Monday, October 13, 2008

Rattlesnake Bridge

My awesome Dad and Stepmom brought my 7 year old nephew - my (step)sister's kid - to visit us recently. My nephew had read about a "Rattlesnake Bridge" in Tucson, Arizona. He had seen photos of it in his "Highlights" magazine, and wanted to see it in person. He had told his whole class he was going to visit Arizona, and that he was hoping to see this Rattlesnake Bridge. Since it's only a few hours from where we live, I agreed to drive him (and my Dad and Stepmom, along with my two kids) to Tucson to see the world-famous Rattlesnake Bridge.

Last summer we visited the natural bridge at Tonto Creek near Payson, Arizona. It is a very cool bridge formed by water eroding the rock and dirt through the mountains in Northern Arizona. You can walk over the bridge, and then walk down a path and climb around on the huge rocks under the bridge by the creek. If you have not been there before, you should go. It is beautiful, and is a nice, but not too difficult, hike.

So, I was all excited for a nice but hopefully not too difficult hike with the kids & grandparents through the pretty mountains near Tucson, perhaps a picnic lunch near a mountain stream, some cool photo ops near the natural bridge....

We packed up some sandwiches, drinks, trail mix and other snacks. I got directions from MapQuest, and off we went. After a couple of hours, a near collision on the freeway, and a couple of missed turns while we looked for a place to park, we arrived at our destination.

Here is a photo of the head of the "Rattlesnake Bridge" in Tucson, Arizona.

You can see the snake's eye in this photo. You can also see that it is, in actuality, a pedestrian walkover bridge.

Here is a photo of the road below, from "inside" the snake's belly:

Here is a photo of the butt end of the bridge. At the very top, left side of the bridge in the photo below you can see the box that holds the sensor and speaker -- the sensor activates a recording of a rattlesnake "rattle" sound when you walk through it. Oooh, scary!

Here is a photo of the giant rattle at the end of the rattlesnake's tail, which sticks out of the ground on the "butt" end of the bridge:

I did not hear about it at the time, but there was apparently quite a bit of controversy when this bridge was built in Tucon, as there always is for any public art project. On the one hand, it is clearly much more awesome and more fun than a plain old rectangular shaped, fenced-in pedestrian bridge. (That fact alone is guaranteed to send some folks into a tizzy.) On the other hand, what exactly does it mean to walk in through the snake's mouth and walk out through its butt? Are we supposed to have been "eaten" by the snake and then excreted as snake feces? What does this say about the artist's understanding of human nature? About our place in this world? About our ultimate destiny?

The kids were not interested in pondering the bigger implications of humans as snake feces, however. All in all, this was very much like Chevy Chase's trip to the Grand Canyon, in the movie "Vacation." You drive for hours, then look at it and say, "yup, there it is," and then get back in the car....

We decided that as long as we were in Tucson, we should go see some other area attractions. So we checked out the Pima Air and Space Museum. It has an airplane that held the record for "world's smallest actual working airplane," or something like that. The plane was about 3 feet tall and maybe 3 feet long, painted yellow and black, and named the "Bumble Bee." It had room for one smallish person to fit inside it, and it claimed to actually have been flown.

The Pima Air and Space Museum also has a huge yard filled with all sorts of historical aircraft, including the actual Air Force One plane used by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Very cool. Here is a photo of the very old and now retired Air Force One:

The Pima Air and Space Museum is near the "boneyard" where hundreds, perhaps thousands, of old, no-longer-used airplanes -- both civilian and military -- are parked in the middle of the Arizona desert near Tucson. It is amazing to see so many old military airplanes just parked out there in plain view. Makes you wonder whether they are real, or are just decoys designed to fool our enemies when they look at their satellite photos of these "military" aircraft. Surely there must be satellites floating up there, photographing every little detail of these old aircraft.

We also visited "Old Tucson Studios," which has been the site for filming many movies, as well as parts of the old "Little House on the Prairie" tv show. It burned a few years ago and has been rebuilt. By the time we got there, it was about to close for the day so we didn't get to see all of it, but we did get to watch a genuine re-enactment of an old-time Western shootout and pan for a little "gold."

All in all, it was a great day. Much more exciting than those giant concrete dinosaurs we visited last summer in California.


Green said...

You are such a cool aunt!

LegalMist said...

Aaaw, thanks, Green. But not quite as awesome an aunt as my stepsister (said nephew's mom), who hosted my kid at her house for over a week this past summer, and even invited her to attend the basketball camp that she and her husband run, for free. She had a blast, and came home with a free souvenir basketball, which has made her one of the most popular kids at school recess every day this year. Now, *that* is awesome.