I’m your Huckleberry. Off Interstate 10 down Route 80 lies a city more legend than reality. If you haven’t seen the movie, go see it. Like all state roads, Route 80 rolls through small pockets of civilization unknown to the reason of the world. I was warned by the folks at the Arizona welcome center in Benson that Tombstone was a tourist trap, and that the people there were out there ‘looking for something.’ But after watching Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday, I couldn’t resist.
When you reach the city, you can see the rebuilt town with its shops, saloons, and hotels. Most old cities have burned down once or twice, and Tombstone is no different. Rolling through, you have to see the OK Corral, which has a reenactment going on throughout the day, with a shootout and all. Hollywood and folklore adds more to the story, but maybe we had to be there in 1881 to fully appreciate it.
My next stop was the Birdcage Theater, the only original building in Tombstone that hasn’t burned down in the past 136 years. The self guided tour is 10 bucks, but totally worth it. You’ll see the bar with bullets till in it, the stage, the cages, and the poker table Doc Holliday himself played at in the basement. The theater is in great condition, with only minimal upkeep to keep it close to its original.
For dinner, I tried Big Nose Kate’s Saloon. The lady in the gift shop at the Birdcage said I had to try their Rueben, and I’m a sucker for Ruebens. And I wasn’t disappointed. The saloon is full of tourist, locals, and a TV that was playing ‘Tombstone.’ Met a man sitting at the bar, dressed in the cowboy garb and drinking non-alcoholic beer. He had a wife and family on the east coast, but moved to Tombstone ‘looking for something.’ He said he was going to go back to his family, but he wasn’t quite ready.
The bartender recommended I head over to Tombstone Brewery and try a flight. I ordered a flight, and like most microbreweries, it was quite delicious. A couple on a harley showed up, and we started talking. He recommended I head down to Bisbee if I was in the area. “it’s a fun town” Jack said “even if it’s full of hippies and gays.” He saw the couple on the other side of the bar with the ponytails and tie die and quickly remarked ‘Not that there’s anything wrong with that!’ in the most Seinfeld way possible. So Bisbee would be my next stop, heading further south than the original plan.