Tuesday, January 29, 2013

27 October 2012 Kartchner Caverns and More

It was a special day. Ali had flown to Arizona so we could take a few days off together and enjoy our anniversary. Today was our anniversary. Ali really wanted to visit Kartchner Caverns. Although I am less of a cave and geology person than her, I have really enjoyed visiting caverns. Kartchner is a bit different since the state of Arizona has made huge efforts to protect the underground caves and seriously limits activities within them. In this case different was awesome. Their protections include no cameras in the caves, so there's no pictures from inside with the blog. This was another stop I would happily revisit on a return trip.

After our fun at Kartchner, we made our way toward Tombstone. We stopped at an Arizona State Land to do some geocaching on the way. It was weird caching with a permanent north of the border Border Patrol inspection point in view. We passed through or by this multiple times and both wondered how this could be effective. If one wanted to bypass the checkpoint, one could merely walk into the desert around the checkpoint and back to the road on the other side. It seemed about as effective as Border Patrol agent sitting at the edge of a New York State Park reading a newspaper as we passed by.

Border Patrol Outpost

Now I'm sure someone's watching us.

We continued our journey with a stop at the ghost town of Fairbanks. The old town was a disappointment, but we did venture out to the old town cemetery perched at the top of a hill.

The view from the cemetery.

Tombstone, the OK Corral, and Boot Hill were the disappointment of the trip. I was expecting a bit of the old west with maybe a shoot-out. Instead there were about six different groups of people re-enacting the shoot-out on various paved streets in the town. The OK Corral is a green park with a gazebo, not a dusty corral. We walked around town then ventured over to boot hill where all the original headstones are long gone and replaced by immaculate reproductions planted for the tourists. Ali is very gracious when I send us on one of these side trips that we should have passed by.

We enjoyed a few more caches in the desert on our way back to Sierra Vista.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

26 October 2012 Pima Air Musuem on to Benson

Ali was due in around noon so I had the morning free. I grabbed a shuttle ride to the airport with my luggage and rented a car. I had noticed an ad for the Pima Air Museum before I left Ohio and was determined to visit there this morning. The Museum has an SR71 Blackbird and a guppy on display. The sleek Blackbird was an amazing work of technology, and I was lucky to see it for a rare fly by in my youth. I was excited at a chance to see it up close. The guppy may just be the ugliest plane ever produced.
I hadn't really looked to see what other planes were on display I just knew the museum was large and a lot of displays were outdoors in the desert. Once on the grounds I found a military version of the Constellation with the nose marking Columbine. This plane was the first of three Constellations to bear the name Columbine. They were named after the state flower of Colorado by President Eisenhower's wife. This Columbine I was the plane used by General Eisenhower between 1950 and 1952.

The next surprise was the sight of the last propellor-driven Air Force One. This plane was used by both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson before being replaced by a KC135, the military version of the Boeing 707. It's amazing to think President Kennedy flew in this plane.

Freedom One was a look-alike to Air Force One and was used as a VIP transport. The Air Force One from that era is located in Dayton at the Air Force Museum along with President Eisenhower's transport Columbine III.

The Guppy is one amazingly ugly plane. It looks like some bad comic book rendition of a plane.

Some of the names are amazing. This is a rear view of the Peacemaker.

The last production B58 Hustler sits on the desert as a relic of the cold war. It's sole purpose was to carry a nuclear bomb in the pod below its body.

There are three B-52's sitting on the desert. The sheer size of these machines can be measured by the trucks in the near background.

These blue angel and thunderbird jets were long retired before I saw my first Cleveland Air Show with F4 Phantoms being used by the two acrobat teams.

Taildraggers were not the safest planes, but they look so much more graceful and elegant. These are a throw back to a different time in aviation.

I got to see a lot of planes in a few hours at the museum. Besides the guppy, I got to see the Blackbird, but it was inside and crowded so the visual was not so exciting. On the good side, Ali's plane was early. We grabbed a few caches in the Tucson area before heading to Benson and our stop for the evening. One of the caches was alongside the road by the aircraft boneyard. With over 4000 planes, the ground is filled for as far as the eye can see.

Ali makes a find on a tree climber at a Tucson park.

We had time on the way to Benson for a stop in the desert for a few finds.

We struck out on the caches we hunted in Benson. We were lucky to spot the first and only ice cream on the trip. The ice cream was average, but the service was good. Our dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant made for a nice first evening.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

24 October 2012 Catalina State Park

I had a couple of free hours and a chance to hike at Catalina State Park. It was wonderfully warm and the desert was awesome. There are a number of geocaches in the park so I spent my time on trails that would lead me to most of the caches. Cache hiders did not disappoint hiding caches in a variety of places so I got to touch the different areas of the park and see a variety of life in the desert. I needed another one to two hours to hunt the two caches at the edge of the park and passed on a small trail of micros.

I also realized early on that my idea to have Ali bring hiking poles when she arrived later in the week was not the greatest ideas. I had to tread very carefully at the caches I found to make certain I wasn't disturbing any of the local snake population. The poles are usually a really good way to move the container in case there is a snake nearby. It was over too soon. I would certainly put this place on a return list if I am lucky enough to be able to return for a second visit.