The next few weeks we will be exploring the areas around Casa Grande.
Maricopa, Arizona was our first stop for an unusual museum in pretty much the middle of nowhere.
The originator of the Dwarf Car, Ernie Adams, is the owner of this unique museum.
Ernie has made a name for himself by being the first person building these scaled down replicas of classic cars called Dwarf Car Cruisers.
All handmade works of art can be seen if you venture to the property outside Maricopa, Arizona.
The first ever Dwarf Car was a 1928 Chevy two-door sedan made out of nine old refrigerators in 1965. Imagine! He gathered materials for the three years prior, along with a 18 hp Wisconsin motor and began construction.
Ernie had no idea what this would be the beginning of. Called the “Grandpa Dwarf” the car is still in running condition today.
Here are some of the other Dwarf Cars in the Museum.
He has had some very impressive guests visit his museum too! None other than Jay Leno and Brad Garrett.
Most people would drive by and think this place was a junk yard of sorts but the beauty is when you stop and get out of your car and just look. There is no charge to look but donations are appreciated.
A very old cigarette machine.
The Hillbilly Dwarf Car.
Even get your hair done.
A work in progress.
And a Pet Cemetery out back.
Ernie and his wife reside at the residence in front of the Museum and have been married some sixty plus years with no signs of slowing down.
We drove to Oracle, Arizona, where we visited the Biosphere 2, an iconic research facility for development of self-sustaining space-colonization.
You may remember reading or hearing about the four man, four woman human mission team that spent two years locked in the facility to live, grow their own food and conduct research between 1991 and 1993.
Now the facility is a laboratory for controlled scientific studies.
The building is designed to control the atmosphere in different ecosystems to see how they will react in a positive or negative way.
The center serves as a research, outreach, teaching and a life-long learning facility about Earth, it’s living systems and it’s place in the universe.
Inside the Biosphere 2 are these steps that take you to the ball shaped room and other floors with exhibits about the past and future of Biosphere.
Our tour began in the tropical rainforest. Many of the plants are not from our native America.
Then we went to the ocean. Filled with real ocean water that was shipped in along with the natural organisms within it.
We proceeded to the desert but on the way we stopped to look at this aquaponic garden. Using fish to produce poop, which runs in the water and into the garden beds of lava rock to produce fertilizer for the plants to grow. This process is really cool and anyone can do this in your own backyard. Bonus! It uses 90% less water.
Finally the desert. Our guide explained in detail how each group of ecosystems worked with each other and how they flourished in some conditions and in others did not.
Underneath the upper habitats is a two acre basement that has all theses pipes that control different temperatures of water for each habitat.
The condensation from the water flows through a pan and becomes these. The guide called these the clouds.
We went down a tunnel to our next exhibit……
The Lung! The building with the white dome is where the lung is. It controls air-volume through the habitats. When we exited the middle section started to drop as the air pressure changed from the open door.
This is the kitchen and one of the suites that the human mission used during their two year stay.
The newest experiment is in the making and a few years from completion. It’s called LEO, Land Evolution Observatory.
Below is the energy center. Believe it or not, the energy for the Biosphere 2 is natural gas and not solar. 30 years ago Solar was too new and very expensive.
The Energy Center provides the power and temperature regulation for the habitats.
This is a solar experiment growing plants. The panels are high enough to get a tractor under.
This is a rock of Azurite and Malachite from the Morenci, Arizona area.
Petrified Wood sculptures.
Were you wondering about Biosphere 1? It’s Us & Earth!
The Coronado National Forest behind Biosphere 2.
Some interesting points of the Biosphere 2
It’s a glass enclosed facility that is 3.14 acres.
7.2 million cubic feet enclosed under 6,500 windows.
91 feet tall at the highest point and sealed from the earth below by 500 ton welded stainless-steel liner.
There are thousands of miles of wiring, pipes and ductwork.
It is a 40 acre campus that includes 300,000 square feet of offices, classrooms, labs, conference rooms and residential & student housing.
It is owned and operated by the University of Arizona.
So, Tracy and I really like to find the oddities in the areas we visit. So we went on a scavenger hunt in Tucson!
This is the Big Quail Family that welcomes you to Naranja Park in Ora Valley.
This is the Glenn Stone Muffler Man. He was erected in 1964 in front of the Hot Rod Shop on the corner. A giant of a man too!
The Junk Sculpture Garden. Artist Jerry Hall, who died in 2010 once lived here and was the artist to the few remaining sculptures.
The tin men.
This was the driveway.
Prickly Pear Cactus climbing the spiral staircase.
Metal can cactus
This is a cowboy on his horse.
Many scenes from our youth are gone unless someone snatches them up and proudly displays them in their front yard! This is “The Goop” he was an infamous Mini Golf Alien.
This is Tucson Toro the “Magic Carpet Bull” from the defunct Magic Carpet mini- golf.
Our favorite of the day!!!!! The “Invisible Horses”. The sculpture of a mare and her foal in the middle of a highway median. Cleverly designed so they are invisible as you approach, then appear as you drive by. SO COOL!
The 14 Foot Tall Cement Bird Totem that was erected in 2012, by artist Caryl Clement, “The Messenger” bird totem is built out of 12 plus ton of salvaged cement.
El Toro, the Brave Black Bull. This anatomically complete bull and his Matador foe, stand frozen in combat outside a mexican restaurant in the parking lot.
LOL anatomically complete!
This was just one of the many cool buildings we drove by.
The 25 Ton Tiki Head. Also a rescue from the defunct Magic Carpet Mini Golf. He has glowing eyes!
Another favorite was Rattlesnake Bridge. A pedestrian bridge over a busy street below resembles a Diamonback.
This is a picture I got from google that shows the entire snake.
The 30 Foot Neon Cactus. Erected in 2010 as a tribute to the neon signs of yore. The southbound side says Tucson and the other side Miracle Mile. The road on which it stands was the first divided highway in Arizona, and was called “The Miracle Mile of Safety” when it opened in 1937.
OMG! This place was the worst to find. On dirt streets with potholes everywhere and in the middle of residential housing. Franklin Motor Car Museum.
It was closed when we got there but here is what we saw!
“Big Ed” is a fiberglass cowboy who holds a pick-axe as Stamper Miner in Rapid City, SD; moved to Tucson in 2015 and refurbished.
Tracy seemed to like him!
The Casa Grande Domes. Demonic, witchcraft, hauntings, satanic worshipping all appears to go on here at the Domes which were built by an I.T. company and left to ruins.
Today was a celebration! A celebration of the Gourds. The annual Gourd Festival is going on this weekend at the Pinal County Fairgrounds. We decided to go!
There were lots and lots of gourds and I am now a true believer there is beauty within the gourds!
There was music and food.
A competition for all ages and skill levels. Here are just a couple of entries. Remember these are ALL made of gourds of different types.
In an adjacent building there were booths with merchants selling their handmade crafts.
The time and artistry that went in all of the items there was amazing to say the least. I had told Tracy when we had talked about going “Once you’ve seen one gourd, you’ve seen them all” I stand corrected!
I mean its not everyday you get to see Gourd Washington on his trusty steed.
We had a great time and the weather was perfect. By the size of the crowd the Gourd Festival was a huge success on its first day!
With that I will say Gourdbye until next week!