Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Waves, Wine & Warmth (2018)

More Wild West adventures

Despite the previous evening's celebrations, I had no difficulty getting up in time for another full day of sightseeing, this time also involving relocation. I repeated the previous day's coffee-shop breakfast and got packed, ready to move on. The plan was to make a three-stop visit to the area southeast of Tucson, very close to the Mexican border. As it still wasn't particularly warm first thing in the morning, and trying to learn something from the previous day's experience, I decided to have my sweatshirt readily available in case it was needed.

The first step was a spell on Interstate 10. It seemed strange to me that the signs were already for El Paso, TX, even though a fair bit of Arizona and a sizeable chunk of New Mexico lay between my location and the Lone Star State. I then took Arizona State Route 90 towards Kartchner Caverns. This seemed like a relatively expensive stop, requiring a State Park entrance fee, followed by a fairly steep tour fee. Disappointingly, but understandably given the fragile nature of the cave formations, there was strictly no photography allowed on the tour.

Despite these little setbacks initially, I have to report that the caves were absolutely spectacular, and I realised that the various restrictions were part of a serious effort to conserve the limestone-cave formations for future generations. I learned about stalactites, stalagmites, columns, soda straws, helictites, and weirdest of all, so-called cave bacon! It was an excellent tour, but it was something of a relief to get out of the 100% humidity and to be free of the need to concentrate on not touching or rubbing against anything.

ABOVE: Arrival at Kartchner Caverns State Park, following a 50-mile drive from Tucson
A few stock photos of the cave tour experience. (Photography by visitors was not permitted.)

Stop 2 was Tombstone, Arizona. This looked similar to the scenes at Old Tucson Studios that I had visited the previous afternoon, but with one significant difference: this was real! After having lunch at the Longhorn restaurant, I saw the Tombstone Courthouse, an Arizona State Historic Park that preserves the former Cochise County courthouse. Other sights included the location of America's best known Wild West shootout, the so-called Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which despite its name, took place on Fremont Street and not at the Old Kindersley Corral. As someone who normally has an aversion to overly rigid 'political correctness', I surprised myself on this occasion to find that I could not bring myself to attend one of the re-enactment performances. For one thing, it was bound to be tacky, but more importantly I just didn't want to be part of anything that might be seen as a celebration of gun culture.

Next up was a visit to the quaint little town of Bisbee, set on the side of a hill. It was an attractive place, but I didn't stay too long as it turned out that half the population of Southern Arizona seemed to have had the same idea about how to spend Saturday afternoon. Besides this, parking was horrendously difficult and I wasn't convinced that the spot I had chosen was entirely legitimate. (But the good news is that I got away with it!)

My next night stop was at the Fairfield Inn located in Sierra Vista. I had a nice dinner at the adjacent branch of Applebee's, and this was followed by a delightfully quiet and uninterrupted night's sleep.

Saturday 14 Apr

Distance driven: 128mi

AZ trip to date: 495mi

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