Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Biosphere 2, Part 3

As we paused our tour due to the previous group going slower than we were, serendipitously we were able to explore a new exhibit here at Biosphere 2 — a Falaj. I had never heard of such a thing before but it is common in the Middle East. Basically, it is a system of parallel vertical wells dug into a hillside at different elevations — then interconnected at the base of each well. The aquifer, which also runs downhill, produces water at each of the elevations so that various crops can be grown at each level.

On this particular level were pomegranate bushes with fruit so fat with moisture (remember we are in the middle of a desert here) that it has burst open revealing the arils contained inside. I am sure the birds will be devouring this fruit after we leave. In fact, it looks like they have already begun.

Finally resuming our tour, we see the back of the greenhouses where the crops were grown during the two-year mission.

Here is the same area from the side. Since this space is not needed for growing crops, it has been re-purposed for an experiment testing water percolating through soils. Three trays — three types of soil.

Here is one of those same trays seen from the interior.

Next we were able to view the living quarters — here a stairway connecting those to the working areas. The orangish tint is due to an exhibit of light reflecting off gold foil — for the students who are touring the facility.

This is the kitchen that was used by the Biospherians during their two-year mission. It looks pretty much like a kitchen — although the sign assures us that it was well planned out for the occupants.

At this point, we were able to view part of one of the rooms that the participants lived in when not on duty. The lower area is shown here with a spiral staircase (not shown) leading to the sleeping quarters above.

With the tour complete, I strolled outside and decided to try another iPhone panorama. Not bad although the sun made it hard to capture a truly fine photo. Click here to see a larger version.

On the plateau above Biosphere 2 is an area of casitas which are occupied by the experimenters and overnight guests. This tree outside a casita is one of the few trees in our desert area whose leaves actually show color in the fall.

Going home, I took a slightly different route and encountered a memorial for Tom Mix — a movie cowboy from the early part of the 20th century. According to Wikipedia, "Between 1909 and 1935, Mix appeared in 291 films, all but nine of which were silent movies. He was Hollywood's first Western mega-star and is noted as having helped define the genre for all cowboy actors who followed".

I am not old enough to remember his movies but I do recognize his name. This spot is where, in 1940, the 60-year-old actor died in an automobile accident speeding down Arizona State Route 79 at 80 mph and was unable to stop at construction barriers at a bridge previously washed away in a flash flood. The nearby gully is now named "Tom Mix Wash". RIP Tom Mix.


Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com