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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Sells, Arizona - Kitt Peak - National Solar Observatory

About 45 min west of Tucson is an amazing observatory that is a "must see".  The observatory sits close to 7000 feet atop a mountain on an Indian reservation.  It is home to the largest array of optical and radio telescopes--over 24 dot the mountain top.  Because it is a working observatory, visitors are limited in which telescopes they can see up close; there are restricted areas...but do no let that detour you from visiting. The scenery is breathtaking as you wind up the road to the observatory

up we go; you can see the first glimpse of a telescope
there are several interesting twists and turns in the road

we are still a good distance away but surprising how well you can see the telescopes...yep, they must be huge
 still some snow up here in late January
no i do not think we turn left!
The observatory sits in the Tohono O'odham Nation.  There are vistas all around the mountain.
almost there

the list of universities that use the facilities
Most of the work around here goes on a night; there were several dorm units. You can walk the entire facility, but be aware there are some steep areas and requires a good set of legs and you are at 7000 feet, so be prepared.  There are several areas visitors can enter and explore but most of the facility is restricted access.
these things are huge!

looking at the sun

There are four different types of telescopes housed in this machine: gold, infrared, infrared cryogenic spectrometer,  and a CCD direct imaging camera.
Looking at part of he complex

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Green Valley, Arizona - Madera Canyon - Bog Springs Hike

Approaching Madera Canyon; about 30 miles south of Tucson. Still a bit of snow on the higher elevations.
The trail selection is huge; we choose Bog Springs.  There was a rescue operation underway further up the mountain for some hikers.  Hoping they found them.
it is just hard to realize we are in Arizona right now :)

The trail starts off easy; there is an elevation gain from this point on...up we go. 

the trail was very pretty

no, that is not a lake; it is part of the local copper mines...but amazing you can see it so clearly.The area shown is also home to the Titan Missile Base, which is suppose to have a great museum reliving the cold war era ( heck, younger people may not know anything about that) . 

our trail ended at a spring ---which was kinda disappointing because it was just a concrete well... but the hike had great views of surrounding mountains and was a good workout!  We climbed 89 flights of stairs according to our fitbit!
okay, so this is not the spring...after we came back to the parking area, we crossed the street...what a great place with no elevation change :)

next time we are taking this trail along Madera Creek!

Tucson, Arizona Desert Museum

A big bang for your buck, located on east side of Tucson.It is a bit pricey but worth every penny.    It is a zoo, a botanical garden, a museum, an is a lot of things ( click the pic to enlarge). They also have an amazing gallery to visit.  If you have kids with you, it is an all day adventure...otherwise, schedule at least half a day.
the volunteers were all over the park with information and animals for kids to see up close.

they had a good little aquarium

these guys are called garden eels...never saw them before but  mesmerzing

the cacti garden was well done

The hummingbird house was impressive; over 10 different hummingbirds; click to enlarge this guy...he is amazing

there were nice sculptures throughout the park...can you see the real bird?

they had an amazing frog display


another unusual bird

female cardinal
it was hard to capture this guy with the netting they had...but can you see him?

there was an impressive reptile and spider house; glad we have not run across any of these on our hikes!

this was pretty cool...a walk through time from the beginning of the earth to the present plus a cave to walk through

this is an example of petrified mud...

beautiful views throughout the park