Hike to the Bisbee Shrine

Today I did something I should have done long ago. I hiked up to the shrine high above Bisbee’s Brewery Gulch with friend Cinda. It’s a fairly long climb that starts in the Gulch, heads up some stairs, cuts briefly up a sort of road, and then moves into lots of loose shale.
I didn’t think to bring my walking stick, so for me, with poor balance due to head injury, it was a serious challenge, and I won’t do it again without a stick.
This was a repeat climb for Cinda who’s been there numerous times. She climbed up there once at night, using a flashlight, and spent the night. I am not that crazy. But she was the perfect guide since she knows the trail well.
The shrine was built in 1980 by Adolfo Vasquez. The story is he promised God he’d build a shrine if God would let him keep his sight. God did, and Adolfo did. He maintained it lovingly over the years until his death in, I believe, 2000 at the age of 84. These days it is not so well maintained.
Also, others have decided to put their own shrines both there and just downhill from the Vasquez shrine, so there’s a lot to see up on Chihuahua Hill.
Here’s today’s hike in photos.

The hike began on stairs. Shortly after I took this photo, a young man came jogging down, hopped onto the rail to the left, and slide the last 200 feet or so.

A nice datura plant.

The stairs get a little worse.

The view from about halfway up.

Now the trail really deteriorates.

Almost there!

One of the newer shrines below the original Vasquez shrine.

A miniature fern forest. These little ferns ranged from two to four inches tall.

The Virgin, just below the shrine.

A little memorial to Ezekiel Hernandez, shot in 1997  by Marines who were assisting the Border Patrol Ezekiel was herding his goats and carrying a rifle. Ezekiel appeared “dangerous” I suppose. He was 18 years old.

Finally, the shrine.

The button in the photo below reads We are the 99%.”

The view into Bisbee from the base of the shrine.

We stayed awhile, recouped from the hike up, and headed back down. My legs were a bit shaky, and it was rugged at times on the shale, but we both made it down intact. I encourage you all to try this hike. Worth it, for sure!


On the news this morning, the CEO of Cinemark called the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, an isolated incident.
Isolated? The mayor of Toronto said the same thing just last month when a gunman shot several people in a mall. The same was said last year in Arizona after Congresswoman Giffords and others were shot in front of a Safeway in Tucson.
In fact, Colombine and every incident since then has been called “isolated.”
On top of that, at every mass shooting, area residents have said they never expected it to happen “here.” Well, clearly, here is exactly where it happens.
But why? How is it friends, relatives, and neighbors don’t see that slow burn that leads up to such a shooting?
Of course there are copycats. But what drives the desire to cause such mayhem and tragedy? I think it comes down to two things.
First, there is a level of violence in our media today that is unprecedented. Violence is on the news every night. Many of the new release movies have strong levels of violence. And of course there are video games.
Now, the majority of people who see the news, go to a movie, or play a video game are probably not likely to become a mass murderer. But some are.
Combine the violence in the media with the hate spewed on some radio and TV talk shows, and we have a heady mix for someone on the edge. I wonder what presets the police will find on the car radio James Holmes drove to the theater in Aurora. And if they could get to his computer, I’d bet they’d find he explored many of the sites Jared Loughner, the shooter in Tucson last year, had been searching.
Some would say we need to monitor people’s web activity. I surely won’t go there though I do understand the sentiment. But surely someone noticed a change in behavior, a threat, some kind of motive.
Are we all our brothers’ keepers? In a sense, we are. We need to notice when someone’s behavior changes, when the mood darkens. And I think it is way past time for Hollywood and video game designers to consider their culpability in these acts of violence.
Second, of course, are the weapons themselves and the organizations that champion them. I am not at all anti-gun. However, are we making our country safer by allowing them to get so easily into almost anyone’s hands?
To drive a car – a deadly weapon in some senses – we have to study, practice and receive a license. To buy and use a deadly weapon, we have only to drop by a store or gun show, or simply click the button on the internet.
Why is there not a master list of who is buying what kinds of weapons? Loughner was known to be unstable, so if his name had popped up on a list indicating he’d tried to purchase an assault weapon, just maybe his murderous spree could have been prevented.
I know the constitution gives us the right to own guns (and I own one), but it doesn’t say that gun purchasers shouldn’t be background checked. It also doesn’t say anything about weapons designed solely for assault. We can’t (legally) to buy rocket launchers and nuclear bombs – other weapons of mass destruction – so why assault rifles?
The weapon James Holmes used in Aurora was banned in 1994. Largely in thanks to the NRA and gun lobby, the ban expired in 2004.
One day, at an NRA convention, some member on the edge could walk happily into the convention, one of many carrying an assault weapon. Smiling. He could then open up and shoot and kill fifty or sixty people.
And because the room would be full of righteous second-amendment-believing gun-toting good Americans, three quarters of the room would stand up and shoot back at this madman. And then how many would die.
Only then might the membership change their stance.

