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2021-07-23 – Leaving Home, heading to Missouri for the Oregon Trail caravan… Day 1 – Redlands, CA to Camp Verde, AZ

We’re off again! This time we are going to retrace the path of the Oregon Trail, from Missouri to Oregon. To do this we must, again, drive through the California desert, drive through the Arizona desert, through the New Mexico desert, and on through a corner of the Texas desert, through a corner of the Oklahoma desert, then on into Kansas, and finally into Missouri. We will be retracing some of the same roads and places that we have been through before…

But first, here is an update of our grandchildren…

Roisin got to ride the big school bus to go off to beach and surf camp…

Ian visited The La Brea Tar Pits and stuck his finger into the tar…

George got a little dirty when he had a minor fall during a family hike…

Evelyn has found her calling as “Super Woman”…

They have enjoyed their summer, doing the many things that have been off limits over the past 15 months…

But back to out trip…

We had an uneventful day driving across California and Arizona…

Not the first time we have been in Arizona, but it is always fun to take a photo of the sign…

Arizona looks like this along this route…

We had a little rain, but nothing that delayed our trip. We headed north at Phoenix, and continuing to Camp Verde, located about one hour south of Sedona. Camp Verde is a sleepy little town that has the best restaurant in this part of Arizona. People drive the hour from Sedona because it is better than anything there…

Camp Verde looks like this… We are at about 3,200′ elevation…

We found the RV park. We are in, connected, and paid for…

So, after checking in to the RV park, we freshened up and headed to Moscato Italian Restaurant. We had a fabulous meal, with courses that were way too large – we brought home over half the food. (We drank all the wine…)

Next to our table was a group of six men, about our age, who were celebrating a birthday. They were having a great time, and on occasion we could hear someone mention their Airstream. Several times. We were not sure which man it was, so as we were leaving we stopped at their table and asked, “Which one owns an Airstream?” It turns out that four of them own Airstreams! They were all from Sedona, and, like I said, they drive the hour to Camp Verde to eat at Moscato. We had a fine discussion about Airstreams, diesel trucks, and the finer things of life, and we then left them to continue their celebrations.

We returned to The Villa. An enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-06-26 – Home from Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 31 – Parker, AZ to Redlands, CA

The day dawned beautifully. It was warm, but not too warm to walk about the park.

At about 11:00 we set up our lounge chairs on the beach… The river was quiet still, with a few water skiers and very few racing jet skis and motorboats…

But it was hot. Sitting in the shade only lasted about 20 minutes before we had to go dip ourselves in the water to cool off. It was refreshing…

We had lunch in the coolest part of the restaurant, then returned to the beach. But it was hot. We decided to go back to the Villa and relax in the coolness of the AC, but it was hot.

How hot was it?

We decided to head for home early. We quickly packed up the Villa and we were off at about 5:15… About 30 minutes we were back in California. Also, interestingly, we were also back in San Bernardino County, the county in which we live. We will drive through San Bernardino County for the entirety of the trip, another 3 1/2 to 4 hours…

Lots of interesting mountains to see through this stretch of desert wilderness…

Near Desert Center we came across these palm tree farms…

Finally, at 9:10 we pulled into the storage spot in Mentone Beach…

We off-loaded the Villa into the truck, arriving home just after 10:00 pm.

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

PS: Next blog begins July 23, when we head to Missouri to participate in the Oregon Trail Caravan…!

2021-06-25 – Heading Home from Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 30 – Leaving Las Vegas

We had a leisurely morning with time to walk around the park. It is a huge park, with a variety of types of sites and amenities…

We left Las Vegas about 9:30 and headed south through Nevada…

We continues south through Nevada…

Outside Las Vegas there were these very impressive solar farms…

We are headed down through the tiny southern point of Nevada. We stopped in Searchlight to stretch our legs…

