Up and at ’em! For real this time, and we actually get out of the house before 8:30!
Instead of taking the usual mode of transport, my Dad’s fire-breathing Diesel pickup truck, we take a slightly smaller and more efficient mode of transport – the motorcycle. It takes me a bit of time to get used to being completely exposed, especially while doing 70 mph on the highway, but I do get used to it after a little while.
We link up with Greg and Cindy, the folks from Oregon that I’d met earlier in the week, and all ride out to a diner. It’s a nice 20min ride, and I love the sun and wind and everything. We had turned around right after leaving the house so’s I could get goggles, and I definitely appreciated that decision. I can’t imagine how it would have been without them, but with them was quite enjoyable.
Breakfast at the diner was a great time – It was the monthly Bikers for Christ meeting, a motorcycle group that my dad belongs to, and I enjoyed getting to talk and hang out with all the guys there. We ate, drank coffee (possibly more than was necessary), and had a good time.
After breakfast, we rode back to the house, more than a bit somberly since it was only to grab my gear and head back toward the airport.
I get a call: strange number, and no one replies when I ask who it is. So I hang up.
I get another call: same strange number. This time I wait a bit, and get rewarded with a robot voice telling me that my flight it going to be delayed by an hour. Ok! Awesome, get to hang out at home for a bit longer, chatting and relaxing with everyone (Puppies included). But it’s only a stay of execution, and before long we’re in the truck again, heading to the airport.
I get my tickets, and since there’s no line at TSA we grab a cup of coffee and hang out in the Arizona sun one last time. It’s nice, and we chat and sip the coffee as long as we can before I head through security.
Christmas in Arizona: A tale of the Desert Museum and the hunt for a specific cactus.
Up and at ’em kinda early… but no way are we leaving early. Slow morning with a nice breakfast, hot coffee, and a lot being unrushed.
Leave the house around 11:00, and jump onto the highway pretty quick… though a quick detour to In & Out Burger was found the be in order. Animal style is delicious! Then, back on the road nice and quick, before 11:45.
The drive to the Desert Museum…. wow. I love it! Such a good twisty and turny drive, and I would definitely enjoy having the Mustang for it! Though in this situation, the huge Turbo-Diesel truck works pretty well too. As a note: Arizona doesn’t do guard rails. “If you can’t drive the route… don’t drive it!”
Get a year membership as a Christmas present for Dad – actually cheaper than just getting tickets, it turns out.
Head into the Exhibits, and they’re quite cool! See, I’d been here before, but didn’t really remember it. So it was a refresher course, and it’s amazing! Ton’s of wild animals, cool statues, and neat exhibits.
Go through the desert walk section, a nice half-mile or so walk through a semi-uncontrolled section of the Arizona desert. Lots of plants, and even a few sections with animal enclosures. Javalena and Coyote’s are seen and photographed, napping in the sun.
Lots of Saguaro Cactus, and tons of beautiful small flowers; even a few birds.
Speaking of birds, we caught a short portion of the “flying with raptors” exhibit. It was neat, and seeing the hawks flying directly above us was definitely amazing. I’d never seen a hawk that close before; they’re quite small, but very impressive to see in flight.
One of the many goals of this trip was to find a small plant tag, labeled “Stealth Cactus” that I remembered seeing at one of the Tucson attractions. I wasn’t sure if it was the Pima air and Space Museum, or the Desert Museum, so my Dad and I kept our eyes peeled searching for this one elusive plant. We must have looked a bit insane, to be honest… always kneeling down and looking around cactus, trying to catch that one sign.
Moving along, we checked out the rest of the exhibits; most of which were pretty “standard issue environmental exhibit” things. We saw otters and beavers in the riverways, and ocelots and grey foxes in the cat exhibit (right, foxes aren’t cats, we know)
Labyrinth – this was amazing. A small pattern of bricks on the ground, forming a path to follow. Turns out, labyrinths aren’t necessarily puzzles, simply long walks around a pre-determined path. Usually representing a spiritual or mental journey. I love things like this.
Move along, finish up, and head out.
We hadn’t found the stealth cactus in the desert museum, so Pima Air and Space museum it is! We drive over, and stop in quick. I remembered it being in the entry way, which was good because the museum proper had closed about 30min before we arrived.
IT’S THERE! See the pictures below, following the train from Barrel, to Saguaro, to Stealth.
Head back home, and then out to Texas Roadhouse for Denise’s birthday! It’s delicious, and the ribs are amazing (as per Arizona tradition). I loved it, and we even got them to do a nice little birthday thing for Denise.
Home, usual movie or two, then bed early, so’s we could get up on time for a breakfast in the morning.
We actually get ourselves moving this morning, in a quite quick and efficient manner… as scary and impossible as that sounds.
Look into shooting ranges over breakfast; a nice and simple affair of coffee and muffins. We find a range nearby at the Pima County fair grounds, and after fighting with their website for half an hour, find the hours of operation. Finally.
Guns and rifles, pistols and Ammo! All of it gets packed up, secured, and stowed into the truck. A case for everything, and everything in its case.
Head to the range, and go shooting!
Firearms are something that I like to keep in practice with. In my opinion, the chance that I’ll ever truly need to use one, for hunting or anything else, is almost negligable. But, the penalty for failure in that situation is extreme – and keeping in practice isn’t a difficult proposition… so why not? And anyways, shooting holes in paper is a fun way to pass the time and hang out with my dad!
SKS, .22, 30-06, fun times. 100 yards and 200 yards. A quick note about the SKS – it’s a Vietnam-era rifle, used by the Chinese army. My dad got it years ago, and it’s honestly one of my favorite rifles; it’s wood, it’s simple, and it just seems to have a good personality (for a tool designed to kill). Not the most accurate though, so we spend a bit of time with the elk hunting rifle as well.
Pistol time! After a bit of a break, of course. Snacks and water and relaxation, watching some of the other folks shoot. I see one girl there with bullet plugs in here ears – literally .45 shells cleaned up, and popped into the gauged holes. Interesting… I am definitely in Arizona. I debated asking her if I could take a picture… but decided that her brothers and father may object. And since they had many firearms nearby… I took the wiser approach and stayed clear.
Ohh, and it’s cold, by the way. Not freezing, but windy and chilly. In the sun it’s tee-shirt weather, but once I’m in the shade? Yeah, I am quite glad that I have a nice jacket on.
Pistol time! .22 revolver, then the .44 revolvers, and Denises .45 Kimber semi-automatic. I have to say, I do enjoy the Kimber nearly as much as the SKS – it’s a simple gun; easy to strip and clean, and easy to load and fire. It works, and it’s well engineered. I love simplicity, and this is a perfect example of it.
After a while, head out and roll back to the house.