Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Road Trip!

For years we had talked about going to Bisbee. After a while, it got to be an inside joke - whenever anyone mentioned it, Melinda lamented "Dean won't take me there", which was untrue, just hadn't gotten to it! So Saturday, with an open day we finally made it!

Bisbee was incorporated as a mining town 130 years ago, located on veins of copper, silver and gold atop the Mule Mountains. Supposedly at one time in it's heyday, it was the largest city between St Louis and San Francisco. But the boom times passed and in the '70s it was discovered by hippies and artists, and that funky community spirit remains more than a generation later. To borrow a phrase, the town seems an embodiment of Keillor's "The town that time forgot and the decades cannot improve." There is a lot of history here, with 100+ year old Victorian architecture, displays of mining equipment and museums, and in fact, tours of underground mines are all popular. The "Lavender Pit", named after a mining engineer, not the color of the rocks, is just east of town, and is one of the first strip mines.

The population currently stands at just over 6,000, and it is the county seat of Cochise County. Built into the hills and canyons, it stands over a mile high and offers a welcome respite from the desert heat of Arizona. The curved streets are full of antique stores, art galleries, restaurants and realty offices. There is an abundance of empty storefronts too as the recent economic downturn had people coming to town less and hanging on to their money. On a walk up "Brewery Gulch" in search of a place to eat, we spotted a painted bench that matched my tie dye shirt, parked under an "art installation".

After an early dinner, we took off for the 100 mile return drive to Tucson. We had to be back to feed the livestock, since we had only planned on a day trip. Melinda found a few items of interest in browsing the antique stores - a fabric swatch book and a straw hat were her prizes. Interestingly, a couple weeks ago she had been looking for a marble top end table for our Illinois bedroom, and had difficulty finding what she wanted. In Bisbee she saw over 6 of them! My gem of the day was an optical gizmo listed as a "Russian Scope", and it was obvious the owner didn't know what he had. It was a little inspection microscope, with 2 objectives providing 25X and 50X, with a nice calibrated scale and well corrected eyepiece - complete with Russian manual for $35! We've spent lots more for plastic versions at work that don't work nearly as well, so I was very happy. We'd be happy to return for a visit, perhaps planning to stay overnight next time to give time for more exploring!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice find Mr K. this looks just like a small Russian scope Robert Franklin G showed me, once upon a time, in a land, long ago, and far away. Probably not too many of those around.

Nice to find a great straw hat Melinda! I too acquired a marvelous straw on Saturday, great price and "cool" for desert gardening.

Cool Beans!