And we continued south through Nevada…

We briefly re-entered California at the 40, as we continued on to Needles…

And we continued southeast through California…

There is an exit at Needles to drive along the historic Route 66…

And then we crossed the Colorado River once again and entered Arizona…

California and Arizona have plenty of interesting mountains…

As we headed south on AZ 95 towards Parker we saw smoke ahead…

We never figured out what this was – how does the desert burn like this? But we did hear later that Arizona did close all their State-owned public lands due to the many fires…

We eventually found the Colorado River again…

We found this nice little enclave of vacation homes in the middle of nowhere…

We suffered through the traffic that is Lake Havasu City, and finally arrived at the Pirates Den RV Resort. This place has seen better days… as have all the “resorts” and trailer parks and campgrounds along the river…

When we tried to check in to our site the manager told us that it was not yet available. The current occupants had truck trouble, and were just now started to pack up. We went into the restaurant to wait – it was 110 degrees outside – and, since we finally had internet access we could check our phones…

The resort has many waterfront sites, with private beach cabanas. We didn’t have one of these…

But it is great fun to watch the boat traffic in the river…

Because of the heat we turned in early.

An enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-06-07 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 12 – Fruita, CO

Today we return to the Colorado National Monument to see more of its beauty…

On our way to the entrance we crossed the mighty Colorado River…

The Colorado River is the major river of the southwestern United States and northwest Mexico. Its headwaters are in Rocky Mountain National Park where La Poudre Pass Lake is its source. It flows southwest through the Colorado Plateau country of western Colorado, southeastern Utah and northwestern Arizona, where it flows through the Grand Canyon. It turns south near Las Vegas, Nevada, forming the Arizona–Nevada border in Lake Mead and the Arizona–California border a few miles below Davis Dam between Laughlin, Nevada and Needles, California, before entering Mexico in the Colorado Desert. Most of its waters are diverted into the Imperial Valley of Southern California. In Mexico its course forms the boundary between Sonora and Baja California before entering the Gulf of California.

We re-entered the Colorado National Monument.

On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the “Organic Act” creating the National Park Service, a federal bureau in the Department of the Interior responsible for maintaining national parks and monuments that were then managed by the department. The National Park System has since expanded to 423 units (often referred to as parks), more than 150 related areas, and numerous programs that assist in conserving the nation’s natural and cultural heritage for the benefit of current and future generations.

The National Park Service manages all of the various “units” – Parks, Forests, Monuments, Historic Sites, Lakeshores, Recreation Areas, Scenic Trails, and several other designations. The first parks were Yellowstone (1872), Sequoia (1890), Yosemite (1890), Mt. Rainier (1899), Crater Lake (1902), Wind Cave (1903), Mesa Verde (1906), Glacier (1910), Rocky Mountain (1915). Colorado National Monument was established in 1911. The different desinations have to do with how they are created. National Parks are created by acts of Congress. National Monuments and most other designations are created by the President via Executive Order. Thirty States have National Parks; the States with the most parks are: California (9), Alaska (8), Utah (5), and Colorado (4).

We began our visit with a ranger talk in the picnic area where we had had dinner last night…

We learned about the geology of these magnificent cliffs and canyons, plus a little of the park history. The man behind the creation of the Colorado National Monument was John Otto, who settled in Grand Junction in the early 20th century. Otto was the first white man to explore the area.

Prior to Otto’s arrival, many area residents believed the canyons to be inaccessible to humans. Otto began building trails on the plateau and into the canyons.  As word spread about his work, the Chamber of Commerce of Grand Junction sent a delegation to investigate. The delegation returned praising both Otto’s work and the scenic beauty of the wilderness area, and the local newspaper began lobbying to make it a National Park. A bill was introduced and carried by the local Representatives to the U.S. Congress and Senate but a Congressional slowdown in the final months threatened the process. To ensure protection of the canyons President William Howard Taft (who had visited the area) stepped in and used the highest powers available to him via the Antiquities Act and presidential proclamation to declare the canyons as a national monument

John Otto was hired as the first park ranger, drawing a salary of $1 per month. For the next 16 years, he continued building and maintaining trails while living in a tent in the park.

