Missiles, Mines and Cowboys
"The tragedy in life doesn't lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach."
– Benjamin Mays
Hello everyone! How's it going? Today's quote was chosen because both Steve and I had a major realization since we hit Arizona. We are really achieving the goal that we set out to accomplish. We finished the first half of the country like we had planned and are well-ensconced in year 2. When we originally set out, it all sounded like a pipe dream to take this trip and to travel the country. Some people were giving us 6 months or less before we quit and came home. But here we are, 16 months later, and still going strong. Kinda nice!
So we had a nice week. It started out with a visit to Kevin and Mary Ann Bandur, the lovely parents of our son Terry's girlfriend Jill. You will recall that we spent some time with them last summer while Terry and Jill were hiking the trail. They live here in Tucson, so we paid them a visit to catch up. What a lovely home they have here. It is impeccably decorated and so warm and inviting. They live in a golf community and their home is right on the golf course with a spectacular view of the Catalina Mountains. We had an excellent time visiting with them and hope to hook up with them later in the year as they are contemplating an RV purchase for their own and traveling as well.
Next was a visit to an old Titan II Missile Museum. WOW was that cool. We have no idea who Count Ferdinand von Galen is, but they named this museum after him and we liked his name (plus I think he's one of the stars of Breaking Dawn II, isn't he?) This visit was so interesting mostly because our tour guide was a former missile launcher from the late 60's and 70's for the Air Force, so he had a lot of inside scoop to share. We began our tour by climbing down 55 feet to the second level of the complex where the launch control station was. Our tour guide explained the use of codes and multiple keys that were required in order to launch the missile and also told us that when he was on active duty in this role, there was no need for any such safety features. He could have launched his Minuteman missiles with a simple push of the button. SAY WHAT?????? The Titan II is an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and is 143 feet tall with a nuclear warhead that was 10,000 times greater in power than the one that destroyed Nagasaki (Yikes). There were ton of security practices put into place to ensure that no one could launch the missile without appropriate authority. For instance, there was a two-man rule - - no one was ever alone in the silo. Secondly, there were four security doors/phones that you had to get through in order to get to the launch command center. The military personnel were given codes on little slips of paper and would have to call in the code before the door would be opened. Once opened, they were to burn their slips of code paper. The other interesting point is that the personnel assigned to launch the rocket had no idea what the target was. There were simple buttons labeled "1", "2" and "3". Their launch instructions would tell them which button to push. I thought that was pretty cool! These were not all military in nature, however, as NASA made use of the as well. The Titan rocket was used to launch Neil Armstrong into space for the first time. Thankfully the Reagan administration decommissioned all of the Titan II rockets with the exception of this one base so that it could be made into a museum. The nuclear warhead, however, was removed for safety purposes.
Our next stop was to Bisbee, Arizona and the Queen Mine. Bisbee, is a town that was founded in 1877 because of a copper mining claim that was made by the U.S. Army. It grew from mere shacks to a town of 20,000 in almost no time at all. The city is built into the mountain and the streets are striated into the side of the mountain with each successive street one level higher than the next. I cannot imagine how difficult it was to build some of the homes in the mountains, but it made for a cool looking little town. Steve and I intended to do the mine tour, but sadly, my claustrophobia kicked in big time so I had to high tail it outta there. Steve continued on without me and my favorite picture is the one at the end of him sitting on the toilet. Nice!!!! Anyway, they pulled out a lot of other minerals besides copper. Lots of turquoise, silver, malachite (not the Old Testament Malachites, however) and some other really beautiful stuff.
From there we headed to Tombstone and watched the re-enactment of the shootout at the OK Corral. The city of Tombstone was developed as a town in 1881 as a result of a huge silver mine in the area. That mine didn't last that long as it flooded due to an overrun of an aquifer that the miners broke into while drilling for another mine shaft. Sadly, the town really has no other claim to fame other than the shootout which began with a drunken cowboy named Curly Bill's shooting of the then Marshall, Fred White. Virgil Earp was the Sheriff and City Marshall of the town and he deputized his brothers (who were also U.S. Marshalls), Morgan and Wyatt. The McLeary and Clanton brothers were at odds with the Earps over control of the city and, as the story goes, they had a shoot out and the McLeary's were killed along with Billy Clanton. We visited the Boothill Graveyard where the three victims of the shootout are buried. There were also some other interesting gravemarkers there as well.
Another fun place that we visited was the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, which highlighted the flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert of Southeast Arizona. It was beautifully put together and a nice little piece of exercise too. You can see all the animals and plants that we got to see. We especially liked the Saguaro cactus which are huge. These pictures don't do them justice because you can't tell how tall they are - - but most of them are about 30 feet tall or taller. They also form some pretty weird shapes that can be amusing. Check out Steve's pictures of the hummingbirds. He caught one in action, hovering over the food bin. COOL!!!!
Our last adventure was to the Tucson Rodeo. Apparently this event is one of the largest and most important on the Pro Rodeo Competition circuit so the major rodeo talent was there. We got to see both bareback and saddle bronc riding, bull riding, barrel racing, individual and team roping. It was an absolute blast and I am totally hooked on this whole rodeo experience. I cannot wait to go again somewhere else while we are out here in the West. Steve shot some video of the events, including some slow motion, and will upload them to You Tube as soon as he finishes editing them.
Ok, that's it for the week. We are still in Tucson until Wednesday and then we head to Casa Grande. Take care guys! Miss you.
2/24/2013 12:34:00 pm
SWEET!! Sounds like you two are still enjoying the adventure. Miss you alot!
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