Category Archives: Travel

Rex Allen Days 2010 in Willcox, AZ

Western fun, Willcox style! Each year, Rex Allen Days honors Willcox’s hometown hero, Rex Allen, who became famous as a singer, cowboy movie star and narrator for Walt Disney Productions.

Rex Allen (Photo courtesy of the Rex Allen Museum, Willcox, Ariz.)

Special guest stars at this year’s Rex Allen Days will be music stars, Jimmy Fortune of the Statler Brothers fame, and Johnny Western. The Cowboy Hall of Fame kicks it off. The 2nd Annual Western Legends Award will be presented this year. Other activities include a parade, rodeo, General Orlando B. Willcox International turtle race, cowboy dances and country music concerts. 

Details: Admission varies per event. Contact the Willcox Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture at 520-384-2272 or the Rex Allen Museum at 520-384-4583, www.RexAllenMuseum.org for more information.

Do you remember Rex Allen? Are you sure? If you’re of a certain age (say 40s or older), you might have heard of him even if you don’t recognize his name. He was the narrator of Disney for years in the 60s and he was the narrator of the 1973 animated film, Charlotte’s Web. So you probably have heard of him.

View a clip from a Walt Disney show, “Yellowstone Cubs“. Do you remember those wholesome Disney shows? I do! I looked forward to Sunday evenings in front of the TV with Mom and Dad and my sisters and brother. For me, it really was a “Wonderful World of Disney”!

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Hey kids, let’s go to the… saloon?

Relax, folks this is a wholesome saloon. It is brand new to the movie set at Gammons Gulch, just north of Benson.

Gammons Gulch's new saloon set ©Gammons Gulch

Last year, a movie called “The Gundown” was filmed at Gammons Gulch, here in Cochise County, and the moviemakers wanted a saloon to film in. So, after raising money, the saloon was built. It’s now an 1,100-square-foot movie saloon!

They don’t serve alcohol, so it’s safe to bring the kids.

Just imagine: a gunslinger charges through the swinging doors, card games screech to a halt and chairs scrape the floor. A shoot out is bound to happen! But we’ll just have to wait to see if The Gundown includes one of those scenes or if a wise sheriff or marshal will talk them out of pulling that trigger.

George Scott, former mayor of Benson and a member of Southeast Arizona Economic Development Group, helped raise funds to build the saloon.

Take a tour of Gammons Gulch today to learn about the movie set and see what I call a place that is like the “Antiques Roadshow on Steroids”!

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July 4th getaway

Looking to get away for July Fourth? Start celebrating early with Benson’s fireworks and Sierra Vista’s talent show on Saturday July 3. Then round out your weekend on July Fourth with coaster races, mucking and drilling contests, softball tournaments, the People & Pets Parade and fireworks in Bisbee, Sierra Vista and Tombstone.

Benson July Fourth Celebration, to be held July 3, 2010

Get a preview of fireworks in Benson! The community will commemorate its 130-year anniversary with a then-and-now slide show, the annual parade, and the popular “Water Fight” at Lions Park. Volunteer fire departments compete in the water fight. They use fire hoses to move a barrel on a pulley system, sliding the barrel toward the opposing team. Spectators often get a refreshing soak, and the kids get to play in the mud.  Entertainment and music throughout the day, with fireworks at dusk and a family dance held at Lion’s Park at night.

When:  July 3, 2010 Parade 9 a.m., Water Fight 10:30 a.m., Fireworks 8:30 p.m.

Where:  Benson

Admission:  Free

Info:  520-586-4293, Benson Visitor Center or info@bensonvisitorcenter.com

4th of July in Bisbee, Bisbee

The famous Bisbee Coaster Races, the oldest and longest gravity-powered race in the U.S., start down Tombstone Canyon at 8:30 a.m. Between heats, the Bisbee Iron Man Mile will be held. A parade will be in Bisbee’s Warren section. Re-created Bisbee’s early miners’, mucking and drilling contests are held in the afternoon with shovels and four-pound hammers flying. The Bisbee Copper Kings will host its third annual baseball tournament Warren Ballpark, with fireworks at dark.

When:  beginning at 9 a.m., July 4

Where:  Bisbee locations

Admission:  Free

Info:  520-432-6016 or Bisbee Visitor Center events

43rd Annual 4th of July Festivities, Sierra Vista

The party begins July 3 with a youth talent show at Veterans’ Memorial Park, followed by a street dance with the popular band “Train Wreck.” Celebrations include the Pets & People parade, with entertainment, food and displays. City officials and dignitaries will address the crowd at a noon ceremony. A spectacular fireworks show starts at dusk at the Paiz/Stone Complex, on Tacoma Street.

