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*DESERT CAMP 2010* (page 2) ... Go with the snow! Tour of Historic Towns and Hotels - 7th great year



Desert Camp 2010 - Bisbee

Idyllic Bisbee: a layover day in an artsy town to border hop or gallery shop. The Copper Queen Hotel is the white, many-roofed building at the back.

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Day 3: From gunfights to galleries - Tombstone to Bisbee

For most people, the eagerly awaited highlight of this tour is a 2-day layover in the artsy mountain town of Bisbee. Our puffy pillows for the stay are supplied by The Copper Queen, a grand dame of old hotels majestically perched on a steep driveway. Bisbee is crammed with galleries, coffee shops, antiques and more galleries.  High above the main streets, a labyrinth of narrow mountain goat-like roads give spectacular views over the town and the lavender pit copper mine.

Many choose to do the day ride to the historic Gadsden hotel in Douglas for lunch, and pop over the border to Mexico (see Desert Camp 2007 report for video of that segment). Others stay back, shop, eat and do the mine tour (see Desert Camp 2008 report for a peek inside the mine). 

Desert Camp 2010 - Bisbee Bicycle Brothel

Bisbee Bicycle Brothel.  One person we always look forward to seeing each year is Ken Wallace and his famous Bicycle Brothel.  This is a veritable museum of old bikes and quirky "velobilia", where a few things are actually for sale. Ken lives a crank turn away and will delight in telling you stories about his time as an honorary race official, his favorite bike the Pegoretti, and show you stuff you can't buy like the Kevin Bacon marbled handlebar tape and stuff you can like belts with a crashing peloton embroidered on it. He actually bought  one of my Traffic Cone Bags to add to his bag collection. 

Stairways to heaven. Local BF GalFriday Club leader Karen Saltus, took time off from her voiceover work to lead a trudging tour of the labyrinth. Along with the La Vuelta de Bisbee bicycle race, the town hosts an an annual 1000-step footrace, the Bisbee 1000, involving 30 or so of its many steep and hand-hewn staircases;  some houses can be only be reached by stairs. Beyond the Lavender Pit, Bisbee's copper mine, we spotted the town of Warren "where the mining executives lived in Craftsman homes", but of course, now it's artsy and funky Bisbee town that's hot property.

Best Fish Taco: Santiago's restaurant

Best wholefoody place: The High Desert Market (about 10 mins walk up the hill)

Check out the Day 4 video for the full tour.

Desert Camp 2010 - Bisbee Peace Wall

In the evening we watched 16,000 Feet on a Friday, the DVD I made with Lon of his 2004 Peru expedition. 

"The person who had the most altitude problems this year was the youngest rider," said Lon.

70-something Bob Kenner quietly chuckled to himself ...

Day 5: Bisbee to Benson and the "Hardcore Handful". We woke up on our departure day to a light dusting of snow. Snow in Arizona! Mule Pass, the short but steep hairpin climb out of Bisbee, was closed to traffic. 

Desert Camp 2010 - Bisbee - Preposterous Rhinocerous
The Preposterous Rhinocerous in the local dog run. "There's are more dogs than people in Bisbee".
Desert Camp 2010 - Glenn Martin Yoga

Lon and Susan expertly organized a number of options. The laziest? Stay in Bisbee til 11am and get a van ride all the way to Kartchner Caverns, a brand new 2010 item on the already dazzling itinerary, then ride the easy 13 miles to Benson. The toughest? "Do your own eco-challenge," said Susan, by riding out of the hotel and over the pass in a blizzard, we'll meet you at the caves. Plus, there were options to be sagged to the first or second rest stop in between.

So a hardcore handful sprung for the challenge, including - and we're proud to list them here:

Bob Kenner - Pocket Rocket Pro
Glen Martin - Pocket Rocket
Ed Tehune - Pocket Pilot
plus Hanz, Marion, Veronica on big wheels - did I forget anyone?

"So what are you guys going to do today?" I chirped, pointing my pesky camera at the group as they bundled up. Glen Martin's reply came as steady, sure and speedy as his riding style:

"Ride the bicycle."

Desert Camp 2010 - Art Hellebusch

The 11am group were treated to an hour long session of yoga and a lot of languishing in the local coffee shop. I bought myself a $15 Tiger's Eye stone ring from the Panterra Gallery, given that is my Chinese birth year. 

Bob Kenner was last to leave - the arctic explorers had left him behind. We knew, however, he'd be pulling in at the caves long before our van arrived ...

A true hero: Art Hellebusch. You meet some memorable people on bike rides and Arizona Camp is no different. Art should not have been at camp, according to his doctors 18 months ago. At that time he was diagnosed with brain and lung cancer, and told he "might not last the night."

"They didn't know who they were dealing with," said Art, who runs his own medical referral business He researched his options, found doctors on the same page as he at the M.D. Anderson clinic in Texas, and resulted in him being in the saddle at Camp. (He's pictured with one of my Traffic Cone Bags he bought as an additional life insurance policy while in the saddle). 

His advice: "Get a second opinion. You have time."

Desert Camp 2010 - Kartchner Caverns
A chunk of limestone from Kartchner Caverns outside the cave - about as close to touching it as you're allowed

Kartchner Caverns - new for 2010. Ever tweaking their already winning formula for the pleasure of their guests, PACTOUR included a visit to Kartchner Caverns in the tour price. This amazing cave sports some serious, fleshy-looking limestone formations that make you think you've been swallowed by one of the sandworms in Dune. The rangers are strict about preservation - the entrance and exit consist of an impressive hi tech air lock with misters to keep your dandruff and cat hair to yourself. There is no photography allowed, "because people with cameras tend to behave badly," said the droll ranger. 

The tour ended with a choreographed light show to Enya-like music, all of which was available in the impressive store and visitors center. The kitchlover in me was hankering to see a 'grow your own' stalagmite kit to augment the fluorescent stars on my ceiling ...

Desert Camp 2010 - Susan Notorangelo Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Susan Notorangelo and her signature grilled cheese sandwiches "with zero trans fat Earth Bound spread ...". At Kartcher Caverns.
Desert Camp 2010 - Lynette Chiang
An ominous sky can never dampen the spirit of a Princess Pink Friday ...

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