The plan was to take off from Vail, AZ, but we were not making good time and the I-10 looked intimidating. We decided to bike U.S. Route 80 from Benson to Naco (58.4 miles each way). I was very happy about this because this was my first bike trip, it was last minute and I did not train for it… so I felt relieved. I think Ed was somewhat annoyed by my last-minute cold-feet but even he agreed that the I-10 was a bit scary.
This is everything I packed… never packed so light in my life before. We planned on staying in hotels and eating out so we didn’t have that much to take with us.
Traveling with the Dummy on the car, especially at high speeds, is very unsettling. The bike is bigger than our car. While we were readjusting it I decided to ride to Benson on the I-10 and meet at the McDonald’s with the dinosaur. At this point we were about five miles away from it and I just wanted to see what riding on the interstate was like, for future trips and out of curiosity.
The I-10 is slightly terrifying at first… huge trucks going really fast and everyone is looking at you like you just escaped from the insane asylum. Once you get over the loud noises and focus on the shoulder and on not dying, it’s not too bad.
Exits are scary because you have to cross the lane if you don’t want to get off the interstate. Watch your back and don’t forget about incoming traffic up ahead.
Anytime you see this: REJOICE! At first this scared me because I don’t have a lot of practice with fast descents, but after pedaling up a couple of steep roads I learned really fast how to handle them and to appreciate them! So much fuuuuuuuun!!!
Never been happier to get to my exit. Get me out of here!!!
Made it to the McDonald’s with the dinosaur in Benson. It was only five miles but it was exhilarating to get to the first “landmark” in our map.
U.S. Route 80 is very pretty. It almost feels like you are in the rural Southeast. It’s very green with lots of pecan stops and churches… not one cactus in sight. Not at all what I was expecting, but it was very nice.
U.S. 80 does have traffic, but it’s slower and less congested than the I-10.
Music while riding my bike is a must. I discovered that for long, slow milage on old highways my favorites are: The Doors, Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
As you get closer to Tombstone you start getting some elevation. This was not good for me because I am not used to it and because I hate it. It is very pretty to go through the mountains though and the downhills make the trip up worth it!
We made it to Tombstone!
Our first stop was the Boothill Graveyard. We were making awful time and still had to make it to Bisbee so we were not going to be able to do a lot in Tombstone. We had been told that the graveyard was a must.
Boothill Graveyard – Lester Moore’s gravesite.
Boothill Graveyard – Quickly checking out the site.
And of course we rode to Allen Street. We heard the gunshots from the OK Corral but missed the show.
And we stopped for a beer at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon, which used to be the Grand Hotel.
The bar at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon.
The beer was a bit giant which was great at the time but quickly proved to have been a terrible idea.
Lots of references to the movie Tombstone all over town. This bar was even playing the movie. It felt more themed than historic.
My CycleLights became a big knotted mess so we had to cut them off right on Allen St.
The leg to Bisbee was all up, up, up without the fun descents. Also several miles without a shoulder.
Finally it’s time to go down… but there’s a scary tunnel. Very, very dark. Very, very fast.
Descent into Bisbee! Alleluia!
We made it to our hotel! The innkeepers were waiting on us.
Hotel San Ramón is beautiful, clean and in a great location (if you like to be in the middle of everything). It is a very small and quaint little place. We were worried about the size of my bike but we were able to haul it up the narrow steps at night and keep it in our room.
There aren’t any bike racks in Bisbee but there are railings all over the place. Some businesses are cool with you locking up your bike to their railing, but some are not… and they will come out to tell you so. All of the streets, unless marked, are considered car parking and they do take precedent over bikes. A chain lock is a must in order to reach some of the railings! This is the railing by our hotel. I kept the bike out here while we unpacked and showered. I was told it would be ok there for 30-45 minutes but I could not keep it there during our stay.
This was our little, clean and comfy room. Loved it! Hotels in Bisbee are for the most part old and small, but this one was nicely updated and had a private bathroom… which is almost a luxury in this town.
The narrow stairway to get to the rooms.
Bisbee is so pretty at night.
