“My heroes have always been cowboys” -W. Nelson

While Tombstone was not entirely on our way, it has been on my list of towns to see since I was a teenager and watched the movie Tombstone approx 97 times. While I am the first to admit there are a slew of better westerns, Val Kilmer’s fictitious portrayal of Doc Holliday never seemed to get old. I didn’t do much research nor know what to expect from the town of Tombstone, we were just curious to stop off and take it in. The town has a fairly solid “old west” feel. Faux front buildings that generally do not have the “trying to hard to be old” feeling. There are a large number of local townsfolk in period clothing and some of them even making an attempt at period accents. The streets were unfortunately paved, as I think dirt streets would have suited the feeling of the town much better. A number of horses and a handful of horse drawn carriages offer to drive you around and tell you old west stories about Tombstone. Not surprisingly most of the town consisted of tourist schwag. They do pre-planned shootouts to ticketed audiences a few times a day. We opted to skip this show, however I would have gladly dropped a few bucks in a tip bucket for an impromptu shootout, should one have spilled out into the street from Big Nose Kates Saloon or one of the other taverns on the strip. I understand this has the opportunity to traumatize a few children and I am ok with this tradeoff in exchange for the air of realism.

It was bright and sunny out, and while a beer sounded perfect we still had a few hours of driving to do. Beer and sun make my body think it is nap time so we opted for a local sasparilla stand instead. The stand was a one man operation, it was his recipe, he bottled it and ran the stand where he sold it. I heard him telling a customer a few ahead of us that he sold some 70,000 bottles last year. Not too shabby at $2.50 a pop… (apologies for the bad pun) The sasparilla was cold and sugar sweet vs corn syrup sweet. I can count on one hand the number of Soda’s I have consumed this year so this was a nice treat.

On the way out of town we hit up a local antique shop, as expected most of the prices were in the tourist town range. He did have a box of leather stamps that were priced reasonably at $3 per, so I had no choice but to add a few tools to my collection.

I have to give the town of Tombstone credit they do a pretty decent job with the ambiance, scene and photo opportunities. It is a tourist town vs a real town so you will not go more than 3 mins without someone soliciting to sell you something, take you on a tour or do something else to earn some of your tourism dollars, that being said they do have the history to support it.


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