Posted by: harleyhawk43 | November 20, 2015

Biosphere II and Organ Pipe National Monument

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(For those of you who want to order our new book, “Hawk and Red Fox-Modern Day Gypsies”, go to the link above or below and choose either the full color version or the B&W. Here you will see the details of their first year as full time RVers in 2010/2011, as they traveled through 28 states and one Canadian province)-


Well, we are now well into the 3rd week of our annual “escape from the New England winter weather”. During this time we have had a few interesting adventures, with our Canadian friends, Captain Canada and Debbie Dewdrops. They are from British Columbia and come down from the hinterlands to our desert areas each winter. Our first adventure with them was to Biosphere II and was very interesting.

For those of you not familiar with BII, here is the wikipedia quick primer-

Biosphere 2 is an Earth systems science research facility located in Oracle, Arizona. It has been owned by the University of Arizona since 2011. Its mission is to serve as a center for research, outreach, teaching, and lifelong learning about Earth, its living systems, and its place in the universe. It is a 3.14-acre (1.27-hectare)[1] structure originally built to be an artificial, materially closed ecological system, or vivarium. It remains the largest closed system ever created.[2]

Biosphere 2 was originally meant to explore the web of interactions within life systems in a structure with five areas based on biomes, and an agricultural area and human living and working space to study the interactions between humans, farming, and technology with the rest of nature. It also explored the use of closed biospheres in space colonization, and allowed the study and manipulation of a biosphere without harming Earth’s. Its five biome areas were a 1,900 square meter rainforest, an 850 square meter ocean with a coral reef, a 450 square meter mangrove wetlands, a 1,300 square meter savannah grassland, a 1,400 square meter fog desert, a 2,500 square meter agricultural system, a human habitat, and a below-ground infrastructure. Heating and cooling water circulated through independent piping systems and passive solar input through the glass space frame panels covering most of the facility, and electrical power was supplied into Biosphere 2 from an onsite natural gas energy center.[3]

Biosphere 2 was only used twice for its original intended purposes as a closed-system experiment: once from 1991 to 1993, and the second time from March to September 1994. Both attempts, though heavily publicized, ran into problems including low amounts of food and oxygen, die-offs of many animal and plant species, squabbling among the resident scientists and management issues.

In June 1994, during the middle of the second experiment, Space Biosphere Ventures dissolved, and the structure was left in limbo. It was purchased in 1995 by Columbia University, who used it to run experiments until 2005. It then looked in danger of being demolished to make way for housing and retail stores, but was taken over for research by the University of Arizona in 2007; the University of Arizona assumed full ownership of the structure in 2011.

Anyway, we went there to check it out and took the attached pictures. There was an $18 fee (senior citizen rate) but it was well worth the fee.


Here you see various views of the interior and exterior of the Biosphere, which is no longer air tight. In the interior shots you will see a rain forest and a miniature ocean. Eight people actually lived in the airtight version for over 2 years (1991-1993). We had a tour guide and every aspect of BII was fully explained to us and the rest of our group. All in all a very interesting outing right in the greater Tucson area.


Organ Pipe National Monument (OPNM)

CC and DD moved from Catalina State Park to a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) site 4 miles from OPNM this past Monday as a 2 day stop on their way to the LTVA (Long Term Visitor Area) near Yuma, on the CA/AZ border. They were boondocking (no hookups) in a beautiful desert area and we rode the Harleys down to visit and tour OPNM with them.

We waited to 10 a.m. to leave, so the temperature could warm up to high 50s from it’s morning low of 36. The ride was 130 miles and with one long lunch stop, took us almost 3 hours to get there (senior citizen pace). We had another great time and left for home about 3:30. No stops on the way back and we pulled into our campground just as it got dark. Attached are some pictures and video clips. Enjoy!

Red Fox takes the lead on the way down

CC and DD great us at hard to fine turnoff

CC and DD’s boondocking site


Riding back to camp-That’s what we’re talkin about!

Shadow Rider Amidst the Saguaros









  1. Please correct great to say greet!!  And fine to find.  Where you say DD and CC great you at the hard to find turnoff! You’re slipping Mr. Hawk! Lol Dd

    Sent from Samsung tablet

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