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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tucson and Moving On

What we thought would be a boring, one day stop in Tucson turned terrifying and then everything was great.

Our first 10,000 mile car maintenance checkup was nearing, so we made an appointment at a VW dealership in Tucson for Saturday. We decided to stay just outside of town at Catalina State Park, but when we were just a couple miles from the park the car shuddered in low gear as we were accelerating up a hill.

We ran a couple errands, including a stop at Starizona, the most awesome telescope store in the US. While Ryan talked shop with a guy at the store, I looked at spectacular photos taken from the International Space Station (ISS) by NASA astronauts using a special telescope photography adaption invented and made at Starizona.

When we got into the car after Starizona we got the dreaded check engine light. Our hearts sank, but at least it happened at the best imaginable time possible: we weren't towing, we were in a city, and we already had an appointment at the dealership first thing the next morning. We got the OBD2 code and were slightly relieved to find it was related to the turbo. Once again we gently got the car to camp.

Saturday morning we removed and hid as much evidence of towing as we could and hoped that because every person we've talked to at the dealership had never heard of towing with our car that they wouldn't be looking for it. One man asked me what the plug on the back bumper was for (the electrics to the trailer lights) and I completely played dumb. He thought it was for warmth in the winter. Maybe!

Turns out we just needed a software update and the check engine light was a fluke. To say we were relieved is a huge understatement.


After the dealership, we headed to Saguaro National Park. There are giant cacti as far as the eye can see! It's incredibly beautiful. Because it was over 100 F and the ranger told us a woman died last year from dehydration we kept the hiking to a minimum, picking the only trail that also features petroglyphs.




It always puts life into perspective to see petroglyphs and think that thousands of years ago another, very different human, but your ancestor nonetheless, stood in that same spot and created art. We still have no idea if it means something or if it was decorative, but it is incredible. It also makes me wonder what future humans will think of what we do. Will all our meticulous records mean anything to them or will we be as much of a mystery?

Sunday morning we got up early so we could be at Biosphere 2 when they opened. B2 was built in the 1980s by a private company with one wealthy backer and a visionary who had been the leader of a small community of people who performed theater. In the 1990s, they built B2 to study the environment and had two missions of people living inside as a completely enclosed system. Since then it fell into disrepair and changed ownership a couple times. It is currently operated by Arizona University and is being used for environmental research.

I had toured B2 about ten years ago, but Ryan has never been. We went through all the biomes (desert, mangrove, rainforest, and ocean), in the basement to see the machines that make it all work, the living quarters, and into one of the "lungs" that was used to equalize air pressure. It is still so fascinating to me and an amazing scientific accomplishment. I think they were ahead of their time.








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