On the Road: Bisbee, Arizona

The West's Best Small Town to Live

Copper ore mounted in front of the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum.

The charming town of Bisbee, Arizona is proclaimed as “The West’s Best Small Town to Live.” This isn’t idle speculation.

In recent years, Bisbee has been voted the Best Historic Small Town in America by both USA Today readers and Sunset Magazine. It’s also been named as an “alive” place to retire and one of America’s quirkiest towns by the AARP publication Modern Maturity.

My daughter Jill and I spent a few hours there while I was visiting with her family a couple of weeks ago.

Jill in the doorway of the historic Copper Queen Hotel Saloon.

The day was lovely, not too warm and not too chilly. The sun shone upon us so eating lunch on the patio of the Copper Queen Hotel was perfect.

But first we visited the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum. The town, founded in 1880, was home to copper, gold, and silver miners. Since 1929, Bisbee has been the county seat for Cochise County.

I could have spent most of the day in the museum. The exhibits were fascinating. Here are two of my favorites: first a photo collage of one of my favorites–a lunchbox showing what a miner might have taken home with him at the end of the day; second a “movie in the window” showing what it was like for children to grow up in a 19th century mining town.

As we window-shopped the main street of the historic downtown area, I found this storefront. Jill had never heard of Woolworth’s but I remember when it was one of the stores frequented by my parents (though that was in Columbus, Ohio–many miles from Bisbee).

Though we browsed through a couple of thrift and antique stores, and found some really cool vintage items, I think our favorite place was the used bookstore.

Jill found a huge yet very inexpensive tome about Oscar Wilde and I picked up a copy of Blue Highways: A Journey Into America by William Least Half-Moon. We picked up three or four other books, too.

As I needed to add anything else to my “to be read” stack.

But back to Bisbee and a few trivia notes.

A view of Bisbee from the Copper Queen Hotel patio.

John Wayne was a frequent visitor to the Copper Queen Hotel.

Remember Wilson Wilson, the neighbor behind the fence on Tim Allen’s Home Improvement? That was actually Earl Hindman who was born in Bisbee.

The town has been used for several movies and television shows, including both the original and 2007 remake of 3:10 to Yuma and Young Guns II.

The town’s official motto is: An American Original.

Your Turn

Jill and I enjoyed our visit to Bisbee, and we joked about moving there while enjoying hot chocolate at a local café. What place would get your vote as the “Best Small Town in America” and why? If it’s not your hometown, would you move there given the chance?

On the Road: Tombstone, Arizona

The Town too Tough to Die

Tombstone is famous for the 1881 thirty-second gunfight at the O.K. Corral between the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday on one side and Billy Claiborne, Ike and Billy Clanton, and Tom and Frank McLaury on the other.

The shootout has inspired books and movies, including the 1993 Tombstone starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer.

A series of framed drawings at the historic Cochise County Courthouse, which is now a museum and visitor’s center, shows the progression of the gunfight though it happened so quickly no one is certain what transpired.

Tombstone is about more  than a gunfight, though. Nicknamed “The Town too Tough to Die,” it was founded in 1879 and prospered because of silver mining. Two major fires devastated the town in 1881 and again in 1882. But it was the drop in silver production that sent inhabitants scurrying for greener passages.

Over a hundred years later, tourism has replaced mining, cattle rustling, and gambling as the major industry.

Our first stop was the Bird Cage Theater, home of the longest poker game ever.

For eight years, five months, and three days a variety of players wagered at the table in the basement. You can still see it, and it’s almost eerie to think that historical characters such as Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson actually sat in that very place.

Sadly, bloggers are prohibited from posting photos taken at the Bird Cage Theater.

So here’s a photo of the O.K. Corral re-enactors waiting to shoot it out.

After touring the Bird Cage and eating lunch, we walked around town, visited the Courthouse, and went into a few stores.

Our next stop was Boot Hill.

Those who were killed at the O.K. Corral shootout are buried here. What we found most heartbreaking, though, was how many of the stone markers said “Unknown.”

Others gave specific reasons for the death such as “Hung” or “Killed by Indians.”

Six years after the Earp/Clanton gunfight, there was another shootout near the O.K. Corral. I wrote about William Cornell, a copper and ranching mogul, who sought revenge for his daughter’s tragic death at Midwest Almanac.

This is my first trip to this part of the country, but it won’t be last because my two grandgirls live here now. To this Midwest gal, who has lived most of my adult life in the Sunshine State, the landscape is very different.

But I like it!

Your Turn

I wouldn’t say Arizona was my dream destination (no offense, Arizonians!), but I’m enjoying my time here very much.

What state are you eager to visit?

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Rocky Ridge Farm

The House Almanzo Built

laura-and-almanzo-1940-laura-ingalls-wilder-1607684-300-441Laura Ingalls Wilder and her husband Almanzo lived the majority of their lives on Rocky Ridge Farm near Mansfield, Missouri.

This photo, according to one of our tour guides, was one of the couple’s favorites. A large print is on the fireplace mantel in their home’s living room.

