Bisbee, Arizona in May 2014
We stayed here on the third to last night of our TX-CA-TX road trip.
Out of our 15 different accommodations, I think I may have the fondest memories from our night at the Shady Dell!
A Desert Trailer Park
When we arrived at this retro retreat just outside the old mining town of Bisbee, all was very quiet.
Luckily there was a note with instructions for us, taped to the screened door of the office.
We stepped inside the gates and began exploring.
It was fun imagining this place in 1927. That's when it first opened as a trailer park and campground, for weary auto travelers on the famous Highway 80.
Ghost Trailer Park
There was no one at Dot's Diner and no one in the phone booth.
There was no one watching movies on the Astroturf which wasn't a surprise.
We crunched along the gravel pathways, peeking at all 9 vintage trailers.
There was a festive 1947 Tiki Bus with Polynesian flare. I liked the 1957 "Airfloat" with the picket fence.
Our 38-Foot Chris Craft Yacht
Our wonderful little get-away awaited us under a shady roof, tucked beside a dense wall of rustling bamboo.
"Harbie" the chipmunk captain held a bouquet of flowers and two frowning tiki carvings greeted at the pathway.
We also spotted a little green friend.
He blinked at us, as we toted our bags towards the wooden dock, that surrounded our pleasure boat!
We heard some sweet tunes as we stepped on the rear lounge area of the boat.
When Don opened the doors with green stained glass, the swing music grew louder, coming from a vintage radio. Nice touch from our mystery hosts.
Packed with Style
What a treat! Now only would we be sleeping on a yacht, but the whole interior was saturated with fun props, art and ship memorabilia!
The swooping leopard skin chairs and 1940's "buffet" felt very Hollywood. Everything else was delightfully nautical from lamps to framed art.
I get so childishly giddy over themed accommodations that I often pack my own costumes.
I didn't need to here. They had a couple of captains hats as well as sailor caps at the ready!
Down a few steps at the center of the boat was the fully equipped galley.
The china had little anchors, the vintage coffee pot was ready to go. There was even a small refrigerator with a complimentary bottle of champagne.
The dining area was cozy with a wonderful map covered table. There was a nice wooden ship with a clock and yet another little mascot to welcome us aboard. This topless little sea nymph was also keeping guard over her shell collection.
A few steps up, into the bow of the boat, we had a triangular bed and lots more vintage décor.
There was a skylight and two portholes, a china flamingo and a light-up seashell. The door had a peephole in the shape of an anchor!
Don is a foot taller than me and could not stand up in our bathroom. But he was at least feeling at home seeing a bottle of Old Spice and even a golden razor!
The porthole looked out at the waving bamboo. We had no shower, but there was an option for that down at the washhouse.
Starting the Evening
The weather was perfect and we were eager to settle into the evening on our ship. First we hiked to the gazebo in search of ice and met a small gathering at the picnic table. (So we were not alone) They were an odd, but friendly bunch, wearing mostly vintage clothes.
A man wearing a 1940's suit insisted we use some of their ice. We chatted as he reached for the half melted bag of ice. His eyebrows raised to learn we were in the yacht. "Did you know it's haunted?" As he poured ice into my container I had to point out to him that the leaky bag was drenching his wingtip shoe. He was unfazed... and Don and I determined they were all ghosts as we headed back to our boat.
Drinks on the Dock
We decided to save champagne for another day and enjoyed some tiki cocktails instead. We made use of the dock seating first and had a good time chuckling over collections of old cruise brochures.
We read through the captain's log, which was really a guest book and laughed at the write ups from past visitors. These people all seemed like us... having a silly old time.
New Area to Enjoy
Next we moved to the open area at the rear of the boat. There was a nice rolling cocktail cart and a padded bench.
We flipped through quite the collection of albums, all island themed... from Don Ho to Harry Belafonte's Calypso.
Don put "Hawaii Calls" on the turntable and we tried out a few dance moves.
Our dance skills are pretty lame, so we're lucky we didn't break a lamp or any limbs. After a few amusing minutes we turned to more low key activities.
Books and Games
We were determined to make use of every space and every goody that these fine owners had enthusiastically collected.
I can't believe we didn't get to meet them. I love the passion they have for this place. And I love that they trusted us to enjoy without destroying them!
There was so much to enjoy from the old radio to the Sunken Treasure game. The reading material was pretty tempting. If we'd had a couple days I could have read "A Girl in Every Port" or "Sails and Whales".
Dinner in the Galley
Our light dinner of bread, fruit and cheese, on our anchor plates... on the map table, was perfect!
We played a game or 2 and headed off to bed with a balmy breeze blowing through the portholes.
Luckily we had no ghost happenings in the night. It was a little eerie, I'll admit. It was the night before the full moon and the winds picked up, rustling the bamboo dramatically.
And the creepy thing I didn't mention earlier, is that on the other side of the bamboo, just steps away from our boat, was an old cemetery. Now if that wasn't the perfect set-up for a ghost encounter, I don't know what would be.
I think the absence of hosts or staff added to fantasy of this silly overnight boat adventure! It really did feel a little like we were in an episode of Gilligan's Island! Oddly though, I felt like I knew our hosts the whole time.
They obviously have a great sense of humor and even better sense of playful fun... with their careful attention to detail when it comes to decorating. I would love to return and stay in every trailer and hang out with some of the others around the picnic table! Another time!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!