Friday, March 9, 2012

The AMAZING Desert Museum - Tucson's BEST attraction

We heard the Desert Museum is the best in the west, which makes you curious; but experiencing it makes you want to bring the world here... especially kids!  Clearly any child would learn beyond measure, without even knowing it amidst their fun.  It's a huge adventure with garden after garden, a zoo with natural habitats, and many inviting interactive exhibits.  You can dig for fossils, go underground to see how critters live there, or go underwater to visit beaver, otters and fish. 
I couldn't get myself out of the Earth Science section, with minerals that had me drooling and mystified by their local history. It's the first time I saw big chunks of minerals displayed as they might have looked when discovered in the country rock.  Pictured are Wulfenite and Mimetite (the yellow crystals) and Vanadanite (reddish).
The blue of course is Malachite (found near Bisbee, Arizona).  The Vanadinite was found in the  Superstition Mountains.  It's part of one of the finest collections of regional minerals and gemstones found anywhere!  But the limestone cave trumped them all with its running water, pools full of crayfish, and inviting exhibits that explain the formation of caves and the earth itself.  They made the speleothems out of a foam base, and then carved and painted it.  Most people think they are in a real cave with real decorations when they enter.  Fun.
I was excited to see how many of the cacti I could now name in the cactus garden (after my fine walk with Ed the Naturalist).  I was just admiring the displays when sure enough... despite my precautions, a cactus got me again!  By now I had even more tricks for dealing with the pointy hitchhikers (click here).  People who harvest cacti or hike around cactus plants are bound to get stung from time to time, but I still felt pricked on.
It was time to look at safer exhibits, like the giant ram that kept eyeing me.
The exhibits re-create the natural landscape of the Sonoran Desert Region so realistically you find yourself eye-to-eye with mountain lions, prairie dogs, Gila monsters, and rattle snakes. Within the Museum grounds, you get to see more than 300 animal species and 1,200 kinds of plants. There are almost 2 miles of paths traversing 21 acres of beautifully alive desert.  I lost Bob in the maze.  Maybe the mountain lions got him!  The video clip shows just how vicious this pair of cougars could be.
My guess is this is a Guilded Flicker, or maybe the state bird...a cactus wren...not a woodpecker.  But then the only bird I actually know is the robin.  I need more lessons from Naturalist Ed.
If you visit this fine museum give yourself some hours to take it in and you'll be rewarded with some insight into the abundant, complex, and varied life in the area.  A careful exploration helps put this special and rich environment in a much better context... beyond consumption tourism. Photo ops are tremendous.

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1 comment:

  1. Cityscape seems a good subject for murals. But many themes can of course be painted there, for decoration and as a break and escape from looking at cement. This painting by American painter Charles Sheeler,, would make a good mural as it is as a good painting. The image can be seen as who supplies canvas prints from original art.


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