Yesterday, I visited Tombstone Arizona to get some Mexican food, dump my trash and refill my water.
The town of Tombstone is tiny. It’s main street, Freemont, runs about 1 mile through the center of town.
There were many FOR SALE signs and empty storefronts on Freemont. I saw at least 3 historical museums and a handful of Old West tourist attractions. There were several motels and RV parks that all appeared to be run down and shabby compared to what I’m used to in urban areas.
The town of Tombstone is a bit sad with it’s empty storefronts, the abandoned high school with a big “For Sale” sign and no grocery store (the nearest grocery store is 30 miles away).
There are two gas stations, a Circle K and the Apache Market (sorry “no gas”).
I got gas and water from the Circle K. At the Apache Market’s tiny convenience store, I bought some fresh produce for the upcoming week: green peppers, celery, bananas and an orange.
I avoided the town’s Dollar Store entirely. Although it got great reviews from the locals, who appreciated not having to drive 30 miles to the next town, I will never shop in a Dollar Store unless it is a dire emergency.
Two short blocks behind the Main Street is “Old Town”.
Old Town is what I expected – an unpolished Disneyesque version of Tombstone from the days of Wyatt Earp. It reminded me of the carnivals that would come town every summer when I was a kid.
Old Town had wooden sidewalks and dirt streets. There were two horse drawn carriages offering rides. Costumed actors walked the street as prostitutes, gunfighters, cowboys and marshals. There were restaurants, bars, gift shops and ice cream parlors. There was a silver mine tour and a reenactment of the OK Corral shootout scheduled for later in the afternoon.
There was a surprising number of old men with long gray hair and handlebar mustaches working the shops dressed as old time shopkeepers, lawmen and cowboys. I liked that. It was a welcome change from the freshly scrubbed, robotically cheerful teens who work at Disney.
Besides me and Snickers, the other tourists were mostly senior citizen vacationers and a fair number of late middle aged bikers on Harleys.
All of the people I spoke to were friendly and laid back.
The Mexican restaurant was OK for a tourist area restaurant. The food was decent. The prices were good. The service was homey and friendly. Best of all, they had a shaded outdoor patio with misters and welcomed dogs. Snickers thoroughly enjoyed sharing my nachos and snarfing up scraps of meat that had fallen under a neighbor’s table.
Much of Tombstone is designated as a historical landmark. You can see the “Old West” in the small buildings, the rotting wood frames and the crumbling adobe. It had character. It’s a ghost town in the true sense of the word – a ghost town from the 1800s and a ghost town today with nothing left to sustain it except a small tourist trade.
On the outskirts of town, most of the roads are dirt. There are ranches, farms and acres and acres of desert scrubland.
I liked it.
As far as tourist areas go, it was unpretentious, laid back and friendly. I wouldn’t mind visiting again some time to meander through the shops, tour the silver mine and watch the gunfight reenactment.
I couldn’t imagine living here though. It’s too far from a decent grocery store. The only industry is tourism. And it’s hot. Already in April the afternoon temps are in the mid 90s. By summer, the heat will be unbearable.
The Coronado National Forest just north of Tombstone where I am currently boon docking has been outstanding. It has provided us with quiet, solitude and nature. Snickers and I wake at sunrise to hike up the mountains. It’s just us, the jack rabbits and a few horses grazing in the field. A huge shade tree at our campsite provides welcome relief from the midday sun. We sleep soundly each night, hearing only crickets, birds and the wind.
I’ll be leaving here in a few days as soon as a shim to repair an out of camber tire on my camper arrives. Once this gets repaired, I’m headed to National Forest land near Silver City NM, another ghost town. I’ll be joining a small caravan of other “full time travelers”. I hope to learn a few things and meet some interesting people.
After that, I’ll probably head further up into the mountains and parks of NM or AZ to avoid the desert heat before working my way up to Colorado for some summer camping.