When:  6 p.m., July 3; all day, July 4

Where: Veterans’ Memorial Park, 3105 E. Fry Blvd.

Admission: Free

Info:  520-266-2304 or Sierra Vista Visitor July events calendar or www.visitsierravista.com

July 4, Family Style 4th of July at Medigovich Field, Tombstone

America’s independence is celebrated in Tombstone with the annual softball tournament. Street entertainment and a rousing fireworks display at dusk round out the too-tough-to-die town’s events.
When:  8:30 a.m.

Where:  Medigovich Field, Allen Street

Admission:  Free

Info:  520-457-3994 or Tombstone Chamber

July 3 & 4, Douglas’ “sporty” July 4th

If you and your kids can’t get enough of sports, check out the July 4th celebration in Douglas. They’ll have a variety of sports tournaments: youth soccer, golf, adult flag football and softball. You must pre-register. In addition, there will be food and craft vendors plus a Patriotic Parade downtown on Avenue G at 10 a.m. Fireworks will shoot off at on July 4th at 8:45 p.m.

For more info contact the City of Douglas Recreation Center at 520-417-7340.

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Southwest Wings festival-goers: make reservations early!

If you’re planning to attend the Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival, make sure you’re an early bird!

A major conference will be held in Sierra Vista at the same time as the festival, so rooms will be in short supply. Visit SW Wings’ lodging page for info on sponsoring hotels, bed and breakfast inns or motels.

Be sure to make any lodging reservations well in advance!

If you can’t find lodging in Sierra Vista, You might also visit lodging facilities in the neighboring communities in Cochise County. Click on each city to find lodging within these communities (numbers in parentheses indicate mileage to Sierra Vista). Benson (35), Bisbee (24), Douglas (50), Tombstone (32) and Willcox (70).

Happy bird watching!

Roadrunner near the San Pedro River ©Cochise County Tourism Council

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Southern Arizona summers: find the cool spots, Part 2

Below are more ideas on how to stay cool in Cochise County and southeastern Arizona. See my earlier post for “part 1″ of how to find cool spots during Arizona’s summers.

Dig for cold in Cochise County’s mines. A spot in Bisbee’s Queen Mine Tour is a brisk 47 degrees year-round. So when it’s 110 degrees in the desert… well, you do the math! You can get an education on mining life while you’re chilling out inside the mines. Try one of Cochise County’s two mine tours—the Queen Mine Tour or Tombstone’s Good Enough Underground Mine Tour. Visit the Queen Mine Tour or the Good Enough Mine Tour.

Which way to the beach? Cool off at The Cove, Sierra Vista’s Aquatic Center. You can dip your toes into the pool’s beach-like entry or go head first into the diving well. There’s also water tube slides and major wave action. Call the facility at 520-417-4800 or visit The Cove’s website.

Hang out with some cool customers. Tombstone has its share of cool characters hanging around. Visit Tombstone Chamber of Commerce to plan your own cool experience in the “town too tough to die.”

Gaze into cool night skies. With cooler evening temperatures, stargazers of all levels can revel in the county’s dark skies. Contact the Huachuca Astronomy Club to attend monthly star parties or join an event at one of 15 private observatories.

Do you have more ideas on staying cool? Share it by leaving a comment!

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Southern Arizona summers: find the cool spots

If you think it’s hot in Arizona in the summer, you haven’t traveled the state much. Here are three ideas for things to do and places to go in southern Arizona to get cool.

Go underground. The average temperature inside Kartchner Caverns is about 70 degrees. Insulated by layers of earth, caves are naturally cooler. While you’re cooling off, you’ll get to explore one of the world’s top 10 living caves. Throne Room tours show amazing stalactites and stalagmites that took thousands of years to form. See these wondrous formations on touts that last about an hour. Info: Kartchner Caverns State Park website

How cool is this?! Kartchner Caverns State Park® Photo by Noelle Wilson ©Arizona State Parks

Get high. No, we’re not pushing drugs. Get high in elevation. Cochise County elevations start at around 3,000 feet, and many of the peaks top out above 7,000 feet. That translates to crisp summer air. Mountain ranges include the Dragoons between Benson and Willcox, Mules where Bisbee sits, Whetstones where Kartchner Caverns is located, Chiricahuas, between Douglas and Willcox, the Huachucas in Sierra Vista, Dos Cabezas near Willcox and more. You’ll find lots of recreational opportunities like hiking and camping in Cochise County’s mountains!

