High noon, the sun bright in the sky as the heat ripples just above the dusty ground. Cowboys and saloon girls stroll along the street while horse-drawn stagecoaches roll through town. Gunfire and shouting disturbs the peace. The scene plays out: gun-toting marshals apprehend a couple of wanted outlaws. All ends well with minimal injuries and…the crowd of onlookers behind their cameras applaud. It’s just another day in Tombstone, AZ as the actors who work in this historic Arizona town put on shows for hundreds of tourists throughout the day.
Tombstone was not what I was expecting, having in mind an area the size of Rawhide or some other Wild West tributes I have been to. It’s a single strip of buildings on either side of a street with one crossroad (possibly two, can’t exactly remember). But despite it’s small size, Tombstone is interesting and very fun. Part of the reason for it’s size is the fact that all of Tombstone burned down and had to be rebuilt after not one but two fires ran rampant in 1881 and 1882. The only original building remaining from the time of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday is the Bird Cage Theater—for a small fee you can tour the inside of the building. Tombstone also offers: Mine tours, stage coach rides, a shooting range, food, and old time photos. It’s a great time for the entire family or group of friends.
We arrived just after 11:30 AM and spent a good 15 minutes looking for parking, for to vehicles. Tip: arrive as early as possible if you want good parking. Our parking spots weren’t too bad, we were parked at the far end of the strip and slightly down the street. We walked into town and met up with our cohort from New Mexico at the OK Corral. After finding her, we headed back up the strip to check the place out. We took photos in front of various things: The Birdcage Theater, Fallen Angel Sweet Sin Parlor, and a jail cart.
On the way back down the strip we were all hung for our crimes. For a small donation, you could take a picture with either two cowboys if you were female, or a saloon girl if you were male, noose around your neck and a sign that spelled out what your offense was. I was hung for being a floozy. The photos were hilarious and then we all received death certificates. Good time. But getting hung takes a lot out of you so we wandered down to the local wine tasting place. We sampled five different wines each and then stumbled back into the dusty street. Even better time.
By that time, we followed our growling stomachs up to one of the many restaurants that Tombstone has to offer. Not all of them are that great food-wise. Based on the recommendation from the wine server, we settled for a barbeque joint which was delicious. The Crystal Palace Saloon. They were understaffed so we were warned to be patient with them and they would produce some great food. It was not a lie. I had an open faced pork barbeque sandwich and a sarsaparilla. It really hit the spot. We enjoyed a game of pool with our meal as we just so happened to be sitting next to the pool table. Then with our appetites sated we headed back out into the wonderfully sunny but not unbearably warm afternoon.
Last on our agenda was the old time photo. We stepped back in time and dressed up as outlaws and saloon girls, with one angel in a trench coat. It was fun and the photo turned out great but man was it hot in those changing rooms. There are several old time photo shops in Tombstone but the one we chose had the most realistic back grounds. It was located on the far end in the direction of the Bird Cage Theater; the others are in the direction of the OK Corral. We split ways after that and heading to our separate cars for part two of our trip. Bisbee, Arizona.
Bisbee, Arizona is a historic mining town built up a mountain side. Bisbee was founded in 1880 for those seeking fortune in the mines which produced: gold, copper, silver, lead and zinc. By the early 1900s, Bisbee was the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco. It too suffered a major fire in 1908 which wiped out it’s entire main district, but was completely rebuilt by 1910. It is still most famously known for the supposedly haunted hotel The Copper Queen. The hotel built in 1902 boasts original furniture from the by-gone era and three, yes three, reported ghosts. The ghosts are claimed to be that of an elderly gentleman, a young boy, and a lady of the night. We did not stay there and only walked by it to and from the car, so we can’t personally make any comments on the subject.
I have to say, I am completely in love with the city of Bisbee. The Victorian and European styles so clearly visible had me enthralled from the moment the car came out of the tunnel. You go from semi-dark tunnel and out into the light; your eyes are immediately drawn to the colorful buildings creeping up the hillsides as you wind your way down to it. If I could move there, I would do so in a heartbeat. I wasn’t alone in this sentiment. We found an adorable 2 bedroom 2 bath house for sale. If only.
We wandered the streets of Bisbee marveling at the artistic shops, quaint streets and interesting architecture. We hit a local restaurant for some food, The Screaming Banshee. Technically, we stopped to look at their bathroom, because it was supposed to be really neat. But we felt bad going in for nothing, so we decided on drinks. Two pizzas, two servings of garlic knots, and one spinach artichoke dip, plus beers and one round of mini beer shots later, we left the pizza joint satisfied. We headed to our last stop for the evening, which we had scoped out earlier, the Bisbee Grand Hotel for a karaoke night. We were there from 8:30pm until sometime after 1:00am singing our hearts out. It was a great time and we even got some fans. At the end of the night, we bid Bisbee farewell and headed back to Sierra Vista for the night.
We finished out our road trip by eating a delicious breakfast at the Bisbee Breakfast Club (yes, we drove back the next morning), it was a highly recommended place to go eat. We all had different dishes and they were all to die for. Plus it was a uniquely decorated place in a 100 year old building that used to be a garage. That was followed later by an early dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings to say goodbye. The Phoenix portion of our group (myself included) then drove home, passing through border patrol before hitting the main freeway. I think I can confidently say this was a successfully awesome roadtrip. One I hope to repeat again in the not too distant future.