Sunday, February 11, 2018

Taking a Breather

After an active and stimulating week in Bisbee, we took a week to catch our breath before we catch up with family in the Tucson and Phoenix areas.

Kartchner Caverns StatePark near Benson, AZ is a small, quiet and pretty park with very few attractions. (No, we didn’t tour the caverns as we have toured enough caves and caverns to know it is not something we find all that interesting.)

The weather continues to be mild with highs in the 70s, lows in the 40s. Our activities are somewhat determined by the wind predictions for the day. Most days it is quite windy, up to 20+ mph, so we take advantage of the calmer less than 10 mph days. Finally we had a couple days we could ride the tandem and a couple of days ABN was actually able to do some outdoor drawing.

Patagonia Lake StatePark is a bit larger and the sites are closer together.

Patagonia Lake

The Wanderer found herself parked between two cute little Escape RVs whose occupants happened to be friends; Donna and Tom from Canada, Marty and Steve from a small town in Washington state. Like us, they are exploring Arizona State Parks this winter. Of course we compared notes over wine.
To ABN’s delight, we learned there was an art festival in Tubac, about 30 minutes away. After strolling, looking, admiring, critiquing (and yes, purchasing,)

we took the suggestions from our new friends to have a late lunch at Wisdoms, a family owned restaurant just outside of Tubac. Great suggestion! While the service was extremely slow (probably due to the art festival crowd) the green chili tamale was outstanding. It reminded us of our favorite dish, Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes, at The Cheesecake Factory. Tubac is a small, cute, artsy town we hope to explore in the future when it isn’t festival time.

Once again we worshiped with the Methodists at the Patagonia Community UMC.

WiFi was limited at Patagonia and we had no cell phone service so we were pretty much off the grid. (We are starting to get used to this.) But we did have satellite TV so we were able to watch the improved Texas A&M’s last two basketball wins. Way to go Aggies! And Captain is watching the Winter Olympics.

Monday, we are moving up to Catalina State Park in Oro Valley, just outside of Tucson.

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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Embracing our Bohemian Spirit

Many of you have heard us speak about the funky little town of Bisbee, Arizona and may have read our post 2 years ago. Our first visit was such a surprising and amazing experience we were concerned we might be disappointed on our return. We were not! In fact we are even more captivated to the point we took so many pictures we couldn’t decide which ones to share with you. So we have added a Bisbee Page that will provide a more detailed snapshot of this quirky little bohemian town in southern Arizona, about 11 miles from the Mexican border.

The best way to explore any town is by walking and so we did. Laid out as a pedestrian town in the early 1990’s, paths led to homes built on the hill side; later wooden stairs were added. As part of FDR’s New Deal project in the 1930’s, the wooden stairs were replaced with concrete. To navigate this artsy maze of stairs we downloaded the popular Bisbee1000 Stair Climb map and followed the blue arrows. We did half of the route one day and the other half another day. These are just a few of the colorful houses and street art; more can be seen by clicking here.

Garden Gate

A concrete wall

Located down Hwy. 80,

 about 1 1/2 miles from our RV park is the Lowell neighborhood. There is a sidewalk that allowed us to walk along the highway and past the now defunct Queen Mine open pit.

Once a thriving community it is now somewhat of a ghost town. It felt like folks just up and left in the 50’s, leaving behind automobiles and buildings.

Across the highway we strolled into the Shady Dell Vintage RV Park. Here we found a collection of RVs from the 1940’s and 1950’s. Refurbished, they now serve as guests houses and are available for rent. We were in luck that we just happened to be there the day before their season began and was able to get a tour that included the interiors.

More photos here.

With the recommendations of our friend, Keith, we hiked up to see the shrine cross that overlooks the city.

As Keith told us it was a “heart thumper” but worth the hike.

Trail Marker

Made it!

View of Bisbee from the top
Keith was correct!

The Wanderer was parked at Queen Mine RV Park overlooking Old Bisbee on one side and the Queen Copper Mine open pit.

Note the Prayer Flags!

From the park it is a short walk into town. On our previous visit we became acquainted with Bruce who lives 6 months in Bisbee and 6 months in Minnesota; we were happy to see he is still here as he is a wealth of information, especially on the live music venues. (Travel tip; we have found talking with locals and reading other travel blogs provide us with more interesting information on places to visit, things to do and places to eat than the tourist information centers.) We caught up with Bruce shortly after we arrived and took his suggestion to check out Johnny Bencomo playing at the Copper Queen Hotel that evening.

A classic tenor, he sang mostly western ballads and folk songs, including a couple about Kentucky. We had a chance for a short conversation and learned he was a cowboy until his body couldn’t take it any longer and now he puts his heart and soul into his music. He is one of the best folk musicians we have heard.

On Wednesday evening we made our way to The Grand Hotel to hear what Bruce described as a “jug band.” The Whiskey Lickers are an 8 piece mountain music band consisting of 2 guitars, 2 banjos, 2 fiddles, a mandolin and a wash board. They were just fun!

