Friday, September 26, 2014

Escaping the heat in Bisbee

This is a long 'un.

We've landed in Tucson for a while, waiting for our next stop to commit the funds to pay for a place for us to plug in. It's hot here. Good golly, it's hot. 104° the other day, and I don't care how dry it is, which it's not, 104 is hot.

We escaped to Bisbee, southeast of Tucson, yesterday. Bisbee is at about 5200' and the Weather Channel said the high was supposed to be in the upper 70s, which sounded perfect. It turned out to be too good to be true because it topped out at over 85. I suppose that's better than 104 but a promise is a promise.

Bisbee started as a copper mine town. The Lavender Pit, named for Harrison Lavender, vice president and general manager of Phelps Dodge Corporation, was an open pit mine and was developed over three phases beginning with initial blasting in 1917 to a depletion of usable ore in the 1970s. Its size is monumental: 4000' by 5000' and 850' deep. It produced 8 billion pounds of copper over its life.

The site is fenced and railed, but the view is wide. The size of the terraces or benches cut into the hillside is deceiving. I had to go back to the information sign to make sure I'd read it right. The 50' high benches were created by drilling into the earth, then filling the holes with explosives, which broke up a layer of rock. The rock was shoveled and carried away in the early days via steam shovels and ore cars on railway tracks. In later days electric shovels and trucks were used. Ore went to the crushers, waste rock was hauled away.

A closer view shows water running into the pit which, like the benches, is deceiving in size, but the volume was such that I could hear it running all the way at the top.

 The colors are really beautiful, all attributed to different minerals.

These buckets and ore cars are at the entrance to the parking area. Bisbee seems to be gardening heaven and I thought how much nicer the display could be with a little money and time.

Also in the parking area is a World War 2 memorial to the veterans of Bisbee in general and to Art Benko, a turret gunner, in particular. He was awarded a Legion of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Air Medals, two Purple Hearts, and in 2009 the Silver Star. He shot down 16 planes in eight months, and despite being wounded in another air battle in 1943, seven confirmed Japanese Zeroes. His plane was shot down in that battle and he was never seen again.

We then wandered into town on the wrong day of the week. Many of the stores and restaurants are closed mid-week so we did a lot of window-peeping. On the other hand, it's a good money-saving tactic.

One place that was open was a really nice antique store. There's often a fine line between antiques and junk, but this one stayed on the right side of the line. I'm a sucker for kitchen gadgets and this place had plenty. It had two very cute nut grinders, which I didn't get pictures of. One had a little hopper on top that the nuts were fed into. Turn the handle and the chopped product lands in the glass container underneath.

Another item I coveted was this ice cream scoop with its unique spring-loaded release tab on a separate arm. I've never seen one like it. At $28 it continues to take up space on the shelf.

Another new item to me is this mayonnaise maker. All those new-fangled fancy gadgets, taking all the work out of homemaking. $18 for this piece and it, too, is still in the store.

A section of the store held new goods like these towels, which I loved because they're Pinterest-worthy, but no sale here either.

We asked about a good place for lunch and walked over to the Farmers' Market, which is not a farmers' market but is a café named for one. It was all right but not much worth writing about.

Across the street from the café is a memorial. Go ahead and read the plaque; just the first four lines are enough.

Now take a look at the statue that marks the memorial. Is this a hoot or what? It's quite tall and this photo shows only the top, but it's really all you need to see.

Bisbee has an annual event called the 1,000 stair climb, a race or some other masochistic activity. The stairs aren't in one rise but are in sections all over town. I think people pay money to participate.

The pièce de resistance was the Catholic church that stands almost shoulder to shoulder with the virile copper miner.

Construction of St. Patrick began in 1915 on land donated by Thomas Higgins, a mine owner who held deed to all the land in the area still called Higgins Hill. His only stipulation was that the church face the mountains and his mine. 

Like any building project the money allocated, $40,000, was not enough so parishioners authorized a debt of $150,000. They began excavating the land, the men working another four hours on top of their shifts in the mine. Terra cotta came from California, slate roof tiles from Vermont, and the stained glass windows from St. Louis. The church was consecrated in 1917. There was also a school next to and predating the church, which closed in 1974 when the mine closed and financial support disappeared.

These are some of the most beautiful windows I've come across, but I think I say that about most of them. Emil Frei was the creator; the name is familiar to me and I've hunted through some of my other churches, looking for his name, but I haven't been diligent about recording the artist. According to the company's website (yes, they're still in business!), they also did windows for National Cathedral and the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in D.C., and I have photos from there. I see they also have windows at the Basilica in Phoenix, so I feel a road trip coming on.

I'm going to run them all out below. If you're bored with this kind of thing, skip it, but I think they're worth a look.

 In the choir loft.

The Gothic altar is made of wood but painted to mimic marble. On the base of the altar is stamped "Rigallico, the hardest composition ever made," which presumably refers to the coating on the wood.

These window pairs lined the lower part of the wall. Each one has a window at the bottom that opens by tilting outward. They were all open when we got to the church, so I closed them one by one to take the photo, then went back to open them again.

