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Tombstone, Arizona

** Originally posted August 7, 2020**

When I was a kid my grandpa moved in with us for a few years and he loved to watch old western movies and tv shows. I guess that’s where my mom got it from too. I remember watching reruns of Little House on the Prairie, Bonanza, and Walker Texas Ranger with my grandpa and then Young Riders and Doctor Quinn with my mom. Most girls grow up playing dolls and house but I grew up wanting to play cowboys and sheriffs in the Wild Wild West. I also have three brothers who didn’t particularly want to play house, so I’m sure that played a role as well.

When I chose to take my first travel nurse assignment in Tucson, Arizona and I learned that Tombstone would only be a little over an hour away I knew that I had to go visit the town that one of my grandpas favorite movies was named after. The drive to Tombstone is fairly boring, mainly highway and miles of dry, desert-like land, but as you get closer to Tombstone there’s a small town that’s just so uncharacteristically green and adorable. When you enter Tombstone, you’ll pass by the Boothill Cemetery where all sorts of cowboys and outlaws, lawmen, and townsfolk are buried. For $3 you can tour the cemetery and I know, that probably seems odd and morbid, but the graves are the original graves and markers and it’s a beautifully sad part of history that I recommend everyone see. I chose to visit the cemetery on my way out of town on my return to Tucson, versus on my way in as my first stop, and I’m glad that I did. Enjoying town and the history first made me appreciate some of the names on the graves at the cemetery more than I would have if i had visited the cemetery before town and I’m incredibly thankful for that.

When I arrived in town it was like a ghost town. There were only a few people walking around, no cars or carriages on the roads, just an old western town with empty dirt roads and the sun shining down. It was gorgeous and I was in love. I parked my car, snagged my Nikon, and set out to explore everything. The first person I saw was an old man with a beard, cowboy boots, Stetson, and a gunslinger-esque belt. He was adorable. All of the shops are inside the original buildings and the town has maintained and repaired all of the wooden floorboards so as you walk the town the floorboards creak and strain just like they do in movies. It’s magical! I spent the next two hours just wandering in and out of the shops and checking out all of the historic landmarks that Tombstone had to offer before grabbing lunch at the O.K. Cafe.

After lunch I explored the O.K. Corral and was able to watch their 1pm show where they re enacted the shootout and it was a blast! The actors portraying the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday and the cowboys were so fun and kept the audience on their toes the entire 30 ish minute show. I’ll admit, even with the warning that they were firing blanks, I still jumped when they fired the first shot of the show. After the show the cast stayed for photo ops [social distancing photos that is] which was super kind of them, and unexpected during these times of COVID-19. I didn’t take any photos with the cast myself, but I did snag a few photos of them as well as a great boomerang of one of the cowboys spinning his pistol. It was great! If you’re ever in Tombstone you HAVE to see the show at the O.K. Corral. You get a free copy of the Tombstone Epitaph with your ticket as well which is so fun and you a great a free tour to check out after the show.

All in all, if you’re a fan of old westerns and you want to see a little historical town I strongly suggest that you go to Tombstone and explore. I went with the intent of only spending about three hours there since the town is so small and I ended up spending about six hours instead. It’s so easy to get lost in the magic and fun of Tombstone when you just let yourself explore and just have fun with no itinerary. If I’m ever able to adventure to Tombstone again I’m going to do the tour of the Bird Cage Theater and watch the other gun fight show that’s available in town as well. There’s so much to see and do in such a small town that I’m sure each visit you make will be unique and fun!

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