Category Archives: Places to Go

Boston Pizza and Beer Tour!

Well, we’ve been in the Boston Cape Cod area for about a month now.  Life has been busy and with a full time job at the campground, we are still managing to get out once a week to see the area. The beaches are incredibly crowded this time of year and we will have to wait until September to truly check them out.

In the meantime, we decided to get a first hand look at the City of Boston with a fun Boston Pizza and Beer Tour.  Because I simply can’t think of too many things better than pizza and beer.  What a great way to check out Boston!

According to the locals, the best way to get around Boston is by subway.  The rail system through the city is quite extensive and is a great way to avoid traffic, honking cars and irate drivers.

It may be my imagination, but it seems like everyone here is a very aggressive driver.  Stop signs are just suggestions, cross walks mean take your life in your hands, and they just love to honk horns.

So with that in mind, we took the red line into Boston.  Our destination was North Boston, the oldest part of the city.  Parking at the subway station was just $7 for the day and two round tip tickets was about $11.

Our destination?  The North End!

The North End, Boston’s oldest neighborhood, was settled in 1630. It is also known as Little Italy, and Italian is still spoken in the streets.  Visitors flock to the North End largely to eat. Within the 1 square mile of The North End, there are around 100 restaurants and bakeries to choose from.

There was a huge Farmers Market which made me instantly wish I had brought the car rather than taken the subway.  Prices were amazing and the fruits and vegetables were beautiful.

We would definitely be back another time with the car.

We were told to check out Bova Bakery.  And of course had to buy a couple of Cannolis.  I mean, how can you walk by a bakery and not stop?

Bova Bakery is actually open 24 hours, so if you get a hankering for a Cannoli or baked good in the middle of the night, they have your back.

The North  End was beautiful.  Not only was there lots of historic buildings to see, but a new park with fountains and a carousel.

After looking around a bit, we met up with our guide for the Pizza and Beer Tour.

The Boston Pizza and Beer Tour is a walking tour that takes you through the North End, Charlestown Navy Yard and the Blackstone block.

On the tour, we would get to eat pizza at three different pizza places and stop at three different historic taverns.   A scenic ferry ride across the harbor is also included.  The walk would be about 4 miles long, and our guide, Nicole, would fill us in along the way on local history and fun facts.

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Iowa 80- The Worlds Largest Truck Stop and more!

We spent the past few weeks on an unscheduled trip to Forest City, Iowa and the manufacturing facility of Winnebego.  While Iowa was cool and all, we were excited to be back on the road in a fully working coach again.

After contacting our new employer at the KOA in Boston/Cape Cod, and given the go-ahead, we were on the road again heading to our end of summer job in New England.

But we had to make one final stop before we left the state of Iowa.  You see, on the eastern edge of Iowa, not far from the Mississippi River, is the World’s Largest Truckstop!  We had seen it featured on several travel shows and we certainly couldn’t drive right by it without checking it out!

The Iowa 80 Truckstop, established in 1964, features eight restaurants, a convenience store, gift store, Super Truck Showroom, barber shop, chiropractor, dentist, movie theater, workout room, laundry facilities, gas islands, diesel fuel center, truck service center, Truckomat truck wash, Dogomat pet wash, CAT Scale, 24- private showers, trucking museum and more!

Yep.  It’s a small city in one truck stop!

The truck stop itself is set on 220 acres, which is four times larger than the average truck stop.  They receive nearly 5,000 visitors daily in the main building, have parking for 900 trucks, and 150 fuel pumps.

And the store is simply Disney Land for truckers and those that love the industry!  You name it, they had it.

Need a back massage?  They have a Chiropractor for that!  Tooth hurts?  There is a Dentist on call!  Doggies dirty?  Step up to the Dog-O-Mat!

Need a cup that is bigger than your head?  They totally have your back!

Don’t miss the chance to check out the Iowa80 Truck Stop in Walcott, Iowa.  It is well worth the time.  Craziness!