I Come From . . .

Today I started a new writing group with a facilitator who provides prompts and support. One prompt, with a brief period of time in which to write, was “I come from . . .” and here’s where it went.
I come from Illinois. From an educated mother raised and hating small-town Pennsylvania. From a father who flip-flopped between Chicago and a small town in Indiana he loved.
I come from a deep respect for education and reading and grammar. Yes, grammar. My mother, an English major, insisted on it as did my father who worked hard to move from poverty to slightly upper middle class.
I come from a childhood of freedom. Freedom to run and play with little adult supervision. Freedom to create – plays for the neighborhood each summer, go-karts, and lemon pie. And freedom to dream. As long as those dreams were appropriate to girls.
I come from restriction and repression. Go-karts were fine when I was nine. Not fine when I was thirteen. Dreams of building houses were encouraged when I was a child. Squashed when I was an adolescent. Freedom to explore became freedom to choose one of just a few life tracks “approved” for females.
I come from rebellion. How could I not? I am, after all, a child of the sixties. The magazines I was encouraged to read as a child showed me a world far wider than suburbia. The nightly news showed me injustice I felt compelled to struggle against. My parents showed me a lifestyle I chose to toss away.
I come from teenage escapes to the city. To folk music and the blues. To drinking wine while sitting on the sidewalks of the near north side. To the end of the beat generation and beginning of the hippies.
I come from a ride across the country in an old hippie bus, from parents with looks of worry and concern as I left.
I come from raspberry patches, a backyard garden and ice cream every day.
I come from nearly fifty years of work to the blessing of retirement. If only I had fifty years to enjoy it.

An Odd Day

The itinerary told it all: it would be an odd trip. Louisville to Phoenix via Detroit City. Made me want to sing some Motown.
My flight from Louisville was at 8, so my brother-in-law got me to the airport a little before 7. I checked my bag curbside, no line, and proceeded to security, also no line. I tossed my bag and shoes into the plastic tub to send them through the scanner. Walked right through the metal detector. That’s when the fun began.
“Got a random,” shouted the smiling man. Now, I have been called many things in my lifetime, but a random?
I was sent to a secondary security checkpoint where I expected to be gone over with a wand or sent through the machine that allows someone to see me naked. But no. A nice woman approached me clipping a little piece of fabric onto what looked like a small rubber mallet. She had me hold my hands palms up and told me I was being swabbed for traces of explosives.
Ah. A random explosives check.
When I told my sister what had happened, she said she was glad I was out of the house. Just in case I really was a secret explosives  expert.
Boarded my flight to the north country and settled in. We got there in plenty of time but had to hover over the airport awhile due to storms. As we landed, the sky was thick and dark and I couldn’t see the ground until we’d almost touched down.
I deboarded and found my next gate. Merely steps away!  When I land in Dallas, I usually have to hop the train and cross two time zones to get to my next flight, all in the space of forty-five minutes.  But there I was in Detroit with a nearly three hour layover and had to spend only a minute to get to my next gate.
I walked the entire A terminal, which must have been close to two miles round trip, and settled in for a nice lunch before my flight. It was a nice lunch, but with the world’s worst waitress. I left the poorest tip I have ever left, and almost left none.
When I got to my gate, we were told our flight would be delayed as the plane had not yet arrived. Although it arrived a short time later, there was then trouble with the boarding ramp which men spent half an hour trying to fix. The plane was finally moved to a different gate where we boarded over an hour late.
This meant I would miss the Phoenix-Tucson shuttle and would get to Tucson an hour later than I’d planned.
I had a beer on the plane once it finally got off the ground.
I’d made Long distance arrangements to change the time I’d catch the shuttle, so of course when I got to the shuttle check-in, the van was just loading and I got on, which meant waiting an hour on the Tucson end for my ride there.
Most interesting part of the day? In the Phoenix airport, I saw a quite burly man with arm, neck and leg tattoos. He was wearing a skirt.