Day 8: Bisbee to Dream Catcher B&B - Southeast Arizona 2016 - CycleBlaze

April 3, 2016

Day 8: Bisbee to Dream Catcher B&B

The crappy muffin breakfast at the hotel won't cut it today. I walked nearly a mile to the only restaurant in town that was open. Bisbee also isn't a breakfast place. Like in Tombstone, they expect visitors to drink all night and get up at noon. I finally left Bisbee at 9:15 on a gloriously sunny morning.

My first stop was just out of town at the Lavender mine. The mine produced mostly copper but other minerals were found in smaller quantities. Tailings from the mine are all around. It's a major environmental cleanup site.

First view of the inactive Lavender pit mine.
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The mine operated from 1950 to 1974, producing 600,000 tons of copper and 256 million tons of waste material. It kept Bisbee alive as a mining town for a few more years after the tunnel mines were tapped out.

The main pit is 900 feet deep.
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Just past Bisbee is the smaller mining town of Lowell. On the edge of town I turned left, east, onto Double Adobe road.

My original plan for today was to continue southeast on AZ 80 to the border town of Douglas, a short downhill day. Yesterday I decided to re-route and go directly from Bisbee towards Chiricahua, shortening the tour from 13 days to 12 days. I never saw the border despite planning to see the border at both Nogales and Douglas.

Good place to find shade.
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The route gently descends all the way from Bisbee to Double Adobe. 5300 to 4000 feet elevation (1600-1200 m). In Double Adobe I turned left onto Central Highway, now going north through the middle of the valley. Double Adobe is a small farm village near the south end of a big basin called Spring Valley.

Gentle descent to the Spring valley on Double Adobe road.
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Spring Valley is nearly flat, about 20 miles wide, spanning 60 miles from Douglas to I-10. 4000 feet (1200 m) elevation at the south end, a bit higher at the north end. An arid basin where creeks flow out of the mountains and evaporate in the valley.

The mesquite trees haven't budded yet. Tumbleweed is common along the fences.
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Double Adobe road and Central Highway are perfectly straight and have essentially no traffic. Quiet and peaceful. I'm very happy that I decided to follow 30 miles of no-traffic county roads instead of 45 miles of state highways.

Irrigated crop circle near the farming village of Double Adobe.
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The valley has occasional giant crop circles irrigated by center pivot irrigation. The water is pumped from an underground aquifer. The green crop circles are a huge contrast to the desert which is brown because the mesquite trees haven't budded yet.

This view is astonishingly similar to many scenes from my previous tour in the Great Plains.
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The valley shares many features with the High Plains that I toured last year: Giant green crop circles. Diesel powered irrigation pumps. Grain elevators. Flat land. Straight roads. 360 degree views.

Awesome contrast between the flat green field and the brown mountains.
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Spring Valley looks remarkably similar to the High Plains if you ignore the mountains all around. Mule and Dragoon mountains to the west. Chiricahua and Perilla mountains to the east. Dos Cabezas mountains to the north.

The only orchard I saw today.
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Just south of the village of Elfrida the no-traffic Central Highway merges with US 191 and I suddenly have some traffic. I stopped for lunch in Elfrida. Not much there.

This scene in Spring Valley could be in the Great Plains. Border Patrol checkpoint visible ahead.
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The weather is getting steadily warmer. High of 78F (26C) thanks to cloudless sky and a gentle southwest wind. 10F warmer than yesterday.

This could be western Nebraska.
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Shade is much more difficult to find today. The mesquite trees are bare and small. Big trees are always behind fences.

More great contrast.
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After 12 easy flat miles on US 191 I turned right, east, onto AZ 181. At the intersection is an RV park and cafe, so I stopped for pie a la mode.

I expected AZ 181 east to climb but the grade was gentler than expected. No more irrigated fields. Almost no traffic. A road to nowhere.

Now pedaling east on AZ 181 towards the Chiricahua mountains.
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Pedaling east near sunset can be a sublime experience. This was one of them, pedaling towards the increasingly golden Chiricahua mountains. Pronounced chee-ree-KA-wha.

Looking up Turkey Creek road, an inviting gateway to the Chiricahua mountains.
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Turkey creek crossing AZ 181. The water was about 3 inches (7 cm) deep on the road. The creek bed shifted slightly since the road was poured.
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After 13 gentle uphill miles on AZ 181 I turned into Dream Catcher Bed and Breakfast. A 2 night stay here will make it possible to visit Chiricahua National Monument tomorrow. They serve breakfast and dinner, essential when the B&B is in the middle of nowhere.

Today's destination. 12 miles outside of Chiricahua National Monument.
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I arrived at 5:40 PM. Multi-course dinner served starting at 7. The hostess is Algerian French, a gourmet cook. They have a beautiful courtyard with plants and trees that attract birds. I'm living the resort life tonight.

Today was easy. Downhill to Double Adobe, then imperceptibly uphill in a flat valley. All with a gentle tailwind. Dream Catcher Bed and Breakfast is at 4900 feet (1485m) elevation. I will go much higher tomorrow.

The farm scenery isn't spectacular but it's a huge change that I didn't expect. A nice surprise. Today was great thanks to sunshine, warmer weather, gentle terrain, tailwind, and an unexpected change of scenery.

Distance: 59.3 mi. (95 km)
Climbing: 993 ft. (301 m)
Average Speed: 10.8 mph (17.3 km/h)

Today's ride: 59 miles (95 km)
Total: 273 miles (439 km)

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