In Indiana and Pennsylvania, we traveled through quite a bit of Amish Country.  This gentleman in the photo above was driving into work.  He apparently worked at the KOA that we were staying at in Mercer/Grove City Pennsylvania!

We are huge fans of Amish cooking.  It’s pretty amazing.  So, of course we stocked up.  Those packages of noodles?  Well they were made in Middlebury, Indiana.  There were several noodle factories, run by the Amish, right nearby!

Soon, our trip took us to our final destination!

This will be our spot for the next several months at the Boston/Cape Cod KOA.  We will be here until just past Columbus Day weekend, as work campers.

We love our tiny spot tucked into the woods!

And finally we can add a little cash to our suffering checkbook!

Our new jobs are in housekeeping!

Dave has always done the laundry, so I used to pride myself in saying that I haven’t done laundry in 25 years.  That is no longer something that I can say.  LOL!

Stay tuned for lots of great photos and sights to see in the Boston Cape Cod area!  We are so excited to finally make it here!

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The SPAM Museum and summer fun!

Well, we’ve spent the last three weeks hanging out in Forest City, Iowa waiting for repairs to our coach.  Arriving just before the July 4th holiday meant that we would have to wait with about 30 other coach owners for our turn and hope that somehow we would get in before all the employees left on holiday.

We watched our name move up on the waiting list, but unfortunately it did not move up fast enough.  We were going to be living in the Winnebago parking lot for the holiday weekend.  And maybe quite a bit longer…

So what to do?

Dave busied himself with repairs that he could do on his own.  Someone’s big butt broke the bed.  That person shall remain nameless.

With the parts department right across the parking lot, things were quite convenient.

I did a bunch of Face Timing with my little granddaughter…

And a bunch of wash…

And we both drove down to Clear Lake to catch the Fourth of July parade.  It was a beautiful day for a parade and a perfect way to make the best of our current situation.

So I did a bit of research to see what else is in the area.  I mean, you can’t go to Iowa without checking out the sites, right?  And about an hour north, just past the Minnesota state line, was something that we definitely needed to see.

The SPAM Museum!

Yes, SPAM is the undisputed king of mystery meat. Made of pig parts and secret spices, cooked in its own cans right on the assembly line, SPAM is an American institution!  And SPAM has its own museum right in Austin, Minnesota.

As you walk into the museum, you are met by a towering wall of SPAM, rising to the ceiling in the lobby.   Very impressive for mystery meat.

SPAM is made by the Hormel company, whose headquarters is also in Austin.  Spam was introduced by Hormel in 1937. At the time it was introduced, it was the only canned meat product on the market that needed no refrigeration.  That made it quite popular during World War II as a staple for the soldiers.

In the museum, you can find displays of vintage cans.  Did you know that Dinty Moore stew was created simply as a way to fill 500,000 empty cans?

A small theater, its doors shaped like the face of a grinning pig, screens a 15 minute SPAM video.

Or you can do what we did and read all the displays.  Lots of great old photos and anything and everything you ever wanted to know about SPAM.

The SPAM museum also has another claim to fame: It’s apparently a great place to get married! On April 25th, 2017, Mark Benson (who legally changed his name to Mark “I Love SPAM” Benson) married Ann Mousley at the SPAM Museum. They traveled all the way from Liverpool, UK to live out their dream wedding.

And I thought I was a bit strange.

Of course, we had to stock up on many flavors of SPAM.  We found them in the gift shop along with most any kind of SPAM souvenir that you could think of.

If you get a chance to get to Austin, Minnesota, be sure to check out the SPAM museum.  Admission is totally free.  And the SPAM, well it is worth the visit.

And finally the coach is repaired!  We are a bunch of happy campers!  We hit the road a few days ago, and are now heading to our job in Boston/Cape Cod.

Stay tuned for lots more!  Who knows.  Maybe they have weird food museums in New England too.

