I have made the drive between El Paso, Texas and Phoenix, Arizona to visit family dozens of times. It’s a really beautifully scenic, arid stretch of the American landscape, the kind that you see in movies where a bona-fide road trip is involved. One thing along the way that I always wanted to do but never did (or since I was a kid and can’t recall), was to stop in Tombstone, Arizona. I grew up watching the movie Tombstone with Val Kilmer and Kurt Russell, and I must’ve seen that flick over 15 times. Also, last year I took an interest in United States history, especially the western expansion, and read a book called The Last Gunfight: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral and How It Changed the American West. So this time when my grandma and I were driving from Phoenix to El Paso, we decided to stop in Tombstone to check it out.
To get to Tombstone we had to deviate from I-10 and go a good 20 miles on a small road to get to the town. We passed through Bisbee, a town referenced in the movie by one of the cowboys. Once in town, and got a good look and the goings on, I felt like Tombstone remained somewhat true to its beginnings. It’s still a small, dusty town situated in a nice valley in southeastern Arizona. Walking around the town are people dressed in late 19th century attire taking pictures with tourists or heading to take part in the next showing of the reenactment of the shootout at the O.K. Corral. The main street is a wide, dirt boulevard lined with shops selling Western and Native American clothing, gifts, and trinkets. Just like the old west days, instead of sidewalks there are wooden planks tightly fit together with a wood overhanging to protect you from the hot Sonoran Desert sun. After doing the classic in-and-out loop in a few shops, we stopped for a wine tasting at the Silver Strike Winery where I bought a bottle of their dry, leathery red wine called Mother Lode. I have a weakness for dry red wine. Later we ate lunch at the Crystal Palace, two juicy buffalo burgers with the works. I also got to take some old west photos at one of those places where they give you the clothes and the prop guns and take a few shots that you can pick from in the end.
By then we had already spent 2 hours deviating from out road-trip to El Paso, so we headed back to I-10 towards El Paso, my desire to stop in Tombstone fulfilled.