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We flew into Tuscon and stopped at an old Titan missile base outside of town. There were clusters of such bases around Wichita and Little Rock, as well.
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Our tour guide in the underground control room.
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The launch codes were kept in hard copy in this simple strong box. The control room is built on massive springs to temper effects of attack.
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The deactivated Titan II missile with nosecone formerly housing the nuclear payload.
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After their twenty-four hour shift, the crew emerged into daylight and had to be reminded of rattlesnakes.
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The silo is surrounded by odd looking microwave receptor horns for security. The valley was almost uninhabited in the 60's but now hosts an interstate highway and malls.
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We stayed in Patagonia, AZ, for a few days. It is a town of a few hundred in the hills south of Tucson.
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The railroad was abandoned in the early 60's but they keep up their old depot as the municipal court building.
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The busy high season in Patagonia.
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Part of downtown.
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Our "casita" is behind a real estate office.
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It was very comfortable!
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The owners are artists as well as realtors.
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It got cold at night in December, as the fountain in front of the office shows.
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We walked out of town and found little competition for space on the road.
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The trailhead at a nearby state park.
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It is dry but it is not "desert."
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Horses among the ocotillo plants.
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The trail was indistinct so we left a line of cairns.
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The promise of the sign was fulfilled.
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I did not know that cactuses grew in trees.
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In another direction from Patagonia, we entered a national forest.
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This trail begins at the Mexican border and reaches the top of the state. We had previously camped along it near the Grand Canyon.
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Beautiful range land!
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Another sketchy trail that needed signage.
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The cholla cactus is getting ready to bloom in a few months.
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Cowboy folk art on the fence posts.
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Pretty racy stuff!
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We welcomed the intense sun! We passed through multiple cattle gates every day.
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The Mission San Xavier del Bac, outside present day Tucson, was founded in 1692 by Jesuits. This building dates to 1783 and is administered by Franciscans.
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San Xavier was the northernmost outpost in its cluster of 18th century missions. The U.S. purchased this sector of Mexico in the 1850s.
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The interior and portions of the exterior are done in the outrageous Spanish high baroque style.
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Our rental house on the outskirts of Tucson is on the property of a couple retired geologists. At this time of evening, we regularly heard group howls by the coyotes.
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We start a walk up Sabino Canyon, an extremely popular destination on the northern edge of town. There is a paved road with shuttle bus at the bottom and few hike the precipitous upper trail.
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This is far from the worst drop-off we have experienced but evidently some have managed to wander off it.
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The saguaro cactus is practically a trademark of Tucson.
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The road and stream at the bottom of the canyon.
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Looking back toward the mouth of the canyon. Tucson is back there somewhere
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The stream with a profusion of saquaro above.
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One sector of the national park was walking distance from our house.
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A forest of saguaro.
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Jean as a cactus.
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Our last stop was the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum with its terrific outdoor nature displays. Birding is a hugely popular activity here and hummingbirds are a favorite.
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The aviary provided opportunities to get up close.
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Very close, in fact. This is a Costas hummingbird.
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The outdoor museum paths wandered among the mesquite, palo verde trees and saguaro.
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Napping Javalinas, a common inhabitant of the Tucson suburbs.
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Cholla cactus
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Biologist humor.
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Another familiar Tucson resident, the coyote.
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One paced and one rested.
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A prairie dog town 250 miles long?!
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After visiting with the prairie dogs, we had to depart for the airport.