Monday, February 4, 2013

Bisbee, AZ week 2

February 4, 2013:

A weird weather Monday, very windy with heavy dark ominous clouds, then periods of rain and sun (at same time) resulting in brilliant rainbows.  This scenario repeated itself over and over again all day followed by hail in the evening and then light snow overnight.  As a result, we took a ride to Karchner Caverns and went underground to see this amazing cave.  

Karchner cave was discovered in 1974 by two young cavers who entered through a sinkhole, found a small opening, enlarged it to squeeze through and found themselves in a giant cavern, in pristine condition, never seen or touched by human hands before.  They appreciated how incredibly rare their cave find was and purposely kept it a secret for many years, quite possibly saving it from destruction. They eventually told the landowner what was under his property and then key people in the Arizona State Parks Department.  The Nature Conservancy helped with initial funding to purchase the land until the state could get approval for funding to proceed with developing this cavern into a new state park.

Mondays crazy weather brought winter back to us, it was 23 degrees in early AM, our furnace was working overtime again and on Tuesday morning we had an inch of snow on the ground. It was beautiful to see snow on the hills around here, but I'm now kind of getting tired of it, enough winter !  In contrast, we had near record heat 68 degrees on Saturday.

We read all the negative internet posts about the dangers of travel to Mexico and decided to do it anyhow.  We drove to the border town of Douglass, Arizona, parked the truck and walked across the border into Agua Prieta, Mexico or "Brown Water" in english.  We intended to just walk a few block, do a little shopping and possibly have lunch.  We found it pretty dirty and disgusting, Twinkles did not even want to go in any of the stores.  I definitely wouldn't drink the water !  I enjoyed taking photos of the rat infested looking buildings, the trash, the tacky storefronts, the signs and the beautiful old church, but after an hour or so, we couldn't get out of there fast enough !  We then went to downtown Douglass, parked and walked around exploring.  It's nothing to brag about either, but was like a breath of fresh air in comparison !  We stopped at the historic Gladsden Hotel to check out the famous Tiffany stained glass murals and the marble staircase that Poncho Villa rode his horse up.  It was way better than expected and we had a nice lunch at their restaurant, which has wonderful old western murals.

Pancho Villa was a larger than life character who was all over this area.  He fought and lost a major battle right in Agua Prieta. His life story is incredible, better tab anything Hollywood could make up, check it out on Wikipedia. 

In doing some research, I found that there has been a huge increase in mexicans legally crossing the border into Arizona for shopping, the currency exchange works to their advantage and the shopping is much better.  It really is quite a boost to the Arizona economy. On the other hand, there has been a large drop in US citizens going over to Mexico, mainly because of the deterioration of the border towns and the crime fear factor. 

The border situation here is crazy, it's much like a military zone.  Everywhere you go there are border patrol vehicles on the roads, sitting out in the desert watching and there are border check points on several key roads.  I've gone through about six of these checkpoints so far and have never even been asked to show my ID, I guess I don't fit the profile.  I'm not sure who I would call the illegal immigrants in this part of the country. 

I have been going slightly nuts over a package mailed to me from "Snapfish" that was shipped from Tollison, Arizona (225 miles away) to Massachusetts (2500 miles) away because the destination zip code was entered wrong.  I could see from the tracking info exactly what was wrong, but it impossible to talk to a real person at Snapfish and trying to contact the Postal Service was equally frustrating.  I finally got this resolved after three emails to Snapfish customer service. I shouldn't complain, original order was 3 calendars for the price of one, today I received 2 packages of 3 calendars each, 6 for 1 !  

I went to downtown Bisbee on Friday night to see "Nowhere Man and the Whiskey Girl" at the Copper Queen Hotel and then to St. Elmo's Bar to hear "Cat Daddy and the 12 Barz Blues Band". They are total opposites, but I like them both.  I am liking the local Bisbee micro brew beer called "Electric beer" which is all over town and very popular. The bartender kept referring to it as "Daves", so I searched Electric beer, Bisbee, AZ on the web and found an unbelievable website.  After you read Dave's story, you've got to drink his beer !

We went to the really good Bisbee farmers market on Saturday buying soap, grapefruits, honey and good bakery items.  We also decided that we need better hats.  The bisbee locals wear clothes, especially hats,  that make you stand out in a crowd. We then took a ride to Benson, Arizona stopping along the way to buy pistachios and pecans from a roadside vendor.  The nuts are grown locally just south of Benson.  Benson is a RV haven, campgrounds are all over, but I didn't see anything of much interest in the town of Benson.

One more week to go in Bisbee.

One of several Rainbows on the ride to Katchner Caverns

Entrance to Agua Prieta

View from RV on Tuesday morning

View of Copper Queen Mine from downtown Bisbee

Shops in Agua Prieta

The cleanest building in Agua Prieta, the church

Twinkles posing in front of store

Colorful flower shop inAgue Prieta

Historic Grand Theater in Douglas Arizona

Stained glass windows and mural inside the Gadsden Hotel in Douglas

HugeTiffany stained glass skylight

Legend has it that Poncho Villa rode up this stairway on his horse 

Weird violent pottery item in Mexican shop in Douglas

Grass land at San Pedro Riparian conservation area

Finally a river in Arizona that has water, The San Pedro River

Horse Shoe Cafe in Benson Arizona

Interesting sign in Benson store window

Twinkles in front of huge Cottonwood Tree atthe San Pedro house

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