This was the largest mass-produced piston-engined aircraft ever built, it's wing span of 230 feet was the largest of any combat aircraft ever built. 384 aircraft were built. Initially powered by six 28-cylinder Pratt & Whitney R-4360 'Wasp Major' radial engines, later enhanced by the addition of four jet engines.
Spring Break Arizona Trip
Tucson is considered to be a food lover's haven. The city's food culture is so rich, in fact, that UNESCO named Tucson a City of Gastronomy — one of only two American cities to earn the distinction.
However, our decision to make this trip was motivated by several other types of considerations, ie;
- My sister's oldest daughter & family live in Tucson and we wanted to visit them.
- I lived in Tucson after my family moved back to the USA from Guam, and I had not gone back since we moved in 1959.
- We wanted to visit the Sedona & the Grand Canyons, both of which are not only beautiful but are interesting places to explore.
- We wanted to take Jeremy to a dude ranch to horseback ride, and hike Sabino Canyon.
- We wanted to end the trip in Phoenix, hike Piestewa Peak, and visit Celeste's niece.
- To learn more about Tucson and the surrounding area, click here to go to the Tucson Wikipedia Page.
One of our first adventures, was a trip to the Pima County Air Museum. Most of this area used to belong to the Air Force, where all of the Air Force retired aircraft were stored in a huge area. My parents were stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, and our house (within base housing) backed up to the aircraft storage area. So a lot of us kids would sneak through the fence to go out into the storage yard and play inside the WW2 aircraft stored there. A ton of fun for 12 & 13 year old boys!
The Air Force Materiel Command's 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) operates the largest aircraft repair shop and storage facility on Earth. Covering 2,600 acres, it has sufficient space for 4,200 aircraft and 40 aerospace vehicles at one time, while still leaving room for 350,000 production tools. This facility is two miles from the Pima County Air Museum, and the museum is able to acquire some of the aircraft that the Air Force would have disposed of. The use of the word "regeneration" tells you that some aircraft are rebuilt and put back into service, others serve as "parts donors" for aircraft still in service. This method is utilized because some aircraft are still in service, but the factory has long since been retired and there are no "new parts" available.
The museum has at least one of every thing the Military has ever flown, and even though they refurbish and sell some aircraft & aircraft parts, and destroy others, they maintain a set of aircraft for the museum so that the general public can see where their tax dollars have gone!
Celeste, Jeremy and I hiked up to the top of Sabino Canyon, nice day, got an early start before the heat went up and we had a lot of fun. Sort of "earning" our dinner as they say! Seven Falls is 4.2 miles up the canyon from the parking area, so we felt that we had done a respectful amount of hiking once we got back to the car.
I would be the first to tell you that hiking Sabino Canyon is not something that you would ever contemplate during the warmer months of the year. We started our hike very early in the morning, took plenty of water with us and we were still drenched in sweat by the time we got back!
The next day's adventure was to introduce Celeste & Jeremy to horse back riding. This is at a dude ranch near the Tanque Verde Ranch. I used to work at one of these riding stables when I was a teenager, but I could not begin to identify which ranch it was after all these years!
Everyone is saddled up and ready to ride. Because my back was not in good shape, I helped them get ready and I let them take the ride, while I waited for them. I would have preferred to go, but my back was never going to deal with that kind of movement & bouncing!
The ranch owners do a great job at getting everyone ready, saddled up and on a horse that is appropriate for the guest's size. The geography in & around the ranch is mostly flat, so the ride is comfortable and good for the horse riding novices!
Click here to do a Google search for horseback riding stables on the east side of Tucson.
We drove out to the Biosphere which is north of Tucson near Oracle, AZ. This was an interesting tour, as there was a well known study made of the effects on humans who are working & living in an enclosed space without the ability to exit.
The Biosphere interior is comprised of areas where they grew their own crops to sustain themselves. We took the guided tour, so that we could hear the narration about each area and what took place there.
Panoramic view of Sedona, Coffee Pot Rock and Capital Butte Rock "Thunder Mountain" on the north side of the city. View is from the airport overlook. This area is east (and a little south) of the Palatki Heritage Area. These rocks, as well as the two Heritage sites, are part of the huge Cocochino National Forest.
We rented a jeep because the native Indian Cliff Dwellings (Palatki Heritage Site) are way, way back in the area to the north west of Sedona. Without a jeep, there is no way to get there, unless you go with a tour group. We thought it would be much more fun to drive ourselves there and back! Keep in mind that you will be traversing a very rough road that is heavily rutted and it frequently crosses small rocky hills that require you to remain in four wheel drive mode.
NOTE: Even with an off-road vehicle, you cannot drive all the way to the Cliff Dwellings. You have to park about 75 yards away and walk in.
The Palatki Heritage Site and its sister site, the Honanki Heritage Site, were the largest cliff dwellings of the Red Rock Country between AD 1150 - 1350. The Palatki Heritage Site cliff dwelling and rock art site is located near the town of Sedona in north-central Arizona. Currently managed by the U.S. Forest Service under the Red Rock Pass Program, the site is open to the general public for visits seven days a week (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas).
It is amazing to realize that these cliffs were where this Indian Tribe lived a very long time ago.
Distance from Sedona to the Grand Canyon is 109 miles (via 89A to I-40 to route 64). We were all eager to get there, as there cannot be a more incredible canyon in the United States!
It is a testament to the hardiness of those trees that they can grow out of the solid rock! Most of the vegetation on the rocks, is pinyon pine and various species of juniper.
Looking west from the lookout point we were standing on, the Canyon continues for a number of miles before it ends near Hoover Dam.
Since the weather conditions in the Grand Canyon blocked our goal of a flight down into the Canyon, we decided to drive back to Sedona via an alternate route. We took a look at the Arizona map and decided that it would be interesting to drive to the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.
As you can see in these images, the area is a mixture of volcanic ash, dried out trees and unusual geography everywhere you look. There is a 1.6 kilometer loop trail that takes you through the park, but they do not allow hikers to climb to the top of the crater itself - this has been closed since 1973 due to damage caused by hikers.
NOTE: Click here to view some Google Images of the park.
Verde Railroad locomotive after dropping us off at the mid-point of the train ride.
The train had to be driven down to where they could put the locomotive back on the front cars to enable us to return back to the starting point.
The locomotive has arrived, and it is headed to the front of the train to start our ride to Perkinsville.
Everyone is queued up waiting to board the train, it is a beautiful day with clear skies, so our visibility should be very good.
The train parallels the Verde River as it heads out to Perkinsville, AZ where the turn-around point is located.
You may have noticed that there aren't many pics of the Grand Canyon? We were to go on a "discovery drive" around the Canyon rim and were planning on taking a flight the next day to tour the Canyon, however, the next day a raging snow storm precluded us from taking that flight. So we did all the other things you see in this post. And eventually, as it always does, we had to return back home to Florida.
As I said, we did everything else we described which included us hiking Piestewa Peak in Phoenix - but we did not bring cameras on the hike, because it is very rough terrain and it was very hot. In fact, the first time we attempted the hike, we aborted the trek half-way up cause it was just too hot! We went back to the Hilton Phoenix Resort at the Peak which has a great water park around a large pool and we had a great time. We got up very early the next morning and made the hike to the top where the views of the Phoenix Valley are amazing.
NOTE: Click here to view a Google Images set for Piestewa Peak.
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