Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday: Copper Mine and Arboretum

On Monday we went to the Ray Copper Mine southeast of Phoenix, near the town of Superior, Arizona. It was another mountainous road, with several stretches of 10% grade... which doesn't sound too bad but is actually amazingly steep.

The landscape looked so different from the previous Saturday! Northwest of "the valley" there has been only a trace of rain all winter. South east of the valley it was clear that there had been a little rain. I only got a couple of pictures.


Desert poppies!

First I was afraid we were not going to be able to find the mine... we did pass an open pit mine that would have been easy to miss, but we came around a corner, and There It Was! Half the mountain was dug up!

The colors were amazing, the size was incomprehensible, and the overall impression was overwhelming. The next four pictures are of the same location, zooming in a little more on each one.





The picture below shows the size of the bucket and the tires of the shovel in the picture above. That's DH and my dad in the picture, being dwarfed by the equipment. If you follow the link above you can see an overhead map of the mine.


They mine 2 kinds of copper, the metallic element and the oxide that has to be leached and electrolytically precipitated out of solution. I wonder if they give tours of the works? I think that would be fascinating as well... next time we will have to check.

This was the farthest point of our exploration. We returned to Superior, Arizona for lunch, avoiding chain restaurants. We stopped at a cute little cafe. Most of the "downtown" looked pretty forlorn; the "recovery" has not reached there yet. You could tell the cafe was just hanging on, they were very grateful for our business. I hope they make it!

After lunch we stopped at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. (I didn't realize they were affiliated with the University of Arizona.) It was a beautiful day!

The first section had hundreds of different cacti.


It is amazing how many different ways there are to cover yourself with spines. Even more amazing was the fact that one type of cactus (endangered) was protected with a chicken wire fence, because the javalinas (small wild pigs) like to eat it!


You can tell what a beautiful day it was! This is my dad, providing scale (again) to show how big these cacti are.

This is an artificial pond, but water holes used to exist in the desert before the need for water for people kicked in. I see coots!


It was only a couple of days past Valentine's when I found this heart, appropriate for a rocky relationship. LOL


There is a section of plants from South America, which surprised me a lot. I didn't know Argentina had so many cacti, including one that looks like a saguaro but isn't. The plants from South America did not look like they were flourishing... homesick I guess.

This is the upper trail, that is not wheelchair accessible. Mom did not come along today, and we missed her, but we would not have been able walk this trail if she had been along. (She can walk fine, but doesn't have as much stamina as she used to.) We had read that the trail was 1 1/2 miles long, but by the time we got back to the car we could feel it. Hairpin turns on a walking trail!


I posed in this niche.


At the farthest point of the trail we came around a corner, and faced the Picket Post house:


I am quite sure there was another way to reach the house, but it was so unexpected to see it up there on the side of the hill.

As soon as I took this picture, my camera beeped, informing me that I had no more memory in my camera... and the rest of my memory cards were in the car. So, I walked the rest of the circuit and just looked at the beauty, instead of taking pictures. There was a river with beautiful vistas opening up over the water, and an Australia section with huge eucalyptus trees (that reminded me of Argentina as well); an herb garden, a rose garden, and more.

Both going and coming to Superior we ran into a lot of traffic for the "Renaissance Fair." I think that would have been interesting, but I think we made the right choice to go look at the beauty of Arizona instead.

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