made of the effects on humans who are working & living in an enclosed space without the ability to exit.

The Biosphere interior is comprised of areas where they grew their own crops to sustain themselves. We took the guided tour, so that we could hear the narration about each area and what took place there.

 Biosphere History Lesson 

The biosphere was originally constructed between 1987 and 1991 by Space Biosphere Ventures. In total the project cost about 200 million dollars and its key builders were John P. Allen and Margret Augustine. It got its name, Biosphere 2, due to the fact it was meant to be the second fully self-sufficient Biosphere after the Earth.

Its 5 biomes are all 1,900 square metered rainforests with oceans, coral reefs, mangrove wetlands, fog deserts and multiple agricultural systems. Biosphere 2 was only used twice for its original purpose as a closed system experiment that went on from 1991-1993, and the second time from March to September 1994. Furthermore, both attempts ran into problems that included; low amounts of food and oxygen, die-offs of many animal and plant species, squabbling among the resident scientists and management issues.

 The above information was extracted from Wikipedia, click here to view the Wiki Page.

Sedona Canyon, Arizona   Map

Panoramic view of Sedona, Coffee Pot Rock and Capital Butte Rock "Thunder Mountain" on the north side of the city. View is from the airport overlook. This area is east (and a little south) of the Palatki Heritage Area. These rocks, as well as the two Heritage sites, are part of the huge Cocochino National Forest.
NOTE: Image is the property of Scott W via Flickr.

We rented a jeep because the native Indian Cliff Dwellings (Palatki Heritage Site) are way, way back in the area to the north west of Sedona. Without a jeep, there is no way to get there, unless you go with a tour group. We thought it would be much more fun to drive ourselves there and back! Keep in mind that you will be traversing a very rough road that is heavily rutted and it frequently crosses small rocky hills that require you to be in four wheeel drive mode.
NOTE: Even with an off-road vehicle, you cannot drive all the way to the Cliff Dwellings. You have to park about 75 yards away and walk in.

The Palatki Heritage Site and its sister site, the Honanki Heritage Site, were the largest cliff dwellings of the Red Rock Country between AD 1150 - 1350. The Palatki Heritage Site cliff dwelling and rock art site is located near the town of Sedona in north-central Arizona. Currently managed by the U.S. Forest Service under the Red Rock Pass Program, the site is open to the general public for visits seven days a week (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas).

It is amazing to realize that these cliffs were where this Indian Tribe lived a very long time ago.

Grand Canyon, Arizona   Map

One of the observation points on the rim of the Grand Canyon, magnificent view of the valley below.

Jeremy is pondering the valley of the Grand Canyon, 6,000 feet below where we are standing.

The canyon is immense! That is the North Rim in the distance, it is approximately 18 miles from where we were standing.

It is a testament to the hardiness of those trees that they can grow out of the solid rock!

Looking west from the lookout point we were standing on, the Canyon continues for a number of miles before it ends near Hoover Dam.

I had just noticed that a "mule train" of Canyon visitors were coming back up the trail, I am pointing them out to Celeste and Jeremy.

 Grand Canyon Quick Facts 

The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in Arizona, United States. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile (6,093 feet or 1,857 meters).

The canyon and adjacent rim are contained within Grand Canyon National Park, the Kaibab National Forest, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, the Hualapai Indian Reservation, the Havasupai Indian Reservation and the Navajo Nation. President Theodore Roosevelt was a major proponent of preservation of the Grand Canyon area, and visited it on numerous occasions to hunt and enjoy the scenery.

Nearly two billion years of Earth's geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. While some aspects about the history of incision of the canyon are debated by geologists, several recent studies support the hypothesis that the Colorado River established its course through the area about 5 to 6 million years ago. Since that time, the Colorado River has driven the down-cutting of the tributaries and retreat of the cliffs, simultaneously deepening and widening the canyon.

 The above information was extracted from Wikipedia, click here to go to the Wiki Page.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument   Map

Since the weather conditions in the Grand Canyon blocked our goal of a flight down into the Canyon, we decided to drive back to Sedona via an alternate route. We took a look at the Arizona map and decided that it would be interesting to drive to the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.

As you can see in these images, the area is a mixture of volcanic ash, dried out trees and unusual geography everywhere you look. There is a 1.6 kilometer loop trail that takes you through the park, but they do not allow hikers to climb to the top of the crater itself - this has been closed since 1973 due to damage caused by hikers.
NOTE: Click here to view some Google Images of the park.

Verde Valley, Arizona   Map

Verde Railroad locomotive after dropping us off at the mid-point of the train ride.

Waiting to reboard the train for the return trip through Verde Canyon.

The train had to be driven down to where they could put the locomotive back on the front cars to enable us to return back to the starting point.

The locomotive has arrived, and it is headed to the front of the train to start our ride to Perkinsville.

Everyone is queued up waiting to board the train, it is a beautiful day with clear skies, so our visibility should be very good.

The train parallels the Verde River as it heads out to Perkinsville, AZ where the turn-around point is located.

 Verde Valley Quick Facts 

The Verde Valley is a valley in central Arizona in the United States. The Verde River runs through it. The Verde River is one of Arizona's last free-flowing river systems. It provides crucial habitat for fish and wildlife, fresh water for local agricultural production, recreational opportunities for locals and tourists alike, and brings clean drinking water to over 2 million people in the greater Phoenix area. The valley is overlooked by Mingus Mountain and the Mogollon Rim.

 The above information was extracted from Wikipedia.

Trip Summary

You may have noticed that there aren't many pics of the Grand Canyon? We were to go on a "discovery drive" around the Canyon rim and were planning on taking a flight the next day to tour the Canyon, however, the next day a raging snow storm precluded us from taking that flight. So we did all the other things you see in this post. And eventually, as it always does, we had to return back home to Florida.


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