The Driver Suit Blog-My Travels to Tucson

2016-2-2-mine-9By David G. Firestone

My parents have a condo in Tucson, Arizona, so every winter, I leave the bitter cold of Chicago for a week, and take my base of operations from “The Hauler,” which is my new nickname for my office, to Tucson. I love living in Chicago, but the cold during winter can be too much. Each year, we look for things to do in Tucson that I can’t do in Chicago. Last year, I went to the Pima Air and Space Museum, and the Penske Racing Museum. The year before that, I went to the Titan Missile Museum.

This year, I had three specific goals. I wanted to go to the Asarco Mineral Discovery Center, The Dragoon Brewery, and the Franklin Auto Museum. I also, as always, wanted to have some great Southwestern food. I got all three done, and then some!

I took Amtrak’s Texas Eagle down, as I always do. It’s a three day trip, and this year, I upgraded to a “Superliner Roomette” which is my own small room. It was well worth the price, where I have my own little private room, a whole bed, instead of a reclining seat, and a giant picture window.2016-1-29-amtrak-6 Meals are included, so I didn’t have to pay for food for the entire trip, and I have to say, the food was great.2016-1-29-amtrak-7 2016-1-29-amtrak-8I got in on Sunday, and met up with my parents, had dinner, and got back to sleep. Monday was spent puttering around. On Tuesday, we went to the ASARCO Mineral Discovery Center. It’s a small museum and tour of the ASARCO Mission Mine. Mission Mine is an open pit mine in Pima, Arizona. According to ASARCO “Each year the mine has the capacity to process about 260,000 tons of copper concentrates which yields 132,700,000 pounds of copper and 1,234,000 ounces of silver.” The tour is about an hour long, and it goes into detail into how the mine takes copper ore, which looks like this:IMG_0793and turns it into 99.999% pure copper, the percentage needed for electrical wiring, which looks like this:IMG_0794We drove around the mine area in a tour bus, and passed by the pit. 2016-2-2-mine-7There is a small area for the tour, which features a giant tire for photos. I’m 6’1” and that tire makes me look small. 2016-2-2-mine-9There is an overlook area for the tour group, and it is REALLY far away from the mine. 2016-2-2-mine-8See those two dump trucks circled? Those are 51 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 24 feet tall! Then you go to the south mill, where the ore is ground down to the required size, and extracted using the flotation system. 2016-2-2-mine-1 2016-2-2-mine-2 2016-2-2-mine-3 2016-2-2-mine-4 2016-2-2-mine-5 2016-2-2-mine-13 2016-2-2-mine-6Pine oil is used to help separated the copper from the ore, so the whole area smells like pine oil, which isn’t a bad smell at all.

Once you get back, you can wander around the small outdoor exhibit area, and see various artifacts from the history of Arizona mining. 2016-2-2-mine-17 2016-2-2-mine-28 2016-2-2-mine-27 2016-2-2-mine-26 2016-2-2-mine-25 2016-2-2-mine-24 2016-2-2-mine-23 2016-2-2-mine-22 2016-2-2-mine-21 2016-2-2-mine-20 2016-2-2-mine-19 2016-2-2-mine-18We then went to the Desert Diamond Casino for lunch, and went home. We then went out to celebrate my mom’s birthday that night for dinner.

Wednesday, we went to the Dragoon Brewing Company taproom. 2016-2-3-dragoon-2I spend the afternoon trying different kinds of their beer. I tried the Stronghold Session American mild, which a little bitter for my taste. The Biere Del Bac is a Belgian-style quad, and I had that and a brandy barrel-aged version. The best by far was the Scout Porter, which is a mesquite-smoked porter. 2016-2-3-dragoon-3I wound up buying a 32 ounce can, which I downed after dinner. 2016-2-3-dragoon-8I also got a couple of pictures of the taproom, and the fermenters. 2016-2-3-dragoon-4 2016-2-3-dragoon-5 2016-2-3-dragoon-7For dinner, I had some damn good barbecue at Brush Fire, where I had some brisket and pork bellies with Sweet-n-Bold sauce. 2016-2-3-brushfire-1 2016-2-3-brushfire-2 2016-2-3-brushfire-3On Thursday, I went to the Franklin Auto Museum, but I’m gonna save that for next week…stay tuned!

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