Cowboys and deserts of Arizona

Tuesday 30 April – Thursday 2 May

Our introduction to Arizona was Tombstone and the O.K. Corral. The story goes that the Earp Brothers and Doc Holliday had been in a long simmering feud with a gang called the Cowboys. The feud reached its height during a 30 second gun fight in a narrow lot a little away from the Old Kindersley livery and horse corral in the town of Tombstone. But a good story can never be spoilt with the truth.

We didn’t go to see the gunfight re-enactment for $USD10 each. Nor did we pay the exorbitant fees to see the museum in the courthouse nor the theatre. Nor did we take a two-block ride on a genuine-looking stage coach. $USD100 wouldn’t last very long here.

We did wander down the main street, which we were told is in constant demand with film and advertising crews. We also enquired about purchasing a gun, but decided it was too hard to bring it home to Australia.

That was Tombstone and the O.K. Corral.

Without expecting it, we passed through two time zones from Texas, through New Mexico and into Arizona. Although Arizona is on the Mountain Standard time, it does not adjust to Daylight Saving. We were confused!

We arrived in Tucson and found ourselves at a funky hotel, a retro 1960s style motel that seemed to be popular with young trendsetters and ageing hippies. We even had a retro fridge in our room, which fortunately didn’t rattle too much.

Tucson was a Work In Progress. There were roadworks, construction and renovation all happening. We took an Uber in to town and found a decent brew pub come restaurant that was very good.

A colleague of Bruce’s had highly recommended that we drive to Mount Lemmon. It turned out to be the best part of our stay in Tucson. Mount Lemmon rises to 9157 ft (2791m) and provides a cool respite from the hot, desert city. The mountain is named after the 19th century botanist Sara Lemmon, the first documented European woman to ascend the peak. She and her husband named many of the plants on the mountain.

The foot of the mountain is covered in cacti and mimosa, a stunning sight. The drive up through rocky outcrops and sharp switch backs was lovely. There were plenty of lookouts to enjoy the view over Tucson and the surrounding areas.

We wandered around the city following the tourist turquoise path but most of what we saw was under renovation, such as pretty Pima County Court and the entertainment area and sporting complex.

There were a few statues outside the Town Hall that interested me including John F Kennedy and a Confederate soldier, but one caught my interest called Exchange at the Presidio – The Mormon Battalion enters Tucson…

In the mid-19th century during the Mexican-American War, the 101st Infantry, better known as the Mormon Battalion, marched from Council Bluffs, Iowa to San Diego, California. The 500 soldiers travelled 2,000 miles! On December 16, 1846, they arrived in Tucson to free the Presidio San Agustin del Tucson from Mexican occupation. Instead of exchanging gunfire, the two armies bartered and the area became a United States property. This monument, called the Exchange at the Presidio, was erected in 1996 to commemorate the historical event. The bronze sculptures are located in El Presidio Park.

We drove back to our motel because our host had recommended a Mexican Restaurant which was nearby. Taking into account that Americans prefer to eat early, I had persuaded Bruce to make it an early dinner. The ‘restaurant’ turned out to be a butcher & deli and had closed for the day. We should have been there for lunch!

Again, Uber came to the rescue, so we returned to town, to Hotel Congress which was lively with good food and a good band.

I’d go back to Tucson for the quaint motel and the good food.

On these long journeys across the USA we have been disheartened to see the reliance on disposable cutlery and crockery. We can avoid places that serve them most of the time, except at breakfast. Upon Evan and Steph’s suggestion we went into a camping store in New York and bought ourselves a picnic set – plates, bowls and cutlery. This was complemented by a couple of glasses we scored at the Broadway show we saw (initially filled with wine of course).

So we took our picnic set to breakfast, dutifully avoided the disposable items and cleaned up our dishes in our room. Saving the planet one very small step at a time.