- Date: Mid August
- Destination: Tuscon Arizona
- Purpose: Road trip to take daughter to college 700 miles away
- Duration: 5 WHOLE days!
- Weather During Trip: High of 105, low of 87-no rain
- Accomplishments: Hauled daughter and dorm furnishings in motorhome, and maneuvered the beast around campus to drop same off at residence hall.
- Most surprising revelation: Tuscon is beautiful and GREEN!
- Most Impressive sight seen: Biosphere 2 in nearby Oracle.
- Fun observation: The diversity of native plant life in Sonora desert.
- Most disappointing stop: Salton Sea in Imperial Valley CA
- Major Takeaway #1: Daughter is remarkably gifted (including in adapting to new surroundings)
- Major Takeaway #2: We humans are ruining mother earth with our shortsighted greed and lack of comprehension of our connectedness to the planet.
Getting last child off to college is worthy of a blog on its own, so I won’t go into that aspect of our trip. Even though that was our purpose, we had time to do some sightseeing around Tuscon.
There would have been many places to go and things to do had it not been so hot, so we did a lot of driving around in our air-conditioned Jeep. Keeping in mind that we’ll be spending more time there in better weather this winter and beyond, we didn’t mind passing up some interesting local attractions. But the one that caught my attention as a must do was listed as one of the 50 wonders of the world – and was less than an hour from where we were staying: The Biosphere 2. Currently run by University of Arizona, our daughter’s new alma mater, it sounded fascinating. It wasn’t until we got there that I realized this was the same dome a group of scientists were sealed into in the early 90’s. And I later learned that it was the subject of a Pauly Shore movie.
I would advise and invite everyone who has the opportunity to go there and take the tour – or at least poke around the “exhibits”. Tom & I left there with more questions than answers: Why did it really “fail”?; what was the real purpose of it to begin with?; whose brainchild was it really?
Some poking around on the internet on the way home left us with our own conclusions and I think a TED Talk by one of the biospherians summed it up quite nicely (see Ted Talk here). My personal conclusion is that Mother Nature is much too complex to try to recreate it by mere mortals and EVERY element (including me) in Biosphere 1 (Earth) is playing a part in its survival (or destruction).
On our 13 hour trip home, we didn’t have time for sightseeing, but our planned route took us by the Salton Sea. We didn’t take the “scenic” route on the east which would have put us driving along the shoreline, but took the 86 North which at one point north of the town took us within a couple of blocks of the “sea”, so we decided to stop there for lunch. Sad and SMELLY – two words that first come to mind.
Rot, decay, abandonment, hopelessness, enormous – all descriptive words as well. We remembered seeing a documentary about the heyday of the Salton Sea, so these sights left us with more questions. Again we turned to the internet and I read Tom many an article aloud on the way home. Again I was reminded about how humans cause such imbalance in the world, and seem totally inept at undoing the damage done.
As we come to the end of this adventure, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about how fragile ecosystems are. And part of me wishes I had been an environmental activist in the 70’s.
And, (although a counterarguement could be made) I feel like we’re doing our small part by “putting down the rake” (a line from the TED talk) and selling our house with its water thirsty grass and double air conditioners and decreasing our imprint on the environment by going into an RV full time.
Peace & Love, Joy