This is our camping area which is only a short walk to Tombstone.
Warning: History lesson
The town of Tombstone was named by Ed Schieffelin in 1877 as a joke. He was a known speculator trying to find valuable minerals in the mountains in the area. The soldiers of the near by fort told him that he would only find his own tombstone if he kept searching in Apache lands.
During one of his searches, he found really rich ore that contained a lot of silver and some gold. Soon after he had staked his claim, people started to flood into the area. At its peak in the mid 1880’s, Tombstone had as many as 20,000 people. It had 3 full-time embalmers which is 2 more than the largest cities in the country. The embalmers were needed for two reasons. One - most of the miners died after only a few years of work and two there were a lot of gunfights in town. There were more than 100 saloons and many restaurants. The town had a huge “red-light” district as prostitution was legal. China town was large and included opium dens. The locals were well informed about world and local events because of the two newspapers. There were several churches and schools for children.
Schieffelin Hall was the prime entertainment spot for the higher class and church going people of the town. It opened in 1881 and was the primary location for music and dances. The top floor is still used by the local Masonic Lodge. Only the “moral” men were allowed to join the lodge. Wyatt Earp applied and was rejected even being a local law man. His character was well known in town.
Other more “proper” entertainment included Cock Fighting (Really?!), Rifle shooting tournaments, the now popular game of Baseball, Boxing and Wrestling matches, Horse races on the new track, and track and field contests which use the same track as the horse races.
Back to the tour and the gunfight in Fremont street and an empty lot?
Oh! Sorry I mean the gunfight at the OK Coral.
We started the day with a gunfight show at the OK Coral. They did a very good job demonstrating the movie version of the fight. We watched as the Clantons and McLaurys fought with the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday. It was fun. Later we will discover the real story.
The actual fight took place behind the sign on the left and into Fremont street.
They did have nice displays which included photographs, buildings showing a photographers studio, what a crib (prostitutes room) looked like, many saddles and other equipment. There was even a docudrama of the town over several time periods that was narrated by Vincent Price.
The reenactment was well done. We "participated" by Booing the Cowboys and Cheering the Earps and Doc Holliday. (Yes, spelled with two ll's)
After a walk down the street stopping in a couple of stores, we decided to have lunch. The saloon and restaurant is called Big Nose Kate’s Saloon. She was a real person who was a prostitute and frequent companion of Doc Holliday. All the tables were taken so we sat at the bar.
I asked the bartender about the bar because it looked very old. He told us the story about the bar, bar-back, and flooring. The bar and back is the original used for 140 years. So we could have been having lunch where the Earps, Doc Holliday, or the Cowboys had stood to be served. The flooring was the original inlay flooring. In its day, the hotel rooms on the top floors were considered the finest in the State.
We had a great lunch. Shawna had beer in a huge mug and I had a Sarsaparilla. Of course, all the employees were in costume and the walls were covered in pictures and paintings. They had live entertainment. I left off on taking pictures of the paintings and pictures that were less than family friendly.
When we walked out, the stagecoach was pulling up and we continued to shop and explore.
The last place on the street was the Bird Cage Theater. This business has some insane history. It was a theater, brothel, and had gambling. The theater opened in 1881 and is exactly as it was when it closed in 1889. It was one of only a few buildings to never be burned from its original construction. Everything even the stage curtain, velvet and wallpaper on the walls, paintings, flooring are just as they were in 1889. The actual Fero card table where Doc Holliday dealt was there. We walked where all the famous people of Tombstone had walked and sometimes died. Bullet holes are found in the wood all over the place. They claimed to have the “best” soiled doves and you can guess what they did in the rooms on the balcony level. The girls would look down from their velvet lined rooms overlooking the theater to coax up men from below. This is the place where the phrase “she is only a bird in a gilded cage” came from.
Around the theater floor and the stage are several displays of original Tombstone items which included personal items of the Earps and Doc Holliday along with other interesting things.
On the stage was the burial coach used for the funerals of those whose families could afford its use.
Below the stage was the an area where poker was played, changing rooms for the stage performers and the wine cellar. They offered the highest stakes gambling in town at these poker tables. When the theater closed, everything was left as you see here including the bottles on the bar. Amazing!
After the tour of the Theater, we walked back along Allen street headed for the 5th wheel.