The main altar is 30' tall and bears a copyright notice dated 1916 (which makes it legally in the public domain now); the maker is the Daprato Statuary Company of Chicago and New York, and is no longer in business.

Good atmospheric lighting.

Side altar to the left of the main.

Side altar to the right.

 There were two of these, one on each side, in the choir loft.

I was happy to learn that the church is on the National Register, and happy that I could access the choir loft to get this shot. Usually the stairs are locked but there wasn't an organ up there, so that may be why it was open.

I'm indebted to the parish for producing an informative and interesting booklet that describes the windows and other features of the church. 

Thought of the day:

One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. - Henry Miller

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My house is packed, I'm ready to go

The job here is done. This morning I turned in my uniform shirt, jacket, and keys, and the external drive the project is on. Lightroom, the software I used to catalog the digitized slides, says there are 5,424 of them, so I weeded about half from the original count. Every single one of them (I hope) has a caption and at least one keyword; most have several attached to them. I learned a lot from being here, about Lightroom, about doing a project of this size single-handedly, about not wanting to live at this elevation again.

There were 47 binders of slide pages to start with. I decided not to digitize several of them because of irrelevance to the park - two binders of slides assembled for the Bicentennial - the Bicentennial!, flora and fauna, people and places not here, and a couple of binders of wonderful black and white historical images with almost no identifying features to them. What a shame.

This is the final pile of old slide pages  that I replaced with new, archival ones.

I thought about the project I worked on at the museum in Washington, DC, and am quite sure the contracted amount was $5 per image. At that rate, I donated more than $27,000 in work to the park. Now, if I could only deduct that value from my taxes. What I am allowed to deduct is 14 cents a mile travel expense going from one park to the next, a drop in the bucket when fuel costs $100 a day when we're on the road. Thank you, Uncle Sam!

We're heading out Friday morning, will stop in Flagstaff for a night or two, and then spend a couple of weeks in Tucson before going to Tumacácori, near the Mexican border, for 6-8 weeks. Then, if I pass a background check, which I'm fairly sure I will because I had my fingerprints taken and sent off to the FBI from Petrified Forest and no one came to arrest me, we'll be at Death Valley for the remainder of the winter. Sea level!! Next summer is up in the air a little, Olympic? Glacier? Yellowstone?, but I'm shooting for Zion in the fall. It's much too hot in the summer.

HH and I took a day trip to Zion several weeks ago, and when his son visited us last weekend, we went again. It's another jewel in the National Park Service's crown. When I first left my house and was making my way down to Petrified Forest, I got as far as a couple of miles from the east entrance but realized I didn't have time to go in because I had places to be. When I finally got back I saw it was worth the wait.

On the way into another entrance, you go through Springdale, an upscale little town that reminds me a bit of a much smaller Lake Tahoe. Throughout the town are these whirligigs, which made me pull over to the curb the first time we went, enchanted, all of them twirling and spinning in the wind. I wanted one of each.

It's nice that each park has its own style of entrance sign. Zion's isn't fancy but I like the lettering.

At Grand Canyon you are looking down into the canyon; at Zion you look up, out of the canyon.

When HH and I went the first time we zipped right in, got a parking spot at the visitor center, and had no trouble moving around. This time we waited in line at the tunnel, a 1.1 mile, unlit passage through rock, that was completed in 1930. As we waited to pass through the park's entrance station, a travel trailer ahead of us was being measured by a ranger. Any vehicle exceeding a certain height and width has to pay an extra $15; tunnel traffic is restricted to one lane so the oversized vehicle can be driven down the center line. The website says it's for a tunnel escort, of which I saw no evidence, so I think it's more of a nuisance tax. We waited for quite some time, but it was such a beautiful day it didn't really matter.

We went on a short hike to the lower Emerald Pool, crossing the Virgin River. I noticed a different hike in the park newspaper and asked at the backcountry desk about it. Only 12 permits a day are given for a one-night wilderness campsite on this particular hike, which the backcountry ranger told me is about 40% through the Virgin River. Didn't sound so bad until I read that the river temperature that day was 58 degrees. The river part of the hike is described as walking on algae-covered bowling balls, hiking poles and boots with good ankle support strongly encouraged, and am now rethinking how bad it sounds.

One of my perks for volunteering this summer was an annual national park pass (value $80). I'd never been offered one before even though I qualified, but I'd read about it and asked if one could be ordered. It takes me past my oh-god-62nd-birthday next year, when I will be able to get an old-folks' lifetime $10 pass. I got to use it on this trip and was somewhat disappointed that the gate-keeper didn't seem even a little impressed.

The hike we were on took us past and behind waterfalls that were flowing pretty well in September and must be gushers in the spring.

This is the Lodge area, with a restaurant, shuttle stop, and close to the trailhead for the Emerald Pools. Look at the color of the grass! I thought it was fake, but it's not. Cool green, lots of shade, and a world-class view all in one.

Here's to a new unknown, unforeseen adventures, unimagined places, and friends not yet met. Life is good.

Thought of the day:

Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going. – Paul Theroux