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Winnebago Factory Tour- Forest City, Iowa

We arrived in Forest City, Iowa earlier this week.  Yep, it was a thousand mile detour.  But our coach is broken and we need it fixed, and we are smack in the middle of rv camping season.  So, we are rolling with the punches.

Having never been to Iowa before, we were pleasantly surprised by how beautiful it was.  Fields and fields of corn and soybeans as far as you can see, dotted by pretty lakes here and there.

And in north central Iowa sits the birthplace of our coach.  Forest City, Iowa is the home of Winnebago Industries.

We found customer service located on the perimeter of several football fields worth of buildings.  We were put on a waiting list and directed to park our coach in one of the many electric sites that they offered across the street at their visitors center.

So now we are parked and waiting patiently for our turn along with about 40 other individuals and their Winnebago coaches.

What to do?  Well, we will take the time to enjoy the area.  We will more than likely be here through the holiday and we will make the best of it.

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We will start with a tour of the factory!  Yep, Winnebago offers free tours of the factory twice a day.  A great chance to see how these things are actually put together.

You can also check out the Winnebago Museum which is located in the upper level of the Visitors’ Center.  The museum chronicles the Company’s 57-year history, as well as the design and construction of the Company’s motorhomes.

I loved this hand crocheted emblem on display there.  It is the size of a large tablecloth.

Winnebago’s History

The company was founded by Forest City businessman John K. Hanson in February 1958. At the time, the town, located in Winnebago County, Iowa, was not doing well.  Winnebago Industries soon became one of the biggest employers in Forest City.

Winnebago Factory Tour

The tour starts at the Winnebago Visitors’ Center with a 20-minute video that offers a preview of the manufacturing process.  The film was very interesting and gave us an idea of some of the things we would see first hand on the tour.

We were then given safety vests, safety glasses and ear plugs for the tour.  A small bus and tour guide would take us in.  As for photos, we were told that none were allowed within the plant.

So.. I contacted Connie at Midwest Wanderer.  Connie took the tour back in 2010 when photos were allowed.  She has given me permission to post the photos below from her site.

Our first stop was the Stitchcraft facility that builds quality chairs, window valances, sofas and other innovative furniture pieces made specifically for Winnebago products.

One thing we noted early on was that the vast majority of the parts to our coach were manufactured here right in these buildings.  Winnebago is definitely made in America.

In 1966 the first motor home rolled off the Winnebago Industries assembly lines.  The brand name has since become synonymous with “motor home” and is often used for any RV even if it isn’t an actual Winnebago.

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Here you see one of the assembly lines.  They are installing flooring.  the coaches are sitting on a conveyer belt which travels very slowly, giving the workers time to complete their particular jobs before the next coach arrives on the belt.

One fun thing to watch was how they filled the cushions and other “stuffed” items.  This machine sucks all the air out of the foam until it is just a tiny piece of it’s former self.  The cushion cover is then put over it, and the air is let back in.

We were able to do walk-in tours of three buildings: the Chassis Weld facility, where the raw chassis is prepared to become a home on wheels with the front cab and basement storage added; the Stitchcraft facility, and the main production building named Big Bertha.

Equivalent in size to eight football fields, Big Bertha features three production lines.  From our birds eye view above on the catwalk, we could observe the final construction of many different style coaches.

If you get a chance to get to northern Iowa, be sure to check out the Winnebago Factory Tour.  It is quite fascinating and left us very impressed with the basic quality of our product.

Oh, and you don’t have to own a motorhome to go on the tour!

We will be here in Iowa a bit until our slide is repaired.  In the meantime, we are going to check out the place.  There are lots to see and do here.  Stay tuned…I hear they have a SPAM museum.  I certainly can’t miss that.

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Bat Central: Carlsbad Caverns

We left Tucson in mid March and headed back to our hometown in Georgia for the birth of our granddaughter.  On the way, we tried to take the time to visit some great places.  Our last stop in New Mexico was Carlsbad Caverns.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park is located in southeastern New Mexico. The primary attraction of the park is the show cave, Carlsbad Cavern, oh, and the bats.

