Friday, August 7, 2015

2007 Biking the Arizona's Border's Wild West with Elderhostel

This Elderhostel program was based in Sierra Vista Arizona, mere miles from the Mexican border. The host was Geronimo Educational Foundation of Bisbee.

The first day we biked the roads to the town of Bisbee, an historic mining town whose output ranked near the top in total mineral value of copper, gold, silver, zinc, and other ores from 1877 to 1975. After eating lunch here, we had time to walk the town, enjoy the shops and old buildings, and even take the tour of the famous Queen Mine. Our leader, John, a Bisbee resident, is on the far right.

The mine tour began riding the old mine trail into the mine, and then got a tour explaining all the equipment and history of the mine.


Bill and Dottie top a hill approaching Tombstone, Arizona. The Huachuca Mountains are twenty miles in the background with the Fort Huachuca army base and the town of Sierra Vista (our base of operations) nestled in its foothills.  It was in the low 50s this day with a 30 mph wind buffeting us as we peddled. A "small world" side note: The next year, I was on an Elderhostel program in Florida's Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park and ran into them. They were on a biking trip and camping in the park.

We walked Tombstone ("The Town to Tough to Die") and enjoyed its old western atmosphere and all the information regarding the "Gunfight at OK Coral" between the Earps and the Clantons on December 28, 1881. Injuries sustained by City Marshall Virgil Earp crippled him for the rest of his life. John Rose, a local expert on Tombstone, led us on a walking tour of the town, and the evening before spoke to us about the history of the Apaches in the area.

He we are entering the Fort Huachuca army base for a ride on their extensive property. It seemed strange simply biking past the guards on what is the home for the US Army's Intelligence Center.

Jim, Tom, and Joe lead the pack as we bike the rolling hills between Fort Huachuca and Sonoita, where we enjoyed lunch. The first half of the ride traversed the Coronado National Forest and the remainder traveled through cattle country. Arizona could easily be called "Big Sky Country" in this region, with "forever" views abounding as we biked each day. Unfortunately, the cold snap required us to wear additional layers of clothing, precluding a start on the suntans some of us winter climate escapees had hoped for.

On our fifth day, we biked 16 miles from our base of operations, the Windemere Hotel, to The Nature Conservancy operated  Ramsey Canyon Preserve where we then hiked the nature trail. Richard and Jim lead the way as the group returns down the hill. Unfortunately, the hummingbirds and butterflies had not yet resumed residence here, and the leopard frogs habitat was being constructed, but our early March hike was a nice change of pace after the strenuous uphill bike ride to get here.

This Tombstone photo shows our entire group:
Seated (l to r): Dottie, June, Val, Rex, Richard, and Dick
Standing (l to r): Tom, Bill, John (leader), Jerry, John R., Joe, Jim, Sally, Chuck, and Bob

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