OUR WEEKEND IN TUCSON, TOMBSTONE AND BISBEE: LOTS OF ACTION AND FUN

Part 1: A Disappointing Play

Our weekend in Tucson, Tombstone and Bisbee was originally inspired by a play staged by the University of Arizona performing arts students and graduates. In the past years, we had enjoyed a number of good shows there on the Tornabene Theater stage,

Not this time. The play “Tigers Be Still” by Kim Rosenstock was one of the worst plays I have ever seen. It wasn’t the acting. The students were fine. It was the script that sucked.

And I should know a little bit about what makes a good playwright, having translated, adapted and co-produced a play that received rave reviews and vowed audiences on the world’s top stages – in London, New York and San Francisco, among others. And, to my surprise, it evidently still does (see THE PROFESSIONAL – LIVES ON IN COLORADO – http://wp.me/p1jFeo-2l6).

So except to mark the occasion with these photos, we’ll try to forget about our Tucson theater experience this time. But the rest of the weekend was outstanding.. with lots of action and fun.


Part 2: A WONDERFUL MEXICAN DINNER

For me, the #1 (✮✮✮✮✮) experience was our dinner at Casa Molina on Friday night.  That was also the #2 (✮✮✮✮) experience for Elizabeth.

Even before we got to Tucson, we went somewhere else. Since we had time to spare, we decided to drive to Tubac, a quaint little town south of Tucson near the Mexican border, known as an artist mecca. Since we had been there a number of times before, to us it all seems “same old, same old.” But it was a nice extra outing.

Back in Tucson, we checked into a hotel in East Tucson we had not used before. Our “regular” hangout was undergoing renovations. And what a fortuitous decision that was. Our new hotel great and just as convenient as a jump-off point to our favorite Tucson places. And we also discovered an amazing Mexican restaurant practically next door.

Here’s a review a posted afterward about our cullinary experience:

MY RESTAURANT REVIEW: “CASA MOLINA” IN TUCSON

My wife and I had dinner at Casa Molina on Friday night. It was our first visit there. My wife’s family used to own Mexican food restaurants in Texas. And she is an excellent cook herself. So we both know quite a bit about the Mexican cuisine.

That said, the chimichangas we both had at Casa Moline were out of this world – both in terms of taste and size. The shredded beef chimis we ordered came as a foot-long serving with all the trimmings imaginable.

Neither of us could finish our serving, So we basically had four meals out of two orders.

In the end, we both agreed that they were the best chimichangas we have ever tasted. And we have tasted them all over the US and the world. (see https://goo.gl/qLxwja)

Neither of us could finish our serving, So we basically had four meals out of two orders. The Casa Molina restaurant has been in business since 1947.  Which also speaks about the consistency of its food and service over the decades.

GENUINE “EL TORO” OUTSIDE THE RESTAURANT

As we walked out after dinner, it was just past the sunset. I saw a silhouette of an “El Toro” (bull) outlined against the sun-lit sky. It reminded me of the many such El Toro sculptures we had seen all over Spain, both in 2014 and earlier this year.

So we took some pictures underneath before driving on to the play at the University of Arizona. You can see from that closeup taken “under the hood” that it is a real El Toro. It even boasts a UofA logo at its seminal place.

Outside of “Casa Molina” restaurant, Tucson, Sep 29, 2017

Day 2, Part 3: VISIT TO BISBEE, TOMBSTONE, O.K. CORRAL

On our second day of this trip, we had planned to drive to Bisbee, a copper, gold, and silver mining town close to the Mexican border, and take a tour of the Copper Queen Mine. We had been to Bisbee several times before but had never taken this tour which features the old miners as guides. The Queen Mine Tour was officially opened to visitors on February 1, 1976. More than a million people from all 50 states and more than 30 countries, have taken the underground mine tour train. So we felt it was our tour to play tourists in our home state.

TOMBSTONE: GUNFIGHT AT O.K. CORRAL

For Elizabeth, the #3 (✮✮✮) experience was our visit to Tombstone.

But first, before getting to Bisbee, we stopped at Tombstone, another small town on the western frontier that became famous after the gunfight at O.K. Corral in 1880. Legends followed, including the 1957 film, “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral,” starring Burt Lancaster as lawman Wyatt Earp and Kirk Douglas as gunfighter John “Doc” Holiday.

