Monday, July 13, 2009

Civil Defense

When the Hall caravan rolled into Tucson, it was quite late, so after a quick shower, they were off to check out the old Flight Safety School (where Mr. H. had trained on Lear 31 simulators about ten years or so ago), and then on to the sparkling new Desert Diamond Casino. The food was no gamble there- casinos always have great buffets! They burned off their dinner with a stroll through the desert and back to their room.
"Get up! There are planes waiting to be seen!" was the hearty cheer that Mr. Hall let out the following morning. In fact, they arrived at the Pima Air and Space Museum so early, they were the first ones through the door. This was by far one of the largest collections they had seen. Featured inside was a SR-71 Blackbird; Mrs. Hall's favorite and now, the third one she could count to have seen in person. Even with the temperatures flirting with 105 degrees, they braved the outdoor displays, mostly by sliding from one wing shadow to another. After dining on the grounds, (and sharing their lunch with a ground squirrel, much to the amusement of a contingent of Australians visiting), they jumped on the guided tour of nearby Davis-Monthan AFB, aka "The Boneyard". The guide was very informative, but the real delight was the air show overhead; the constant background soundtrack to Tucson is that of F-18s, A-10 Warthogs and a delta wing fighter Mr. H. could not identify. There is non-stop action at the 162nd Fighter Wing, and it created a great atmosphere for their visit.
Leaving Tucson and heading south, they came to the Titan Missile Museum; mute testimony to the Cold War's former philosophy of "peace through deterrence". The stark and barren outside gave little evidence to what lay beneath; a complete military outpost, bunkered and huddled underground. The guide was excellent and allowed a small eager boy to sit at the controls and pretend to operate the facility. However, after the guide spent several minutes informing him that the missile he had just launched could not be recalled, blown up or in any other way deterred from its mission of annihilation, the whole affair left the young child (and all of us) quite silent and uneasy for some time. It was a fascinating and horrible experience.
A quieter note was close at hand; nearby and on their way was the beautiful San Xavier del Bac Mission. Originally founded in 1699, the current building was begun in 1787 and is a wonderful example of Spanish and Native American artistry. The outside is almost Moorish in effect, but the interior is completely covered in figurines and frescos. Alone in the valley, nearly ten miles out of Tucson, it was a perfect spot for reflection and contemplation.
Returning to their rented Conestoga, it was time to make tracks, and the Halls took off again. Next stop: Escondido- stay tuned!

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