Monday, November 21, 2016

Back to Bisbee

November 9 - 15, 2106:

I didn’t sleep well last night, I’m feeling crappy and as I drive I’m thinking that I’ve never felt this disillusioned with the election process, the news media, the presidential candidates, the most hateful president elect of all time and the prospect for the future of the “Divided” States of America. I had far more optimism for our country during the darkest days of the Viet Nam War than I do today.  I hope I am wrong, but when things start going badly I will derive great pleasure in blaming Trump and the people who voted him into power.  I'll be bitching about everything that goes wrong, real or imagined, just like Fox News.  OK, that’s my one allowed political rant, no more to be said.

About to go down over the brink into the dark side for a while ?

Geronimo must have felt the same way on the day
he surrendered here

The ride from Silver City, New Mexico to Bisbee, Arizona on routes 90 to route 10 to route 80 is a pretty ride that eventually improves my funky mood.  We arrive at the Queen Mine RV Park overlooking downtown Bisbee about 1 PM.  We last stayed here in May of 2015 and it’s another favorite campground and town of ours.  The campground sits right on the edge of the huge Lavender Pit Mine which is quite a unique view.

Always a special view

After setting up, we take a walk downtown to see what has changed.  I'm relieved to find that everything is about the same and I hope it stays that way.  It’s the same weird town, my kind of place, nestled in a beautiful mountain setting.   Actually, I would normally not see it that way as it’s adjacent to a huge open pit mine and riddled with mine shafts but somehow amidst all this destruction, beauty prevails. 
We’ve now been here several times and I’ve taken multiple photos of everything, so I’m looking for new subjects or at least new views of the old subjects.  It's a nice concept, but ultimately I know I will be taking the same photos again, I just can’t walk past without doing so and I'll never tire of it.  If you want to revisit my older blog posts they were back in January 2013 and in March 2015.

The Copper Queen Hotel with Chihuahua Hill in the background

Downtown Bisbee view

They believe in love here

Bisbee 1000 stair climb mural

Do it (the stairs) for your Heart

Beautiful City Park that doesn't seem to be utilized much

A favorite mural of mine

Over the Miners and Merchants Bank door

Men Beware !

The beautiful Cochise County Courthouse 

I kind of feel like I belong here, people wave to me on the street like they “think” they know me.  I'm thinking that Bisbee may have the highest per Capita concentration of old gray haired guys with ponytails and beards in the country.

The Side Pony Express Music Festival comes to Bisbee from Friday evening through Sunday evening.  We had no idea this was happening as there was almost no promotion although it’s a huge event with 102 bands coming to town for three days.  It’s an emerging artist, alternative music kind of thing with genres such as indie, folk, hip hop fusion, island jam funk, lo-fi garage jazz, western psychedelic soul, reset noir and much more that I don't understand.  The bands are predominantly from the Phoenix area and performed simultaneously at different venues around town.  The bands changed about every hour and then rotated to another venue.  I kept looking for a schedule for show where and when bands were playing, obviously the bands knew, but it wasn’t posted for the public.

So I was roamed the streets all weekend and if I liked what I could hear outside, I went in for a while, then moved down the street to the next place.  I caught many interesting bands although I only caught the name of a few of them as they didn’t promote themselves much either.  A favorite band was the Rudy Boy Experiment from Albuquerque, NM who were fantastic.  The music was fun and the accompanying weirdest in the streets of Bisbee was equally entertaining.

Enjoyed this singer- songwriter Ceekay Jones

These guys played on the street between scheduled sets

These guys were dynamic on stage

The Stock Exchange is a great bar, has all elements that I love

Terry Wolf, a Bisbee legend

John Cordes, a favorite Bisbee fiddle player and character

Very weird looking, but I liked them

The St Elmo bar truly is a "real" dive

Carol Pacey and the Honeyshakers were dynamic

The Rudy Boy Experiment Band with amazing guitarist Rudy on the left and incredible
drummer who tossed and flipped the sticks without missing a beat with precision

A Jug band of note

A very accurate sign for the clientele of the St Elmo Bar

The very classic look of Sarah Chapman of Ghost Cat Attack

Great moves and head shakes but were mostly just loud noise

I returned to a favorite hike up the Youngblood Hill to the hilltop shrine with 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains and Bisbee in the valley below.  I always have to do this hike as it’s such a fantastic view and the shrine itself, tattered and unkempt as it is, is inspirational.

The Shrine

Joey's friends left several tributes

View from the top

View down into Bisbee

I follow the trail down the opposite side of the hill

And up to the top of Chihuahua Hill where you can look
down into the Sacramento Mine Pit

We went for breakfast at the Breakfast Club in Lowell which a nostalgic suburb of Bisbee.  Lowell is separated from Bisbee by the Lavender Mine pit which originally was the Lavender Hill. 

