Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Festival of light

We woke up Friday morning and slowly got around to making plans about the plans we would do for the weekend. We were moving slowly and planning was proving to be a challenge. We couldn't find a legitimate direction to take the weekend. We knew we wanted to go south to Bisbee and maybe Tombstone but our brains were too fuzzy to solidify any details. Travelling with three kids requires a little planning, we weren't bringing this trip all together. It was a lazy morning, one we wanted to lay around at laugh at each other in our pajamas. Lisa had spent the night to avoid any problems with mixing driving and alcohol. We pulled each other deeper into a state of sloth. After some breakfast and two pots of coffee we spiraled up from our indecent sluggishness and a began to talk plan.
Traci had found a promise of lights, singing, entertainment and Santa in Bisbee but we had to be there by 6pm. The festival of light would begin at 6 pm. At 2 pm we gathered at the car. Traci forgot something so she ran back inside as she came out Savannah ran back in, forgetting something else. Two-thirty and we were in the car ready for travel. We were three hours from Bisbee putting us in the town square at 5:30pm, if we had no stops on the way.
The car ride was uneventful, few stops. Savannah and I watched Nick Cage in Family Man and we cruised down the state to Bisbee.
Bisbee was an old mining town supported at one time by the Copper Queen Mine. The mine helped prop up the town and region until the 1970's when then owners the Phelps Dodge Corporation stopped operations in the mine. The town remained the county seat and eventually was gentrified by artists and baby boomers to become a quaint little reflection of its prior glory days. The town has many old buildings currently serving as restaurants, shops, bed and breakfast joints and drinking establishments.

We parked as the final runner from the elf run was coming in to the finish. It was a chilly 48 degrees as the sun rolled up its oranges, yellows, and pinks into its own blanket for the night.
We found the old post office where the festivities had already begun. We were given a program guide for the night complete with lyrics for all the holiday songs and the town gathered for less than rousing versions of silent night, deck the halls, away in a mange, and joy to the world. We all finished the set with jingle bells. It was time for all of the youth organizations to present their talents after long weeks of practice and polishing the acts all began.

There were thirteen in all ranging from 4 year old Polynesian dancers to Mexican dancers doing traditional dances from just south of Bisbee. The excitement never lagged, only building with each act's closing.
The much anticipated preamble to the big Santa visit was the lighting of the lights in the whole town of Bisbee. The ex-mayor began the countdown, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and the lights twinkled to life. There were a few strands along the streets and some in the trees. The build up was more fun than the light up. The whole festival to this point had been quaint and picturesque. The reality was Traci, Lisa and I had anticipated a larger display of lights than we observed so when the lights came on we saw much less light than we were ready for. It was nice.

Now...the big man was ready to march down Main St. He was serenaded by a marching band travelling in style in the back of a delicately restored fire engine. It was magical and Sophia waved in awe as Santa rolled past her. We had to see Santa! There was long line but the children held up well.

We had a thirty minute drive that took fifty minutes due to the white car in front of us driving 35 then 65 then 40 and making liberal use of the entire blacktop, his lane, their lane, shoulder, dirt on the side of the road. It was only two lanes all the way so passing this moon headed goofball was out of the question. We ate at El Paso restaurant(wouldn't go back)then hit Target for some warmer clothes for the next day, another day we would try to decide what the plan would be.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Bisbee and Tombstone

We spent a little time in southern Arizona over the holidays. We ended up in Bisbee for the festival of light. The town came out and sang Christmas carols together and then lit all the Christmas lights in town. It was quaint.

I began talking to a local resident about times growing up in a border town where people don't always get along. He said when he returned for his ten year class reunion from high school over 50% of his graduating class had died. I asked how so many died and he listed car wrecks, alcohol and drug related deaths, shootings, casualties of war, people caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. He stared at a wall full of pictures of people from his class and noticed his picture there. Panning down he saw this was a memorial wall for all those who had died. The man had been seen in the papers as being in a terrible motorcycle accident and the class had written him off. The classmate monitoring the wall noticed this man staring at his own picture and apologetically removed it. I failed to ask how many had graduated in his class.

We spent a night in Sierra Vista and a night in the Grand Hotel in Bisbee which is obviously haunted. We did the mine tour and spent a day in Tombstone watching gun fights and exploring the old buildings. More to come later.