Personally, I’m not a fan of caves.  I have claustrophobia and the thought of being hundreds of feet below ground makes my teeth hurt.

But Dave wanted to see this particular cavern because he had heard so much about it.  And we certainly couldn’t just drive right by without taking a look.

The entrance includes a large visitor center building that contains a cafeteria, interesting museum, gift shop, and two elevators that can take you down to the caverns below. 

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It is at this point that you have to make the big decision.  Do you want to hike down into the cavern on your own, or take the easy way out and grab the elevator?

We chose to hike down.  After all, how difficult could it be?  The ranger said that it would take several hours to hike the four mile path down into the caverns.  We would end up being 75 stories below ground.

At the entrance to the cave is a huge amphitheater, created for crowds to watch the evening show of up to 300,000 Mexican Free-tail bats as they emerge from the cave in a huge cloud of blackness.

Yes, seriously.  There were bats.

The path zig-zags down into the darkness below.  Ready for our new adventure, we started the hike.  Carlsbad Cavern is the fifth largest cavern in North America and the twenty-eighth largest in the world.  And as long as the bats minded their own businesses, we would be perfectly happy to take in the views!

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As we descended into the cave, it was amazing to look up at the pathway that we had already traveled.  The descent is steep, and honestly if you have bad knees, I wouldn’t recommend it.

It is a steady downward descent for 75 stories.  Craziness.

This passageway continues into narrower tunnels where the first extensive collections of stalagmites and stalactites are found, including named features such as Devils Spring, Queen’s Chamber, Kings Palace and the Boneyard.

Note that I am now carrying my jacket.  It is surprisingly humid in the caves.  I believe it was around 90%.  And warm.

The surroundings become steadily more scenic, with small side-caves filled with intricate rock forms.

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We stopped often to take photos and small breaks from the walk down. Unlike many caverns that I have visited, Carlsbad was not brightly lit with different colors.  They maintained the natural look with low lighting.

The lighting was just enough to enjoy the amazing scenery.  Once reaching the bottom of the shaft, you enter the huge Big Room.  It is here that you can further explore, visit an underground gift shop, and then make the next big decision.

Do you want to climb all the way back out or take the elevator up?

We chose the elevator.  You can feel free to call me a wimp.  LOL!  As for the caverns themselves, I highly recommend a visit!  Amazing rock formations, lots of history, and tons of bats!  You can’t go wrong there!

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A visit to White Sands National Monument

Well, lets backtrack a bit.  I want to tell you a bit about the sites that we were able to visit on our way from Tucson to Atlanta.  We took about three weeks to cross the country, which gave us time to do a few tourist things.  Our first major stop was the little town of Alamogordo, NM and White Sands National Monument.

Crossing into New Mexico from Arizona, we were not sure what to expect.  Arizona had been a big surprise.  Where we had expected nothing but desert, we found mountains, forests and amazing things to see and do.  New Mexico just might surprise us too!

White Sands National Monument is a unique experience.  There’s really no other place like it on the planet.  It’s the world’s largest gypsum dunefield, with miles and miles of stunning white landscape.

Surrounded by mountain ranges on all sides, the basin of white sand dunes is roughly 275 square miles.

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Driving into the park, you follow a road that increasing becomes packed sand.  With the constant movement of the dunes, this roadway needs to be plowed daily and driving along it, reminds me of a freshly plowed snow covered road.

Gypsum rarely occurs as sand because it is water-soluble. Normally, rain would dissolve the gypsum and carry it to the sea. Because this particular basin has no outlet to the sea, it traps dissolved gypsum from the surrounding mountains.  As the water sinks into the ground, it leaves crystals of gypsum.

It is hard in photos to give perspective of the size of this place.  In the photo above, Dave and I are standing on a dune looking down at our car below.

An interesting note:  White Sands National Monument is surrounded by the White Sands Missile Range, a military testing area for the U.S. Army.  Most of the dune field lies within that missile range. The world’s first atomic bomb was detonated at the Trinity test site in the missile range, just 65 miles north of White Sands National Monument in 1945.