For many years during the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps. built roads, tunnels, trails, and other features of the park. The CCC left in 1941; the major Rim drive was completed in the 1950s.

Following the Ranger talk we visited the Visitor Center. I liked the fact that it is built from the native sandstone…

After we had seen a few exhibits in the Visitor Center we drove the Rim drive for 23 miles, all the way to Grand Junction. We saw 23 miles of rocks.

Here I liked the walls made from the natural sandstone… These walls are several hundred feet long, and they occur at many of the pull-outs along the Rim drive…

After we left the park we drove through Grand Junction again. We found truck fuel and DEF. Tomorrow we will return to Fruita for some final grocery shopping before we enter the wilderness of Dinosaur National Monument, Flaming Gorge Dam, and the Grand Tetons National Park…

It was 97 degrees again, but we have good, clean power, so both AC units are running in the Airstream… At 5:00 we took a walk around the lake in the park.

We also saw the Colorado River again, adjacent to the park…

Unfortunately, we walked out of the park and around the outside of the park, and finally had to go totally around the park and walk in the maim entrance…

After a short break we joined other caravaners for happy hours. We returned to the Villa, and an enjoyable time was had by all…,

2021-05-24 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan…Traveling to Fillmore, Utah

So this is what you see when you head north on the 15 out of Las Vegas… We left a little before 9:00 am, fueled up at the Loves truck stop, and hit the road. We will stay on the 15 for 270 miles today…

After an hour or so we entered Arizona. We were in Arizona for less than an hour, making a diagonal across a corner of the Arizona Strip. We had learned about the Arizona Strip in 2018 while we were on the Southwest Adventure caravan. The Arizona Strip is the part of Arizona lying north of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. The difficulty of crossing the Grand Canyon causes this region to have more physical and cultural connections with southern Utah and Nevada than with the rest of Arizona. It really ought to be part of Utah. It covers almost 8,000 square miles, and it is virtually uninhabited, with absolutely no cellular service. If you want to drive some of the few wilderness roads you are advised to bring a tent, firewood, and food and water for 3 days. If you breakdown, you won’t be found for 3 days…

And then we were in Utah. One of the few cities in southern Utah is St. George. We stopped for lunch at a “Culvers”, a first for us… We were able to stretch our legs and have a nice break… Parking was a little rough…

After lunch we continued north and northeast…

We are traveling with fellow Airstreamers and fellow Caravaners from Nebraska, Gordon and Debbie Opp. Today was their turn to lead… We are driving through these small hills on the valley floor. The topography is constantly changing, from meadows and grass to hills and rocks…

Here’s a new sight for us:

We actually saw a sign warning of a curve ahead, saying, “Slow 70″…

Best part is that there is no special 55 MPH limit for vehicles towing trailers! We stopped for a mid-afternoon leg stretch at a rest stop…

We arrived in the outskirts of Fillmore, and easily found the KOA. Beautiful, quiet park, lovely trees; it is is surrounded by grassy meadows overlooking the surrounding hills…

Along with us and the Opps, there was another Airstream in the park, but we were unable to meet them.

We enjoyed happy hours (with my signature Old Fashioneds) and a nice dinner of chicken Caesar salad…

But we are continuing on tomorrow, and we just realized that Utah is in Mountain Time Zone! We lost an hour somewhere along the road. So we turned in early. And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-06-06 thru 2019-06-11 – Traveling West – Liberal, KS and then Home…

This morning we pulled out of the RV park in Liberal, KS, and pointed the Villa southwest.  In about three minutes we were in the far western part of the Oklahoma panhandle; about 90 minutes later we were in the far western part of the Texas panhandle; by noon we were in New Mexico…

These parts of Oklahoma and Texas look remarkably like Kansas…

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At one rest stop there were these nice little picnic shelters… Mid Century Modern!… Nice, but a little beat up…

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All day yesterday and all day today, until we entered New Mexico, we followed the railroad tracks.  About every ten miles we came to a small town dominated by these giant grain elevators or silos…

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The further we drove west the smaller and more distressed the towns were… Not being farming folk, we could not tell exactly what these facilities do, but we assume it is related to grain storage, food processing, feed production, or something like that…

By mid day we were at our campground in Tucumcari, NM.

