Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bisbee, Arizona

March 15 - 22, 2015:

We say our goodbyes at Desert Trail RV Park and get on the road about 10 AM, a nice sunny day, but very windy.  We take route 10 east to route 80 south to Bisbee, Arizona.  The traffic was pretty heavy and the wind was just wicked, it felt like I had a sail on the RV.  I kept looking in the rear view to see if the awning had come out like a spinnaker sail !  We made it without incident arriving around 1 PM.  

Our destination, the Copper Queen RV Park sits next to the Copper Queen Mine overlooking old Bisbee.  What a beautiful setting !  Also so nice to be a 5 minute walk to downtown.  I love this town.  We were here previously in the late January 2013, over two years ago, time really does fly.  If you want shopping malls, chain restaurants, fast food, dollar stores and are politically conservative don't come here, there is nothing for you, stay away.

View from the our RV park site
Downtown Bisbee

Angel over Bisbee mural

The Copper Man sculpture in Bisbee

Cochise County Court House

Peace Wall mural

The Fair building in Bisbee

Old building decorated with street art

Beautiful Poppies growing wild in front of the weirdness

We took a stroll around town, saw a poster for a music event at the Grand Hotel and checked it out.  It was a mix of local musicians, sort of outlaw country types, but good players.  Twinkles and I have a big musical disconnect as I love the bluesy country sad depressing stuff and Twinkles mostly hates that. It was agreed that the ambiance of the old hotel and the local flavor, no matter your musical preferences, blended into a pleasant experience.

Monday in need of some exercise we took a hike to the shrine on the top Youngblood Hill overlooking Bisbee. You walk steeply up OK street to get to the trailhead and then steeply up many switchbacks to the shrine.  We then descended to a mining road and took it to the top of adjacent Chihuahua Hill for great views of the huge Lavender Copper mining pit and in the distance Mexico.

The shrine on the hilltop overlooking Bisbee

View of Bisbee from the shrine

When in Bisbee is it essential to visit Lowell on the other side of the Copper Queen's Lavender pit mine.  Lowell was once a separate town until it was swallowed up by the mine.  At some point it was incorporated into Bisbee.  This is where the Americana music festival is taking place on the 22nd. A part of Lowell seems to be the personal playhouse of a Jay Allen who lives there and started the Broken Spoke Saloon empire catering to the biker crowd in Laconia, NH, Myrtle Beach, NC, Daytona, FL and Sturgis, SD.  The festival was planned by a group of local people to be an annual fundraising event to help preserve Lowell.

Lowell street view

The old Palace Hotel

Another reason to visit Lowell is have have breakfast at the Bisbee Breakfast Club, one of the best breakfast places around, anywhere !

Bisbee Breakfast Club

Another hiking day to the Brown Canyon Ranch out in the foothills of the Huachuca mountains off Ramsey Canyon road.  We have been there before but it's so cool, we had to return.  This time we drove to the old ranch house then hiked from there a few miles into a beautiful forested area.  It's a really cool old ranch house that has been saved complete with old corral, windmill, pond and huge cottonwoods.  The family history exhibits inside are inspiring.  The hike took us along a creek lined with huge Sycamore trees, then oak, mesquite, manzanita and cedar trees.

The Windmill and water tank

Rolling hillsides near the ranch

The Brown ranch house

On the return to Bisbee we stopped at the San Pedro House on the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area.  This place is a mecca for birders and has the largest Cottonwood tree I have ever seen.  The lush green oasis of trees along the San Pedro River is a startling contrast to the brown of the surrounding high desert.  We did a loop hike of about three miles, but the time of day was not conducive to seeing many birds.

Lush green trees along the San Pedro Conservation Area

The San Pedro River
It's St Patrick's Day and Twinkles (the former miss Susan O'Meara) is quite irish so we went to St. Elmo in downtown Bisbee.  St. Elmo is a dive bar in the truetest sense, since 1903 it says on the wall and they had promoted authentic irish music and food at 5 PM.  It turns out the irish band cancelled and the food was late so we only stayed for one beer, but it was interesting, St. Elmo is always interesting.  So we changed nationalities and stuffed ourselves with fine mexican food down the street at Santiagos.

Another foodie haven (highly recommended) that we made a point of returning to was "Jimmies Hot Dogs" where I had a Chicago style Chilly dog made with Vienna hot dogs on special rolls flown in from Chicago.  It looked a lot better than Twinkles fish and chips.

Jimmy's has great food

Bisbee is built on the side of the mountain and as such there are stairs from one level to the next all over town.  They have capitalized on this by holding an annual foot race, the Bisbee 1,000 in October.  They are nine steep stairways interconnected along the race course.  It is a big town wide event coupled with a brewery festival on the same weekend.

One of many Bisbee stairways

There is also an Ironman competition carrying a block
of ice up the stairs

There are lots of musicians in the area and I'm getting my fill this week.  The Wednesday night jam session at St. Elmo was pretty tame but I was happy to see two of Bisbee's most colorful and talented characters there that I remembered from two years ago. There is always a hugely popular rendition of "Summertime".

Thursday night jam session at the Stock Exchange bar.  It is actually the original stock exchange in Bisbee from the early 1900's. It still has the original board which displayed the daily stock quotes. It was great music jam, "Summertime" was heard again !

The Stock Exchange Bar

Inside the Stock Exchange, the oringinal board is on the wall

Saturday morning was the always interesting and great Bisbee Farmers Market.  We came away with real handmade Tortillas and cheese from Mexico, some lettuce and a couple of yummy bakery items.  It was a nice sunny day, we had a coffee, sat in the sun and listened musician there who was excellent and playing lots of old Americana songs. 

Afterwards we attended the Americana Festival in Lowell.  It turned out very well, a big success it seems and much fun.  There were four breweries represented, 17 bands playing on three stages and several food vendors.  The big attraction was people watching though, a very colorful crowd. 

Carlos Arzate and the Kind Souls on stage

These old girls were big fun and got many people up and dancing

The West Texas Millionaires Band, the lead guy, Dan Simonis
who promoted the festival is showing his new Mexican boots

The main stage had great graphics, this was early and I
thought it was interesting with the one person watching

My best photo taken with my iPhone which I have found to
outperform my $1,500 SLR in some conditions

I went out latter to the Grand Hotel to see this group of young street performers called St. Cinder who I had previously seen in Tucson.  They play a wide assortment of acoustic instruments and are high energy and facinating to watch and listen to.  No amplifiers, no microphones, all natural, in the rough, like a breath of fresh air.  The crowd loved them ! 

Next stop is Lordsburg New Mexico,
Twinkles and Slick

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