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Because the park lies completely within the White Sands Missile Range, both the park and U.S. Route 70 between Las Cruces, New Mexico and Alamogordo are subject to closure for safety reasons when tests are conducted on the missile range.

Miles and miles of white sand.  But unlike actual quartz based sand crystals, gypsum does not get hot under the summer sun.  In fact, the dunes are great for downhill sledding along with hiking.  Just be sure that you follow the signs and bring plenty of water.

The desert can be a beautiful, yet deadly place.

High in the clouds: Cloudcroft, NM

Now lets take a look at where all that gypsum comes from!  Just a short drive in the other direction from Alamogordo, high up in the mountain range is the town of Cloudcroft.  Located at 8,600 feet above sea level, Cloudcroft is one the highest towns in the US.

Following the winding road to the top takes about 30 minutes, with lots of places to pull over and enjoy the vistas.  In the photo above, you can see White Sands National Monument in the distance.  The rock that Dave has his foot on is gypsum.  Here is where White Sands begins.

Back in the early 1900’s, Cloudcroft was a major tourist destination.  Due to the altitude, it was the perfect place to get away from the desert heat.  A rail line was created to bring those tourist up from Alamogordo.

Climbing from the valley into the mountains required numerous trestles, switchbacks and grades as steep as 6.4 percent.

With the arrival of US Route 82 to Cloudcroft around 1945, traffic on the railroad line diminished. Southern Pacific discontinued passenger service in 1938, and freight service in 1947; abandonment of the line came soon after in 1948.

The only evidence of the railroad line today is the remains of the trestle over Mexican Canyon, as seen above.

Our visit to New Mexico had just begun.  Our next stop along the way east would be Carlsbad Caverns.  We heard they had bats.  Can’t miss that!

Stay tuned!

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The Science of Tucson

We are currently on our way back across the country to spend a bit of time with my daughter and her family in Atlanta.  In the meantime, I wanted to finish up talking about the Tucson area with one final post.

There is so much to see and do in this beautiful area of the country.   Earlier we covered the amazing Biosphere 2.  This week I wanted to talk a little about Pima Air and Space Museum, the huge aircraft boneyard, Titan Missile Museum and the amazing Kitt Peak National Observatory.  All are within a short driving distance of downtown Tucson!

Kitt Peak National Observatory

For those that love the science of observing the stars or those that just love a fantastic scenic view, a drive to Kitt Peak National Observatory is something you should not miss!

Kitt Peak Observatory includes 24 optical and two radio telescopes, and is the largest, most diverse group of astronomical instruments in the world.  It sits at 6875 feet above sea level overlooking the beautiful Sonoran Desert.

And talk about an amazing view!  The drive from Tucson is a little over an hour and the road up the mountain includes lots of switchbacks and a bit of steepness.  But it is very worth the drive.

Kitt Peak was chosen because of it’s high percentage of clear weather, low levels of humidity, and the fact that there is very little light pollution in the area.  A perfect place for an observatory!

One of the most interesting structures was the McMath-Pierce telescope.  It includes a tower nearly 100 feet high, and a shaft that slants two hundred feet into the ground.  The purpose?  McMath-Pierce telescope is used to study the sun!

The McMath-Pierce is used to study the structure of sunspots, as well as sunspot spectra. A sunspot is a temporary cool region in the sun’s photosphere.   This telescope makes it possible to look directly at the sun.

Kitt Peak is also famous for hosting the first telescope used to search for near-Earth asteroids, and calculating the probability of an impact with planet Earth.

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Local Secrets of Tucson

Yesterday, we left Tucson and are currently heading east towards Atlanta.  We plan on making a slow trek back.  Our daughter is due to have our first grandchild soon and we would love to be there for that.

It was an unplanned exit, as we had intended on staying in Tucson until April 1.  Unfortunately, our job there did not work out.  I will go into it more at a later date.  Things are too fresh right now and Dave and I are planning on decompressing a bit as we head back across the country.

