Thursday, January 26, 2012

I'm Stunned

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is stunning.  Even the drive is spectacular.  Aeify, who has never been to this part of the country, was suitably impressed.  When she came to DC, she told me about every plant in front of every house and on every street.  Here, she couldn't identify a single one and it really threw her.

Liz led us into the museum and we wandered a bit, looking at big cats and other native specimens as we walked towards the raptor free-flight which would begin at 10.

I had the same shoes I wore last time when we went to the Pima air museum.  They're amazingly comfortable, but walking over stones and such they were a bit less so.  I felt comfortable in my top and skirt, and enjoyed the tour and the company.
Aeify, Liz, and some guy in a skirt

When I was here in June, I praised the museum and it turns out I had missed the best exhibit.

(Keep in mind, when I say "exhibit" I don't mean a stuffed animal in a setting.  This is a living museum.  The big cats, the bears, the prarie dogs and so on are all live exhibits.  Believe it or not, the most fake thing about the museum is the rocks.  They make them themselves.)

(While I'm doing asides, you know how authors will say someone "squealed with delight" but no-one ever really does that?  When the prarie dog hills popped into view, Aeify literally squealed with delight.)

At 10 and 2 each day ~ Liz will correct me if it's not ~ they have a trainer talk to the crowd as they allow some of the birds of prey to fly free for a little bit.  The trainers have done their job: the birds do return.

While out, they fly back and forth practically touching the heads of the visitors.  One thing I've always found sad about zoos is, no matter how big the enclosures are the raptors can't really fly, and they need to.  Even my little cockatiel will beat his wings furiously a couple of times a day if she isn't let out of her cage.

They bill it as a raptor free-flight, but the first birds out were ravens ~ predators but not raptors.  It didn't matter.  It was spectacular, and I saw an owl in flight for the very first time.  It was worth the trip.  In fact, if you ever find yourself within a few hundred miles of Tucson, go out of your way to see this!

Liz spoke to Larisa, the trainer, after the flight was over.  She introduced us and asked if we could go and see the back room where they have some of the other birds.  She readily agreed, and we met a scarlet macaw, and several other raptors.  We each got to pet the barn owl (named Ty) and chat with some of the people working there.  Larisa and Ty are in the picture from last Friday.

We saw incredible plants, amazing animals, and chatted together all morning.  Alas, I didn't see anything jump out at me in the gift shop, but shopping without buying is nice too.

Liz would meet us for dinner later, but we let her go salvage some of her Saturday and Aeify and I went to do a little window shopping at a mall.

Just the one picture of the ladies I was with and some random stranger.  Apparently, utilikilts are big in Tucson.  Click to see the big picture.


  1. Meg -He needs make-up advice.

  2. I only captured the lower half of this utilikilt wearer, but he was a spectator at raptor free flight, back in October. Long ginger hair and a beard. Needed grooming advice as desperately as the white haired gentleman in the hummingbird aviary. (I say grooming, because IMHO it goes way beyond make-up!)


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