Returning to Where It All Began...

Bisbee, arizona


And Bisbee??
Reminds me of “The Long, Long Trailer!”

Yes...Bisbee, Arizona is where our RVing history began...back in September of 2004. Here’s how it happened...

We had not been able to take a real vacation for years because Annie, our black cocker, has some health issues that make it difficult to leave her in anyone else’s care...even our vet.  So we finally decided that if we were ever getting away again it would have to be in a situation where we could take the Girls with us. That realization lead to exploring the options of RVing. Once we decided this was a option we wanted to explore, we could not decide whether we should be looking at motor homes or we decided to test the waters and rent a small motor home for a long weekend, being how we didn’t have a tow vehicle at that time.  So we rented a Class C  motor home and made a weekend trip to Bisbee, about 95 miles southeast of Tucson...not putting ourselves out in the middle of nowhere, being novices, yet far enough from home to feel “out” on a trip. Despite the fact that it rained the entire weekend, we had a great time, and so did the Girls. It was like a whole new world had opened up for all of us.

From our experience on that trip we decided that we did like the motor home approach at that point, but wanted something less “cumbersome” than the Class C. We had already researched smaller motor homes...a new breed on the market recently called B+ models...smaller than a Class C but larger than a Class B conversion van (which are too small). When we returned the rental to the dealer, as fate would have it, there was a 2003 B+ rig on the lot...we took a look, discovered it had only 3200 miles, and that none of the appliances had ever been used. With our research done, we knew this was a good price, and though it was totally unplanned, we signed the dotted line that day..and the rest is history! We had successfully launched ourselves into the wacky world of RVing. And it’s been a fun ride ever since. And it’s all Bisbee’s fault.

A couple of years have passed since then and we once again began to reconsider our RVing mode...why not explore a travel trailer? The one thing we did not like about the motor home was that since we didn’t tow a car with it, when we reached a destination we were stuck with no wheels unless we wanted to pull up stakes and break camp to go somewhere. Towing a travel trailer woud solve that probelm. We had always been interested in Airstreams, and we kept going back to that option. So we made the decision in early 2007 that we wanted to change gears and move to an Airstream.

We laid out a sensible plan of action...we would continue to RV in the motor home (which was paid off by this time), sell our car and buy a tow vehicle, and then put the motor home on the market in the summer time...and then find the right Airstream.  It didn’t quite work that way. We sold our car to a friend, bought a new truck, and signed the papers for a 2006 Airstream 19’ Bambi Sarafi LS SE all within a week! We managed to sell the motor home within a couple of months, too, so by the middle of summer we had completely accomplished the transition that was to reach into the late summer at least. Right. Now we are submerged in the world of Airstreaming...a sub-group of RVing...and loving this new-found obsession...with all things aluminum.

Enough with the history lesson already.

Bisbee...what about Bisbee? Bisbee is an old copper mining town in the

                       southeastern part of Arizona, in Cochise County,  it’s the home

                         of the historic Copper Queen Mine and the Lavender Pit.

                          Old Bisbee is built on the hillsides of a ravine next to the

                          mine...the streets wind up, around and beside the steep hills to create a pictuesque and colorful town-scape... Today the town has become somewhat of an artist’s community with a lot of diversity and local color. Tourism is a large part of the town’s can stay in the Copper Queen Hotel, take a tour of the old mine, or simply wonder the streets of Bisbee soaking in the local culture and stopping to visit local aritsans, coffee shops, bars and interesting stores that line the streets.

Or, like us, you can stay at The Shady Dell Vintage Trailer Park. This is the place we stayed on that fateful trip back in 2004 and this is where we stayed on this return to the roots of our RVing adventure. The Shady Dell features vintage travel trailers, a motor bus, and even a vintage yacht...all restored and decorated to the period, complete with old record players (and records) and black and whte TVs that are set up to play old movies... You can rent the restored trailers by the night and take your own personal trip back in time to the glorious hey-day of the American travel trailer phenomenon. There are also a number of spaces for those with RVs. And there’s “Dot’s Diner,” a working retro diner that serves breakfast and lunch 7 days a week to the curious and the faithful.