You may recall that on our previous visit we met creative luthier and musician, Keith Edwards aka The BluesWizard. We stopped by his studio to say “hello” and to check out his current projects. Keith uses unique items to create string instruments; he demonstrated a banjo using a hubcap from vintage V8 Ford.

Keith is quite pleased with the way his business, Lunatic Fringe Luthiery has blossomed since moving to Bisbee two years ago. We stopped by Ana’s Seasonal Kitchen Sunday morning to catch a performance.

You can learn more about Keith on his Facebook page and YouTube channel. He showed us his latest project involving a skateboard but ask us to not show a photo as he will be doing a big launch in the next few weeks.

On our previous visit our friend, Bruce, invited us to a jam session of local musicians in the back room of a woodworking shop. As we were walking one day we passed the shop; the door was open so we stopped to inquire if he still hosted the jam session. Yep, on the first Monday of every month, it is a pot luck and we were welcomed.

Steve’s shop has Captain drooling; large space, organized and appointed with very nice tools. Another large room in the back of the shop is where the musicians gather and the food spread was laid out. With a quick count, we determined there were about 75 people of all ages. Probably about 25 musicians playing guitar, banjo, fiddle, piano, drums, harmonica, stand up string bass, mandolin, melodica (aka a blow organ or key harmonica) and those are just the ones we remember. We so wanted to take photos, but declined as we didn’t want to be rude. As was the last time, this was a highlight of our visit. 

Sunday we attended service at the beautiful Covenant Presbyterian Church. It was a very small but friendly congregation of about 15 heads with gray hair. We wonder what will be the future of the church.

It has been a pleasantly sunny week here in Bisbee with highs in the low 70s, lows in the upper 30s. It is quite windy at times, but we will take the wind over the freezing temperatures, ice and snow at home. 

Sorry this is such a lengthy post but truly you cannot describe Bisbee with a few words and photos. We are leaving today with plans to return again next year.

This week we will be in a couple of state parks and have no idea if we will have cell phone and internet access. Our aging laptop is limping but hopefully will stay usable until we return home. If not, we will be blogging with an iPad app which is not exactly user friendly. 

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Why Deming?

There is nothing to do there.

Last summer we spent 90 days traveling around the Northwest, visiting friends and family, seeing the “must see” sites (along with thousands of other tourists), never staying in one spot more than 4 nights. We had a wonderful time but became exhausted (and a bit snappy with one another.) This trip we scheduled some downtime; a week in Deming fit the bill.
Our friends were right, there isn’t much to do here but we did get in a couple of desert hikes.

We really liked City of Rocks State Park and have visions of The Wanderer parked in among the boulders and views of star studded nights.
Visitor's Center at Rockhound State Park
Hunting for gem stones
 Rockhound State Park allows one to keep rocks and any gemstones one finds. We didn’t find any gems but ABN did pack out a few rocks for her studio rock garden.

We heard that Silver City, about an hour away, had a lot of art galleries so we drove over on Thursday to check it out. We did find the art district but not one gallery was open. Bummer, but there is an Art Museum in Las Cruces and the White Sands MissileRange is nearby, so Friday we drove the 50-something miles for a day trip. Captain dropped ABN downtown and headed to the missile museum. Guess what? The art museum was closed! Downtown was very empty, one small art gallery was open, a very large used book store, and that was about it; no “specialty shops” as mentioned in the tourist information booklet. What to do but find the public library and wait for Captain to return. I must say it is a very nice library.

Captain found the White Sands Missile Range museum to be interesting.

Sunday we worshipped with the friendly folks at First United Methodist Church in Deming.
Love the adobe architecture.

The weather has been sunny with temperatures in the 60’s during the day, 20s and low 30s at night; too cool and windy for bike riding. Deming is a snow bird destination with a lot of RV parks but not much else to offer. We are staying at Dream Catcher, an Escapees park just off I-10. At a park ice cream social yesterday afternoon, we talked with a couple from Colorado; he is an 88-year old retired military officer and she said she was younger, only 86. They bought their first RV in 1969. With their son’s encouragement, they downsized a couple of years ago from a Class A to a Class C. Apparently he has episodes of dizziness so she usually drives. What the son doesn’t know, he too drives. Be careful out there, you never know who will be at the wheel of a vehicle. And one never knows what one will find along the road, especially in open range territory.

Parked near us at Dream Catcher was a newer version of The Wanderer.

For most of you, that may seem a bit insignificant, so let us explain. The Wanderer is made by Lazy Daze, a very small company in California; we do not see many when we are traveling and when we do see one, we kind of get excited.

Tomorrow we will drive to Bisbee, Arizona. You may recall the post about our visit there two years ago. We are looking forward to another week of music, art, hiking and hanging out at one of our favorite breweries.

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