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Geico and Weyco Visit Arizona

Cherie's cousin Tim and his wife Jen came to southern Arizona in June to check out the area for housing, jobs, and weather. They found good weather: I guess one out of three isn't bad. They also enjoyed the sights and sounds of the old west—as you can too if you turn on your computer speakers and keep your eyes open for the speaker sound prompts.

As to the story behind the geckos on this page, Tim earned the nickname Geico after swearing that he could hear a gecko's feet suctioning along our block wall. We have no idea what that may sound like (as I suspect no other human has heard it either), but if you click your mouse on the scurrying gecko at left, you, too, may hear the elusive suctioning sound (17 Kbyte file).

We vistited historical sites in Tombstone, the "town too tough to die." At Ed Schlieflin's burial spot, a couple of miles north of Tombstone, Tim ran the rental car over a couple of small boulders to get a feel for the rough and tumble stage coach rides of old. Yep, Timmer, it made some nice noise and dings on the cars fenders, but those new-fangled shocks and padded car seats just take the jolt out of the dadgum bumps. But we did see the scrub land of the old west -- creosote bushes, hard-packed dirt, cacti, boulders, washes, and sagebrush. Now if Tim had turned off the air conditioning and opened the windows, we might just have gotten a true "taste" of the old west as it swirled around the tires. Click on stagecoach photo above to hear the story of Tombstone (732 kbyte file).

Shoot-out at the O.K. Corral

One of the first stops was the infamous O.K. corral, site of the shoot-out between the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday on one side, and the gun-slinging, steer rustlin' Cowboys on the other. Tombstone was a wild west town in the late 1880's, when the discovery of silver by Ed Schlieflin resulted in a boom that made it the baddest town between St. Lewis and San Francisco -- and one of the most deadly.

Cherie and Tim watch the shoot-out reenactment on the site of the west's famous gunfight>
Lawmen vs. the Cowboys
The back entrance to the O.K. Corral, on Fremont Street, is where three Cowboys were put down by Doc and the Earp brothers. Click on shoot out below to hear the Wyatt instruct the Cowboys. (18 Kbyte file).

Big Nose Kate, Doc's girlfriend, was staying in Fry's rooming house at the time of the shoot-out, and could look out her window to observe the fight. Tim and Jen were checking out the rooming house when Tim looked in on Kate's room and commented on her attire, (click on photo to right), drawing a reproachful look from Jen.
Tim and Cherie take a ride around the Corral, passing through the red light district. Tim's face is aglow—he showed remarkable adeptness at recognizing the names and faces of Tombstone's soiled doves. Not only did he find the graves and know the stories of the "dollies" who ended up in Boot Hill, he was able to pick them out the next day in a Bisbee bookstore. He's a fast learner.

The inside of this crib was open to adults only. It displayed a typical crib setup, the activities, the economics, and the all-too frequent fate of the women who worked out of them. For a look at some of the working women of Tombstone, click on the photo above.

Tombstone Sophistication
Tim and I stopped in at the Bird Cage Theater. The Bird Cage presented world-renown entertainers in the 1880's—against a backdrop of debauchery. At least 140 bullet holes riddle the walls, and gun and knife fights echo to this day, with their victims found in Boot Hill.
(One such fight involved the killing of the lovely lady of the evening, Margarita. She was sitting on the lap of gambler Billy Milgreen when Billy's regular girl, another Bird Cage trollop by the name of Gold Dollar, entered the room holding a double edged stiletto. In a fit of fury, Gold Dollar proceeded to cut Margarita's heart out. She almost had the job done when she heard that the Marshall was coming. She then ran through the Bird Cage and out the back door, covered in blood.)
The name "Bird Cage" was derived from the 14 cages suspended from the ceiling in the main hall. The ladies of the night were put on display in these cages so the men could make their selections.
The mix of sophistication and seediness is replicated today, with tourists (Tim and Jen representing the sophisticated, of course) taking up the reins, as shown at left. Click on the Bird Cage photo to hear more about Tombstone's early-day sophistication.
Ghosts of old Tombstone wander inside the walls of the Bird Cage, where well-preserved remnants of Tombstone's heyday still stand, from the table at which Doc Holliday dealt faro cards, to the hearse that hauled the famous and infamous to Boot Hill. Close your eyes, and you'll hear one of Doc Holliday's lines in the movie Tombstone in response to Cowboy Billy Clanton's taunt about Doc's drunkeness. Click on the photo to the right.

The Bird Cage was not only a theater, it also served as a saloon, gambling hall and brothel. It was open around the clock, 7 days a week. The New York Times called it, "the wildest, roughest, wickedest honky tonk between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast."

In the basement, Tim contemplates life at the table from which a continuous poker game was played over the course of 8 years and 4 months.

