Sunday, September 18, 2011

Day 54: "Wasn't John Wayne Here?"

September 18, 2011 - The morning, while starting off a little slow, was a perfect opener for the adventures that we faced today.  Our original plans, made earlier that day, meant nothing in the grand scheme of things, and we ended up visiting two amazing places that we normally wouldn't have visited, and completely missed the Sonora Desert Museum.

Bruce likes to call this "rigid flexibility," but I like to think of it as pure luck.

The Old Tucson Studios

On our way to the Sonora Desert Museum, located outside of Tucson, we came across this gem of a tourist trap.  It's something that might we might have missed if we weren't getting bored of the cacti in the local scenery.

I think this was one of Bruce's favorite places...

The Tucson Studios were built by Columbia Pictures in 1938 for the movie Arizona starring William Holden and Jean Arthur.  Fifty building were built within 40 days, many of which are still standing on the lot today.  This working lot has been in plenty of movies and television shows, four of the movies starred John Wayne and one of the movies shot on Tucson Studios starred Ronald Reagan.  Additionally, the lot served as a partial set for the popular series Little House on the Prairie.

Our first stop was to get tickets from the gift shop.  From there Bruce and I walked back into the Old  movie memorabilia or displays, while others housed modern shops and food venues.  A few actors in western costumes were walking around, which helped lend to the atmosphere.

We stopped into the Tucson Hotel and Saloon to watch a variety act and something to eat.  After watching a comedy show trying to sell "miracle elixirs" we headed off to take a self-guided tour of Old Tucson.  The amount of buildings was amazing, and every corner offered a photo opportunity.

One of the many sets that have been turned into shops.

A nice place to sit outside in the shade.

Another studio set.

A native village set with a mission in the background.

The Old Tucson Studios was definitely an amazing place to visit.  With movie history around every corner it was a great place to look around and be immersed in movie history.

The International Wildlife Museum

We continued on our way to the Sonora Desert Museum.  However, we ended up taking a wrong turn and wound up at Tucson's International Wildlife Museum, which we took an opportunity to explore.  The museum, founded in 1988, highlights over 400 species of animals and insects artfully displayed.

Yes, I said displayed…this museum is full of stuffed dead animals.

While not exactly what I had in mind, I took the chance to photograph animals that I would not normally see.  Since they are stuffed, and coincidentally, do not move; it was easy to get the perfect pose without having to worry about taking a picture of a lion's posterior.

Lets start of with a bear...

An all too familiar scene in my native land of Alaska.

Didn't I see these guys near Canada?

A Secretary bird...very cool.

Probably the most amazing part about the museum was the Africa Room, full of the Safari-esqe animals that people in the early 1900's would have gone after.  The room had a giraffe, plenty of deer, some bears (although none are found in the African continent), and lots of lions and other large cats.

Additionally, I found the penguin exhibit fun to look at.  I never realized how large the Emperor Penguin actually was!

Peng-zilla attacks!

As with much of my visits to any location along the trip, the end of our self-guided tour brought me to the gift shop, where I waited for Bruce to finish up his tour.  After we met back up, we headed back to the base camp and to finish up packing for my return trip home.


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