Habitat for Calamity
June 9, 2013
June 9, 2013
This summer, my husband and I have a pact.
We have a pact to travel through Arizona and see the sights. Road trips to cities like Payson, Flagstaff, Sonoita, etc. Our state – every state – has those fun, unique getaways and you should see them, damn it.
Whenever I take a road trip I always wonder two things: 1) Where is the nearest prison? 2) Where is the closest cemetery?
This weekend we decided to head down to Biosphere 2, located in Oro Valley, AZ.
I’ll tell you in advance that I’ve never seen Bio-Dome so you’ll be spared many Pauly Shore jokes.
I’ve always wanted to visit Biosphere 2 ever since I was a little girl and read about the Biospherians living in those self-contained domes. Back then a 10-year-old Jules’ thoughts probably were: “Habitats are cool.” “What food can they eat?” “Are they scared in the dark?”
Well, yesterday, 30-year-old Jules’s thoughts were: “Did anyone bone each other?” “Did they have to murder their own animals?” “Were they allowed wine? Because if not, goddamn it.”
The grounds of Biosphere 2 were so peaceful. Gorgeous views of the Catalina Mountains. Little habitats set up that reminded me of some hedonist community. Instantly, I wanted to live there. We joined a group of 30 people and watched a video that oddly glossed over the awkward reason why the Biospherians exited the Biosphere. I still do not know. It was like the people living in the community were a black mark. No one really wanted to mention them. It was odd.
The video also stressed the importance of science. DUH.
From there we traveled to five different habitats: Savannah, Ocean, Tropical rainforest, Mangrove wetlands, and Fog desert.
The coolest was the rainforest habitat. It monitors the current rainforest temperature in South America, so what we felt was true atmosphere on the other side of the world. The earth was blowing my mind.
Everything else was enjoyable.
Except for the doomsday tour guide, who would issue warnings like this:
“This is a strenuous workout. Many, many stairs and habitats. If you feel faint, tell me.”
Then there was this classic –
“Now, keep to the left on this hallway. When you come to the grate on the floor, do not step on it. I repeat, it is imperative that you DO NOT step on it. Make sure to duck and lift your feet when you come to the door and then you’ll descend at a steep incline into this tunnel, which you will need to conform your body to a 90 degree right angle…”
Holy overload. Instructions with the fear of impending death or agony are too much to follow. I’m naturally prone to mishaps so I kept picturing stepping on the grate and setting off alarms around the Biosphere 2.
But in the end, everything went well. I didn’t step on the grate and we were led into this room.
After a demonstration that involved screaming and air pressure (don’t ask, because I don’t know) we headed outside, passed a structure that sounded like a dirty oral sex act (a Falaj?) and the tour ended in the hot and sweaty desert. The trip was fun. Worth it, sure. I’ll admit I was a little bit disappointed because for some reason I had expected the opportunity to frolic in the habitats, instead of just inspecting them from handrails.
But I get it. I shouldn’t trample the ecosystems.
I’m glad I went. I’m smarter. Better for going. I have a new understanding for our world and seeing science and research in progress was pretty damn cool. And so, I took the opportunity to thank it in style.