May 31, 2010

Lots More Bisbee Pictures

Reuniting with Ben in the rental car lot.
Sleeping on the way to the big surprise.
The moment of revelation! I love this shot.
Mom and Uncle Rob.
Levin's first taste of watermelon.
This looks like some kind of bottled water ad. What a ham!
The boys are checking on their new lizard friend hanging out by the observation tower at the top of the mountain.
Shopping cart fun with Auntie Kay.
Dinnertime at Casa de Cobre.
Sasha, Aaron and Liz's dog, accompanied us on many of our outings.
The Bisbee aesthetic was definitely bohemian and funky. There were a lot of galleries and homes filled with sculptures made from found objects and old trash from back when the miners ran the town. It was a great place for exploration. We spent several hours just roaming around town and I feel that we only just scratched the surface.
The steps are the most famous Bisbee feature. There are over 1000 of them nestled in the narrow passages between the houses on the hillsides and they can run from dozens of feet to hundreds of yards. For some homes, they are the only point of access (i.e. no adjacent road to speak of). This prompted a spirited discussion about parking logistics and how one would go about moving furniture. Aaron, Ben, Mom and I went for a jog on our first morning through a good portion of the Bisbee 1000 Great Stair Climb race course. It was brutal. Mom dropped out after the first 200 foot climb, although to be fair, she was a bit under the weather that day. At a 6,000 feet, I was really feeling the elevation too and I ended up walking a good portion of the steps.
Some of the stairs literally lead nowhere -- like this one that we decided to explore and ended up in the sage bushes above the town. We managed to bushwhack our way back to a road eventually.
The ocotillos were in bloom. Absolutely lovely.
Panorama of downtown.
Enjoying the chiminea on the deck with Ben's homemade margaritas after a day of hiking.

At Cafe Roka, they serve a four course meal, with a palette-cleansing lemon sorbet as the third course before the main dish. Alden, who is a huge fan of ice cream, was really excited about this whole ice-cream-before-the-meal concept, but the sorbet was a little more sour than he expected, causing this fleeting grimace (seen above) after each eager spoonful. He kept going back for more though, and was completely determined to like and to finish the sorbet dammit. The whole episode was thoroughly entertaining for the rest of us.
Bonding with Favorite Cousin Ali.
Hiking up a road to a trail head somewhere in the Huachucas. The park rangers closed the road about 4 miles before the trail head itself, and made it about 2 or 3 miles up the road before the babies started to melt and had to head back down. The rangers opened up the road when we got within 500 yards of our car and muttered a rather sheepish apology for getting confused and closing the wrong road. How lame! We still enjoyed the hike and the views from the road overlooking Sierra Vista in the valley below.

The architecture in downtown Bisbee was very deco and hip. You really could get a sense for how much of a destination this place must have been in the 1920s. I liked the plaque that accompanied the copper man -- a statue which all the locals called Iron Man for some mysterious reason.

Levin, our nephew, learning to crawl and looking downright adorable.

May 25, 2010

Bisbee 2

Bisbee is a beautiful little town nestled in a pretty narrow valley. I forgot what it was like to be surrounded by hills but no trees… cozy. The town is built into the hills and our guest house was near the top of the development. This provided a grand view of the architecture and people below and encouraged the deck-sitting-voyeur in me. The house was really lovely and a great place to host a family reunion. The manager of the house lived nearby and was super nice. She baked chocolate a cake and gave us a bottle of champagne to celebrate Barbara's birthday. Then she brought us firewood and kindling for the chiminea on the main deck. This was unbelievably classy of her.
The copper mine (the main reason for the existence of Bisbee) can be seen to the southeast. It is quite a sight to see the rocky terraced hillside where copper was once extracted, both beautiful and repellent. It invoked both shame and pride by such a vast alteration to the land.

There were a lot of birds chirping in the evening and the air was really sweet with the scent of some desert flower that I can’t identify, but was very similar to honeysuckle. Also, there were no insects, not even screens on the doors or windows.
The guest house we stayed at was far from baby-proof. There were two horizontal rails on the second story deck, one at about a foot from the deck and another at just under four feet. Not so good for toddlers. The first floor leads out to the driveway which has some plantings and then a ten foot drop into a bed of cactus… like in cartoons. I am amazed at how zeroing in on baby hazards has become second nature to me. Open stairs, lamps on the edges of tables, floor vases… It still was a really nice place though and Alden didn't seem to mind the impending peril that was all around.
We had one fancy-schmancy supper at a restaurant called Cafe Roka. The food was tremendous and it was a lovely place to take Barbara in celebration of her birthday. The kids did alright, although Alden and I did leave a little early due to fussiness.

We spent a good deal of time exploring the town and doing some shopping. There was quite a bit of hiking too, as well as a tour of the old mine. For the tour we all had to put on yellow raincoats, miner helmets and miner lights and ride the miner mini-train (I'm not really sure what it is called) into the mountain.
The trip was very nice and I managed to grow a beard which I may keep for awhile. Alden got sick SIX times on the flight back. We thought it was motion sickness, but then Ilana felt a little woozy for a day afterwards, so it might have been a bug. In any case we made it back intact and enjoyed the trip very much.

May 23, 2010

Bisbee 1

We has a vacation last week. We went to Bisbee Arizona for a surprise birthday celebration for Barbara. We got up at 4:30 Wednesday morning, drove to Portland and then flew to Atlanta and then Tuscon and got a car to go to Bisbee. Alden was excited to go to the the airport. Flying on a plane is pretty cool for him, although the big draw is having Ilana and I entertain him while waiting for boarding. This usually involves many trips up and down elevators and escalators and maybe a spin on a moving sidewalk. Alden adores elevators.

Since Alden is over two we had to bring along a car seat to keep him contained. It was a drag to carry it around and Alden had a hard time sleeping in it (the trip took over eight hours). Alden got air sick on the landing, but otherwise was a good traveler.
We Met up with Ben and Cousin Ali at the airport car rental place. Ben rented his own car and stayed behind to pick up Uncle Rob and Aunt Kay. The rest of us rented a van and went off to find shoes for Alden. In our morning packing we took Alden straight to the car from his crib in his pajamas and forgot to get his footwear.

The next day we went to Chiricahua National Monument with a picnic lunch. The big plan was to surprise Barbara at the top of a hike. Aaron and Liz invited Barbara to visit them for her birthday, the rest of us she had not idea about. We got there an hour before the birthday girl and spent our time setting up the picnic, looking at lizards, and spelling out 'HAPPY B-DAY BARB' with stones we found.

The surprise worked like a charm... or Barbara was a really good actor. In any case she seemed very amazed to see us all at the top of the mountain.
There was an observation station at the top of the mountain so we were able to eat our picnic lunch in the shade.

May 18, 2010

Alden update

Alden loves to pretend like he is driving
throwing stuffed-animal cats in the hostas in the garden (throwing in pasta)
Playing with the broken bbq and throwing rocks down the chimney (The tube)
stomping puddles