Sunday, September 10, 2006

Busy little Bisbee

I can't not talk about my mini Labor Day weekend break spent in the town of Bisbee. An old mining town, a lot of hippies and artists started moving there in the '80s turning the place into something trendy. I've never been anywhere quite like it. It's up in the canyons, so everywhere is elevated and lots of stairs to get to the residences farther up. I felt like I had walked onto the set of a quirky, small-town dramedy. All we needed was people talking fast like they do on "Gilmore Girls."

First off, when Sandy and I got to our hotel, the Bisbee Grand, we had to check in at the "saloon." Every bar there is called the saloon. But no, there are not men in chaps. Though some guys do wear a cowboy hat. Our room was the total opposite--lots of perfumey, Victorian goodness. I thought a flower shop had exploded all over the wallpaper.

Downtown Bisbee is like a grid--more like gridlet--of four streets. Lots of art galleries. And among all the galleries, there's a small general store and lots of vintage stores that sell old junk. Think your grandparents' attic multiplied 10 times. I saw a toy store where you can buy Castle Greyskull, Snake Mountain or that old Fisher Price phone with a face that you could pull everywhere--I used to have one of those. There's also a store run by "The Killer Bee Guy," who specializes in removing hives and making honey butter in various flavors--rum, orange chocolate, mustard, truffle. I bought blueberries and cream.

I saw several old hippies and people smoking handrolled cigarettes. That weekend, they closed down one tiny street called the Gulch to have a myriad of events: a pet parade--which went on despite the rain. All these people dressed up their dogs, cats and even pony. One dog had butterfly wings on, poor thing. And some guy was passing out popsicles to everyone. There was also a chili cook-off and a watermelon triathalon (sorry to say, I missed that). A new friend of ours, Jonathan who is a reporter for the Bisbee Review, and Ted, an editor for a bigger paper nearby, showed us around. Jonathan, who has lived in Bisbee for the past six months, said his first assignment was to cover "Pie Day." A small group of people decided to celebrate Pie Day, 3-14, by having a pie fight. They bought 20 pies and the whole thing lasted a few minutes.

Bisbee is actually made up of three areas: Old Bisbee, and the village communities of Lowell and Warren. Lowell barely qualifies as a village. It's business area is 10 storefronts, all deserted except for a organic grocery co-op and the Bisbee Breakfast Club, which serves really good eats. Bisbee is really close to the border town of Naco, which straddles both Arizona and Mexico. Sometimes they have cross-border interaction through baseball games. Jonathan said some people used to have border volleyball games--you hit the ball from one side of the border to the other. I wonder if border patrol would allow that now?

All in all, I recommend visiting Bisbee at least once just for the pure novelty. Plus, you could run into Dog-Cat-Mouse guy!

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