Originally published 21 February, 2014
I have a photo of me in one of these when I was a toddler.....only reason we did this!
We headed to Tombstone today......a place with lots of stories and lots of history surrounding it. It wasn't far, only about 30 minutes from the motor home.
We hit the outskirts of town and saw the boot hill cemetery....and thought it would be a cool thing to check out. It truly was! It's run by the town and is the actual cemetery. It fell into disrepair and the town cleaned it up and opened it for people to visit. Other than an old grouchy broad at the entrance counter, we enjoyed our visit. It's free to wander through.......but don't get used to that. Nothing else in this town is free.
We wandered among the graves....and a lot were from that 1880's time that Tombstone became famous for it's gun fights. LOTS of hangings, LOTS of murders. I told one guy that I saw one very rare grave marker. He asked how it was rare, and I told him it was the only one I saw that died a natural death! The cemetery was somewhat segregated. The "Chinamen" were over in one corner...and the Jews were all the way over the hill in their own cemetery.
I know a Bobby Jackson AND Frank Hart!
We wandered over to check out the Jewish cemetery. As most of you know, Laurie is Jewish. I had mentioned this as it was pertinent on our previous trips to Europe. The Jews, as a remembrance, place a stone on a memorial or grave. A stone shows you were there, and it never goes away, like flowers do. Your visit is immortalized forever...or until someone moves the stones.
I'm mostly Cherokee and a Hall.....wasn't me!
We arrived at the Jewish cemetery and memorial to find a HUGE pile of stones on the memorial there. It was truly striking there were so many. Be sure to see the picture so you'll understand how many stones were there. We also found that the Jews were great allies to the indians, which sometimes caused friction with the other pioneers. Laurie was truly surprised that there were so many Jews who settled here, were pioneers here, and actually came here in the 1600's and became part of the indian tribes!
There was little history on this section....so Laurie asked the grouchy old bitty at the counter if there was information. She showed Laurie a placard with a blurb or two on it.....the rest we learned later on. Laurie passed it to me to read. When I was finished, I put it back on the counter and placed a stone they had on the base to hold it down back in place. This old, creaky, leatherfaced woman snorted at me, and moved it a quarter inch from where I had put it and gave me a dirty look. A word to the city of Tombstone (who runs the cemetery)....if you have someone as a first contact to people visiting something....pick someone who doesn't have a burr up their ass and truly likes dealing with people.
Politically correct...they ain't.
We moved on from there to downtown Tombstone. The streets have that old west look to them, with actors portraying gunfighters and cowboys all through town. We were offered a stage coach tour right in front of the OK corral for 15 bucks for both of us....and we thought that was pretty fair. It was pretty good and the driver did a decent job of telling the history of the places we saw. We tipped the driver and headed on our way.
The famous OK Corral
You quickly find out that apparently no one in Tombstone gets paid an hourly wage. You are reminded constantly by signs, tip buckets, and the people themselves telling you, that they work for tips. We wandered the town and found out that EVERYTHING in town had an admission fee, usually between 10 and 15 dollars per person. If you wanted to see the OK corral, ten bucks each. The Bird Cage Theater, 12 bucks each. Fake gunfights in "themed places" off main street, 7 bucks each. Wanna go in the courthouse, which is now an Arizona state park? 5 bucks each. There was VERY little in town that someone didn't have their hand out or was charging admission......or both.
In the silver mine
We did chat it up with the two guys in the cigar store....and actually bought a few cigars. They were nice to us, and very knowledgeable on cigars.....it was one of the places that we truly liked. We also went on the silver mine tour. It was 15 bucks each, but we got a three dollar discount by saying the stage coach guys recommended the place. We actually liked the mine too. But you can't do too much in this town without spending a bunch of money. I didn't like that about the place.....to be honest, I was pretty disappointed in Tombstone. Too much cheezy and not enough real history.
The hotel in downtown
The Dragoon Mountains are gorgeous. THIS is worth the trip
We headed back north and decided to take a wandering through the desert. We had a topo map and a GPS so we figured we'd do fine. We ended up in the Dragoon mountains, in the area of the Cochise Stronghold. Cochise decided he had taken enough crap from the white folks and bolted off the reservation and into the Dragoon mountains. They're rugged as hell and you can see someone coming from a long way away.
The Dragoon Mountains are so picturesque
We drove a fire road shown on the map along the base of the mountains. According to my map, it connected to the main road, right around I-10. It was a gorgeous ride, through incredibly beautiful country. Let me say.....if you're coming to southern Arizona for Tombstone......reconsider. Go to Bisbee instead. And come to southern Arizona for southern Arizona. It beats any tourist trap they have.
Watching the sun go down in the Dragoon Mountains
I had timed it so we would be out of the desert by dark. I knew about how far it was and knew we'd be fine. We got near I-10 and I could actually see the trucks on the interstate. We got to where we were supposed to turn and found a locked gate. Apparently this road ran through a part of a ranch, and was open for decades. The owner recently put up a gate and locked it. We wound up backtracking 19 miles to the road we came off of. I still got Laurie out by dark, just like I promised her.
Tomorrow is moving day. We've decided our next area to explore will be up around Sedona. More tomorrow!
Quote of the day: (Not that great a quote, but it pretty much sums up what Tombstone is.)
"Like everyone else in Tombstone, I work for tips. There's a tip bucket as you exit the mine."- Girl that led us on the mine tour.
Song of the day: Moneygrabber- Fitz and the Tantrums
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I'm Bill. My wife Laurie and I love to travel and share our stories. We especially love it when we have been able to motivate our readers to start traveling on their own, and making their own stories.
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