In the meantime, I would love to share with you a few of the local secrets of Tucson.  We truly loved the area, and will go back one day.   Arizona was home to us.

Unique Local Food of Tucson

As with most southwestern towns, Tucson has a large abundance of Mexican restaurants.  We tried as many as we could while we were in the area.  All were good and each had their own unique flair.

Guadalajara Restaurant offered the unique aspect of making your salsa for you at your table.  Not only was it fun to watch, but your salsa was made to our own specifications.

Want it extra hot?  No problem!

We loved the mariachi band, the festive atmosphere and of course the food!

Sonoran Hotdogs

Our coworkers, Rob and Connie from Circle Pines, spend their winters in Tucson.  They told us not to miss the Sonoran Hotdogs.  In fact, they made a point to take us out to their favorite place to get them.

The best thing about work camping is making lifelong friends.

So, what is a Sonoran hotdog?

It starts with a hotdog wrapped in bacon and grilled until it’s crispy. It is then stuffed into a hand made split-top roll called a bolillo (pronouced boh-lee-yoh). It is topped with pinto beans, chopped tomatoes, grilled and raw onions, mayonnaise, mustard and jalapeño salsa.

It is literally heaven in a bun.

El Güero Canelo, is perhaps the most famous maker of Sonoran hot dogs in Tucson.  Seriously, if you are in the Tucson area, don’t miss out on Sonoran Hotdogs!

Want pizza?  Grimaldi’s is a great place for just that.  Huge is the word.  And tasty too.

Raspados

And finally, we need to get dessert, right?

Raspados is the Mexican version of “scraped ice” or snow cones.  They are made with layers of shaved ice, homemade syrups, fruits, candies , ice cream, and sweetened condensed milk.  While standard flavors like strawberry, banana, plum and pineapple are popular, there are also exotic combinations such as the chamoyada with lime, tamarind candy and spicy chamoy sauce.

Don’t leave Tucson without trying one.  They are amazing!

Sentinel Peak (Also known as “A Mountain”)

From downtown Tucson, you can see the big white “A” on Sentinel Peak located just southwest of the city.  The A is a 160 ft. tall structure made from basalt rock, constructed in the early 1900’s by students from the University of Arizona.

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The secret is that you can actually drive up this mountain, see the A up close and personal and look down at amazing views of downtown Tucson!

The perfect time to check this view out is either a sunrise or a sunset.  Since we don’t love getting up early, we hit it one evening during an amazing sunset.

Touching the A is considered good luck.  So naturally, we did.

And then we enjoyed the sunset over Tucson.  Sentinel Peak was surprisingly busy for the sunset viewing.  Apparently, this is not such a secret after all…

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Mt. Lemmon and life in Tucson

Well, its been a couple of weeks since my last update and life in Tucson is a bit cold (especially at night) and a bit frustrating at times, but I have to say it is a beautiful area to live this time of year.

We really love the fact that we can step right outside our door and pick fresh oranges every day for orange juice.  We are definitely getting our share of vitamin C.

As for the work thing.  Well, it could be better.  I’ve written about work camping before- The Good, the bad and the ugly.   We came to this campground to work in the kitchen.  We thought it would be a nice break from working guest services; a job that we have consistently been doing for the past few years.

However, it seems that working in the kitchen, at least at this campground was not working for us.  We asked to be moved back to customer service and they moved us to the front office a little over a week ago.

So, with that said, we are making the best of our stay here and enjoying the area.  And looking forward to our move onto the next part of the country.  LOL!

Tucson has some pretty amazing sunsets.  This photo was taken from our doorway.   I have to say that it truly is a beautiful place to live.

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This past week, we decided to take advantage of our couple days off and take a drive up to the top of Mt. Lemmon.  From the campground, we can see it rising above the city of Tucson.  This time of year, you can see the snow at the summit.

We wanted to touch some snow.   So off we went.

