Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Silver City Blues

We've always been intrigued by Silver City during our brief stops, and wanted to spend more time here exploring the town and nearby Gila Wilderness. We're staying at the Rose Valley RV Ranch for a month, and have been amazed at all the things to see and do. The RV ranch was a pleasant surprise; each site has a fenced patio area made of boards from old buildings and rustic logs. The office, laundry, and cabins are all built to resemble ranch buildings, and each site is large and is spaced well away from its neighbor. Our hummingbird feeder has been well visited; Black-chinned, Ruby-throated, Broad-tailed, and Costa's hummingbirds are keeping Brenda in the nectar-making business and are a delight to watch. The Costa's (pictured) is especially beautiful with its iridescent green coat.
Silver City is the most interestingly diverse place we've been. There's a small university and an upscale housing area, sizable cowboy contingent and rodeo arena, and a group we haven't seen in years - ever wonder what happened to the 60's hippies? They're here! This area must have the highest number of surviving VW Microbuses left in the US.....and they all come together downtown, especially at the Silver City Blues Fest held in late May. Although we're not really fans, we visited the park, listened to the music, and looked at the many different vendors; most of which were geared to the biker crowd. The festival is a biker destination, with hundreds of Harleys parked along the street and lots and lots of tattoos on display. The music was good and everyone seemed to be having a good time, especially the guy I photographed dancing by himself - he sure was enjoying himself! After visiting the Blues Fest, we walked "downtown" and had lunch at a great restaurant called Issac's, an upscale eatery in one of the old, restored storefronts that had a great menu and reasonable prices. It was an indicator of the eclectic nature of downtown that across the street was the Buffalo biker bar, with it's requisite line of Harley's parked outside. Later in the week we had lunch at another downtown restaurant; Shivek & Mi, that had a truly unusual menu. Who would expect the soup of the day in a Silver City eatery to be "chilled fresh blackberry pinot noire"? (it was delicious!) Other downtown business reflect the local population; coffee shops like "Java the Hut", and "Java Lina", gift and speciality shops, an old theater, and thrift shops also fill the street. There's a lot of old west history here and you can't go anywhere in this part of New Mexico without running into some type of Billy the Kid history. The "kid", who's real name was William Antrim, lived here in his teen years until his mother died of tuberculosis. Markers in town commemorate his escape from jail after being arrested for theft. His mother's grave is located right next door to where we're staying (the RV park's address of "memory lane" should have been a giveaway).
While old silver mines are still present throughout the area, the real mining success and still the main employer is copper mining. The Santa Rita or El Chino mine, one of the world's largest open pit mines, is still being worked, even on a Sunday, the day we stopped at the overlook and took this photo. The history of the mine is impressive; Spanish explorers were given copper items from indians who worked the mine in the 1500s, and although its growth over the years has slowed, it still employs over 1200 people. So, in Silver City we've got miners, educators, bikers, hippies, cowboys.....and a Super Wal-Mart for shopping! We've plenty of adventures ahead here, so come back soon and share our experiences!

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