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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Whitewater and Bisbee: Off to See the Cranes

First, the morning

This is how the day begins. First the sky lightens in every direction. On Wednesday there were clouds to the northwest. The sky is lightest in the southeast, where the sun will appear. A couple of wispy clouds caught the sun ahead of its rise over the mountain gap.

The sky in the northwest also began to catch the sun before it appeared, purple and rose a backdrop for the still-dark mountains.

Higher now, the clouds catch the light. Oh, it is glorious!

And the single cabeza we see from the back porch has caught it too now. The mountain greets the day.

Whitewater Draw Wildlife Refuge

I’m afraid I cannot select too carefully a series of perfect photographs of our first visit to Whitewater. Without a tripod, and in an unbelievably strong wind, I had trouble focusing at all. The ducks were not all that cooperative, either. They hide underwater, or in the grasses and sedges, or they all have their heads in the water, feeding.

There are many birds in this refuge – water birds, hawks, owls – but the stars at this time of year are the sandhill cranes. Twenty thousand (20,000) of them winter in the area.

The cranes were constantly wheeling in great flocks, like schools of glorious fish in the sky, and they were calling constantly, too, with a more musical sound than I am used to hearing when a single sandhill crane flies over our Michigan farmhouse in the spring. And the wind was blowing, also constantly. And everyone – everyone – was smiling. Faces turned upward, lips parted, eyes dancing – I have never seen so many happy faces in a gathering of strangers. One woman said, clutching her hat so the wind would not blow it off, “I’ll be hearing this sound in my sleep tonight!”

Bisbee, Another Old Mining Town

We hadn’t planned to go to Bisbee, but it was not much farther than Whitewater, and we’d already gone that far, so on we went. David had friends and a little history in Bisbee and really wanted me to see it. Wow! It was so much bigger than I’d imagined! (Helen, I’d imagined it like Jerome, and it’s much, much larger.) The streets are narrow and pitch up and down, and you have to watch your step on the sidewalks, because at any step the pavement may suddenly change level. Parking seems a general nightmare. The town has grown a lot, too, since David was last there, and the layout is confusing, to say the least. 

We were fortunate to find a shady spot for Sarah before David began his search for the son of an old friend. Everyone he asked sent him somewhere else, until finally in a very old, funky bar one of the regulars (it was obvious he was a regular) said that the man we sought now lives in Tombstone. 

Bisbee seems very dog-friendly, and I appreciated that. Here's a sign on the front of the old Silver King Hotel, where David's old friend used to live as the manager. 

Overall, though, I found Bisbee overwhelming....

... and had to focus on small details and corners and pockets to keep my head on straight.

We will go back to Bisbee another day and explore it more thoroughly. I contented myself during this quick, unplanned trip with taking a few photographs of sights large and small. There was no time to assimilate any of it thoroughly. The pit was particularly frightening, although I was intrigued by the idea of over 400 different minerals present there.

I must say, I am much more comfortable in easy-going Willcox and sleepy little Dos Cabezas.


CLP said...

Pamela, because I've read novels set in Bisbee (J.A. Jance) I've wanted to spend some time there. Your reaction to it interestes me. I have realized over time that I was subtly uncomfortable in both Telluride and Skagway, and have wondered if the looming mountains had anything to do with that. Your colorful photos of Bisbee have rekindled my desire to visit! I've read about the renovated miners' cabins on the hillsides that are for rent, the stairs connecting streets at different levels, the hummingbirds…Enjoy your travels!

Barbara Stark-Nemon said...

No apologies for these photos... they're awesome! Just got done listening to Jeff Haas and friends in TC. Will miss seeing you this weekend but LOVE that you're there!

P. J. Grath said...

Bisbee is picturesque and fascinating but also a bit tiring. Here's my favorite photo from our little visit:

The cranes were also overwhelming but in a thoroughly energizing way. Haven't seen hummingbirds. Am starting to learn about plants....

Karen Casebeer said...

What a contrast in your visitations! I especially love the crane images. I was so excited to see two dancing at Cross Farms, but 20,000! What a sight! The mass shots are gorgeous.

P. J. Grath said...

It was quite a day of contrasts, Karen. I'm glad you like the mass shots, because I was frustrated at how relatively few of the many, many birds I could capture in any single image. They were all around and overhead, too, and then there was the sound, as well. Truly an unforgettable experience!

Kathy said...

I am smiling just thinking about those sandhill cranes, Pamela. Like you, have only seen or heard one or two at a time. Can not imagine such a large gathering. It sounds like you're having lots of fun!

BB-Idaho said...

What a world those that prefer to
fly from point A to point B miss!

P. J. Grath said...

Kathy, we went to a little "bird viewing area" here outside Willcox the other day and saw a couple of hundred cranes coming in for a landing! What an unexpected and thrilling surprise!

BB, I agree with you wholeheartedly and know you will the two posts I put up today, one on this blog that shows sights in and around Willcox and Dos Cabezas, the other on my photography blog, "A Shot in the Light," with the little cemetery at Dos Cabezas.

Yes, Kathy, we are having fun. We are also using the word 'overwhelming' a lot, day after day!