Bisbee, AZ

(March 15-17, 2018)

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O Bisbee! We came to Bisbee for one reason (which you’ll learn about later) and left reluctantly for many reasons. This town is wonderful! It is set in the mountains, so it is cooler than the desert areas. There are so many stairs and original buildings from when this was a mining town. Sometimes, we felt like we were in Europe, but the cacti would remind us of where we were. This town has character and characters!

 

We parked at Queen Mine RV Park, which was pricey at $35/night, but you couldn’t beat the location (or the wifi)! We were walking distance to everything. We were lucky to be able to stay for 2 nights, because this is a very busy park. We had to move sites the second day.

Here is the Queen Mine that the park overlooks:

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There were 2 Airstreams in the park, and this sweet Vistabule:

At the visitor’s center, you can get walking tour guides focusing on architecture for 3 different neighborhoods: Main Street, Brewery Gulch, and School Hill.

The Bisbee Restoration Museum is set in a classic department store.  All the artifacts were donated by local residents.  Included in the collection are several copper high school diplomas.  Yes, copper!  This was a copper mining town after all.

What’s with the flies?

Back in August 1912, there was a fly-swatting contest. The winner, Richard Phillips, received $10. The extermination was to combat the typhoid fever epidemic.

As you can see, Bisbee is a very artsy town.  Shops and homes are decorated.  It’s hard to take it all in in two days.

Some of the sidewalks remind me of Saskatoon. In Saskatoon, you will also find these glass brick sidewalks. The glass allows light to enter the shop basements. This was where the “bargain basements” were located in Bisbee.

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Even though we only spent 2 days in Bisbee, we found ourselves at the Old Bisbee Brewing Company on both days. Imagine that! On the first day, Paul ordered the sampler, and from it, I chose my drink – Salut! It isn’t a beer. It’s created using champagne yeasts with peach and elderberry flower extracts. Because of the elderberry flower flavor, it reminded me of European lemonades. Mmmm! After my first Salut!, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so we made our way back the next day. Paul was more than willing to go with me. On the day we left, I wondered if they’d be open in the morning so I could get another.  Next year.  Salut!

In the next post, you’ll see why we really came to Bisbee.

A Change in Altitude

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From Tucson, we travelled south to Benson and then on to Tombstone and Bisbee. In Benson, we stayed at a really nice RV park (San Pedro RV Resort). Our site was just gravel, and there were no barriers between the sites, but the sites were very large – at least 3 times the size of regular parks. The price was right (with Passport America, $20/night), but our favorite part was the birds! So many birds! We now were in a more forested area of Arizona. Also, this park also has permanent residents with mobile homes, so there were paved streets and nicely maintained yards. Because it can get cooler there in the winter, the pool and hot tub were indoors.

Benson is near Kartchner Caverns. We drove out for a tour, but you must book in advance online, so we gave up on that idea. Instead we enjoyed relaxing and cooking and spending time with our new friends, Becky and Myron from N. Battleford. They became full-timers in July too; however, they had already spent a couple of winters down south, so they are more seasoned. You can check out their blog at http://canucksonwheels.com We really enjoyed getting to know them and learning all their tips on full-timing for Canadians.

Tombstone
March 15, 2018

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We parked in the RV lot and walked the main street in Tombstone with the girls. It’s a very pet-friendly area. I always waited outside shops with Poppy while Paul went in with Daisy in her pouch. The shopkeeper would always motion for me to bring Poppy in. We fell in love with all the native-made jewelry. Maybe next year I’ll get something.

Who’s a good girl? Poppy! She’s not in jail . . . yet!

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A tough old dog in a tough town
Daisy turned 15 this month!

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We didn’t go into the OK Corral because dogs weren’t allowed, but we got to see some of the actors walk down the street in that direction. It was so windy, and it added to the scene.  Look at that dust fly!

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However, a water truck came to tame the dust.

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Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to Boot Hill. We can’t do it all in our first year.

Nose Art, Jeeps, and Rivets

Usually, when I refer to nose art, it is the work by Poppy and Daisy.  Daisy used to do some lovely nose art on our windows.  Poppy has taken over now.  However, today, I’m referring to the nose art on airplanes.  In Tucson, we visited the Pima Air & Space Museum.  Dogs are allowed in the museum, but we left the girls in the Chinook.  Poppy had to work on her art.

The Pima museum is the 3rd largest airplane museum in the US.  I took pictures of what I found interesting or beautiful, though these are not be the stars of their collection.

Here’s a Jeep for Daisy.

