My Mexican dream itinerary!
Do not laugh at me, please. My foundest memory from Bisbee is a bit unique and refers to Mexico. Well, I had already been in Mexico two days before Bisbee. But Tijuana was not at all authentic Mexican city. That's why I wanted to visit Mexico again during my US trip.
Well, maybe that was creative mountain fresh air that livened up my mind in Bisbee Coffee Company, maybe delicious Copper Queen caffee. Shortly, as soon as I checked the maps I started to plan visit to real Mexico. My plan was to stay that day in Bisbee and early in the next morning cross Mexican border in nearby Naco and drive through Mexican Sonora and Chihuahua province to Ciudad Juarez and El Paso that's 289,8 miles (466,4 km) in total. The alternative way via New Mexico is only four miles shorter but I'd add 40-mile drive south from Janos to Casas Grandes to see UNESCO World Heritage Site: Archaeological Zone of Paquimé (enlarge my picture). Don't you like that idea? Well, it would be for sure nature (high Chihuahuan Desert and mountains) oriented trip with no towns and cities on the way (just small villages) except border town at the end - Ciudad Juarez. Well, I disliked most border towns I visited. We were very excited about the idea but I had to worry a bit about quality of secondary roads in Mexico on high desert, empty areas, about personal safety while driving etc. Well, I didn't know Mexico. As for personal safety I thought that it had to work good in untouristy areas I wanted to pass through. As for roads.. I would see at place, no choice. As for my US visa, I had multi-entry visa valid for 10 years, so it was no problem to come back to the USA. Well, I had to think about money exchange probably in a bank in Mexican Naco. I had no idea how much to change and whether cards are accepted on little towns of Mexican desert. I also didn't know how much gas was in Mexico.
So, my idea was to find hotel with internet to check things. But, at that moment I started to think about my rented car insurance (for sure not valid in Mexico) and I realized that... I WAS NOT ALLOWED TO DRIVE THIS CAR TO MEXICO. Well, when I was looking for rental deal (with great help of Linda's = lmkluque's son) I wanted car which could be entitled to drive on Canadian and if possible Mexican roads. The answer was yes for Canada but NO for Mexico! So, my Mexican dream was ruined at that moment. What a great itinerary and adventure I had to skip! Well, maybe someday...
The Time Tunnel - local sense of humour
People who live in isolated mountains, especially for years, tend to be happier and have great sense of humour, did you notice something like this? It's well seen in Bisbee.
I was talking with a happy smiling, retired couple in cafe (Bisbee Coffee Company). I asked them about my futher road to Douglas and how to get to Lavander Pit, whether I would have to go through another tunnel to get there. They jokingly named the Lavander Pit THE HOLE, the largest hole south of I-10. As for the tunnels they told me that there were some down in the hole (guided tours there only) but the only one digged for a highway - the TIME TUNNEL - I had already gone through driving from Tombstone. I asked them about that strange tunnel name and got to know that it's officially named the Mule Pass Tunnel. But they call this tunnel the TIME TUNNEL because all who go through it come out into another time zone :-). Right, time has another meaning in Bisbee. It's a place to slow down and take time to smell roses!
Driving Arizona State Highway 80 called Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway from Tombstone towards Bisbee I passed through quite long tunnel just before reaching the town. It was a surprise for me because there are very few tunnels in the USA outside larger cities.
The paved Route 80 to Bisbee was constructed by prison labour in 1913 - 1914 and originally the road wound over the Mule Pass a few hundreds feet above the contemporary Mule Pass Tunnel which was build in 1958. The Mule Pass Tunnel was the longest in Arizona until construction of the tunnel in Phoenix on Interstate 10 through downtown.
Town of cables and wooden poles
I have never seen as tall and as numerous utility poles as in Bisbee. The numerous wooden telephone and power poles form thick net of electricity and telephone cables in the air that is unfortunatelly well seen in numerous pictures I have taken in Bisbee.
These poles must be tall, sometimes as tall as a 4-floor building, for the obvious reason: Bisbee is located on partly quiet steep hillsides and bare wires surely must run enough high for safety reasons. Few utility poles are still equipped in old-fashionable, ceramic insulators. Well, they were necessary only for higher voltage (power) bare wires not used since conducting copper wires are insulated by an outer layer of polyethylene. Now, the numerous utility poles add a lot of Old World charm to Bisbee but the tangle net of cables in the air disturbs taking pictures and ruins many of them.
Generally driving along many towns and neighbourhoods of even larger US cities, I saw numerous wooden electric and telephone poles alongside the road. It was nothing special but I was a little bit surprised to see them in the middle of often busy areas. Well, these poles, a lot of green space and height restrictions on both houses and local businesses help some fast-growing suburban communities keep a little of its small-town flavour. In Poland, electric and telephone cables are hidden underground to protect them from animal life and the weather. Thanks it the wires can't ruin some pictures.
Because Bisbee is in the mountains, it can get quite cold in the winter so bring heavy
clothing & stuff to layer with. It can even snow there. Late summer is monsoon season,
so sudden rain is common usually accompanied by lots of lightning. Comfortable shoes because there is a lot of uphill walking. I would stock up on film & batteries before going because there are not much options for buying them while in Bisbee, therefore they are quite expensive.
Bisbee's Turquoise Valley
The golf course in Naco.
If you don't play golf, you can still hang out at their fine restaurant. Often very busy, but that's because they deliver good food quickly at low prices, served by friendly staff in a nice atmosphere: maybe the best restaurant view in the county.
Their Mexican food is also routinely counted among the best -if not Thee Best- in the area.
Like many Bisbee and Naco area bars, their saloon offers (local) Electric Dave's beer on tap. Their bar was recently voted one of the top ten 19th holes out of all of Arizona's golf courses.
The course itself is the oldest continuously-run track in AZ. It has a par 6 on their back nine that stands as the longest golf hole in the west. Top rated rural course in Southern AZ, it's also the only Cochise County course featured in Arizona's Greatest Golf Courses, by Bill Huffman. You can pick up a copy of it in their Pro Shop and they'll knock off $5 if you want it autographed.
They're quick with a laugh and in keeping with the restaurant prices, the green fees are always low, year round.