Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bisbee, AZ

Bisbee, Arizona is my favorite place so far in Arizona. Formed around 1880 and located about 45 miles south of Benson, just like Benson and Tombstone, it was a mining town, copper being it's main mineral. Then in the 1970s, the town died, becoming neglected and run down. Fortunately, the hippies found it and made it the town it is today. Its main street has many artsy shops, galleries, a museum, and a few restaurants and bars. All along the mountainside are houses built into the mountain walls, with literally thousands of steps leading up to them all from the main street. In fact, every 3rd weekend in October, Bisbee holds a weekend long event, which included the Bisbee 1000, Great Stair Climb. The route takes the walkers throughout the town by climbing the stairs. Each house has so much character...I want to live in them all!

Our first stop was the Queen Mine Tour, complete with a helmut, flashlight, and slicker. Everyone straddled a mine train and went about 1500 feet into the Queen mine tunnel. We were able to walk around while down there and the guide was very informative. We learned the whole process of mining, from excavating, to concentrating, to smelting.

From there, we walked through historic Bisbee where we had lunch at the High Desert Market and Cafe. I had a a smoked chicken on grilled focaccia with soft bleu cheese, sliced apple, and avacado...unbelievable! Bonnie had a spinach and tomato quiche, while Ed and Frank had turkey on grilled focaccia with cream cheese, lettuce, tomato, and pesto. Everyone thought it was a great meal!

Across the street from the cafe was St. Patrick's Catholic Church, which we were told had spectacular stained glass windows...and they were! The church was built in 1917 and was beautiful; the windows were awe inspiring, and were created by the famous artist Emil Frye.

Heading back to the car, we stopped in several shops along main street and admired the houses along the way. Once we arrived at the car, we headed out in search of the Shady Dell campground. This campground is one of a kind. The owners, past and present, have dedicated their efforts to finding and restoring vintage aluminum travel trailers and renting them out. There are also spots for regular RVs, but the attraction is going back in time to the 1950s. We were able to tour one of the best in the campground...the Airfloat. It had 2 twin beds with original chenille bedspreads, a black and white tv on a tv stand, an old Westinghouse refrigerator, and a full sized bathroom with a full bath! They also recently renovated and rent a 38' 1947 Chris Craft Yacht. Also located in the campground is Dot's Diner, a small 12 stool diner that is absolutely adorable!

Thanks to Ken, our 'guide' for showing us around and providing a history of the campground. The website is:

That was it for our sightseeing...we headed home and had a delicious last dinner of kobe steaks with our friends Bonnie and Frank, before they head on to Tucson and then Mexico.

We still have to see the Pima Air Museum and the Biosphere II, but we have another week here so we should be able to see both.

Safe travels, Bonnie and Frank...keep in touch!

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