Day 21: August 14, 2012
The Thing and More
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For some reason, when I first began to recognize motel chain names, Ramada Inn was one that I thought was kind of up scale. By the time I got to using motels with any regularity, Ramada was near the bottom of that scale. When I went looking for a motel near the Chicago Bar, I found there was a Ramada about a mile away that got a lot of good reviews. I didn't pre-book it but I did head there when I reached Tucson. It looked pretty good and the price was right so I made it my home for a night. The regular rates weren't bad but they had some sort of special going that got me this room -- and free beer -- for $52. Seriously, after I'd registered, the clerk checked the time and told me I still had time for happy hour; Every day, 5:00-7:00, free beer, wine, and snacks. Guess I'll have to start looking at Ramadas seriously.

Whenever Tucson becomes the subject of a conversation, I'll routinely mention that the "snake bridge" as something I remember about the town. I don't believe anyone, with the exception of Tucson residents, had any idea what I was talking about. In 2003, I parked and walked to the snake's head but I recall it as a fairly long walk that I believe construction would have made even longer today. I know the 100 degree temperature would have. So I just grabbed the driveunder shot. Roadside America's got better stuff.

In 2003 I stopped at this gas station but it was at night and I hurried on without seeing The Thing. I've always regretted that. When I got within twenty miles of it today I decided to correct that mistake. The Thing is certainly worth the price of admission, one dollar, but it's surrounded by tons of interesting and historic stuff. Before leaving, I Tweeted that this "could be the best dollar I ever spent". I meant it.

The main attractions at Tombstone's Boothill Cemetery are the three cowboys who died in the O.K. Corral gunfight. That's their grave in the second picture. There is a tall wooden marker with all three names plus individual markers for Billy Clanton, Frank McLaury, and Tom McLaury. Newman Clanton, Billy & Ike's father, is in a grave next to Billy. He died in an ambush the same year as his son was killed. The grave in the foreground of the next picture is that of Eva Waters. She died of scarlet fever at three months of age. I wonder if that's a long lost cousin in the fourth picture. John Gibson was an ore team driver who fell from his wagon and was run over by it.

That last two pictures are of the Jewish memorial; Something I wasn't even aware of when I was here in 2003. It's separated from the other graves by a hundred yards or so. It had been completely overgrown before being reclaimed in 1983. The monument was erected in 1984 and since then visitors have placed rocks on it until it is almost covered. No individual graves are marked here.

In Tombstone, I parked at one end of Allen Street and walked to the O.K. Corral. I may have sauntered just a little. Then I walked back to Big Nose Kate's Saloon for some refreshments. You can get a beer and a shot, just a shot, or just shot.

I didn't know there was a tunnel on the way to Bisbee, Arizona, so that was something of a surprise. A bigger surprise was the town itself. For some reason, I had the idea that Bisbee was a tiny town with little in it besides the collection of old campers in the next panel. What a surprise it was to see the winding streets filled with shops. That this was an artist stronghold was made clear when I turned down what turned out to be a dead end and found this nude female warrior above me. She's got a pretty nice view. The manmade canyon is called the Lavender Pit. The hole is 850 feet deep, 4000 feet wide, and 5000 feet deep. Lots and lots of copper was extracted from it between 1917 and 1974. The circular builds were once part of something called a "concentrate thickener".

Pictures of the Shady Dell had probably given me my completely wrong view of Bisbee but I got another surprise once I was actually there. There are ten vintage campers here. The oldest was made in 1947; The newest in 1959. All are for rent. Actually, all are rented. I looked into staying here on this trip but their website showed everything booked solid until the middle of September. I knew the diner had been closed for some time and I wasn't surprised that the office was closed with a "No Vacancy" sign on the door. The surprise came from seeing not one human in the campground. There were a couple of cars inside the fence and a fellow sitting in a car in the parking lot when I pulled up. He was talking on his phone and, as I got out of my car, I heard him say, "There's nobody here." Then he drove off. Strange but just one more Bisbee surprise.

I've wanted to stay here ever since I saw a picture of the lobby. I called and booked my room last night. Check out the carved door. And yes, the pachinko game, or whatever it is, is indeed in my room. The Hotel Gadsden was built in 1907 and rebuilt, after a fire, in 1929. I hope to get some better lobby pictures when the sun comes up.

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