Along the way, we passed the entrance to the Good Enough Mine. The person selling tickets said if we wanted to go on a tour we were just in time. We paid for tickets got our hardhats and signed the waver.
The tour took us down below the town and even had some tunnels that passed under where we were camping.
The mine is still filled with silver ore. We were given a tour through all the safe areas of the mine and included a long staircase that took us 100 feet below the surface or the first level.
High grade silver ore is still to be seen in the mine. The mine had produced an estimated amount that is over $1 billion in today's dollars.
The mine was in operation until it was closed and that only happened because the price of silver is not high enough to make operation profitable. The mine still has plenty of ore and may be restarted as soon as the price of silver rises.
We were thirsty and headed back to town. Along the way, we met Lisa who does a night time walking tour. Our plan is to return tonight for the tour.
Doc Holiday's Salon looked inviting so we stopped in for a drink. We were the only tourists everyone else was a local. It was nice to just sit and relax.
Just before our night time walking tour, we stopped at the "World's Largest Rosebush".
Originally the bush was planted in the courtyard of a small hotel. The down stair rooms had been converted into a museum of items collected for display.
A huge collection of locks was very impressive. There was a memorial to J.H. Macia who flew with the Doolittle bombing of Tokyo.
There were even Roman bottles dated to between 100-300 AD.
After the museum, we walked out to the courtyard where the rose bush was just starting to put on leaves.
The White Lady Banksia Rose was planted in 1885 and now grows on a horizontal trellis that covers 9,000 square feet. The trunk is over 12 feet around at the base. It was amazing.
The rose bush was full of birds starting nests. Leaves were just starting to come out. Soon the entire bush would be covered by small flowers. It would be worth the trip just to see that.
After a quick dinner at the 5th wheel, we walked back up for our night time walking tour of Tombstone.
The last thing we did in Tombstone was to take a walking tour and Lisa was incredibly informative. As we walked the street this evening, she pointed out the buildings and history.
The history of the “OK Coral Gunfight” we see in movies is very different from reality. The Cowboys, the name a gang gave themselves, had been terrorizing Tombstone, rustling cattle, robbing banks and stagecoaches. They had killed the previous town sheriff and threatened to kill the Earps who were the new town marshals.
The Earps knew that the gang was at the coral and on their way there had stopped off to buy more ammo. Then they walked down to Fremont street where the alley and empty lot that was used when people left the OK coral. When the two groups confronted each other, the Cowboys were in the lot at the edge of the street and the Earps were in the street. 30 shots were fired in 30 seconds. At the end of the shootout, all but two of the Cowboys were fatally shot. Two of the Earps had been shot though none fatally.
The bank in Tombstone was one of the best protected in the country. They had to be because the Cowboys would try to rob the bank several times each year. Sometimes more than once in a week. They were never successful. It was one of the few bank vaults that required multiple people with keys to unlock..
We were shown so many locations were gunfights took place. It is not surprising as Tombstone was known as one of the most dangerous places in the country.
It was a great tour and we really enjoyed what we learned about Tombstone but there is far to much to include here.
We have enjoyed our time in Tombstone but need to head back to Pensacola.
Our spot at the Sonoita Winery is very nice.
We have a wine/brewery/distillery tour map. Woohoo!
This area has nearly perfect environmental conditions for growing wine so the area has a lot of wineries, breweries, and a few distilleries. Our plan is to tour around the area and try out a few of them. There are so many that we could not visit them all in a single day and that would be very expensive (or at least it could be).
Over the next few hours, we visited several wineries, distilleries, and breweries. Village of Elgin Winery and Distillery has very interesting sense of humor. They were the ones with the "Be a Richard Sign".
Next was the Twisted Union Winery then the Flying Leap Distillery. The server was very helpful in our tasting of several interesting choices. The Lavender-infused herbal liqueur was very different and potent but we decided to buy the Arancello Orange Brandy Liqueur which is very much like Grand Marnier. Then Dark Sky Vineyards which was a bit different as you might expect from the name. After that, we decided it was time for dinner. We stopped at the Copper Brothel Brewery and Restaurant. They have their own sense of humor and have named their beer after ladies of the evening. Shawna had a flight of beer but nothing that she liked enough to take home. Our last stop was at a Meadery. They are pretty rare. The Meading Room serves meads and ciders. One was so good we bought a bottle.
It was a fun day.
