No trip through south eastern Arizona would be complete without visiting Tombstone. The town is the location of a famous gunfight, some mining, and plenty of ‘trades’ practiced in the old west. We were staying a few miles south of town on public land, and ventured in for the experience.
When We Visited: February 25, 2015
Ages of Kids: 9. 7. 4
Where We Stayed: Boondocked (dry camped) on public state land about 10 minutes south of Tombstone.
Our first stop for the day was the O.K. Corral, location of the historically famous shootout between the Earp Brothers and the McLaury Brothers. Some other notable folks like Doc Holliday were mixed in as well.
The O.K. Corral site has been converted into a museum and small performance stage. A (fairly expensive) ticket gets you into both.
The reenactment was heavily dressed with humor, but did a decent job portraying the events around the gunfight. The shooting of the gunfight itself lasted around 30 seconds, which is quite some time, if you consider spending the same duration of time dodging lead. The actors were decent enough, and the experience was interesting even for our kids, who watched and gathered a surprising amount of detail about the gunfight.
The stage was big enough to both seat plenty of folks and have some action take place down front. Shown below is Doc Holliday doing a little talking during the experience.
Learning about the wild west invites comparison with the ‘modern’ west we live in. The sense of morality and right and wrong has changed a bit. In some ways, the ways of the old west were better at dealing with serious crimes, and taught a man of respect and consequence. Matters of law are certainly more organized and official today, but I’m not sure we’ve made any forward progress in other areas.
The other areas of the museum have some fun activities for kids and adults alike, with more to learn about the conditions and life of the times. The kids had plenty of fun roping cattle,and running around having pretend gun fights. Someone needs to tell Cara to rope the cattle, not ride them.
Part of our fun adventure in Tombstone was meeting up with two other traveling families for our experience. We joined Margaret Leigh and Gary of Living In the Momentum, and their friends Karen & Dan of tincannomads.com.
Between the three of us families, we had a lively posse of kids to terrorize the town. Wandering the town was certainly more fun with friends to run around with, and us adults had some good conversation too.
We all ate dinner at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon. The restaurant wasn’t very well suited to a large party, but we made it work. The kids sat at one table, and the adults sat at another. Our seating arrangements made it slightly easier to order off the menu. Quite literally, there was one menu to use (see Instagram). The restaurant had ordered some more but they had not yet arrived. The entire establishment had only 2 or 3 menus that were well worn and falling apart.
It was late enough by the time we left that the Boothill Cemetery was closed by the time we arrived. We did visit another day, and enjoyed visiting the graves. Plenty of restoration has taken place, with some information lost in intervening years. Plenty of markers are unknown graves, but the graves of the Mclaury brothers are present and clearly marked. Though both kitschy and semi-inaccurate, walking around town and through the cemetery was a neat experience.