We departed on the road to our second life on June 21st, 2004. On December 24th, 2007 we finally began doing what we’d dreamed of doing for years, traveling without a firm plan. The only thing we wanted to do this season was visit Quartsite, AZ, land of fabled free camping, a million RV friends, and the giant swap meet even Laura Schlesinger talks about on radio. We left Coffeyville, Kansas just ahead of another winter storm. We spent Christmas with Bev and Jim in Tulsa, and then slowly made our way to Hobbs N.M. We were expecting a week with Dad and Step-Mom, and with brother and his good wife. From there the idea had been to go west to Quartsite. We arrived in time for my brother’s birthday on Dec. 28th.
So…the Post Office combined with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Polk County Clerk’s Office to cause a royal snafu. Our RV registration sticker arrived at the Escapees Mailroom (almost across the street from the Clerk’s office) a bit late, and we eventually left the fair city of Hobbs 3½ weeks late. It was still January, Quartsite would be winding down by the time we got there but still something to experience.
Oh well, ever mindful of the fact that we Hoye kids got to see a lot of the delightfully tacky tourist spots that the Cumberland boys did not, I suggested we go see the Cowboy towns first. Not surprisingly, Big Jim nodded gleefully, and we set out for a day in Tombstone.
Now, I have a handicap my parents didn’t realize when I was a child. In fact, it didn’t become obvious even to me until I was on my honeymoon forty years ago. Because my folks owned a rock and gift shop on the famed Mohawk Trail in Western Massachusetts, I was aware of the wholesale price of the trinkets sold in those shops. I have a terrible time buying souvenirs! I only bought only one item on our honeymoon, a brass fish-shaped ashtray which (without thinking) I got rid of when we quit smoking. Since beginning our Workamping life, I’ve done a lot more buying for gift shops as well as figuring the mark-up and pricing once the stock arrived.
So there I was in the Tourist Mecca of the Old West, not buying a thing even though I really wanted a pair of cowboy earrings. I doubt I’ll ever get over this problem, since now I not only know what the stuff wholesales for but where to buy it - QUARTSITE! I could wait.
Tombstone turned out to be a great idea on several levels. Most importantly, Big Jim was able to satisfy that long submerged Little Jim thirst for Saturday afternoon cowboys and gunfights. The re-enactments are cleverly designed to lead everyone on the street down toward the enclosed area where the famed gunfight at the OK Corral really took place. It wasn’t in the Corral folks. They collect a fee as folks funnel through the gate, and the fight is very well done. Interestingly enough, our guide at the Good Enough Silver Mine, who said his name was Nick, was actually shot the next day. ‘Turned out he was one of the Clanton Brothers! (I did wonder why Wyatt Earp didn’t look more like himself until I realized I was picturing Hugh O’Brien).
On Day Two, we realized there were several venues in town my bewhiskered husband might find gainful employment during a future winter season. So Big Jim walked the streets of Tombstone dressed in his Old Miner’s regalia and handed out brief resumes and cards. Friendly chats with several people already doing that gave us leads. One was a guy named Stinky, who truly lived up to his name. He wandered the streets in his Union Suit and a floppy hat, with a gun strapped to his waist. Big Jim also proved he’d fit right in when several tourists stopped him to take his picture or to pose with a “real Tombstone cowboy.”
On Day Three we found, at half price, a frock coat for Big Jim. We’ve been looking for one for almost 5 years at a price we could afford. This one was about $100.00 less than the one he tried on in California a few years ago. After a new pair of the proper pants, he’ll be able to add another character to his storyteller’s trunk.
That evening we realized our vague plan of doing the same thing in Tucson over the weekend should probably wait. Not being true football fans (sorry S.W.), we’d just realized it was Super Bowl weekend only 30 miles up the road. There would not be an RV space anywhere in the area.
On Day Four we covered the same territory and I still didn’t buy the darned earrings for $18.00 that I know wholesale for $4.00! We did stumble upon a terrific Mexican restaurant where the food was great, but completely outdone by a Spanish classical guitarist named Juan. Be sure to visit the Lamplight Room at the Tombstone Boarding House, if you are in the area.
Bisbee, Arizona looks like it would be a lot of fun. We looked down on it’s twisting narrow streets from the highway but decided to save it until we have a tow vehicle with us another year.
We stopped at the breathtaking Picacho Peak State Park late Sunday afternoon, and bought some cactus candy on our way out the next morning. What incredible scenery and not one but two giant saguaros in our site.
Still in a cowboy frame of mind we went back to the Gilbert Ray (or is it Ray Gilbert?) RV park in order to visit The Old Tucson movie set the next day. We had a blast at the movie set. We rode a small train around the various locations and watched a great stunt show. The Medicine Wagon Flim Flam show was loads of fun and the Old Tucson tour with a man familiar to anyone who ever notices the extras in Western movies and TV shows was extremely informative. He had just the right hint of gossip about such legends as The Duke and Henry Fonda to spice it up. And while I still didn’t get any earrings, I did find an “old” hip flask for Big Jim to use as a water bottle when he tells stories. . (Somehow it just looks wrong when the bewhiskered old gold miner pulls a swig from a Dasani bottle.) I saved it for his Valentine.
Whew! We spent a lot of money this week! Time to find some less pricey spots.
See ya down the road,