I guess this Jeep is for Poppy

More rivets than an Airstream

This wedding dress was made from a parachute

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I love the elegant wings on this plane:

Built in Fort Erie, near my hometown of Port Colborne:

While we were in Tucson, we dry-camped at Casino Del Sol.  The parking lot was very clean.  They had large garbage bins for the campers and there was no limit on length of stay.  An actual campground is in the works.  It was pretty bright at night, so we had to block the windows, but otherwise, it was quieter than Mexico!

BLM Camping and Ajo Mountain Drive

After crossing back into the USA, we camped on BLM land near Why, AZ.  It was rejuvenating.  We had a crackling campfire, saw the sun set, watched the moon rise, and listened to the coyotes yip.

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Look at this sweet little 20 footer.

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An ocotillo was in bloom.  They don’t really have a season, so when you see one blooming, it’s magnificent.

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The next day, we took the scenic Ajo Mountain Drive in Organ Pipe Cactus Monument.  I never get tired of seeing cacti.  We couldn’t take this drive with our Chinook when we were at the park in February, so Ted drove us.  The road is quite rough, and the Chinook was at the upper limit for vehicle length.

Natural arch:

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After packing up camp the next day, we traveled through Why and saw the coyotes waiting for food near the gas station again.  The mangy one was on the other side of the highway.  I don’t think these healthy ones wanted him begging with them.  He was bad for business.

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We took Highway 86, through Tohono O’odham Nation.  This drive was just as scenic as Ajo Mountain Drive.  I highly recommend it.

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Next stop: Tucson

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Needless to say, we didn’t cross into Mexico with the “Party Bus.” Since we were so far south, we headed to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. This is a must-see stop for anyone interested in desert landscapes. It is massive (1,338 km²), and you really need a tow-behind vehicle to explore the scenic roads, so we just did some of the hiking trails.

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We camped in the park at Twin Peaks Campground. Once again, this is dry-camping only, but the campsites are well spaced, level, and clean.  Actually, this is a very beautiful campground.  The showers are solar heated, so they weren’t attractive at this time of year.  I’m glad we have a wet-bath in our Chinook.

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Organ Pipe Cactus

While we were camping, we met Ray from Love Your RV, and his little sidekick, Angie the Beagle. He was producing many YouTube videos during his stay. We have since watched some of them, and they are spectacular.

Our first stop was the Kris Eggle Visitor Center. It was named after a ranger who was killed by a Mexican drug smuggler in 2002. Most of the park was closed after that until 2014. Today, there are armed border patrol officers everywhere, which was strange to see in a national park.

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The visitor center has a ranger program, so we stayed for a brief lecture and also studied the exhibits.

The weather was turning, so we decided to stay for the rain and hoped to see this “green desert” turn green.

Dead cacti are also beautiful.  We learned that termites are essential for breaking down deadfall.  Otherwise, the desert would preserve and retain it all.

In the meantime, Ted and Dona and the Party Bus made it to Puerto Peñasco. Ted went to an insurance company there and got us a more reasonable quote ($94 US for one month). However, we would have to cross the border and buy it on the Mexican side. Next stop, Mexico!

 

 

Don’t Feed the Coyotes

After we left the Chinook rally, we headed to Ajo and Why, Arizona. Our plan was to meet Ted and Dona in Why and cross the border together on February 11, 2018.

At the Chinook rally, Karen and Kenny told us about a vintage trailer rally that was happening in Why at Coyote Howls East campground. We made it on Saturday evening, but everyone pulled out on Sunday morning, so we didn’t meet anyone, but we did see some beautiful units (too dark for pictures).

Here is one that stuck around after the event:

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We set out early Sunday afternoon to buy our Mexican vehicle insurance. At the Why gas station (insurance provider), we were told our Chinook was too old (It’s a 2002, and I guess, in the Mexican world, that’s vintage), so we had to go back to Ajo to buy insurance. Off we went.

In Ajo, we found the insurance company, but the cost for 2 weeks would be almost $400 US! This was way out of our budget. We had until 4:30 to decide before the office closed. However, we couldn’t contact Ted and Dona or Donna Dee to say we would be backing out. We tried to find wifi all over town. There was a campground across from the IGA, so we asked if we could log in briefly because we were getting desperate. They refused!

The IGA helped us out, and gave us their password. Paul tried and tried to contact Ted and Dona, but they were out of range too, so they didn’t get any of our messages. It just so happened that we looked up and saw the “Party Bus” (Ted and Dona’s Airstream motorhome) carrying all our friends that they had picked up at the airport: Joe & Carla, Jane & Garry, Susan & Chris. Off we were, down the highway trying to catch up!

