Saturday, July 11, 2009

Where Copper is King, er- Queen

When Mr. Hall looked out of his motel room that morning, it was a bracing 92 degrees already, and the desert lay in front of him, all pink sand and scrub. "Another fine morning in Willcox," he announced. "I cannot wait to get out of here." Willcox, while indeed friendly, is known generally as a way station for truckers, and it's primary notoriety stems from its undying devotion to cowboy star and native son, Rex Allen. (Yes, Gentle Reader, there is a museum.) The Halls, pressed for time, had to forego this historic gem, and mushed on.
Their little caravan headed south, down 191 through the Sulphur Springs desert and on to Bisbee AZ, about seven or eight miles or so from the Mexican border. Bisbee was once a thriving cultural center, due in large part to the magnificent copper strike located in the mountains looming around it. While the copper museum and the turn of the century hotel beckoned, it was the tour of the old Queen Mine that really appealed to the Halls. Within minutes, they were suited up with heavy slickers, miner's hats and lights and batteries; all necessary accoutrement for underground exploration. The tour took quite a long time; the visitors straddled an actual mine train and were taken well into the belly of the copper mountain and visited several of the pits and mining equipment. The tour owners had gone to great lengths to evoke a fun atmosphere- visitors are required to sign lengthy waivers regarding the dangers presumably still present in the mine, the old miner giving the lecture made several references to a headless ghost wandering the shafts, and at one point, the train takes off by itself- leaving visitors to speculate their fate (and battery life!) It can be reliably reported here that the little group made it to the surface intact and well, and thoroughly entertained.
The mercury was moving ever northward, and the Halls followed suit; and they set their sights on colorful Tombstone! It was 102 as they pulled into the legendary village, and were amazed to see several of its inhabitants fully dressed in authentic old west garb, strolling the streets and engaging passersby in lively conversation. The Halls were separated for a moment, and when Mr. H. finally regrouped, Mrs. H. explained she had shot the sheriff- with her Canon Powershot digital camera, that is. After a quick lunch at the Longhorn diner, they dashed over to the OK Corral to enjoy a theatrical reenactment of that fateful afternoon. While they had purchased tickets to the event (with memorial facsimile edition of the Tombstone Epitaph included!) it soon became evident that the locals managed to circumvent the whole admission process- during the critical moments of the play, several children could be seen swinging like mad in the little playground adjacent to the corral, so that they could get a view as well!
Of course, no trip to Tombstone would be complete without stopping by Boot Hill to pay their respects. Reading the headstones was entertaining and informative, but as the Halls were becoming nearly as baked as the desert around them, they decided it was time to move on. Not too far ahead lay Tucson, their next destination and a clean hotel and a cool shower. Next episode: Pima Air Museum and the Boneyard- Stay tuned!

No comments:

Tell your friends!