October 8, 2008 — After plugging in “coffee shops” in the Prius GPS and finding a Starbucks, we headed south on I-10 until we arrived in Benson (seems like a nice town, we stopped at a Safeway to pick up water here), at which point we turned south onto scenic route 80, which goes through the infamous Tombstone, and the mining town of Bisbee and then down to the Mexican border at Douglas. We continued to follow it up through the San Simeon Valley until it meets up with I-10 again in New Mexico.
Bird Cage Theater in Tombstone -- original structure
So, Tombstone. Of course, as expected — there are some original buildings and lots of reproduction to make the town look somewhat authentic complete with gunfights, lots of people walking around in cowboy hats & boots, and lots and lots of shops and museums. Everything seems to cost $10 per adult.
Carl enjoyed the day by reading all the historical plaques on the buildings, and sitting and watching the world go by. I couldn’t resist going into the 1880s Bird Cage museum (click on the link for the interesting history). In its day, it was a saloon, gambling hall and whore house.
Cribs inside the Bird Cage Opera House Saloon
It is not a very organized museum — there are some things set up — and have been for a long time since everything has a layer of dirt — and then there are many odds and ends, and lots of wall displays/photos with captions. I would be easy to spend twice as much time as I did in there. I was surprised to see how small everything is — like the cribs that the women worked from and even the stairs up to the crib. It is fascinating to see the old things, though this was an odd collection ranging from the card tables to the town’s hearse.
We walked around town some more, sat an had some ice cream, contemplated taking a stage coach ride and then decided not to. In our estimation, everyone is to rote in their “speeches” and not enough heart is put into it. You try to ask a question and the person just goes into the prepared speech. You could hear the drivers narrating the stage coach tours with same tone. They should learn from other places and get an interesting person to “guide” via a preset recording. Or take acting lessons. I don’t mind hokey if everyone who is hosting the event is in to it! But in this town, they all act too cool be doing their jobs.
So, we left Tombstone proper, and drove over to Boothill. We didn’t pay to walk through the cemetery — we decided that there had to be a website on the whole thing and from what we could see from the fence, there wasn’t enough to entice us. When I was around 13, my grandparents took me to Boothill in Dodge City. It was more hokey than this, and left an impression of feeling ripped off. So, call me jaded.
Graves in Tombstone
Obama for President, outside Bisbee, AZ
As we approached Bisbee, we saw an Obama sign on a tree at the end of someone’s driveway. In NH, outside of being happy to see another Obama supporter it would not be of note since the “first in the nation” state has so many presidential political signs. Interesing to note that since we have been on this trip, it has been astonishing to see the lack of national election signs. This is not to say that people aren’t passionate about their politics. There are lots and lots of posters for local politicians but rarely is there any for either Obama or McCain. (I like to think, though that we have seen more Obama than McCain.)
The sign on this out of the way tree/driveway was just the start though. When we drove into Bisbee, we could see that this town had a definite opinion, with lots of Obama signs. Hey, we could live here!
Bisbee was a fun surprise. This town was came into existence about the same time as Tombstone as a copper, gold and silver mining town. When the mining stopped around 1975, the town turned into an artist community. Our brief drive through the town showed us lots of authentic buildings, many renovated. Outside of town you could take tour of the mine, which we did not do. But we took lots of photos.
Open Pit mine at Bisbee (click on photo and look for truck to see just how big this hole is)
At Douglas, we stopped to get gas outside of the Border Crossing. Carl decided to get an Ice Tea in the store. He said it stank like a centuries worth of grease and I must say, he smelled like he went through the fryolater. Fortunately the smell did dissipate a few miles down the rode.
Apache, AZ: Scene looking out from Geronimo's surrender monument
After 80 turns North and heads toward 10 again, about half way up we found the monument in honor of Geronimo’s surrender. The monument itself isn’t much, but the weather was so nice, we just hung out there for a little while.
There are a lot of things we want to do see in New Mexico, so we stopped in Lordsburg and took the room for 2 nights. (Actually this hotel is so new and nice, I hope we find a reason to stay a third night.)
- Lordsburg, New Mexico from RR tracks
Lordsburg is a funny little town. It’s basically dead — like many of the towns on route 66 (which this is not) there are lots of empty buildings and many, many empty motels. But there is one small strip this that is alive — which means we did find the only place to eat dinner.