Westward Expansion 2012: The Close

The rest of our travel was a fairly cool and rainy trip through Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas toward Memphis.  We were mostly finished with sightseeing at that point.  Our stops were for the rest of the trip for skateparks or food.  I never could have dreamed how beautiful and varied each area of the country we visited would be, how close we would get as a family, and how much fun we would have together living in a tiny box.  I'm already excited to plan next year's trip west through the northern states!

Here are pictures of our travel map from before we left on this trip and after we returned KY.


Day 20: Roswell, NM and Carlsbad Caverns Bat Flight

We were all pretty much wiped out by this point.  Roswell, NM was a fun way to end an amazing trip.

 Reading about the Roswell incident at the International UFO Museum

 Close Encounters of the First Kind

 Close Encounters of the Second Kind

 Close Encounters of the Third Kind

After Roswell, we drove to Carlsbad Caverns.  We were too late to tour the caves, but made it just in time for the bat flight program.  We listened to the park ranger talk about the bats and then sat in the outdoor viewing area as thousands of bats flew out of the cave at dusk. Cell phones and cameras aren't allowed at the bat flight program, but there's a good picture on the National Park Service's website here.
 Carlsbad Caverns National Park


Day 19 part 2: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and Saguaro National Park

Travel was beginning to catch up with us, and we were pretty wiped out by the end of the Biosphere 2 tour, but before we moved on toward New Mexico we really wanted to see Saguaro National Park and the Sonora Desert Museum that the park ranger had recommended.

 Saguaros as far as you can see!

 Prairie Dog!

 Cactus hugger?

 So. Much. Love.

 We saw lots of solar panels in use throughout AZ

Great little Mexican restaurant near Tuscon.  
Not vegan, but lots of great vegan options and variety

Day 19 part 1: Biosphere 2

We stopped by the Catalina State Park visitor center/ranger station before leaving that morning.  We bought a couple of books:  one about Sonora desert wildlife and another about saguaros.  Also bought a souvenir for Pablo in honor of how much he loves running around in these wide open spaces.  We talked with the park ranger about all we had seen on the trail and at our RV site, and about unschooling.  Turns out the abundance of insects we were seeing is actually pretty rare there with the exception of the rainy season, which was just ending when we were there.  He also recommended a trip to

Bark Ranger

On our way to Tuscon the previous day, we had noticed signs for tours of Biosphere 2.  Remember that?  From the 90's?  So, on day 19 we took another unexpected side trip that turned out to be a fascinating place to see research in action and learn about ecology, various biomes, water cycles, carbon & climate studies,  conservation, history, and, well, Biosphere 1!

 Lots to read and look at and do while waiting for our tour to start

Rainforest inside what used to be the sealed Biosphere 2

 Biosphere 2 Ocean 

 Biospehere 2 desert

 Our tour guide, and potentially Maya's next hairstyle

 Engineering area under Biosphere 2
I can't remember if the wind was from a machine or if this was 
where we were changing rooms with varying air pressure.  
Maybe Matt or one of the kids will come along and remember...

Learning how the "lung" worked to accomodate air pressure changes
 within the sealed building as temperatures rose and fell

 The kitchen used by the researches who lived in Biosphere 2

Resting for a bit in what had been the dining room

 A variety of current research areas outside