We had also been to Tombstone before (in June 2008), although Elizabeth claimed she did not remember it.

So I jokingly said, “I want my money back,” which is what I used to say to my daughters if they had forgotten something they learned on one of our many trips around the country and the world.

“I remember even making a video of a gunfight at the time,” I said.

And here it is… The date was June 22, 2008:

The link to the actual story about our June 2008 Tombstone visit, including some still shots, can be found here: http://yinyangbob.com/Photos/Arizona/2008/June.html.

Here are now some photos from this weekend’s stopover in Tombstone:

Day 2, Part 4:

Day 2, Part 5: MY 1983 ENCOUNTER WITH TOMBSTONE’S SHERIFF

The first time I visited Tombstone was in 1983. My two daughter were 5 and 7 at the time. So experiencing a real western cowboy town “live” left them wide-eyed with wonder. For me, the most memorable moment took place just outside the Tombstone courthouse, built in 1882, as you can see behind Elizabeth in this photo.

I had parked our car just outside the courthouse, where you also see some vehicles parked on our latest visit. As my family and I proceeded to walk toward Tombstone’s main street where the famous O.K. Corral is, the town’s sheriff approached us.

Pointing to my 4-inch Smith & Wesson revolver, holstered at my hip, he said, “are you aware that no guns are allowed in Tombstone?”

“What?” I said, stunned. “No guns are allowed in the town which is famous world over because of a gunfight?”

“That’s exactly why,” the sheriff replied.

“But I thought Tombstone was in Arizona. And in this state, anybody can carry a gun openly.”

(Now, after the AZ gun law was changed in 2013, any person 21 years or older may carry even concealed without the need for a license).

“True,” the sheriff replied. “But here in Tombstone we have a special ordinance banning all weapons within the city limits. So I could actually legally confiscate your gun.”

But he did not. The sheriff was being nice and polite. So he just asked me to go back to my car and lock my gun in the trunk. Which is what I did.

Memories of Tombstone…

Day 2, Part 6: VISIT TO BISBEE, COPPER QUEEN MINE TOUR

For Elizabeth, the #1 (✮✮✮✮✮) experience was our tour of the Copper Queen Mine. That was also the #2 (✮✮✮✮) experience for me.

On our second day of this trip, we had planned to drive to Bisbee, a copper, gold, and silver mining town close to the Mexican border, and take a tour of the Copper Queen Mine. We had been to Bisbee several times before but had never taken this tour which features the old miners as guides. The Queen Mine Tour was officially opened to visitors on February 1, 1976. More than a million people from all 50 states and more than 30 countries, have taken the underground mine tour train. So we felt it was our tour to play tourists in our home state.

The town was founded in 1880, and named in honor of Judge DeWitt Bisbee, one of the financial backers of the Copper Queen Mine. In 1929, the Cochise county seat was moved from Tombstone to Bisbee, where it remains.

Bisbee_panorama_2009

BISBEE AND TOMBSTONE WERE BRIMMING WITH IMMIGRANTS

Bisbee’s colorful history is rich in contrasts. The tour guides are now describing it as a place where hopeful immigrants arrived at the start of the 20th century in pursuit of the American Dream.

Indeed, back at the turn of the 19th century, both Tombstone and Bisbee were full of immigrants.  An old Serbian priest told me in the early 1980s that there were several thousands of Serbian and Montenegrin (ethnically also Serbian) immigrants living and working in these towns.

“Just check the phone book the next time you go,” he suggested, “and you will see how many Serbian names there still are.”

I did that. I checked the phone books of these two towns back in 1983, and I could find a scant few of Serbian names. Just like in Jerome, another mining town in central Arizona which was home to many Serbian immigrants at the turn of the 19th century. Nada.

Forced Deportations: Infamous History of Bisbee, Jerome

So where have all immigrants gone?

They have been forcibly resettled. To learn about that, I had to do some research. And also talk in person with Bill Clinton’s first antitrust chief Anne Kovacovich Bingaman, wife of the former Democratic senator from New Mexico.

