In the middle of nowhere, really, in an old mining town with buildings painted in bright technicolor is a hat store. No, let me correct that–a fine hat store–outfitting both locals and tourists with Panama straw hats, fur hats, fedoras, optimos, top hats and derby hats. I chat up the shop owner about the Panama hat I just had made for me on our last trip to Ecuador and he gives me tips on how to take care of it. My eyes wander about his store, looking to see if there’s anything I need to try on. I just spent a fortune on the custom hat from Ecuador and so I resist the temptation to try on anything because once that happens there’s no getting out of there without one. I don’t need another hat, I tell myself (but secretly I know that’s a lie).
This is Bisbee, Arizona, an old mining town 90 miles and some change from Tucson and a side trip on our birding adventure where we also participated in hummingbird banding. By “side trip,” I mean we were looking for a place to eat. Bisbee was founded as a copper, gold, and silver mining town in 1880, and I desperately want to say, “I stepped back in time,” but I’d be ashamed of the cliché. So I won’t say that.
Instead, let me introduce you to Trez who relocated here in Bisbee AZ from Boston (I caught her saying, “The cahs drove down the street.”) She sold us her Killer Bee honey. (We bought the vanilla honey and almond honey, which sort of makes your eyeballs roll back in your head as you swoon.)
And who says you can’t put in a store in a space the size of closet? Get more than two people in here and you’re going to have to call police for crowd control.
Just outside the Killer Bees Honey shop, Carl is hanging out playing the banjolele–a hybrid banjo and ukulele–fulfilling the promise on his t-shirt to Keep it Real. [click on video below to get a listen]
Every year on the 3rd Saturday of October you can tone your glutes by participating in the Bisbee 1000, a stair climb throughout the city that will take you through gardens and alleys, between buildings and along the main street as you meander your way through town. Being dubbed a quirky town it’s no surprise this town’s walk/run is quirky as well.
I’ve read that Bisbee is one of the best places in the US to retire and I wondered if I could do it. Could I retire here in this beautifully muralled town, with honey shops wedged in tiny places, with a step-climbing race and a millenary of fine hats for people who probably don’t need a fine hat?
Sure I could, I tell myself. Sure I could.