2/23 to 3/2
We left Deming NM in some fairly high winds which made for an interesting drive to Bisbee Arizona. We saw quite a few dust storms but fortunately none of them crossed our path and we made it safely to Bisbee.
We set up and luckily the winds were not as bad in this location, so we walked into town and started exploring this quirky and crazy place. Bisbee is a historic mining town and was one of the richest mineral sites in the world. In the early 1900’s it was the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco. The town is built on a hillside and the homes and streets climb and wind around in a maze-like layout.
We climbed a few steep stairways and looked at all the amazing architecture. There were some great historical buildings as well as lots of dilapidated homes. It was difficult to imagine how one could even restore some of these homes due to the steepness and difficulty getting to the properties.
The following morning, we walked Buddy around town and looked through shop windows and returned a few hours later without our trusted companion so that we could actually go into the stores. The town is filled with lots of artistic flair as well as old historical artifacts. One of our stops was into their library to see some historic photos of the town and look at their collection of older books. Bisbee’s library was the State’s first community library. In the afternoon we did the infamous Bisbee 1000 Stair challenge that is a 4.6-mile race in October where the entrants go up 9 long flights of stairs (80-180 steps) throughout town. It was a great workout and so much fun to see parts of the town that we hadn’t seen. We loved seeing the creative retaining walls, fences, sculptures etc. as well as the funky architecture.
The following morning, we headed out early for a quick stop at a nearby town called Tombstone which is known for its wild west history. We knew it would be touristy because they have reenactments of gun fights etc. Fortunately, we were there before the tourists were there, so we had the town almost to ourselves. It was a bit cheesy for us, but I think if we had young kids it would be a good place to take them to show them what that time period was like.
We moved on from Tombstone to head to Kartchner Caverns State Park. If you have been following us for a while you might remember that we were there last year in the campground but due to Covid, were not able to get a ticket to the Cavern Tour. These caves were touted to be the best in Arizona. We were able to get tickets this year and were glad that we came back to see them. Last year, Ross and I had hiked over these rolling hills and it was amazing to think these caves were right underneath our feet (well a few hundred feet). This State Park is relatively new and the construction is an absolute wonder in itself. These caves were mostly dug out by hand and then they poured an incredible concrete path throughout. They also had a very intricate system of steel doors that we entered through to maintain the temperature of the caves as well as a misting system to tamper down the lint etc. that humans emit and to maintain the humidity of the caves. The caves themselves were beautiful. It is amazing to see the stalagtites, stalagmites, the bacon formations and straws growing from the rocks. It was a magical world underneath those mountains.
These caves are also known for its bats roosting. The female bats migrate from Mexico back to these caves in April through October to give birth to their young. But the researchers don’t know how they find their way back to these caves and in particular the small entry hole into the caves. It is well worth a visit. Unfortunately, there are no cameras allowed in so if you want to see some photos or learn more you will need to look at their website. https://azstateparks.com/kartchner/
We headed north to another town we heard great things about called Prescott, AZ. It is known for it’s historical architecture in old downtown as well as access to the outdoors and mild temperatures because it is located at around 5000 ft.
We had a very nice camping spot outside of town nestled into the rock formations and nearby Watson Lake. We walked over to the lake and hiked a portion of the trail and were mesmerized by the beautiful color of the water and the rock formations.
Later in the afternoon we drove to the center of town with high expectations. The town center was nice and there were some beautiful shops as well as a few old historical bars and taverns. But for us, something was a little lacking. It seems that most of these old charming towns turn into tourist destinations which then looses their charm and urban sprawl occurs. I know that we are part of the problem since we were drawn to these locations, but it seems like certain municipalities do a better job than others of maintaining their charm.
We woke up the next morning to a beautiful blue sky, so we headed out to do the Watson Lake Loop trail. The hike begins winding up and down and through the Granite Dells which are unusual rock formations. The views were stunning overlooking the lake and then eventually we wound our way below the dam to the creek below which ironically was called the Boulder Creek. This section of the trail was called “Over the Hill” which also was ironic since my Birthday was the following day and I’m heading over the hill even though I’m feeling pretty young at heart. The loop was 5.4 miles, but for some reason felt much longer to all of us (including Buddy see the picture below) probably due to the rock scrambling needed to get around. The trail flows into a bike path that is part of the rails to trails system and if we had our bikes with us, we would have ridden it.
The afternoon was spent peacefully while I worked on a few paintings of dogs. The first painting is done with watercolors on watercolor board. This surface does not allow the watercolors to bleed the same way that normal watercolor paper does. The one benefit that I have found with the watercolor board is that it is easy to lift paint off of the surface which can be a good thing at times but also does not allow me to layer colors. The second painting I did is of the same subject matter but with a paint called Gouache (sounds like g-wash) on watercolor paper. Gouache is like a cross between watercolors and acrylic. It flows a little bit like watercolor but instead of being transparent it is opaque. This means that I am able to add some lighter colors over the darker colors which is not possible in watercolors. So one set of dogs is in watercolor on watercolor board and the other is Gouache on watercolor paper. Which do you prefer I’d love to know.
On our last full day in Prescott, we decided to hike in the Ponderosa forests which the area is also known for. We did a loop starting from the Spence Trailhead north of town. It was a beautiful winding trail through the trees, and it definitely had a west coast feel to it. It was peaceful and quiet with very few people on the trails.
The afternoon was spent doing some necessities as well as some more painting and then we headed into town for a nice dinner out. Prescott does do a very nice job of providing the history and photos of the historical buildings and streets.
We started heading further west and made a stopover in Las Vegas. It was the day after my birthday, so we decided to celebrate with a nice dinner and seeing the Cirque Du Soleil show Beatles Love. Normally we prefer not to stay in large commercial RV parks, but we have to say that the Oasis RV Park on the edge of Las Vegas was fantastic. It was huge (about 900 spots), extremely well organized, clean and had security. They even had mobile dog groomers, mobile RV washing, 3 pools, hot tub and an 18 hole putting golf course. We only stayed one night but would definitely stay here again for a few nights to spend in Vegas. We Ubered into Vegas and had a fabulous dinner and then saw Cirque Du Soleil’s Beatles Love which was amazing. Every time we see a Cirque Du Soleil production we are blown away by the creativity, the music, the athleticism, the costuming, and the stage sets. What m a magical evening! My brother Jeff and his old college roommate happened to be in town for a conference so we were able to catch up with them briefly as an added bonus. To top off the evening I played some Craps (which is my favorite) and won $250. Overall, our one night stay in Vegas was fantastic and surprisingly makes us want to come back on our next trip west.
And now for a little humor and inspiration seen on this trip. Can you figure out which picture was taken at the RV campground in Las Vegas?