Low-temperature golf at value prices. Sitting at elevations of 3,500-4,600 feet, these courses offer a respite from urban courses. Visitors can tackle the “Rattler,” a 757-yard, par-6 hole—just one of the interesting golf experiences at Cochise County’s seven public courses located in Benson, Bisbee, Douglas, Sierra Vista, Sunsites and Willcox. For more info, check the Cochise County Tourism Council’s golf listing.

You can find out more by contacting any of the Cochise County Visitors Centers: Benson Bisbee, Douglas, Sierra Vista, Tombstone and Willcox.

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Tombstone’s rose tree in full bloom

Tombstone's famous rose tree

Tombstone's famous rose tree

The trunk of the rose tree

The trunk of the rose tree

This rose tree covers over 8,000 square feet!

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Wine: A visit to the Carlson Creek Tasting Room

I tasted some great wines in Willcox today and talked with John Carlson, one member of the  family who runs the Carlson Creek, a vineyard in Cochise County.

I uploaded a short video to youtube.com. John was a bit nervous, but he did great! Check it out at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnZZ8kXvl-E

Tasting room hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday thru Sunday. $6 will get you a taste of their Chardonnay, Sangiovese, Syrah and Cabernet. Plus you get a souvenir glass!

For more info, check out http://www.carlsoncreek.com/carlsoncreek/index.jsp.

If you’d like ideas on other things to do when visiting Willcox, call the Willcox Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-200-2272.

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Fresh beer at Old Bisbee Brewing Company

On March 14, 2010, freshly brewed beer started flowing on Brewery Gulch. It happened at the Old Bisbee Brewing Company on the corner of Brewery and Review Avenues in Bisbee. Dale Fountaine and Victor Winquist partnered to produce fresh beer after research in England’s brew pubs and across America. They’ve have taken their cues from the great beers they sampled.

The Tap Room in the Old Bisbee Brewing Company. Photo (c) Victor Winquist

Winquist says that brewing great beer is much like brewing a great cup of coffee. Just as coffee tastes better if you use fresh beans, so does beer tastes better if you brew with fresh hops. So fresh hops it is for the 7 beers Winquist and Fountaine produce.

Old Bisbee Brewing Company consists of two buildings that sit side by side. Beer is made in one building, and flows through to the adjacent tap room.

You can sign up for their mailing list at http://oldbisbeebrewingcompany.com/ or call the brewery at 520-432-BREW (2739).

So raise a glass and enjoy a brew the next time you’re in Bisbee!

For more info on things to see and do in Bisbee, visit the Bisbee Visitor Center website. For surrounding communities and other things to do, visit the Cochise County website.

The brewing room at Old Bisbee Brewing Company. Photo (c) Victor Winquist

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Bluegrass in the Park in Benson

If you’re of a certain age and you were into comedy during the 70s, you probably remember Steve Martin’s white-suit-wearing, banjo-picking days. If so, you might also remember his advice about Nixon after Watergate. Martin said the banjo could have saved Nixon! All he had to do was go on television playing the banjo with a smile saying “hey, everything’s great!”

Seriously, how can you be sad when you’re listening to the banjo? For that matter, how can you be sad when you listen to any bluegrass music? I dare any of you to listen to a rousing rendition of Foggy Mountain Breakdown and not tap your toes.

Bluegrass, that happy, foot-tapping genre is coming to Benson in Cochise County in April for the 5th annual Bluegrass in the Park. I went two years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. (I remember my pregnant friend and I listening to great music in simply gorgeous weather. We decompressed after both of us had had hectic weeks.)

This year’s lineup will include Goldwing Express, Whistle Stop, Cedar Hill, Lonesome Traveler, Silverado, Bost Family Traditions, the Artichoke Sisters and many more! See the full schedule for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Festival Details: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Fri-Sun., April 23-25 at Lions Park in Benson. Admission is $8-$12 for adults 19 and older, $4-$6 for teens (14-18) and kids age 13 and younger get in free with an adult.

Bring lawn chairs and blankets and have a great time listening to some fantastic music!

For more information, contact the Benson/San Pedro Valley Chamber of Commerce: 520-586-2842 or visit http://www.bluegrassben.com/

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