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And, for the record, New Mexico does not look anything like Texas, Oklahoma, or Kansas:

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Happy Hours and a light supper ensued in the Villa; tomorrow we head towards Gallup, NM.

Friday morning dawned nice and cool, but the heat will be arriving soon.  We pointed the Villa west, towards Albuquerque and beyond…

The drive was uneventful, as expected…

New Mexico looks like this…

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At one rest stop we found this Scenic Historic Marker:

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We weren’t sure what it meant… east and west looked pretty much the same to us.  Yes, western New Mexico does has more hills.  We rose to almost 7,000′ elevation before dropping down to 5280′ elevation in Albuquerque…

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Then we went uphill again to 7,275′ elevation at the Continental Divide…

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We eventually arrived in Gallup, NM, at about 6,500′ elevation…

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The sky was beautiful, the sun was hot, but the winds made the 89 degree temperature bearable.  By early evening we were able to turn off the AC, and by sunrise tomorrow it is supposed to be 48 degrees…

Happy Hours and a light supper ensued in the Villa; tomorrow we head towards Kingman, AZ.

Saturday morning dawned nice and cool, but the heat will be arriving soon.  We pointed the Villa west, towards Winslow, Flagstaff, Williams, and Kingman…

The drive was uneventful, as expected…

Arizona looks like this…

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We drove for about six hours, taking time for rest stops, fuel, and lunch… We finally pulled into Kingman, AZ by mid-afternoon…

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Interesting note is that we stayed here almost exactly two years ago as our first stop after leaving Irvine on our 4 1/2 month trip, the day after Lynda retired…

Happy Hours and a light supper ensued in the Villa; tomorrow we head towards Palm Desert, CA.

Sunday morning dawned nice and cool, but the heat will be arriving soon.  We pointed the Villa west, towards the California border…

The drive was uneventful, as expected…

We crossed over the Colorado River…

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And we entered California!

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We were met by some attentive uniformed people who asked us where we’d been, and if we were bringing in any firewood…

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The California Desert looks like this…

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For those of you who insist on calling places like eastern Oregon a “desert”, please stop!  Rivers, grass with cattle grazing, and green leafy trees do not make a desert!  See photo above for what a desert looks like!

We moved on to Palm Desert, where they have succeeded in making the desert green:

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We spent the afternoon and evening with like-minded friends, sharing happy hours and dinner.  Early Monday morning we drove the final hour…

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We arrived home in Redlands; an enjoyable time was had by all…

Tally:

Miles driven: 8,379

Days traveling and camping on our own:  40 days

Days on the Cajun Country Caravan:  16 days

Days on the Springtime in Kentucky Caravan:  22 days

Total days living in the Villa: 78 days

Total number of Airstreams seen along the road:  211

Number of nights in the Villa over the past 24 months:  375 days  (51%)

And one last photo of our girls…

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2019-03-16 – Airstream Caravans Travel – Day 4 – Las Cruces, NM

We rolled out of the Queen Mine RV Park at about 9:30.  Today we are heading to Las Cruces, NM.  We are traveling in southeast Arizona in some of the most remote areas we have ever seen…

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Some of the mountains are still covered in snow… There is also “snow” or the slushy remnants of hail, alongside the road…

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We stopped at a monument commemorating the surrender of Geronimo, the Apache chief, to the US Army in 1886.  He was the last Apache chief to surrender…

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New Mexico welcomed us!

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There was even more snow on the ground in New Mexico!