At right is the alluring Josephine Marcus, one-time itinerant performer at the Bird Cage, and the woman Wyatt stole from Sheriff Behan and later married.
Photo from O.K. Corral crib

The Crystal Palace Saloon
Then and Now

Jen and Tim soak in the ambiance of mining town leisure life by standing in the footsteps of former miners and cowboys who bellied up to one of the town's bars. Note the dress of the 1880's, at a time of Tombstone being a hot, dusty, frontier town.

Jen is the consumate shopper. Even Cherie marvels at her eye for unique gifts and bargains. That's a compliment. Here is Jen doing what she does best in one of Tombstone's gift shops. While Jamie is drawn to the Tombstone Epitaph newspaper, and the printing relics inside which, being the old-timer that he is, was the equipment he grew up with in his apprentice days at the Detroit News.
Big Nose Kate
No prize, this girlfriend of Doc Holliday, but she was the first to open a brothel in Tombstone and was a major figure in the town. Big Nose Kate's Saloon is located in the former Grand Hotel, where the Clantons and the McLaurys spent the night before their rendevous with destiny at the O.K. Corral. Guess you could call it a one-shot hangover cure.

Tim and Cherie show off their own noses sitting at Kate's bar

B T   H I

Former residents and visitors alike frequently end up at Boot Hill. Tim and Jen were no exception. But unlike the unlucky trio of Cowboys shot down at the O.K. Corral in 1881, Tim and Jen were all smiles as they read the frequently humorous epitaphs of Tombstone's infamous characters.

Tim and Jen at Boot Hill. Is that a smile or a grimace on Tim's face? Click on the photo and judge for yourself.
Click on photo to left to hear Doc comment on Tim's expression

Even the cacti look bullet-riddled

Tim chuckles over George's fate

Margarita's story in Bird Cage section above
Jen and Tim wrapped up the day in Tombstone behind a flowering cholla cactus. This one reminds me of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Though not all desert plants are pretty, they're hardy fellas able to withstand intense sun and parched air. "Speaking of parched," Tim's thinking, "let's get back to the patio and chill out with some long neck bottles and a Margarita -- frozen, not stiff, that is."

"B" is for Bisbee
Tim and Jen traveled through a time tunnel and into Bisbee, where the '60's is always just around the corner
Jen and Tim experience the natural high of mountain life at over 5,300 feet in the old mining town of Bisbee. This quaint town that grew around the copper mines nestled in the Mule Mountains is famous for its eccentric characters, antique shopping, eclectic bars, and fine dining, as well as its vertical sidewalks and small miners' homes that grow on the sides of the mountain.
Cherie, Tim and Jen say a prayer at the century-old Episcapalian Church, left, before plunging into the Copper Queen Hotel bar, right, where we enjoyed some drinks on the outdoor patio. Cherie, in a move similar to our son Matt's clumsiness, knocked over her glass of wine onto Tim's sunglasses—literally providing him the ability to look at the world through rosé colored glasses.

Photo from the Southwest Ghost Hunters Association web site
We had lunch on the patio of the Copper Queen hotel on an exquisite blue-sky afternoon

Cousins Cherie and Tim enjoy time together in Cherie's neck of the woods
Tim, left, and Jen, right, seem to like the southwest. We, in turn, thoroughly enjoyed their company

Bisbee's Steps

Some of Bisbee's mountains fell victim to mining endeavours, as can be seen in this pit that descends 900 feet in a winding step-like spiral. Amounts of ore pulled out of the pit vary, with numbers as high as a billion tons. A small gift shop on the edge of the pit still sells "Bisbee Blue" jewelry made from turquoise mined in the Lavendar Pit. Bisbee's underground and open mines were the engine of the area's economy, but with mining operations now closed, tourism and art have taken over to lend a distinct character to the old mountain mining community.

A Desert Bird of Paradise blooms in a Bisbee park, undoubtedly attracting its fair share of killer bees.

An enterprising Bisbee beekeeper turned the invasion of killer bees in the southwest into a pot of gold by marketing his "killer bee" honey across Arizona. His honey products have gone on to win national culinary awards and his honey butter and honey mustard are available on line at killerbeeguy.com as shown by his advertisement on a dumpster in town.

Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee

Pretty to look at, but painful to touch, that's the story of Arizona's flowering cacti, as Tim found out while sitting around waiting for Cherie to get off the phone.

Tim thought he'd just rest up a bit by sitting on the curb near a cactus patch. His first thought was captured by this sound clip (click on the adjacent photo), but he soon found out that, no, that ain't no daisy, and the cactus bite in Arizona—Jen had to pull prickers out of his back later that evening. I think we can begin to see a pained expression on his face in this photo, but I may be wrong — it could just be gas.

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