The Other Daughter

A blog by Lara Jackson’s sister

Posts Tagged ‘Sonora Desert Museum’


Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on March 13, 2009

Swimming was not necessarily a burdensome limit on our family vacations.  Going to out of town meets gave us the chance to see places we never would have visited otherwise.

The first such city was Tucson.  I love Tucson, especially when in an air-conditioned room.

Below, Lara and a view of the Tucson desert at the Sonora Desert Museum.

Lara at Desert Museum.jpgLara swam at a meet in Tucson every June.  We would stay at a cozy Embassy Suites which had the best breakfast spread of any hotel I’ve stayed in, including the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago.  In Tucson we felt positively decadent with our short-order pancakes, fruit, and juice bar, sitting on the patio in the cool morning.

After breakfast, we would stock up the cooler with sports drinks and water and head to the swim meet.

Lara & Gramp & Dad in Tucson 1999.jpg

To the right, Lara with our grandfather, Richard Jackson, and dad, Keith Jackson in 1999.  The bleachers are above the pool, which you can see in the background.

I would usually spend most of the meet listening to Cowboy Mouth on my CD player, reading sci-fi — and I will not post a link to exactly which sci-fi, because I’m too ashamed to admit what horrible stuff I used to read.

In the evening we would

a) go to a movie, because movie theaters out west are usually extravagant.  My theory: during summer, people like to go someplace cool and dark and drink bladder-busting sodas.

b) go to the Sonora Desert Museum.

We drove for about an hour (again, me listening to Cowboy Mouth and reading in the car, because in high school I avoided “togetherness”), arrive at the museum at dusk.  The museum is something like a nature hike, zoo, and natural history museum in one easy package.

We walk these trails, with signs pointing out important flowers and cacti, and warning people to avoid the javelinas. Javelinas.jpg

To the left: javelinas on the trail.  Oh yes, they run free in the desert.  They may look like friendly, furry pigs, but in real life they’re vicious killers and will eat your face.  At least that’s the impression I got.  I’ve never seen one.

The museum has animal enclosures.  I remember the mountain lions and the mountain goats as big as mountain lions.   Sonora Desert Museum mt goats.jpg   The animal enclosures blended so perfectly with the landscape, you forgot they were in a zoo.  To the right, three mountain goats and their au naturel cage.

 There was also an awesome display where you went into a cave.  I don’t know how much of the cave was man-made and how much was natural.  there were tight cave paths that kids (humans, because goats weren’t allowed) could squeeze through to learn about spelunking and bats.

 One year, my parents bought a new camcorder and I took control, taping Lara’s races, but also documenting the rest of our vacation.  I learned how to work a camera, use zoom so that nobody gets motion sickness when you force your unsuspecting relatives to watch it, and to edit because as cool as it is to stare at a mountain goat in real life, no one wants to watch a two minute home video of a goat.

Below, a picture of Lara and me probably watching a display about bats, which is why it’s so dark.

 Lara and me at Desert Museum.jpg On one trip, we went to Old Tucson, the movie studio where masterpieces were filmed, including:

 Rio Bravo, starring John Wayne

 The Outlaw Josey Wales, starring Clint Eastwood

 The Frisco Kid, starring Gene Wilder and Harrison Ford

 My dad and I would always watch Christmas with The Duke on TBS, so when we came upon that Rio Bravo set, where the final shoot-out takes place, I went bonkers.  I stood in the same place where John Wayne crouched behind a rock and shot a Hollywood gun.  You are so jealous right now.

 My parents loved traveling to Tucson.  We would look at the record boards, the lists of names and my parents would speculate that Lara might one day attend UA and have her name on the records board. records board Oct 2008.jpg

 In October 2008, my mom took this picture:

See Lara’s name, with a whole bunch of other glamorous swimmers?There’s one place Lara has made her mark.


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