Bisbee, Oh How We Love Thee
Sometimes we come across a small town and we think, “Yes! We could live here.” This is the feeling we got from Bisbee, AZ. It was a short drive from Sierra Vista, which is a beautiful location, but the town (of what we saw of it) lacked character. Bisbee, however, has it in spades. Bisbee is a small old mining town which attracted the counter-culture types of the 60s and has since had a quirky edge to it. It is built in a canyon, and many of the houses are built up on the sides, with steep flights of steps reaching up to their front doors. There are so many steps, in fact, that there is an annual stair climbing competition!
It seems like there isn’t a lot of money in the town, although perhaps more than other towns in this part of the country, and the houses are somewhat decrepit in a charming sort of way. The downtown clearly appeals to the tourists that pass through, but unlike Tombstone, which is unashamedly tourist-driven and a lot of the buildings look like they have been tweaked or recreated for this purpose, Bisbee feels authentic. Many of the buildings are multi-story and built of brick and look like they’ve been around a good while, replete with the wear and tear and the mishmash of old and new that the years bring. There are lots of little alleyways and nooks and crannies to explore. It feels like it would be a fun town to grow up in. It is a town that appears to have grown organically, and perhaps due to its peculiar geographical constraints, hasn’t fallen foul of sprawl or unwanted ‘urban’ development. Part of this road trip is for Melissa and I to see if we find somewhere we want to call home. Right now, we plan to move to Joshua Tree as it is close enough to Idyllwild (friends and family) but is incredibly beautiful, cheap to live and has a lot of charm and caters to the veggie/vegan crowd of which we are card-carrying members. There is a surprising dearth of small, charming towns in SoCal, so we get excited when we come across them in other States.
We were in Bisbee on a Monday and Tuesday—the two days that tourist towns tend to shut down, and true to form, little was open. However, the Old Bisbee Brewing Company was open and we sampled their marvelous tasting tray of 7 beers (each beer served in a 3oz glass) and took advantage of their free popcorn. They had two IPAs, one of which was made with locally picked hops and had a very distinct and delicious flavor. I love West Coast style IPA. In the UK, we have IPAs (it is an English beer, after all) but they are disappointing and lack the flavor of American IPA. In fact, they make Greene King IPA in Bury St. Edmunds, just up the road from where I grew up, but alas, it is not a drink I hold dear. The Bisbee brewery also served vegan chili made by the Michelin-star restaurant just up the road, although we gave it a miss as we’ve been eating a lot of beans so far as a source of cheap protein!
As we drove out of town, we saw the mines that Bisbee was built around. The photo doesn’t do it justice—they were massive. It boggles the mind how much work must have been done in this spot for the end result to appear like this.