Sierra Vista, AZ

1/23/18 – 1/27/18: We arrived in Sierra Vista about noon and planned to spend several days visiting with Pat’s dad and Lin, his wife. We had been there a couple times before, but our last was about three years ago, so our visit was long past overdue. Each time we come, they take us to new and different places, and this time was no exception.

Sierra Vista is located about 75 miles southeast of Tucson and about 15 miles north of the border with Mexico. It sits at the base of the Huachuca Mountains (9,500 feet) and is the home of Fort Huachuca, a U.S. Army Base (Kate’s parents first met at Fort Huachuca while stationed there in the ’60s). Right after Pat’s dad met Lin, they spent two summers sailing from Bayfield, WI, to Bar Harbor, ME. There, they sold the sailboat, bought an RV, and spent the next 6 years exploring America. On one of their many journeys, they passed through Sierra Vista and both felt as if “they were going home”. They bought a home, sold their RV, and have been there ever since.

We had a great time visiting with them and sharing our adventures (both ours and theirs). We were also able to get out and do a little sightseeing. Here’s some of the places we saw this time around.

Ramsey Canyon

Ramsey Canyon is just a couple miles outside Sierra Vista. Originally a mining prospector’s camp, it has since been donated to The Nature Conservancy, and is now a public attraction. Pat’s dad volunteers there, doing nature walks for visitors and helping with maintenance and upkeep of the area. It claims to be “the hummingbird capital of the United States”, as the canyon is one of stopping points for hummingbirds during migration. In peak season, 14 species of hummingbird use the canyon as a stopover. The conservancy sets up dozens of feeders and it’s truly impressive while they are there. Some of the original mining camp buildings have been preserved, and there are hiking trails galore. We’ve been there several times and have never been disappointed.


Patagonia is another small town near Sierra Vista that also has a Nature Conservancy nature reserve nearby. We were able to get the reserve’s mule (4 wheeler), and drive around the various paths through the preserve. It was quite interesting – more trees and grasslands versus the desert “scrub” that you see elsewhere in the region. We saw a couple javelinas (wild boar) wandering through the woods, as well as some mule deer. After the visit, we ate lunch at a small cafe in town and took some back roads back to Sierra Vista.


Bisbee is a quirky little town just southwest of Sierra Vista. It’s an old mining town (founded in 1880), which began attracting artists and hippees in the 60s after mining began to decline. To this day, it continues to attract the more eclectic of people: artists, musicians, etc… On one end of town is the huge, old open pit mine which now has a sign saying “Scenic View” (which, in an odd way, is kind of scenic). Old mining homes are haphazardly built all over the hillsides and the roads are just a maze of twists and turns and hills. The town wants to preserve as much history as it can, so it has policies and ordinances that prevent homeowners from making major renovations to the old mining homes. They allow minor repairs and things like painting and landscaping, which makes the town look old but charming. We ate at a great Mexican restaurant (Santiago’s), then walked the streets of the downtown area. A very nice afternoon!


Tombstone is home of the famous shootout at the OK Corral between the Earp brothers (with Doc Holiday) and the Clanton/McLaury clan. To be honest, we were disappointed (both Lin and Pat’s dad hinted that we might be). It’s listed on The National Register of Historic Places, but it has become so commercialized that it has, in our opinion, lost most of it’s historical value. In a nutshell, it’s a huge tourist trap. There are 2 or 3 blocks of the “original” town area that has been “preserved” as the historic Tombstone, with dirt streets and plank walkways in front of the buildings. But every building has been turned into a gift shop, restaurant, or novelty shop (you know – get your picture taken in period clothing and put it on a Wanted: Dead or Alive poster). Even the original OK Corral has been completely walled-off and enclosed and turned into an attraction: for $10 per person you can enter and see a re-enactment of the historic shootout. We are glad we stopped to see it, but for us, we’d rather see things a little less developed and a little more authentic.

We really had a good time while we were there and it was good to catch up with family that we don’t get to see very often. But as with all things, it came to an end too soon. We are now going to make the journey back to the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where we are going to stay a couple days before heading down to New Orleans for a few days.

UPDATE 2/16/18: We received some sad news yesterday. Mickey, Pat’s dad and Lin’s cat, was put to sleep. He was their companion through much of their travels across the US, and has been with them since they settled in Sierra Vista. He was a shy kitty, but really warmed up to us this past visit. We know he’ll be missed, and we’re glad we got to know him. Mickey was 19 years old.

Pics of Sierra Vista

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