Thursday, March 09, 2006

Bisbee, AZ: A Fortunate Diversion From The Plan

Once I'd enjoyed my stay at Bob Johnson's Colibri Vineyards in a beautiful canyon in the Chiricahuas, I had a choice either to endure another hour's worth of primitive road back to I-10, or to take Bob's advice: fuck that, take Highway 80 and stay in Bisbee. Since the sky couldn't decide whether to threaten rain or not (which would've basically trapped my wee little car), I had to abandon my plan to spend another night at the vineyards and go hiking in the monument. Well, shit. Why not take the scenic route?

Lemme testify here, that XM Satellite Radio effin' rules. All the way through the southern side of the Chiricahuas, I listened to Hank's Place--all kickass old-school C&W, all the time. And even as the love-gone-wrong songs began to do a number on my heart, the tunes were perfect for the scenery.

So I get to the outskirts of Bisbee with high expectations, only to learn that the road out of the old mining town has been closed, due to a pretty serious accident involving a propane truck. Thinking at first that I can't go any farther, I turn back, follow a road called 'Bisbee', and found this little treasure:
Buffalo Bill's Bargain Basement

You walk into this place and think, oh, cool! A funky little junk shop/coffee house. Then you catch sight of the proprietor. He's dressed like Buffalo Bill. Exactly. He looks like he just stepped straight out of the set of Deadwood, leathery skin, twitchy eyes and all. And then he offers you coffee. And asks if it's okay if he changes the music to Van Morrison. I kinda regret not taking a straight up picture of Michael (his real name), but I just couldn't ask. It seemed too...touristy.

You can see Michael up by the coffee pots

He makes a bitchin' cup o' joe, and I sit, smoke, drink my cupful, and yicky-yack with a guy who looks like Donald Sutherland on a bender. He fills me in on the Bisbee skinny, tells me I can actually go ahead and drive up to the historic part of town before I get to the road closing.
As we chat, Michael fusses endlessly with notebooks, nicknacks, and the coffee pot, stopping only to roll himself a cig.
Buffalo Bill not a fan of clowns

The place is less like a business and more like Michael's personal
museum-slash-krazier-than-shit living room. The mix is old west meets Gore Vidal meets softcore porn, and is an absolute must-see if you're ever in the area.

Desert Lust Barbie says "Hi!"

But I have yet to see all the kraziness that Bisbee has to offer. When I asked where I should lodge, Michael said "The Inn at Castle Rock. Everything else is shit." I don't know that everything else was shit, but the Inn is very cool. So long as you don't mind a somewhat disorganized innkeeper, the kitsch-tacular factor pays off.

Wack-tacular, baby

One important caveat about the town: it's not a good place to give it up to the panhandlers. According to a girl who's lived here almost all her life, there's an underbelly of meth problems here. The panhandlers, she warned, could very possibly be tweakers in search of funding for a fix. I realize this can be true of any city, but I'd still recommend shutting down the urge here. The only dollar I gave out was to a man who had trained two mice to sit on the back of a cat, who sat on the back of a dog. Check out my flickr account for that pic (there's a Flickr badge on my Cork and Demon blog).

Main Street. Kinda empty because of the closed road.

The shops and bars are...well, touristy, with a few cool spots like VaVoom and Hotlicks Bar. I ate every meal at the Prickly Pear Cafe, a little sandwich/salad joint with a love for wasabi sauces.
My new friend and I pitch back a beer at Hotlick's.

I learned from a local that the propane accident was pretty bad, although the driver had survived. But it would take twenty some-odd hours for the clean up crew to burn off all the propane. Otherwise, the highway I hope to take will be closed, and I'll have to take an alternate route. I'm gonna wait it out; the flow's telling me I need to.


Blogger jerry said...

Great story. Diversions are the soul of travel. As to the 'too touristy' twinge you felt about taking Michael's picture, I understand. Even though you are our eyes out there, I don't think we have to see everything. The story didn't pale a peep by me not seeing 'Buffalo Bill'. Hell, may have even enticed some folk to go and see him for themselves. Dig all of the other photos.

7:33 PM  
Blogger Jared said...

Why no photo of the mice on the cat on the dog? My very first dissappointment with your stuff.

2:42 PM  

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