Saturday, December 29, 2012

Tombstone Road Trip ~ Jerome to Tombstone ~ Nov 7-8, 2012

Nov 7th ~ After breakfast in Jerome we head down the mountain to Cottonwood and pick up Hwy 260 east through Camp Verde to Payson where we stopped for lunch. From there it's southeast on Hwy 188 to Jakes Corner and Lake Roosevelt. We're just picking the roads as we go. There is little traffic, most of the world is in too much of a damn hurry to explore these old highways. A boon for those of us who prefer roads less traveled. It's about 80 degrees, perfect for driving with the windows down. 
 Hwy 188

Roosevelt Lake Bridge
Down near Globe, we turn south onto Hwy 77 and head for the Oro Valley just north of Tucson to spend the night. We got in about sunset and found a Quality Inn with a kitchenette. Rather than cook we headed to Whole Foods for provisions: vegetable samosas, stuffed baked potato, fresh salad (with some of our sun gold tomatoes added in) and green beans for dinner and croissants, yogurt, and juice for breakfast. I can say two things about the Oro Valley. They have beautiful sunsets and the most poorly designed thoroughfares ever. We decided not to leave until the morning commute was well over.

Nov 8th ~ Destination Tombstone today. We pick up Interstate 10 in Tucson and head east to Hwy 80 south. First stop is the Singing Winds Bookstore, about 4 miles north of Benson. Our friend Heather said it's a must.

The bookstore is on a 600 acre ranch, down a dirt road past an encampment of old trailers and broken cars. Owner Winn Bundy opened the shop in 1974 to fulfill a long time dream. It was still a working cattle ranch at the time. She told us she spent $600, that was supposed to pay a vet bill, on her first books and never looked back. She is in her 90's but is as vibrant a woman as I've ever met. Word of mouth has kept this wondrous outpost in business for over 30 years. Folks come from all over the country and return often. There no road signs but for the one on the driveway.

The shop is a floor to ceiling maze of new books with the haphazard character of a used bookshop. Half the fun is the (absolutely essential) tour of the eccentric bibliographic arrangement. Winn or her assistant reel off a litany of subjects pointing to the unlabeled shelves with collections on ghost towns, guidebooks, mining, geology, westerns, Indians of the Southwest, Indians outside the Southwest, Indian rock art, sculpture and archaeology to name only a few. They don't accept credit cards so bring cash. Her tiny desk is topped with a calculator and carbon paper for hand written receipts. Change is kept in small containers in a drawer. Rod found a book called "Indian Herbalogy of North America" to add to our collection.

It was hard to leave, but it was time to have lunch and head for Tombstone. We found the Horseshoe Cafe on the way through Benson. We liked the mural on the side of the building and the parking lot was full, reason enough for us to stop and we weren't disappointed.

We got into Tombstone around 4pm under crystal clear skies and gathering clouds. Our home away from home the next four days is the Tombstone Bordello. Considering we were married at the Gold Hill Hotel, the oldest "working" hotel in Nevada (near Virginia City), it's reasonable for us to be drawn to a former bordello. This is the sunset view from our upstairs window.

We unpacked and decided on a walk into downtown.  We wandered down to the end of a side street that had mine tours and a little outside bar at the back of an old industrial building. We chatted with Cary Grainger, who runs the mine tours. When his family moved from Vermont to Utah he fell in love with rocks. His parents retired here in an RV and he soon followed. We told him we were here to find out about my great grandfather and he told us we had to talk to Nancy Sosa at the Tombstone Archives at 6th and Fremont. Best advice ever!

The other reason we're in Tombstone is to meet up with my 93 year old aunt Betty. She and her husband Bob are on a Historical Wild West bus tour. She is my link to my grandfather John Sherman Bagg and my great grandfather Stanley Chipman Bagg. We weren't expecting them until evening, but when we drove uptown for dinner we saw the bus at their hotel. We helped them get settled in and had dinner together at the Longhorn. Long day for all of us so early to bed. Tomorrow we explore Tombstone and visit the town archivist.