At the Hadrian Hotel

At the Hadrian Hotel

Monday, April 23, 2007

Arizona Day 4 - Biosphere 2 and the Trip to Mesa

Saturday morning we left the Westward Look and headed of toward Mesa, to visit with my Aunt and cousin for a few days. However, before we checked out we took a walk on the "Saguaro Nature Trail" on the resort grounds. We took a few pictures and set a geocache. It was really just a plastic food container with a small pad of paper for a log book, but it was our first one, so we didn't want to go overboard.

We then checked out of the Westward Look and headed off toward Mesa. Our plans for the day included a visit to Biosphere 2, which was very cool indeed.

It was a nice drive to Biosphere 2 and we arrived around 11:45, in plenty of time to make the noon tour which began with a short lecture about the history and current status of the facility. Then came the good stuff....

Our tour first took us to the ocean environment where they have a one million gallon simulated ocean, complete with gentle waves on the shoreline. From the ocean we moved into the desert environment where I managed to get a picture of a bird in flight.

After the desert came the "behind the scenes" part. We walked down a stairway from the desert section and through a hallway that doubled as ductwork for the ventilation system (it was a bit windy in there :-) ). The tour guide led us to a room beneath the desert that contained large water storage tanks and this sign. Now that's something you don't see every day. We followed the sign to the South Lung, passing down a long tunnel that ended in a triangular shaped connector tunnel.

The lung consisted of a large curved metal plate attached to what looked like a donut. When Biosphere 2 was a sealed environment, the South and West Lungs were used as air reservoirs. In the heat of the day, air inside the biosphere would expand, rush down the tunnels to the lungs, and lift the metal plates. If not for the expansion capability of the lungs, the glass panels would have been blown out by the increased pressure of the heated air inside.

We exited the lung and were shown a few more features of Biosphere 2 before our guide left us to roam about on our own. We looked about a little, going down to the ocean viewing room to see what we could see, and then headed off to my Aunt Betty's place.

My Aunt Betty lives in Mesa, Arizona, on the outskirts of Phoenix. It took us around two hours to get there from Biosphere 2, taking the various "86" roads instead of the Interstate. After we got settled in and caught up for a bit, we headed over to my cousin Jim's place, visited there for a bit and headed out to dinner at Caffé Portobello where a good time was had by all. We went back to Aunt Betty's place and crashed.

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