Week 4 - El Paso to Phoenix; Tombstone and Tucson
Thursday 14 July 1994: Got up at 7 am our time on a beautiful morning;
found out later in the day that it was 6 am local time. Refuelled at Benson,
and continued south along road 80 to historic
where most of the shops were only just opening for the day. This was the
scene of some relatively minor gunplay in the 1880's, but it has since become
considered as the epitome of an old Western town. We saw the OK Corral,
the Birdcage Theatre, etc., and several wooden plaques celebrating famous
shootings at particular points along the main street. All the shops looked
quite genuine, but the effect would be so much greater if the main road
was not tarmaced, and cars were banned. Unfortunately most of the buildings
were either museums or gift shops although several had a good selection of
interesting old relics. A house nearby claimed to contain the biggest
rose bush in the world but this didn't seem to merit the entry fee.
On the east edge of the town was Boothill cemetery, undoubtedly the worst part
of the place. Entry was free, but through the obligatory gift shop, into
the graveyard, with neat rows of metal 'tombstones' all of the same design,
many marked 'unknown' or 'shot by X', etc. Continuous piped music came from
speakers buried in the ground, playing only one song which lasted about 30
seconds, and repeated indefinitely; this was also broadcast in the gift
shop. All together not very impressive; we did not stay long and made a
short journey along I-10 to Colossal Cave. This had a
scenic approach road, with lots of cacti, but the cave itself cost $7,
and guided tours only were available, so we weren't impressed again. Didn't
do it, and continued west along the interstate to
past the enormous Davis-Monthan AFB, where thousands of redundant planes
lie rusting in the sun, and spent an hour trying to find a Taco Bell for
Did some shopping and saw the fattest man in Arizona collecting trolleys.
The town seemed nice enough, but we wanted to look at cacti, so a short
trip took us to the west section of the
Saguaro National Monument, which was free, and very hot.
At the time, there was a serious fire in the (larger) east section of the
park, in the Rincon Mountains, which destroyed many acres of the cacti.
The saguaros occur extensively across southern Arizona, but grow especially
densely in certain small areas. Here they stretched as far as the eye could
see, together with many other species of cactus. Several short sign-posted walks indicate
interesting features; after looking around for an hour it was time to find
a site for the night and after getting lost for half an hour we eventually
ended up at the Valley of the Sun in Marana, ten miles
north. As usual we had the pool to ourselves all afternoon and evening,
and a hot whirlpool too. This was one of the best RV sites that we found.