Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Saguaro National Park and the Biosphere2

I finally got the pictures off my parent's cds so I can wrap up our trip by going back in time a couple of days to the Saguaro National Park.

The park has a pretty impressive Junior Ranger program. Most parks just give you a workbook, but this one also gives you a whole backpack filled with field guides, colored pencils and Morgan's favorite - binoculars.

The workbook included several activies such as a scavanger hunt to help keep Morgan occupied during our hike. The rangers there were great with Morgan and took the time to show her photos taken of animals that visited the park watering hole during the night. They also lead her outside the station to show her a nest of baby birds.

The cacti in the park are impressively tall.

And there was an area on our trail that showed you how, even though it doesn't look like it, there is water to be found. If you dug for a little bit, you would come to wet sand.

But as far as National Parks go, there is not a whole lot to do here. Once you've hiked one trail through the desert, you've pretty much seen all there is to see.

The next day we headed to Biosphere2, stopping at Catalina State Park along the way as it was rumored to have some desert blooms.

Morgan had a great time using Gigi's binoculars to keep herself occupied. Forget about looking out for animals or cacti in the distances, she was most amused at observing how close we looked to her.

We arrived at Biosphere2 in the early afternoon and signed up for a tour.

It was hard to take pictures inside since everything was so enclosed, but the tour was facinating. It's amazing to think of the eight people that lived inside this place, closed off from the rest of the world for two years. They had so many jobs to fill - farmer, animal caretaker, scientist, and mechanic.

My favorite room was the ocean room where sea water was shipped in and a real coral reef was developed. The room even re-creates the tides, complete with a sandy beach.

The "lungs" were also amazing to see. Since the Biosphere2 was self-contained, they needed to deal with the expansion and contraction of the air inside on hot or cold days. So that it wouldn't implode or explode, they needed to build rooms that allowed a concrete ceiling to raise or fall, dependant on the air pressure inside. It was pretty neat to see and even feel. The air pressure caused by leaving the Biosphere was enough to blow a hat or glasses right off of you!

To have sustained eight humans and some 3,800 species of plants and animals in seven biomes is quite an impressive feat!

1 comment:

jamielblev said...

That is sooooooooooo cool!!!!