Exploring the city after dinner meant more climbing… to hell with this! Let’s stay in the Brewery Gulch and just drink please!
Old Bisbee Brewing Company
Old Bisbee Brewing Company pilsner.
Locals at Old Bisbee Brewing Company. Locals are not on their phones. You walk into a bar or coffee shop and everyone is talking to one another. This was the case everywhere we went! At first it’s a little odd, but so much fun! We spent many hours sharing stories with strangers and exchanging numbers and emails. The fine people photographed here told us Naco, Mexico is safe but there’s nothing there. Not even a place to eat. They also tell us we probably wouldn’t be able to cross because we for forgot our passports. In other entry points into Mexico they sometimes let that slide, but not in Naco. One of them gave us a great tip: A restaurant by the Safeway, originally from Naco, Mex just recently moved to this side of the border. He said it was authentic and really good. Love local spots!
Both bikes in our room for the night. More riding in store for the following day.
Morning coffee at Bisbee Coffee Co. before we take off to Naco, Sonora Mexico
Bisbee Coffee Co. is located in a nice corner of town. Great for admiring the architecture and people watching.
Mural in Old Bisbee.
Locals love to put things out, free for the taking. There’s free stuff everywhere as well as a well-stocked free box. The free box is filled with unwanted things, anyone is welcome to them. Danielle, the owner of Room 4 Bar and the Silver King Hotel found a fleece jacket in the box. She was wearing it when we met at her bar. She found it when she went to drop things off that she no longer had use for. Sonny, a local we spoke to at Bisbee Coffee Co., leaves CDs of his music around town, so that everyone can enjoy.
On our way to Naco, Mexico. I’m so not into this at this point. Knowing that we will have to climb back up to Bisbee is more than I can handle. I keep it together by reminding myself that the border is just 12 miles away. Enjoying this descend by the Lavender Pit.
Old Shell station in Historic Lowell.
Cruising through Historic Lowell on the way to Mexico. Still going down!
Pick your poison.
Jimmy’s Hot Dogs by the Naco Highway.
The Naco Highway has one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen and the whole highway is a descent into Mexico… weeee!!!!
Ugly fence on the border. Kind of heartbreaking.
Mexico Port of Entry – We were not allowed entry into Mexico because we did not have our passports. Border patrol, “There’s not a damn thing there anyway.” I would have loved to have seen that for myself, but everything happens for a reason.
The fence is huge and off-putting. The port of entry is empty other than a few border patrol. Quiet and eerie. Very different than Nogales which is filled with vendors, music and long lines to cross from both countries.
We had lunch at Neariah’s, the spot recommended to us the previous night. This restaurant was located in Naco, Mexico. recently moved to Naco, AZ. So good!
Checking out the famous mining pit while taking a break from the climb and headwind on the way up back to Bisbee.
The Lavender Pit
We made it! Time to explore Bisbee!
First stop was the Stock Exchange Saloon at the Brewery Gulch.
Drinks and Trivial Pursuit
The ceiling at the Stock Exchange Saloon.
Sam Poe Gallery.
St. Elmo. A local spot with interesting characters in Brewery Gulch.
Music on the streets of Old Bisbee.
After meeting and having a heart-to-heart with Mike, a local passing the time in the Grand Saloon, we scored a private tour of The Bisbee Grand Hotel. Thanks Mike and friends!
The Bisbee Grand Hotel
Room 4 Bar at Silver King Hotel
The best in bike protection. (Screaming Banshee’s scorpion-shaped leftovers.)
Last day in Bisbee and we found the Peace Wall!
Bye Bisbee! Hate to leave but we will be back!
We had to go through the tunnel again but uphill this time. Not fun and very unsafe.
On the road back to Tombstone. Incredibly gorgeous.
Tombstone, the sequel. I liked it a lot more after the second visit.
The Bird Cage Theater was my favorite stop in Tombstone.
Inside the Bird Cage Theater where everything is original.
Long beautiful road on our way back!
Lots of bikers on the road this time around.
Border Patrol Station.
Six miles to Benson.
End of U.S. Route 80 and the end of our trip!