Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tucson, AZ (2/20/2017)

The Pima Air & Space Museum s one of the premier attractions in Tucson, but I had never gone there until this trip.  There are hundreds of airplanes on display both inside the huge building and lined up around the several acres of grounds.  There is also the famous "boneyard" where decommissioned planes are stored.  Unfortunately, the "boneyard" was closed the day I was there.  However, I saw plenty of planes of all ages, purposes and descriptions.  I took lots of photos, but will only share a small number of them.

Here are a few of the experimental planes, most of which I had never heard of.  Some of them were only flown a few times.  The first one is called the "Bumble Bee" and is only 9 feet long.  It has a maximum speed of 180 mph, but a range of only 20 miles....an exciting 20 miles.

This amphibian, designed for the Navy,  was scrapped after testing revealed major structural flaws.
This gyrocopter was designedf with the objective of being easy to fly and to take off from a residential driveway.  It proved to be easy enough to fly, but required almost as much runway as any other plane, so it was never successful.
Many planes displayed are Air Force bombers, fighters or cargo planes some dating back to World War II.

Some military  planes were designed for reconnaissance, radar duty or spy missions, including an unmanned drone..

Former Air Force One planes were on hand, including the one used by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson in the 1960s.
My favorite of all was the B-17 Flying Fortress that did such an incredible job during World War II.  Hundreds of these planes flew bombing missions over Germany, destroying much of the enemy's capability for producing war equipment.  They endured heavy flak and fighter attacks, and many were lost.  Only one of the original planes survived the war, serving 59 missions.  The one on display was housed in its own separate building, and deservedly so.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Sabino Canyon & Signal Peak (2/16 & 2/17/2017)

Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, managed by the U. S. Forest Service, draws more than a million visitors a year to its mountains and canyons.  It is a very popular place for hiking, jogging, wildlife viewing, picnicking and photography.  Tram tours are available for both Sabino and Bear Canyons, making them accessible to anyone.  Riders can get off at any stop to hike or explore, and may re-board the tram at any time.  In the past, I've ridden the tram to the head of Sabino Canyon, about 4 miles, then hiked down along the stream with its many picturesque boulders, pools and cascades.  This time, I planned to ride the tram into Bear Canyon to the trailhead for the Seven Falls Trail.  However, I was advised against doing the hike because the creek was so full and it requires seven stream crossings.  Instead, I hiked part way into Bear Canyon to a small man-made lake.

Tucson has very nice sunrises and sunsets, but not so much during this visit.  Unsettled weather part of the time, along with perfectly clear skies part of the time, prevented the spectacular colors I was looking for, with a few exceptions.  When there was a good sunset, I had trouble finding a suitable place to view it.  Staying in town meant buildings, trees, power poles and lines that interfered with my views. 

I finally learned of Signal Peak, on a small mountain near town, with a road to the top.  My first time there, however, sunset was pretty tame.  I did hang out and take a few photos of the city.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Tucson Desert Museum, AZ (2/14/2017)

One of my favorite places in Tucson is the Sonoran Desert Museum, in reality a combination zoo, botanical garden, aviary, art gallery and museum.  What a treasure for the city, both for tourists and locals.  School kids make field trips here frequently and there's no better way to educate them with respect to nature's miracles.  It's a great place for photographers, too, with such a diversity of subjects near to hand and happy to pose.

I didn't spend much time with the mammals, but did want to see the black bear and mountain lion, both added since my last visit.

The raptor demonstration was conducted while I was there, with the great horned owl winning the prize as "most photogenic".

The cactus gardens always interest me.  They put so many different species into a small space, so one can see a lot with a minimum of walking.

There are two aviaries, one strictly for hummingbirds and one for everything else.  Naturally, I spent a lot of time in both of them.

The male phainopepla (black) is joined by his mate (gray).  I really like these birds with their red eyes.

The family of Montezuma quail stayed hidden in the bushes, obviously camera shy.  Dad finally ventured out, but never let me see his face.
The western tanager and black-headed grosbeak were much more cooperative.
 It was especially fun to watch a pair of cactus wrens building a nest.  I first noticed them running around with materials in their beaks, approaching me then backing away.  It was clear they wanted to get to the large cholla next to where I was standing.  I moved away and readied the camera.  When they started taking material into their nest construction site, I was able to get photos.  You'll see how completely hidden their nest is, protected by the spines of the cholla.

 I would definitely recommend the Sonoran Desert Museum to anyone visiting the Tucson area.