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We pulled into Sunny Acres RV Park in Las Cruces at about 3:30.  In, connected, and paid for…

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Happy Hours ensured… And an enjoyable time was had by all…

And, as is our custom on travel days, here are pictures of our great grandchildren…

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2019-03-15 – Airstream Caravans Travel – Day 3 – Bisbee, AZ

Once again we awoke to sub-freezing temperatures.  But between the fireplace, the heat pump, and the furnace we were able to keep warm and keep the pipes from freezing…

We began the day with a tour of the Queen Mine…

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We were outfitted with hard hats, miner’s lights, and safety vests… We mounted the mine tourist train and headed into the mine…

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About 700 feet into the mine we dismounted and walked up some wooden stairs to a large cavern…

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We were told about the various jobs going on in the mines at any one time.  Our tour guide worked in the mines for about 15 years, starting two days after he graduated from Bisbee High School…

 

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We were told about the various ways to make the holes for the dynamite and how these methods changed over the years, from hammering a steel spike in 1915 to pneumatic drills in the 1960s… Every few years improvements were made to efficiency and safety…

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Sometimes the shoring seems a little improvised…

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These are the ore cars and the chutes from above where the ore is dumped…

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The supervisors traveled up to 10 miles per day around the mines, mounted on these rail-cycles…

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After another train ride we dismounted at the 1,500 mark and walked down a cross-tunnel…

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There are fire doors every 500 feet or so…

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Next was the lesson on where to drill holes and how to set off the dynamite to get the largest cavity possible…

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Finally we saw a typical 11-man elevator cage…

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And the porta-potty…

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Tour over, we walked back to the train and we were returned to fresh air…

After lunch we spent more time walking about the town. We visited The Bisbee Mining Museum, and enjoyed browsing the many vintage, antique, and junk shoppes…

This evening we returned for an anniversary dinner – It has been 51 years since our first date… The town was lit up and it was a beautiful sight…

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We had asked all over town for recommendations for the best fine dining, white tablecloth restaurant.  Every person we asked stated, without hesitation, “Roka”.

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They were right.  Great service, interesting, innovative food, and a lovely bottle of Turley wine…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-03-14 – Airstream Caravans Travel – Day 2 – Bisbee and Tombstone, AZ

Overnight in Bisbee the temperatures dropped into the mid- to high-twenties!  This is ridiculously cold for us Californians.

We began the day by walking down to the Queen Mine and made reservations for tomorrow for the mine tour.  Then we walked into Old Bisbee and explored.  Since most businesses were not open it was very quiet.  We walked up and down hills, looking at anything that seemed interesting.  It’s a great little town!

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There is the “Copper Man” sculpture, in honor of copper’s importance to the town, sharing a small plaza with a telephone pole…

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There are several churches, this one seeming to be the most prestigious…

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The County Courthouse…

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The County Administration Building…

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Lynda found a comfortable chair at a gas station-turned-restaurant…

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The old cinema is now an event venue…

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The Grand Hotel…

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What we found very interesting were the number of stairs leading up and down the hills, providing shortcuts between streets and access to houses far above or below the street…

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Adjacent to the stair pictured above was this lovely sculpture garden, or some such thing.  It appears to be a private space…

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There are quite a few partially demolished buildings, but with remnants of walls, doors, and fireplaces remaining…

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After our walk around town we returned to the Villa and drove to Tombstone, about 25 miles away.  It contained all the requisite tourist venues, and lots of historic buildings…

The main street is nicely car-free… the streets around town are very busy and parking is hard to find, even on this mid-week day…

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You can take a tour around town in a stagecoach; (we didn’t…)

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In its heyday there were over 110 saloons and many 24 hour gambling parlors…

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You can watch a “humorous gunfight re-enactment”; (we didn’t…)

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We saw the County Courthouse from the days before the county seat moved to Bisbee…

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You can have lunch and drinks at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon; (we did…!)

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After lunch we returned to the Villa and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon; about 4:30 we walked back into Bisbee and had cocktails at two of the town’s many bars…

First was Room 4 Bar, located in the Silver King Hotel.  It has room for four!  It bills itself as Arizona’s smallest bar.  Great fun.  For most of the time we were the only patrons there, and then three others came in.  It was packed!

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Next stop was the Copper Queen Hotel…

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It was fun and relaxing.  We walked back to the Villa, enjoyed a light supper, and retired early once again…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

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