After sleeping like a dead man for 12 hours, a rejuvenated Mr. B woke up next to a Mrs. B who, having spent most of the night watching the rest of True Blood series 2, had taken on the pallor of deathly vampire herself. We can't remember having breakfast and there seems to be no photographic evidence either. Strange..
We headed south to Tucson via Mammoth and Oracle. The spectacular landscape continued with huge Saguaros, epic Joshua trees, dry mountains blanketed with dark green shrubs and spiky trees, shimmering black top winding alongside the St Pedro River with the Pinaleno Mountains to the east (on the left at least!). Some of the Saguaro are huge with many arms. We saw one that looked as though it had its arm round a smaller one, like a mother and child.
The valley started to widen out as we approached Mammoth and the landscape in the river plains became flatter with ranches scattered along the road. Isolated post boxes at the roadside stood like dusty sentries guarding who knows what, no sign of the houses down the winding dirt tracks. A cacti strewn landscape with cows grazing on the coarse dry grass. Abandoned vehicles dotted around the grasslands, we zipped past a row of old buses, their bright colours dulled by the weathering effects of sunlight and sand laden wind. Dusty old trailer homes... it seemed such a remote place despite only being 50 miles from bustling Globe.
One of the most awe inspiring things about this trip is seeing how the tectonic power of the Earth created the landscape that we walk up on the surface... here there were incredible escarpments, vast folds in the Earth's crust. A sense of our place on this world and the tiny amount of time we have spent on it... yikes..
After tiny Mammoth it felt like we were in an episode of Dune, boulders and desert plants, red soil, giant worms! Not really.
It was [again] a beautiful day and our next stop was the amazing Biosphere 2 near Oracle [Biosphere 1 is our good old planet, Earth itself]. Mrs. B impressed once more with her amazing bull pole dancing skills. Not for the faint hearted.
The Biosphere was as interesting as expensive and we decided to watch a lot of free videos and read all the literature and ooh and ahh at the pictures and stats instead. Terrible, eh? Here is a video for you to watch:
It's a bit like the original Eden Project but not as accessible in that it is far more scientific and academic. It's really quite mind blowing when you realise how big it is and how much technology there is going on underneath the many biospheres and habitats.
We needed to save some time for the Saguaro National Park, our next stop. As you can see, now it definitely looks like we are in America. The cacti were numerous and absolutely amazing. As this is America, you can drive through the whole park by car, if you promise at the entrance not to kill any people on bicycles or on foot. As always there where excellent picnic areas with BBQs.
In Mrs B's over excitement at the size of the enormous cactus pictured above, she brushed past one of the smaller specimens and screeched in pain as a small segment detached itself from the main plant and hooked itself firmly onto her leg, piercing her skin through her jeans and pinning denim to flesh. A first attempt to pull out the bugger resulted in the main needle breaking off the segment. Mrs B now had to strip of her jeans [to the great amusement of passers by] and Mr B pulled with all his might to remove the remaining needle. I wish we'd filmed the whole procedure ; )
Mrs B takes her revenge. Never ever upset a secret ninja master. After fighting off killer cacti and watching the sun set, we headed further south towards Bisbee and the Shady Dell where a cosy 1950s trailer awaited us. Our trailer was a '57 El Ray. It was dark when we arrived but warm light shone through the retro curtains and drew us in. There was music playing in the trailer and it was unlocked, so Mr B's first thought was that someone else was already residing in our spot, but after knocking on the door and no answer, Mr B entered the El Ray to find it prepared for our arrival by the lovely couple who runs the place. The original radio was playing 50s rock n roll, cigarettes adverts and delta blues non stop and the whole interior was restored beautifully as if new. It was very cosy, warm and romantic.
We quickly combed our flat tops and headed into Bisbee to grab some food. You are the most vulnerable and prone to make errors when you are very hungry, so we decided to eat at the Copper Queen hotel, a gorgeous old building from the early 1900s but unfortunately the food didn't match the surroundings. Because we where a bit late, they started vacuuming [!] around us, after our starters arrived. The food was overpriced and awful.
See what we mean? Never mind.. we went back to our gorgeous Polynesian dream of a caravan, snuggled up for the night and dreamt of tomorrow's breakfast in the original 50s diner next door.
See ya tomorrow folks!!!