When I met with Anne K. at her office at the Justice Department in Washington, DC, in the early 1990s, it was in connection with my work on antitrust enforcement, or lack thereof, under the Reagan administration. But a byproduct of that conversation was that she told me she came from a mining family in Jerome, a central Arizona town where she was born. Her father then moved his family to become a grocer in Phoenix, where she grew up.

Back to Bisbee and Jerome history… in 1917, the miners attempted to organize so as to gain better working conditions and wages. The Phelps Dodge Corporation, using private police (of 2,000 members of a deputized posse), illegally kidnapped and deported about 1,300 striking mine workers on July 12, 1917.

The miners were loaded on cattle cars and transported at gunpoint to Hermanas, New Mexico. The company alleged that they were members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). And Phelps Dodge wanted to prevent unionization.

Earlier that year, mining industry “police” carried out a similar Jerome Deportation, another illegal kidnapping event to expel striking miners. They were also loaded on a cattle cars and shipped west.

So not all Bisbee (and Jerome) stories are laced in gold, silver and copper, as the tour guides tend to talk nowadays to curious but ignorant tourists.

Bisbee Copper Queen Mine Tour

But topics like that never came up during our Copper Queen Mine tour. Instead, the tour guides talked about how well the company treated them when they worked in the mine which eventually closed in 1975.

One more thing which was misleading about this tour. We were told the temperatures in the mine during the tour would be between 60F and 47F. So we dressed accordingly – putting on winter clothes – even though outside temperature in Tucson was 99F and in Bisbee nearly 90F.

Well, it turns out the actual temperatures in the mine were in the mid-70s. So we were clearly overdressed, and thus actually fairly hot.  But that was a minor point. The overall tour was interesting and informative.

Here are some pictures from that tour…

Day 2, Part 7: BACK IN TUCSON – AT A SHOPPING MALL

Boba is my Serbian nickname. After seeing this billboard, I told Elizabeth, “guess I’m teeing off into a new tea business with my old nickname.” 😜

And if the tea business doesn’t work out, well, then there is always the high tech business – Dish – a satellite direct broadcasting service. 🙂

October 1, 2017

Day 3: SABINO CANYON HIKE

For me, the #3 (✮✮✮) experience was our Sabino Canyon hike.

As has become our tradition, Elizabeth and I did the Sabino Canyon hike on the third day of our weekend, before driving back to Scottsdale.

She made it till about a 3.2 mile-mark on an uphill climb, for a 6.4 mile-roundtrip hike. I pressed on a bit farther till about the 3.5 mile-mark, right under the Sacred Place of the Sabino Canyon that revealed itself to in April 2013, during my Desert Quest.

The complete Sabino Canyon hike is 4 miles. So we did about 85% of it. Which is not back considering that the temperature was in the 90s F, the hottest it has been in the last five times we have hiked the Canyon.

IMG_3347

This was also reflected in the general drought around the canyon, The creek, which normally flows cheerfully and can be heard from hundreds of yards away, was virtually extinct. Where there were still some pools of water left, which was very rare, one could see that the water level is down about five feet from the normal.

Which is rather odd, considering that Tucson area was awash with monsoons in July. It was the wettest July on record, we learned from the local paper. Alas, there has been next to nothing since. And so a flood has turned into drought.

Perhaps as a result of that, we saw a sign for the first time warning the hikers that mountain lions had been sighted in the area. Perhaps it is this drought that’s forcing the animals to come down the slopes in search of those few pools of water the Sabino creek has left.

And that’s all she wrote from this Tucson weekend trip.

Epilogue

TOP 3 EXPERIENCES

As we do at the of each trip, we rated our top three experiences as follows (you can see these stars at the end of each travelogue title below:

#1 – ✮✮✮✮✮ (five stars) #2 – ✮✮✮✮ (four stars)

#3 – ✮✮✮ (three stars)

For Elizabeth, the #1 (✮✮✮✮✮) experience was our tour of the Copper Queen Mine. That was also the #2 (✮✮✮✮) experience for me.

For me, the #1 (✮✮✮✮✮) experience was our dinner at Casa Molina on Friday night.  That was also the #2 (✮✮✮✮) experience for Elizabeth.

For Elizabeth, the #3 (✮✮✮) experience was our visit to Tombstone.  For me, the #3 (✮✮✮) was our Sabino Canyon hike.

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