February 25 - March 1, 2009
You can buy shirts with the motto "Keep Bisbee Weird". I didn't see it, at first.
Bisbee climbs the hillsides of southern Arizona's Mule Mountains and has grown into an artist colony "known for its relaxed quality of life".
Old West history, Victorian structures and old, refurbished mining shacks stand alongside the Queen Mines copper mine.
We had a sweeping view of all from our campground, Queen Mines RV Park.
The town steeps in the waft of roasting coffee beans. The best brew can be found at Bisbee Coffee Co. You can watch the roasting process via a monitor in the cafe. The cranberry orange scones are scrumptious!
Mata Ortiz pottery - intricate and stunning.
One of several colourful streets.
Panama hats, which are actually from Ecuador. Hat makers strip the straw from palmetto fronds. A fine straw hat takes about two months to make and costs about $2,500.
A sidewalk painter in front of one of many galleries. We explored them all.
Bottle cap art
Art off the beaten path:
I can't forget to mention Atalanta's Music & Books. Not only is it the place for books in Bisbee, but they also sell hemp products at the most reasonable prices -- I left with three bags, two belts, no books.
In the evening we sampled live music at Stock Exchange Saloon in The Brewery building, which houses a New York Stock Exchange board, "... the only board ever used and affiliated by the NYSE in Arizona." More than 80 years later the names of the listed companies from the 1960s remain. We tried the Electric Beer, brewed locally, and like the lager the best.
Stock Exchange Saloon is a mecca for characters with character. The bartender, Dawn, hasn't cut her hair since the Vietnam War. And the dancers? That night's troupe: a few-toothed rowdy woman in an Indian leather jacket; a grooving Gramma with floral vest, turtleneck and earplugs; a jumpy, braided, long-skirted, moccasin clad hippy; an obese chihuahua (seriously); a Spanish woman swishing hips and soaring arms in showtune style, and that's not all.
Shannon, a self-professed "She-male" (usually a derogatory term) who can no longer hide evidence of a year of hormone therapy, plans to "change the plumbing in Colorado." He says Bisbee is, "half gay," and also, "This is the Key West in the West." In male-mode he impersonates Sinatra. "And after your transformation?" I asked. "Streisand." Naturally. Meanwhile, I became an unwitting audience to "TTT", Shannon's alter ego, "Tanya the Transsexual".
Keep Bisbee weird. We can't imagine it any other way.