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.
Our tour guide in the underground control room.
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.
The deactivated Titan II missile with nosecone formerly housing the nuclear payload.
After their twenty-four hour shift, the crew emerged into daylight and had to be reminded of rattlesnakes.
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.
We stayed in Patagonia, AZ, for a few days. It is a town of a few hundred in the hills south of Tucson.
The railroad was abandoned in the early 60's but they keep up their old depot as the municipal court building.
The busy high season in Patagonia.
Part of downtown.
Our "casita" is behind a real estate office.
It was very comfortable!
The owners are artists as well as realtors.
It got cold at night in December, as the fountain in front of the office shows.
We walked out of town and found little competition for space on the road.
The trailhead at a nearby state park.
It is dry but it is not "desert."
Horses among the ocotillo plants.
The trail was indistinct so we left a line of cairns.
The promise of the sign was fulfilled.
I did not know that cactuses grew in trees.
In another direction from Patagonia, we entered a national forest.
This trail begins at the Mexican border and reaches the top of the state. We had previously camped along it near the Grand Canyon.
Beautiful range land!
Another sketchy trail that needed signage.
The cholla cactus is getting ready to bloom in a few months.
Cowboy folk art on the fence posts.
Pretty racy stuff!
We welcomed the intense sun! We passed through multiple cattle gates every day.
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.
San Xavier was the northernmost outpost in its cluster of 18th century missions. The U.S. purchased this sector of Mexico in the 1850s.
The interior and portions of the exterior are done in the outrageous Spanish high baroque style.
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.
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.
This is far from the worst drop-off we have experienced but evidently some have managed to wander off it.
The saguaro cactus is practically a trademark of Tucson.
The road and stream at the bottom of the canyon.
Looking back toward the mouth of the canyon. Tucson is back there somewhere
The stream with a profusion of saquaro above.
One sector of the national park was walking distance from our house.
A forest of saguaro.
Jean as a cactus.
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.
The aviary provided opportunities to get up close.
Very close, in fact. This is a Costas hummingbird.
The outdoor museum paths wandered among the mesquite, palo verde trees and saguaro.
Napping Javalinas, a common inhabitant of the Tucson suburbs.
Another familiar Tucson resident, the coyote.
One paced and one rested.
A prairie dog town 250 miles long?!
After visiting with the prairie dogs, we had to depart for the airport.