Bisbee and beyond…
After leaving Patagonia you pass through a high plain. Sonoita comes and goes, don’t blink or you will miss it;) The plains were covered with snow, at a higher altitude is was melting slowly. It was nice to wave goodbye to the white stuff in the rearview mirror. Mount Wrightson disappeared as we headed South on the 90 towards Huachuca City and Sierra Vista.
After Sierra Vista 90 turns East and you enter into the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. The old sycamore trees lining this riverbed are beautiful, somewhat stark without their Spring leaves but that should be coming soon. According to the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, whew, that is a mouthful, people first arrived in this area 11,000 years ago. They belonged to what we now call the Clovis Culture and were the earliest known people to have inhabited North America. Named after the distinctive and beautifully crafted Clovis spear points they made, they were expert hunters of the large mammals of the last Ice Age, how cool is that! I made Mike promise to bring me back here as we drove by on our way to Bisbee…lots and lots of birds;)
Completed 60 years ago, Mule Pass Tunnel created a new gateway into Bisbee. It also cut 10 minutes off the drive over the 6,030-foot-high pass on US 80 into the southeastern Arizona mining town. Slipping into darkness, and then we were out and winding our way into Old Bisbee.
Bisbee was founded as a copper, gold, and silver mining town in 1880, and named in honor of Judge DeWitt Bisbee, one of the financial backers of the adjacent Copper Queen Mine. That is where we parked for two days, at The Queen Mine RV Park. It was a tight fit getting in, I wouldn’t want to try it with anything larger than our 37′ but once up on the plateau that is the RV park there is plenty of space to maneuver. Read the reviews before you arrive and follow their advice;) We made sparks on our way out. Sites are in a semi circle overlooking the old mine and you can walk into town, or to the mine to take a tour. Cats were not impressed…a small dog walk..whaaaaa??? dog walk they said…suck it up we told them, lots of sniffing of bushes and kitty scowls;) Once up into the RV park there is no where to walk to but down to the mine or into town.
We walked into town and explored some of the old buildings and stores. Most of the restaurants were closed, Monday, too bad but we had our exercise finding the Mimosa Health Food Store along Brewery Avenue, how can you go wrong with a name like that?;) Fresh German sourdough bread and homemade bratwurst. Wonderful! Youngblood Hill Avenue was a challenge, for me, the hare left the tortoise behind and then we walked back along OK Street.
This is a town of stairs…everywhere you look, it is the only way to access anything. A welder could make a fortune here just in repairs. The only way to get up and down to many of the small houses are rickety sets, and not so rickety sets of stairs….The Bisbee 1000 Stair Climb is a five-kilometer run through the city that traverses 1,034 stairs….whew…tired just thinking about it;) If you’re a lazy person someone in a golf cart will drive you around on a tour…ha!
It seems to be a liberal little town, made me smile, the united we stand-US-Arizona-Mexico graffiti as well as signs taped in windows welcoming all and placards in store windows in Spanish and English proclaiming” Humanitarian aid is NEVER a crime, Drop the charges”. The migra seems to hit a nerve here perhaps…I do like the idea of a bicycle Brothel as well;)
There are saloons, no swinging doors I could see, closed 🙁 and a few old hotels along OK Street. At the end it is so narrow I doubt our dually truck could make some of the narrow turns. Mike said it reminded him of Europe. We stopped to talk to a kind German fellow walking his two shepards that I’d met in Patagonia Lake, small world this corner of Arizona. It is a mix of rehabilitated and needing rehabilitation everywhere you look. It is quaint, mixed with fun, mixed with boarded up and falling down. A great looking small theater, “Greenbook, Dr. Strangelove and Oh Brother Where Art Thou” were playing, nice!
We did make a trip back to Sierra Vista to restock. Headed into the boonies of SE Arizona and New Mexico next where there is…nothing…really, well, not much fresh food anyway, you’ll see;) We read the bad reviews about the Bisbee Safeway and I still wanted to stop at the San Pedro Riparian area so off we went. We circled South on the 92 back up to Sierra Vista.
The sight of the migra trucks is pretty common here, not so many migra road blocks but these guys are everywhere you look. The view to the West is spectacular. In these canyons all kinds of bird watching B&B’s are located, wish there were Birding RV parks here;) We stopped for lunch in Sierra Vista, I’d read some good reviews for J’s Kitchen, a food truck specializing in Filipino Food. We were not disappointed! Spicy fried Pork Belly and lumpia…heaven!
After the trip to the grocery store and an amble through Walmart for a water filter and DEF fluid we headed back to Bisbee via the 90 again with a quick stop at the Riparian Area. Really delightful stop. Friendly volunteer, pointed out the sleeping screech owl to us and I sat and watched the woodpeckers and warblers for a while before we headed home.
Enough of the city for us. Nice to have laundry etc but time for the wilds once again! For a long time I’ve read about Whitewater Draw, a State Wildlife area famous for its Sandhill Cranes. They have dry camping limited to 3 days so I talked Mike into going for at least one before we headed off to Rodeo, New Mexico and astronomy happenings:)
So stay tuned for thousands, yes up to 20,000 Sandhill Cranes:) and photos…hahahaha! Don’t look up with your mouth open;)