Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Shady Dell and Dot's Diner, Bisbee Arizona

So I have been missing for 10 days, I know. Been on a road trip out to a work conference near Tucson, and have been delightfully out of contact. Conference started today though, so since I am back in work mode anyway, I thought it was time to post a bit. I have collected a huge backlog of places from this trip already, so beware a storm coming!

I am staying in Bisbee Arizona. Bisbee, in addition to being endlessly fun to say, is this incredible and unique intersection of hippies and libertarians, where everyone can agree that everyone can be however they want. It's up high in the mountains with lots of wonderful breezes, cheap prices, sunlight, and a fantastic and assorted amount of crazies to check out.

Shady Dell, where I am staying is one of the most delightfully odd places I have ever come across. Its a trailer park. Yes, a trailer park. Before you are overcome with worry that your favorite urban liberal has suddenly lost her teeth and looking for someone with a nice truck to make babies with, know that its unlike any trailer park I have ever seen.

I am staying in a 1957 El Ray. The whole park is full of these neat vintage, fully restored trailers from the 1950's. They are restored perfectly, down to every little detail, with working fixtures, stoves, bathrooms, etc. There are even period radios and TVs that broadcast programs and music from the era. Its amazing, nothing is out of place. I even have a little piece of astroturf and some bright blue chairs outside my trailer to call my own. Even the staff wears period outfits/makeup etc. Its a little creepy, and totally fun. Its so well done, so perfect and so comfortable that were it anywhere else, it would cost hundreds a night and feel fake. But here in Bisbee, the park serves the function it would have even in 1957- its a relatively cheap, relaxing, easy place to stay while exploring a great little town. For $85 a night, there is no better option around! There are few things in the world that make me as happy as weird Americana, and here it is in full force.

On site is this cute little diner, called Dot's. Now its closed on Wed and Thur, opens at 7:30 in the morning and isn't open for dinner. Since I am staying Mon night through Thur morning, and have to leave for work at 7am, this means that a rushed trip back at lunch time was my only chance. It was worth it!

I got a burger and chips (they don't have fries) which were good, and the most delicious chocolate malt ever. Their pies and cakes are glorious looking, which accounts for why I plan to head back in two hours, right before they close, and get some pie and more ice cream. Everything just tastes 'real', totally unlike fake diner food you get at chains. They had a black bean burger, which with mushrooms and cheese sounded delicious as well. Breakfast all day. Although frying an egg isn't rocket science, a willingness to do so with a ton of fresh butter and a local organic egg that actually tastes like egg would be delicious, I am sure. Alas, I only have time for one meal and one pie gorging that I am sure to regret tonight.

The service is half the fun too- everyone knows everyone from this little town, and locals are stopping in with standing orders all the time. Despite being a replica in the most obvious way (themed trailer park, costumed staff) the fact that it has 10 seats, is in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, and does a genuine local business mean that Dots Diner is something fundamentally different than a tourist trap or fake nostalgia. Rather, it, and Shady Dell in general, reflect a genuine desire to live in a different world from the modern one which is America today. Crazy little Bisbee is the rare unique setting in which such a thing can be genuinely done, with little irony or cheesiness. No one is denying the reality around them at Shady Dell and Dot's; rather they are enhancing it with their own unique choice of lifestyle. I am glad I got to join in for a few days (or even just a lunch, and pie!)

Dot's Diner (at Shady Dell) on Urbanspoon


Shady Dell said...

Thank you for the lovely write up about us! We appreciate having guests like yourself come and visit. Hope to see you again soon!

yohimbe said...

Dot’s Diner is an original 1950’s diner. Everything about Dot’s Diner takes the Baby Boomer back to long car trips with Mom and Pop, and brings the younger crowd in to find that it was a real time and sometime is still a real place.