Read Write Retreat - Day 4
I talked your ears off yesterday, so I’ll keep this dispatch short. Probably.
I woke up early this morning (5:30 a.m.) after sleeping uninterrupted through the night. It took me until the final night in my trailer to figure it out, but last night I slid closed the door that separates the bed nook from the main part of the trailer, which prevented the heater from waking me up every time it kicked on through the night.
I pulled on some warm clothes, then sat down at the dinette to read a long article about Ulysses that Cathrine sent me, which strengthened my resolve to read the book this year (and also added a couple more books onto my Ulysses study stack). I made another omelet (had to use up those farm fresh eggs the host left for me) and ate breakfast as dawn crept in. I washed all of my dishes from yesterday and this morning, and by 8 a.m. I was ready to write.
I did four 25-minute pomodoros this morning, working on the novel synopsis, and for my short breaks I repacked my bags, put away dishes, stripped the bed, and carried stuff to my car. I finished my last pomo at 10:30, took a quick shower and changed into my traveling clothes, and I was on the road for Bisbee at 11:15.
By the way, I synopsized another 55 pages this morning. 98 to go.
On a whim, I took the Ghost Town Trail between Pearce and Tombstone. Today, February 14, is the 110th anniversary of Arizona’s statehood, so I figured I should take in something historical. Sadly, the trail consisted only of 20 miles of dirt road, 20 miles of two-lane blacktop, and a couple of tumbledown buildings. Not much to see. The washboard road did make me think of the Jesse Valenzuela-penned Gin Blossoms song, Just South of Nowhere, so I put on the GB’s breakout album, New Miserable Experience, for traveling tunes.1
I parked in downtown Tombstone and walked around for a bit, but the place just isn’t my barrel of gunpowder. With its wooden sidewalks, dirt road, horse-drawn coach, and guys standing in the street in western garb waiting for a gunfight to break out, it’s like Frontierland at Disneyland, but dirty and with no fun rollercoasters. I ate a burger and drank a beer at a tavern overlooking the dirt road, then I decided that the town wasn’t big enough for the one of me.
It’s a quick run down the highway to Bisbee. Well, it seems like down because it’s south (ish), but at 5200 feet, Bisbee is actually up from Tombstone. Anyway, I dropped into Bisbee about an hour before I could check into my airbnb, so I drove through town, which consists of one main curvy road that drops down through a canyon, with houses and shops built up the sides of the canyon walls. At the south end of this canyon (which is called Tombstone Canyon, not to be confused with Tombstone the town), you come around a bend and suddenly, to your right, the earth just drops away into a massive pit.
This is the Lavender Pit, a former open pit copper mine. It covers more than 300 acres and is 900 feet deep. Because of what Wikipedia calls “the competent host rock”—which I take to mean “rock that isn’t real crumbly”—the walls of the pit, even still, 48 years after mining in the pit ceased operation, are intact and very steep. You can turn off of the highway and drive right up to the edge (there’s a sturdy pipe railing to keep you from plunging in), so I did that, and took some pictures. The effect of standing 10 feet from where the earth has been ripped open and drops away to the depth of an 80-story building is vertiginous.
After fueling up and winding back up the canyon, I checked into my cottage at 4. This will be my writing retreat home for the next few days. Because Bisbee is built into the sides of the Tombstone Canyon walls, the town is famous for its steps; there are dozens (hundreds?) of concrete staircases everywhere you look. There’s even an event called the Bisbee 1000, where you run around town and climb a bunch of the flights of steps, more than 1000 steps up in total.
My cottage is accessed by one of those sets of steps, mercifully only 48 total steps from the street to my front door. But at 5200 feet, I was breathing heavy at the top of each luggage-carrying trip. I unpacked, got settled, and lay down for a brief nap. For mid-February and at a mile of elevation, it is surprisingly warm in Bisbee, 74 degrees according to the old-fashioned Pepsi-Cola thermometer outside my cottage door. It felt great to leave the door and windows open and let the breeze blow through.
At 5 I got up and took a quick shower (to get that Tombstone dust off of me), then walked off down the canyon to explore. I walked up and down the canyon a couple of times, checking out the shops, century-old houses, and the famous Copper Queen Hotel. The town is a real treat to look at, and there were a handful of restaurants open, but the majority of the shops and several of the restaurants I was interested in trying were closed; it seems they open only on weekends. I ended up skipping dinner and came back here to write this post. I’ll be good and hungry for breakfast. I’m hoping something is open.
Happy Valentine’s Day!