Mining was a mainstay at the end of the 19th century. Bisbee, 90 miles southwest of Tucson, was founded in 1880, and was the site of the one of world’s richest sources of gold, copper and silver. In the early 1900s it was the largest city in the southwest between St. Louis and San Francisco. By 1975, mining had run its course, forcing the city to re-invent itself using the vestiges of art and culture. Today it’s a vibrant artists’ colony, with galleries and shops tucked along the main street of Victorian like buildings, and restored homes perched on the rock cliff sides.
We got an early start and arrived in time for a mid-morning breakfast at the Savory Spot. The Scientist claimed the last order of biscuits and gravy, while I opted for the special, a spinach-mushroom-tomato-red onion omelette covered in jack cheese with home fries and toast. Enough for two, I ate half and packed the rest in the cooler, knowing we’d chomp it down for dinner tonight with the leftover chimichanga and chicken mole from La Casitas, and polish off that bottle of Sonoita white. Every plate came out of the kitchen graciously prepared by the Sarah, who sang a bit off key as she cooked. I was struck by how she and our server thanked each other for every interaction…creating an atmosphere of appreciation. When we paid our bill, I mentioned they reminded me of Café Gratitude, a restaurant I’d read about, whose owners’ philosophy and mission was to intentionally cultivate an soulful eating space and workplace of kindness, self awareness and personal growth….in service of their customers and employees.
Wandering in and out of little shops, I replenished my sock collection with several fantastically colourful pairs, and purchased a birthday gift. We walked a bit beyond to St. Patrick’s Church c.1916 to view its beautiful stained glass windows, and see the city’s art deco designed courthouse. The sun blazed high in the sky, the temperature well over 80 F, and it was hard to believe that a week ago they’d had a nonstop day of snow, being a mile high from sea level.
Another short drive through the desert and we arrived at Tombstone, originally famous for its rich silver mining but now as the site of the shootout at the O.K. Corral with the Wyatt Earp and his brothers settling the score with the outlaw Cowboys who rustled cattle and other goods. We moseyed under the porticoes on the wide dusty main street, peeking into shops that from the outside looked much as they would have during the town’s heyday in the late 1800s. This time, a handsome summer straw Stetson for The Scientist, a belated birthday gift. Stage coaches, horse drawn wagons, costumed cowboys, pranksters and shopkeepers, and the daily staged famous shootout and other gunfights invited us to step back in time to when Tombstone was home to dancing and gambling halls, at least a hundred saloons, brothels, churches, an opera house, and the famous Bird Cage Theatre, reputed to be the “wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast.”