The Summer Sojourn

Our plan was to begin our occupancy at 101 Main Street, Bisbee, on 1 June 2017, a Thursday. However, the best laid plans, etc. Early in May Martha took a fall in Tucson and injured her knee. She thought it was just banged up with no real damage but, two weeks later, when she could barely make it down the steps from the stands at a U of A baseball game in Tucson, she realized she had to seek medical help and it turned out her kneecap was broken. She had to wear a soft cast on her leg for about two months. This started the last week in May and delayed the start of our summer in Bisbee by a week.

Martha spent a week in a recliner with her leg propped up but every day the pain of walking lessened and by the end of the week she was tired of listening to to me complain about how our summer was being ruined so agreed, reluctantly, to our going to Bisbee on Wednesday, 6 June and that is the day our Summer Sojourn began.

Arriving at 101 Main Street Martha climbed the two flights of steps, very slowly like a trooper and we got her settled on the couch where she could keep her leg propped up.

I made the several trips necessary to get suitcases, foodstuffs and other necessaries up the stairs, taking a break after almost every trip, and then began to put them away. Distribution of food and drink in the various refrigerators was one of the biggest challenges but was finally worked out. Knowing that there was no real stove, we brought pre-cooked food from Tucson that we could microwave or heat quickly on the induction cooktop.

The balcony was a wonderful place to spend late afternoons that time of the year, and, indeed, for the entire summer. It was always significantly cooler – by ten to twenty degrees – than it was in Tucson, especially as the sun goes down behind the ‘divide’ much earlier than down in the valley.

Watching the never ending parade of people on Main Street, locals and tourists alike, was fascinating. We quickly began to recognize many locals who traversed that part of Main Street every day. I won’t mention the nicknames we gave them as someone might recognize who we were referring to. We also quickly realized we needed something to do besides just people watch (and drink) while we were sitting out, so we started playing cribbage. I grew up playing cribbage, having been taught by a great-great uncle who lived with his niece who happened to also be my paternal grandmother. I taught Martha the game some years ago but, heretofore, she had not been a very big fan.

Page3-1.jpgAnyway, we began playing cribbage daily. Martha, hesitant at first – we almost switched to backgammon after only a few days – became more-and-more a fan as she got more proficient at the game. We kept up with games won, declaring the first one to win eight games a ‘series’ winner. We used this method because of the way our board was laid out. Besides the tracks that are used to keep score of the game itself, there are tracks of seven holes at one end where it is possible to keep a running tally of games won. Thus, when either of us wins our eighth game before the other, we can ‘cast off’ our tally peg. Initially, I won most of the series and we didn’t really keep up with the number of series I won but Martha kept winning more and more games and after only a few weeks she began to win about as many as I did. That’s when we began to use our ‘golden spike’ in the center tally track. Martha’s golden spike is on the left at the bottom of this photo and mine to the right. Notice that as of today (15 January 2018) Martha is one ‘golden spike’ series ahead of me but I won the first game of the next series.

Our weeks became fairly routine as the summer progressed. The normal routine was to pack up necessary items in Bisbee on Tuesday morning and trek back to Tucson. And then reverse the process on Thursday afternoons, normally arriving back at the Bisbee apartment in mid-afternoon. The reason for this schedule is to accommodate both of our volunteer activities. Martha volunteers at the Tucson Medical Center Thrift Shop, the ‘Teal Saguaro’, every Wednesday afternoon and I am a volunteer tutor in the Adult Basic Literacy program at Literacy Connects in Tucson on Thursday mornings. Thus the reason for our schedule.

But we were (and still are) in Bisbee virtually every weekend. The Grand Saloon is only a block down Main from the apartment and we quickly discovered how convenient and enjoyable it was to go down on Thursday nights and listen to the Whiskey Lickers, a local group of somewhat disparate musicians, all of whom play a stringed instrument of some variety. They have a regular gig at the Grand every Thursday night. (We still, eight months later, enjoy going down to listen to them every couple of weeks or so.)

And on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights there is always music at the Grand Saloon, the Copper Queen Saloon, the Stock Exchange Saloon, St. Elmo’s, the Copper City Saloon, the Silver King Hotel with the Room 4 Bar (the smallest bar in Arizona), and a couple or three others that, not visiting them often, won’t come to mind at present. All of these are located on or within a stone’s throw of the lower end of Brewery Gulch except for the Grand which is about two blocks up Main Street.

And we also periodically enjoyed Cafe Roka, an excellent restaurant only a few doors down Main from the Grand. The food is very rich and plentiful and, as with dining in any fine restaurant, it is difficult not to indulge in drinks and an appetizer before the standard four course meal (soup; salad; sorbet; entree). And their desserts are fabulous as well! For this reason – not to mention the size of the check – we limited our visits to Roka to about one a month during the summer and early fall. Sadly, we have not been back since we moved into our house (but the reason for that will be saved for another time). (Maybe the time will come when we can do what some friends do. They go down on Friday evening and are almost always accommodated at the bar without a reservation. There, they split an entree and have a nice dinner without having to make a reservation and ordering only one entree cuts the costs considerably. The problem with this approach for us is that Martha enjoys having one of several vegetarian entrees on the Roka menu (even though she is not vegetarian) and my favorite dish is the lamb chops, something Martha refuses to eat. Oh well!)

I’m about to reach my self-imposed limit on how long each of these installments should be so I’ll head to the finish line by mentioning the Pride Parade that occurred on 17 June and the Bisbee Downhill Races followed in the afternoon by the ‘Mucking Contest’ left over from the old mining days on the 4th of July. As I currently can’t provide many details on these events, especially the latter, I’ll make them the subject of a future installment later this year after I’ve experienced them for the second time.

I’m accompanying this installment with a photoessay page featuring photos taken from the balcony of 101 Main. This page is entitled From the Balcony. I invite you to visit.

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