Mt Lemmon Scenic Byway is the only paved road that leads to the top of Mt. Lemmon and the Santa Catalina Range. It is said to be one of the most scenic drives in southeast Arizona.

Because the road starts in the Lower Sonoran desert and climbs to high forests, it offers the biological equivalent of driving from the deserts of Mexico to the forests of Canada in a short stretch of 27 miles.

Here at the base of the mountain, we were surrounded by Saguaro cactus and desert scenery.  It would change pretty quickly.

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The Human Experiment called Biosphere 2

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I love science and I love history and our next place to visit just happened to fall into both categories!  You see, in the fall of 1991, eight men and women confined themselves into a glass and steel complex known as Biosphere 2 for a total of two years.  Their mission was to see if they could live in a self-sustaining sealed off environment.  A possible model for colonizing outer space.

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Twenty five years later, Biosphere 2 still stands.  It is located in the town of Oracle, about 40 miles north of Tucson.  Depending upon who you talk to, it is a representative of a massively expensive failed experiment, or a unique and fascinating look into future possibilities.

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Now owned and operated by the University of Arizona who currently use it for research, Biosphere 2 is a popular attraction for those of us that are fascinated by what was later called, “The Human Experiment”

Back in 1991, I was the mom to two young children and busy with job and family, I remember vaguely about this place in the news.  So, we decided to take a tour of the facility and learn a bit more!

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Named Biosphere 2, as the original Biosphere is the current one that we all live in, it was built to demonstrate how a closed ecological system can support and maintain human life.

It is a 3.14-acre structure and remains the largest closed system ever created.  Costing nearly $150 million, it was entirely funded by one man- Edward Bass, an environmentalist heir to a Texas oil fortune.

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Biosphere 2 contains five separate biome areas:  a rainforest, an ocean with a coral reef, a mangrove wetlands, a savannah grassland, and a fog desert.  It also includes a human habitat and a huge below ground infrastructure that supports it all.

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Here we are looking down at the biome that includes the self contained “ocean”.  This includes a wave making machine and at one time, a nice coral reef.

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This is the rain forest.  It was meant to be the main source of oxygen in this sealed environment.  The Biosphere 2 contained over 3000 documented species of plants and animals across its five biomes.

The premise of the experiment was that the eight people would be locked into this self-sustaining environment for two years.  No coming or going permitted.  It was meant to test if living inside an artificial reconstruction of Earth’s environment for long term was possible.

Biosphere 2 was only used twice for its original intended purposes as a closed-system experiment.  Originally from 1991 to 1993, and then again for just a few months in 1994.  Both attempts ran into major problems.

How did those eight people fare after two years closed up in this ultra huge terrarium?

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Both heavily publicized experiments ran into problems including low amounts of food and oxygen, die-offs of many animal and plant species, squabbling among the resident scientists and management issues.

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This is one of the two “lungs” for Biosphere 2.  As we stood here, we could watch the ceiling rise and fall as air pressure regulated it.

With the Sun’s heat frequently causing Biosphere 2’s contained volume of atmosphere to expand, the formation of cracks started to indicate some structural stress on the building’s exterior.

The solution for this problem was provided with an additional set of chambers or ‘lungs’ which allowed for the overflow and extraction of air.

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But as problems were solved, more presented themselves.  An unusually dark and overcast winter was to blame for reduced plant and crop production.  Lowered oxygen and increased carbon dioxide affected the crew’s health.

The human experiment itself was widely considered a failure.  However, much was learned in the Biosphere 2, and still continues to this day.

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The University of Arizona assumed full ownership of the structure in 2011 and continues biological research onsite, with an emphasis on growing plants in space, on earth in closed biospheres and possible space colonization.

Want to know more about what actually went on inside Biosphere 2 during those two years of enclosure?  I did too.  I figured with 4 men and 4 women, there had to be drama.  So I bought the book, The Human Experiment by Jane Poynter.

It is an interesting look from her point of view as one of those 8 people enclosed in this fascinating place.

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