Looking down into the Lavender Mine Pit

I would guess about a 36 chevy sedan in front
of the old Lowell Gym and Pool Hall

Classic Indian motorcycle in storefront window

Much of Lowell is preserved like a time machine journey

Broken Spoke Saloon money has saved much of this town

We then took a ride a few miles further to the town of Warren which is the location of the Bisbee City Hall and considered to be the Warren district of Bisbee.  In the early 1900’s when the mines were still going strong, the housing situation in Bisbee was both inadequate and deplorable.  It consisted mostly of shacks built on the hillsides with inadequate water and sewer facilities amid much smoke, noise and crime.  As a result, the Calumet and Arizona Mine Company developed the new town site of Warren, the first planned community in Arizona with lots of amenities for the workers.  They even constructed a Trolley line, the first in Arizona, that ran from the Bisbee and mines to Warren. 
 The Warren Ballpark built in 1909 is very historic and some claim it to be the oldest baseball field in the United States. That’s debatable, but it is certainly one of the oldest fields and has not changed much since the 1930’s when the WPA did some renovation.  Warren remained a vibrant town until the mines closed in 1975 and has since undergone a period of decline.  

On the other hand, Old Bisbee which nearly became a ghost town when the mines closed is probably doing better than ever.  It was resurrected by an influx of artistic free spirit and perhaps somewhat capitalistic hippie types in the 1970’s.  As a result Bisbee is now a National Historic site, a tourist attraction and those old hillside mining shacks are today selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

View through the fence

View looking down a Warren street shows how close
the mines eventually came to town

Thousands attended the opening of the Trolley in Bisbee

The town of Tombstone about 30 miles north of Bisbee is another major tourist attraction.  Many of the town buildings are original but virtually all have been repurposed into tourist shops and restaurants.  You can see a reenactment of the shootout in the OK Corral, take a stagecoach ride and see people dressed in period cowboy attire doing shootouts in the street.  Much of it is the phony stuff of legend, tacky as hell, but the town itself is mostly authentic, historic and fun. 

The Bird Cage Theater has excellent exhibits

Very realistic ride

Mexican Italian, not so realistic ?

Next time you get stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, tell
the officer this ?

This the the big attraction

Big Nose Kates Saloon has always been a favorite

I return to the border town of Douglas for another look, Douglass was very vibrant town in past days, but has fallen on poor days since the 1940’s.  I checked out the small museum at the historic Gadsen Hotel which has some great old photos.  The Gadsen has one of the most beautiful lobbies with a grand Marble staircase and Tiffany stained glass skylights.  Poncho Villa supposedly rode his horse up the stairway leaving chips in the steps from the horses hooves.  There is another questionable legend about Poncho Villa’s head being buried under the Gadsen Hotel and various reports of ghost activity. 

The Gadsen Hotel doesn't impress that much from the outside

The Saddle and Spur Tavern sign inside does

The Grand Staircase is just incredible

As is the stained glass

The Grand Hotel was a great one, but is now basically an empty shell

Beautiful figures in the facade

I took a ride on the Old Divide Road that climbs over the continental divide and up into the mountain above where a cluster of communcation antennas are installed.  There were great views and some really interesting houses way back in the hills.  People live in these remote areas on primitive roads far from Bisbee, escaping civilization I suppose, might be smart these days.

Continental Divide marker, the road was
built by prison labor

I expect you can see Mexico on a clear day

That's Bisbee far down in the valley

There is a house in there with a scenic view gazebo

I went to the Bisbee Grand Hotel on Tuesday evening to hear Becky Reyes perform.  She is a favorite local musician who is a regular on Tuesday nights with quite a local following.  She was great and did something really special for us Anglo listeners.  She would give the English translation for the lyrics before doing a Spanish song which made the music so much more meaningful. 

I happened to sit next to a man who I had seen pull into the RV Park with an old beat up class C RV earlier in the day.  I thought he looked familiar from previous visits to BIsbee.  We struck up a conversation in which I heard much of his life story.  He is a retired heavy equipment operator who has come from Minnesota to winter in Bisbee for the last 15 years.  He is heavily into the music scene, loves the town and all the locals seem to know him.  He was a most personable man, who said that  people used to take photos with him as he resembled the “World’s most interesting man” from the Dos Equis beer advertisements. He was definitely one of the most interesting men I've met in a while.

We are finally ready for our final move and campground of the year to Desert Trails RV Park in Tucson, Arizona,

Twinkles and Slick