We met up at the Why gas station, where Ted just put liability on the motorhome. It truly is vintage, and insurance is astronomical. Joe had picked up Daisy’s medications in Saskatoon, and delivered them to us. We honestly didn’t think she’d live this long, but as I’ve said before, Arizona has been good to her. We were so thankful to Joe!

 

At the gas station, you’ll find this “don’t feed the coyotes” sign. We were mocking it because we hadn’t heard any coyotes the previous night. In Saskatchewan, you aren’t camping if you don’t hear coyotes. Well, I learned my lesson about mocking signs. When I went to put the girls back in the motorhome, there was a coyote lurking! He was stalking us. Donna Dee had just let little Tonto scamper about, and the coyote had been watching and salivating. He kept creeping closer to the motorhome, and then backing away. He was so skinny and mangy. He didn’t look like a healthy Saskatchewan coyote. No one would want his fur on a winter parka hood.

Coyote Howls East campground is dry-camping only but there are water spigots and shower houses.  The price was reasonable — $9/night.

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Early that evening, a coyote walked past our campsite while we were preparing dinner.  That night, things picked up!  There were coyotes yipping everywhere!  The campground was alive!  Coyotes are bilingual, and one was trying to mimic a dog to lure the girls out.  I made them hold “it” until morning.

I was not going to feed the coyotes.

Chinookery

We left Oasis Palms RV resort in Thermal and headed towards Borrego Springs.  We camped in a free site, but this time it wasn’t on BLM land.  It is land owned by the Avery family (Avery labels and office supplies).  They have lots of land out this way, but they have left some of it for the public.  There are signs where it is private, but the rest is open.  The property was very clean.  People are respectful and do not leave trash around.  There are some good hiking trails in the hills (but too precarious to carry a camera up there).

We met up with Yves and Boogaloo again.  Sadly, the Land Rover is out of commission.  Yves accidentally towed it in first gear, so the engine is dead.  He has put out an SOS, and hopefully someone in California will have a spare engine for him.

View from our window and door:

We went in to Borrego Springs to get wifi.  What a sweet town!  The public library has outside benches, free wifi, and charging stations.  There is a nearby post office where people have packages sent “general delivery.”

This is the little mall around the library: (I love the MCM light fixtures)

When we got to town, we saw a Chinook parked, so we parked beside it.  We had a clear view while we were at the library, so when the people returned, we went to talk to them. They asked if we were heading to the Chinook rally in Yuma.  What rally?  That got our wheels literally in motion.

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That evening, Yves wanted to have a potluck, so he invited some nearby campers, and we had a delicious Mexican meal, complete with French beignets.

Daisy loved it there, and she had many walkabouts:

Yves got busy and gave Boogaloo a shave.  Yves said, “I don’t do fantasy.”  Boogaloo just got a basic shave down.  He must have felt so much cooler.

We were hoping to stay another day, but we got talking and thought we should head back to Yuma to find the Chinookers.

Yuma truly is the centre of the universe!  We keep finding our way back!  We found the Chinook rally, and they welcomed us.  It turned out that another couple paid their fees but couldn’t make it and couldn’t get a refund.  We got their spot.  It was very exciting for us because the only Chinook we had ever seen was ours (and the one in Borrego Springs).

Find our Chinook:

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The oldest is the crowd was a 1999, so they all were pretty hard to tell apart.  We had an ID tag made for Poppy with our Chinook on it.  If she got lost, we had hoped someone would locate the RV from the picture.  Ha!  Not in this crowd!

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Bob and Debbie also have a Destiny.  It’s a 2001, and they’ve owned it since it was 2 years old.  They were a fun couple.  Bob collected all the brochures he could get his hands on while Chinook was still in business.  We got to pore over them one afternoon.  Delightful!

Karen and Kenny also arrived late like us, and they were not members either.  Karen is my trailer soul mate!  You should see the trailers that have followed her home!  She has renovated some serious machines.  She has even sold trailers that found their ways to RV parks to be used as rentals.  One trailer, a rare Aeroflyte, was listed on eBay, and a museum was bidding against a personal collector.  Check out this 1959 Spartan that she sold to Enchanted Trails.  Three of her former trailers are at this park.  We hope to stay in touch to see what projects they are working on.  Kenny built a “tiny house” 25 years ago, long before anyone had heard of them.  He built it to take to swap meets so that he had shelter and a washroom.

Tomorrow (Sunday February 11, 2018), we are heading into Mexico.  Our first stop will be Puerto Peñasco.  Six friends are flying in from Saskatoon and Calgary.  Ted and Dona are picking them up at the airport.  Then we are all driving over together.

Here is a local treat that we indulged in on the way.  They are sold everywhere in southern Arizona and California.  Try one when you are this way!

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