We thought this would be a fun trip to take with the Bambi,

to introduce it to some of its ancestors and its roots in

this rich and colorful era of Americana. We weren’t

disappointed. The ownership has changed since the last

time we were there...the Manager, Ken, has been

there about 4 years with the new owners, and just recently, the Dell changed hands again.  Justin & Jennifer are the new owners...and plans are to expand the vintage trailer holdings and continue an already well-established custom of taking us back to the time when...  Ken lives on the grounds in a 1950 Spartanette that he has restored himself...we got the dime tour and it is truly amazing with its original appliances and refurbished birch woodwork. During our stay Ken was never idle...when he wasn’t chatting with guests or greeting new ones and getting them settled in, he was working on any number of vintage trailers that are parked in a non-rental part of the property...they will eventually all be refurbished and added to the rental offerings or sold to produce revenue to acquire more vintage trailers.

The Bambi fit right in. Among the vintage trailers is an older Airstream.  The Bambi is perhaps more modern looking by comparison, but the family resemblance is definitely can tell that the Bambi has decsended proudly from its shining aluminum elder.  Ken put us in an RV spot up a small hill from the vintage section, sort of in between the main part of the park and the “works in progress” section.  It was very quiet and secluded, which we liked.

On Saturday we took a drive to Old Bisbee to take in the town and cruise through some of the shops and antique stores...yes, we did find a few things of one collectibles store we found a set of glasses for the Bambi...they are brushed aluminum with cork linings and glass inserts that slide into them...very cool. We couldn’t resist them. We also bought another Arcosanti Bell to commemorate the trip. From Old Bisbee, we drove through the other parts of Bisbee, gassed up the truck and located a few thrift stores which we also could not resist stopping at. What can I say? We even spotted an old Airstream in a field behind a chain-link fence...perhaps a restoration in progress...had to stop and take pictures so we could report it to the AirForums, (Airstream forum) we have joined on the “Airstream Sightings” thread.

Sunday we bought the Sunday paper and just hung around The Shady Dell for a nice relaxing day of doing nothing...just what the doctor ordered, really. Quality time with the Girls for walks through the grounds and stopping to chat with others staying at The Dell. Also visited the old grave yard that sits right next to The Dell...great old gothic headstones, etc, dating back into the 1800s... Would make for a wonderful Halloween adventure, for sure.

We left The Shady Dell on Monday around noon...but rather than backtracking back to Tucson through Tombstone (a whole ‘nother story) and Benson, we decided to take a side-trip to check out Douglas which is a little further east and right on the Arizona/Mexico border...then go north on the west side of the Chiricahua Mountains and the Chiricahua National Monument.  We had considered going to the Bonita Campground in the Chiricahuas on this trip, but decided to save that for another time. We headed north towards I-10 through a series of very small towns like Sunsites, Sunizona and McNeal. Just before we got to I-10 we took a side road/shortcut west to the little town of Dragoon in Texas Canyon—an interesting geological area right along the interstate...with huge boulders strewn about.  We’ve gone by the exit for Dragoon a thousand times, but had never stopped to see what’s there. It is an interesting little place that we’ll have to explore another time... The Triangle-T Guest Ranch near Dragoon caught out eye, so we stopped in to check it out...they have casita accommodations, a pool, saloon and mesquite can ride horseback, take jeep tours and hike there as our delight, they also have both full RV hookups and dry camping opportunities...  The Amerind Foundation  is right next door, too...something else to check out on a future trip. All this is very close to the interstate, but you’d never know it... We think it might be a fun place for a long weekend sometime.

Left the Triangle-T, got on I-10 and made the last leg of our trip home... The distance to Bisbee from Tucson is about 100 miles...the route we took home was about 150 miles...but worth it to see what’s down in this corner of Arizona.  We’ll go back someday for a closer, more leisurely look.

We arrived home in the late still standing and no worse for wear.

The question of the day: Where shall we go next?