At first, the house Almanzo built only had two rooms. Over the years, he added additional rooms, including an upstairs sleeping porch with several windows.

The house and grounds, including Rock House–the home built for them by their daughter Rose–are now part of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum.

Visitors aren’t permitted to take photographs inside the homes or the museum itself.

But here are a few outside shots.

Let’s start with a mural I discovered on a Mansfield store on my way out of town after a fun day visiting the museum.

From left to right: Rock House, the house Almanzo built,  and the museum itself.

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This is the front and back of a large sign welcoming visitors to Rocky Ridge Farm.

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Here are two photos of the back of the house. See all the windows in the photo on the right? Imagine little Rose looking out of the windows on hot summer nights. Perhaps she’s imagining her mother’s life on the prairie or on the banks of Plum Creek.

liw-home-collage

bbq-01After touring the houses, enjoying the video, and browsing through the museum and the gift shop, my friend Lora (who drove all the way from the Kansas City area) and I went to Hucklebuck Smoke & Grill for yummy beef brisket sandwiches.

If you’re in the area, I highly recommend you stop in. Just be sure you have cash because  they don’t accept credit cards.

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This last photo was taken on the drive from Mansfield to Memphis. These tall plants with their striking red flowers grew wild along the highways in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas.

Finally I found a place to safely stop so I could take a photo. Anyone know what they are?

Laura Ingalls Wilder ‘s Rock House

Visiting the Wilder Museum

rock-house-signMy literary travels didn’t end when I left Green Gables, Anne Shirley’s home on Prince Edward Island’s North Shore.

About three weeks ago, I packed up my Vibe and headed west to visit the museum of another children’s lit favorite–Laura Ingalls Wilder.

After a childhood of moving with Pa and Ma from little houses in the Big Woods, on the prairie, at Plum Creek, and Silver Lake, Laura married Almanzo Wilder.

The couple also moved from place to place but eventually settled near Mansfield, Missouri with their young daughter Rose. They bought forty acres which Laura named Rocky Ridge Farm.

laura_and_almanzo_wilder_1885_retouched_sepiaAs the years went by, they added acreage and added on to their home.

Rose became a successful journalist, earning enough money to build her parents another home on their property.

It was here, at Rock House, that Laura first wrote her popular children’s books.

Much of the furniture and dishes inside the house belonged to the Wilders, but we weren’t allowed to take interior photographs.

The plans came from a Sears catalog, but Rose hired an architect and added her own touches influenced by her time in England and California.

Take a “photo” walk with me around the outside of Rock House. Be sure to come back next week for the exterior of the house Almanzo built.

rock-house-collage

A Last Look at PEI

Exploring Prince Edward Island: #Write31Days

exploring-pei-memeMy daughters talked me into participating in the #Write31Days Challenge. I hesitated at first, unsure what to blog about.

But since I’d just come home from a vacation–and had a ton of photos–it seemed like a great opportunity to write about my trip to Canada.

I got a late start on the challenge, and I didn’t blog on the weekends.  So instead of thirty-one posts, this one is my twentieth for the series.

It’s also the last. That’s kinda bittersweet, isn’t it?

To complete the journey, here’s a brief recap of the trip with links to the individual posts.

west-point-lighthouse-03You can also begin with the first post then follow the link included near the end of each one to “hop” to the next.

On Our Way & Lighthouses

We visited the lighthouses at North Point and West Point but didn’t get to go inside either one. The tourist season had ended a week or two before we arrived.

Our Canada-Bound Adventure (With a Detour to Boston)

Exploring Prince Edward Island: North Point

Exploring Prince Edward Island: West Point Lighthouse

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The Bottle House Museum

Edouard Arsenault, the last resident keeper at the Cape Egmont Lighthouse, built a six-gable house, a chapel, and a tavern out of approximately 30,000 bottles.

It’s an unusual museum, and certainly worth seeing.

A replica of the lighthouse is also on the grounds, and the landscaping is lovely.

Bottle House Museum

Bottle House Museum Chapel and Tavern

Bottle Museum Gardens

beach-05On the Beach

Walks along the beach. Polished stones. Sea glass.

Breathtaking sunsets and restful evenings.

We stayed at a cottage located near the island’s west shore and enjoyed every moment.

Sea Glass Amongst the Stones

PEI Sunsets

Green Gables

A highlight of our trip, especially for me, was our drive to the North Shore. I loved seeing the places that inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery to write Anne of Green Gables and her other stories.

On the Road to Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables Museum

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Post Office

anne-and-me

Green Gables Heritage Place Visitor Center

The Barn at Green Gables

Stepping Inside Green Gables

Upstairs at Green Gables

Outside Green Gables

Saying Goodbye

You know how vacation days tend to fly by, and how on the last day you find yourself wondering where the time went?

That wasn’t true of our time on PEI.

Instead it was like time slowed down. Perhaps it reflects the slower pace of life we enjoyed while on the island.

Our Last Day at the Cottage

In Charlottetown

Vacationing in PEI

I’ve had a great time reliving my days in PEI with you. I hope you’ve had fun, too.

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