Today, we moved east and south to another winery. This one is far out by itself
The area has many wineries so we may be visiting some of the others tomorrow along with a couple of breweries and a meadery which are pretty rare.
This morning's sunrise was a good start for the day.
We decided to visit the nearby Saguaro National Park.
Most of the drive through the park is on a dirt road but you are surrounded by cactus.
The CCC worked in the park making the trails, walkways, original road and buildings.
It is a pretty park in its own way. Notice the unique wood surrounding the supports for the picnic cover? It is the ribs from the saguaro cactus that has died.
One stop along the drive was "Signal Hill". The rocks on the hill have petroglyphs from the native people who traveled through this area. The flowers that just bloomed are from the ocotillo cactus.
There was the expected warning sign. It's a desert so no surprise.
Today, we were camping at Skyline Park near Buckeye, Arizona. The park is known for the hiking trails that take you over, around, and on top of the mountains.
Our hike was over several connected trails. We walked along the base of and over several rocky mountains with cactus all over and a few small scrubs and trees. Some of the Saguaro cactus were huge. Many over 30 feet tall. A 35 foot Saguaro is over 150 years old. The largest ever documented is 78 feet tall and over 200 years old.
The campground is starting to get pretty far away.
Time to get back to hiking.
This was the tallest one we passed close to on the trails. My estimate is that it is over 30 feet tall. That would make this cactus over 130 years old.
Our lunch stop had a wonderful view.
More mountain to climb. Can you see the trail heading up to the ridge?
Time to head back.
This caught my eye. It looks like gold but is actually Pyrite.
Today, we hiked 7.5 miles and climbed the equivalent of 148 floors or a gain of 1,001 feet.
The hike was a combination of part of the Turnbuckle, Granite Falls, Pyrite, Chuckwalla, and Mountain Wash trails.
The campsite where we are staying is surrounded by desert mountains. It is a very nice park near Buckeye, AZ.
Our sunrise this morning was great.
Last week, we came to Quartzsite with our friends to walk around the tents. This time we decided to see the quirky things in town.
First up was a garden. Celia's Rainbow Gardens is dedicated as a memorial. Some of the designs were very unusual.
Next was something I was very wrong about because I thought it was for a camel but was actually for a person, Hi Jolly, who was in charge of the camels in the Camel Corps in the 1850's. I don't know how I got that confused.
Our last stop was the "Great Tree" which is over 1020 years old. This means that this tree was a seedling when the Viking Age was drawing to a close and during what would later be called the "middle ages". When you touch the tree you know it is very old.
Time to head back to the 5th wheel for lunch.
We are staying for a couple of days at the Hi Jolly BLM camping area just north of Quartzsite, Arizona.
Hi Jolly is a huge flat area for boondocking. The ground is covered by small rocks and a few large ones. Over all quiet with a cell tower across the nearby highway.
Oh, and it is nine years ago to this day that we first camped together in our old Sunnybrook 5th wheel along the Blackwater River. If I don't post on Sunday, Happy Valentine's Day everyone.
We have wanted to get a platform on the back of the 5th wheel. The ones we found online for sale were rarely close to what we wanted. Most were over $350, used a receiver hitch, and would wobble side to side with the motion of the road. We got a custom made and very sturdy platform for under $300 and that includes the primer and paint.
The reason for the platform is to hold the generator, gas can, and a couple of other things. Before, we had to lift the generator into the back of the truck and then move it to the front of the bed so it would not interfere with the hitch movement.
A man at the RV park is a retired welder and offered to weld on a much better platform than I could ever find pre-made. He jump up and down on the platform after he finished it to make sure it was secure. It holds me standing on it without any movement at all. Here are the before and after priming and painting images.
Everything is strapped down and did not move at all on our drive. The generator, gas can and sewer connector box are locked to the platform.
For the last few days we have been playing cards and on Thursday's to Elks to have a Mexican dinner. We met some very nice people.
Today we decided to go down to Quartzite. It is about an 45 minute drive down and the town is known for having a gigantic flee market. We were really surprised at how few people were there to buy. Plenty of tents selling everything from RV stuff, tools, jewelry, rocks and gems, and just plain junk.
Everyone found something they wanted. I was impressed with the ice cream.
Shawna, Kelly, and Bill decided to stop at the Adult Day Care (Beer Garden).
The bathroom at the Beer Garden was hilarious.
Time to play more cards.
We are a couple who have started on a new adventure...