Day 155: Bisbee and Coronado National Memorial

I awoke to the sound of thousands of cranes getting ready to fly off this morning before sunrise, and this was with the windows closed!  The cranes nest overnight in the shallow water of Whitewater Draw to avoid predators.  In the morning, they fly off in search of food and return at sunset.  I quickly dressed and stepped out to see clouds of cranes flying off in the distance as the sky gradually lightened.  It was a magical moment to be sure.  I had to lock the door of the RV when I left because the latch froze in the retracted position.  It must have been in the high 20s at dawn.

Heading South and West, we arrived at the mining town of Bisbee, AZ.  Our first stop was the Lavender Mine, an open pit mine that produced 600,000 tons of copper from 1950 to 1974.  That copper was liberated from the 256,000,000 tons of rock removed.  See the buildings on the rim to get a sense of the size of the hole, which is 300 acres in area at ground level and 900 feet deep in the center:


We visited the Bisbee Museum, which was fantastic.  We just finished listening to Hattie Big Sky in the car, which was set during World War I.  The book talked about the pressure to purchase Liberty Bonds and Stamps to show one’s patriotism:



The bottom floor dealt with the history of Bisbee, including the Bisbee deportations, which was fascinating.  Upstairs the museum focused more on mining:


The museum houses amazing samples discovered when Bisbee miners would be mining along in a shaft and break into underground caverns filled with brightly colored mineral formations:



There was a tire on display from the giant dump trucks used in the open pit mines.  The tire gives you a feeling for the size of the vehicle:


After the museum, we walked around the town, which still has many of its original buildings:



Bisbee is a town built into a mountain, so there are many stairs.  We climbed the 183-stair staircase known as staircase #3 in the Bisbee 1000 stair run (see map):


Several of the houses we saw use car doors as fence gates:


You can do it!


From the top, we could see some of Bisbee’s houses.  The blue house left of center is the width of a single-wide garage door:


Some of the streets we paved in bricks and had a European feel:



Bisbee feels like a mountainous version of Berkley, and after seeing some of its inhabitants, I wondered how many of its inhabitants are not under the influence of controlled substances.  It seems that there’s a competition amongst home owners to have the most quirky house.  Wall art is also very popular:




Parting view of Bisbee:


From Bisbee, we drove Southwest to Coronado National Memorial.  As we entered the Memorial, we could see the border wall with Mexico a couple miles to the South.  At the visitor center, the kids tried on some armor:




The kids completed their Junior Ranger workbooks and received their badges:


From Coronado, we drove North to camp on Coronado National Forest land just South of Sierra Vista, AZ.  We could see another Aerostat blimp keeping an eye on things:



The Huachuca Mountains, pronounced “Wa-Chuka”, rise to the west:


Tomorrow we’ll head North to Fort Huachuca.  See the trip map for details.

Day 154: Chiricahua NM and Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area
Day 156: Fort Huachuca, Tombstone, Fairbank, Las Cienegas National Grassland

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