Biosphere 2 day-date (and other summer plans)

It’s summer break. This seems (at times) to mean doing more than when not on break. Comicon to begin with, of course. That’s always an adventure. Then I got a cold (or a flu, or whatever, con-plague) and had a tough week, recovering, which is part of why you haven’t heard anything from me in over a week. But it’s Mandy that’s really on summer break (she teaches high school English, and gets about two months off for summer break; rather than teach summer school, Mandy teaches extra classes during the school year, so she can have a real break); I don’t ever really stop working – I was working on several upcoming projects while I was driving back and forth across Southern Arizona, today.

Which, I suppose, brings us to travel. Mandy and I like the idea of travel. We can’t currently afford much in the way of travel, since we’re still working on paying off so much debt, but a road trip every few years seems to fit into a budget we can work with and some years Mandy’s school pays for a professional development conference at the end of summer in Las Vegas and I can tag along and we can see the sights (or a show) at night. Our non-pd trips longer than a day-trip so far (2008 and next month, 2012) have been to visit Mandy’s family and friends in Wyoming. In 2008 (the first summer after we married, so I could be introduced around to everyone) we went through Roswell and Los Alamos before heading North to WY, then hiked Arches National Park in Utah on the way back home. This year we’re going to get the National Parks annual pass and do (at least) Mt. Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, several days at Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon while visiting Mandy’s mother, brother, friends, father, et cetera (all around WY). Then we’ll try to make good use of the pass during the remainder of its 12 months of use, at least making other visits to the Grand Canyon, which neither of us has ever hiked.

We’ve had to schedule the trip around a couple of major things; first my sister’s travel (to visit our other sister, who moved her family across the country), and then suddenly an opportunity arose and Mandy is taking a “class” (practicum?) at GCU this summer. (It’s part of a program/process/practicum to earn her reading endorsement. Not being in Education directly, nor having studied it, I don’t really understand well enough to explain it here – but it’s a good thing, she may be able to get the endorsement before the new school year starts, and she’s quite nervous/excited about it.) So that’s happening and taking up several weeks of summer. Before it had popped up, she’d already scheduled three other pd’s (since we aren’t doing Vegas this year, at least part of that is paid for by her school), plus Mandy’s been teaching herself sewing, plus plus plus… summers seem sometimes to get over-scheduled.

One of the things we scheduled for this summer (because we saw a Groupon deal for 2-for-1 admission, and neither of us had ever been, and it sounded interesting to us) was taking a day-trip to Biosphere 2. I scheduled it in between this and that and after taking the car in for its 100k mile service (I’m probably not going to write about that; surely you already know cars are very expensive things to own & maintain), and it was tentative in case something was found seriously wrong with the car, but everything went (reasonably) well (if painfully expensive) and today we made our first summer trip.

Mandy’s day started at 5:30AM (I had stayed up all night – I’ve been up about 26 hours as I write this, and that’s after only a two or three hour nap), we left the house a little after 6:30AM and started a great little day-date. One of the best things about our marriage (apparently in contrast to a lot of other people’s, from what we’ve seen and heard) is that we really enjoy talking to each other. (Also nice: the silences aren’t uncomfortable.) We have a fair amount of things in common, which helps, but we can even talk pretty easily about the things we don’t. A couple hours in the car together is a joy.

We got to the Biosphere right on schedule (just before 9AM, when they open), presented our Groupon, and were directed toward the first tour of the day (with ample time to meander our way across the interesting campus and take in the sights, look over some of the science displays, et cetera) which … I won’t try to describe. It was like touring Biosphere 2 in almost every way one would imagine if one already knew quite a bit about Biosphere 2. It was interesting and fun and worthwhile. After we finished the guided tour, we poked around a bit more (the self-guided-tour parts of the place) and we were back on the road almost exactly when I’d initially expected. Having received no request to do so by 11:30, we did not take a route which went through Casa Grande, instead heading directly to Tempe.

To Rula Bula; a nice little Irish pub & restaurant we like to dine at once in a while – and which we saw a daily deal for a week or two ago, making it more affordable and a nice cap to the Biosphere daytrip. Making it more of a day-date. Lunch was amazing. The usual suspects; fish & chips, Irish lamb stew, smashed potatoes, bread pudding – altogether too much food. Then we took a walk around downtown Tempe, which was quite nice, as well. Down to see the work being done on the mill, up and down along the lake, into the arts center to visit the museum, along Mill Ave., down into the ASU art museum (Nelson), and then a quick stroll into the neighborhood I used to live in, to show her that little patch of beauty sitting within spitting distance of all those tall, glass-and-steel, failed-gentrification projects (which I’m actually also quite fond of, but I love the contrast, too). By then, we were worn out (in a very good way) and just wanted to get home and veg out and watch some movies – which is what we’ve been doing the whole time I’ve been writing this.

All in all, a good day. A good date. A good sort of practice run for some of the days we’ll be having on our longer road trip in July. (Longer-than-24-hour days for me, plenty of driving, lots of walking/hiking/sun, a moderate amount of excess.) Maybe not worth your time to read a huge long blog post about? I don’t know, it’s my life. I originally intended to write a brief post about today’s trip and a moderate-to-long post about the new book I’ve been working on, but … now it looks like it’s about time to head to bed. If I don’t sleep, maybe I’ll write about the new book – otherwise, just friend me on Facebook and circle me on Google+ to keep abreast of such things. (I’d also meant to go look up the links and fill this post with links to things like Biosphere 2, Rula Bula, the various national parks, the museums, et cetera – but now you’ll just have to Google them yourself… Sorry.)

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Author, artist, romantic, insomniac, exorcist, creative visionary, lover, and all-around-crazy-person.

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