Sunday, April 21, 2013

What Do You Do With a Little Time?

We were given a few days between medical visits, so what did we do? We packed up and became local tourists. We are currently 60 miles from home at Justin's Diamond J RV Park, south of Tucson. Diamond J is a Passport America park, so even the premium sites are reasonably priced. This is the view in front of our site.
Saguaro, cholla, a gazebo and the Tucson Mountains
Saturday we visited the last Titan II missile silo remaining from Cold War days. The missile is deactivated, of course, and the payload has been destroyed, but the site remains as a museum.

The museum's  purpose is to help future generations (and even us old-timers) understand why it was necessary to have 54 of these Titan II missiles stationed around this country, ready to fire. In short, they were there precisely so that they would never have to be fired. This MADness was about Mutually Assured Destruction. The United States and the Soviet Union each over-armed so that the other would understand that, once a missile were launched, there'd be nothing left of both countries.

Several members of a local Boy Scout troop were on our tour. Those blue hardhats you see were required for any adult over 5'10". During the tour, I was saved a few bangs on the head by my blue hard hat. Bob, our guide, explained a few things before leading us down 55 steps (which we would have to climb back up to get out). Suzy and I, along with an Assistant Scoutmaster, opted for the  cargo elevator, seen rising from the ground.
After the tour, Joe gave us and another ride back up.
Although the Missile Command Center was only 35 feet underground, it was "hardened" to withstand nearly everything. This is one of three doors of admittance, each one about a foot thick, mounted in a four-foot concrete wall. Each door weighs six tons and is hung on its original two hinges. One of the Scouts was able to swing the door with minimal tugging. At this point, we are in the "soft zone" which might be destroyed. Beyond lies the "hard zone," safe even in case of nuclear attack.

In the actual Command Center, Bob selected one very young boy to be the Deputy Missile Command Center Controller, and one of the Scouts to be Missile Command Center Controller. Using these two lucky volunteers, Bob led us through a simulated launch.

The Scouts were really into this stuff. The boys in the chairs are the Commander and  Deputy Commander.

As we left the Command Center, we took our personal souvenir photo. Since Suzy drives our large vehicle, she was the obvious candidate for the Commander's chair!

We were led quite a distance from the Command Center through a tunnel to the silo itself for a view of the deactivated Titan II. (More expensive tours take visitors 100 feet down into the silo and into the launch duct for a view up the missile and to the sky beyond the blast door.)

Back outside, the grounds are deceptively simple.

This is a missile engine.

Can you imagine the blast from this cone?
The view down into the half-opened silo brings the payload almost close enough to touch.

The bomb that once resided in this missile would have had a blast impact 650 times that of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II!

We ended our day's tour more prosaically with a visit to the artsy little town of Tubac. But that story will wait until another post.

This was a very fine day in ... Our Life on Wheels.


  1. Peace is truly fragile. Every person must do his or her own job to make peace. Another example of 'pay it forward'

  2. I remember having to memorize all those letters like ICBM and what they stood for in my high school history class. Along with bomb drills in grade school. Glad that time is over.

  3. Interesting play on words with the title and a visit to a missile silo. Duck. I remember the drill we used to have to participate in during the 50s and then I read what damage a nuclear bomb would do. That was the end of my participation in the drills.

    Have fun in our neck of the woods.

  4. I too remember the duck and cover drills in elementary school. I wonder why no one ever questioned the futility of these drills? I guess it felt better to be doing something rather than nothing...that's the only thing I can figure out. Interesting tour.

  5. Interesting site to visit. Another place to add to our list. *smile*


  6. Dennis and I intended to visit that place but never got the chance...Thanks for the tour...very interesting for those of us who had air raid drills in elementary school during the "cold war".

  7. We stayed at Justin's last year. That is where we almost stepped on a rattle snake.

    We loved Titan II Museum. Suzy and I have something in common. I got to sit in the Commander seat too. What a thrill.

  8. I'd love to visit that museum one day. Thanks for the tour.

  9. Don and I visited there a while back, and it was nice to return with you through your blog. Thanks! Glad to know you're on the road again, even though close to home.


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