Thursday, September 13, 2018

Labor Day 2018 in Arizona

Before Isabelle's school schedule and Eric's work schedule could get the best of us this Fall, we decided to high tail it out of town and go somewhere.  But I must have been off my trip planning game though, because finding that somewhere proved to be way harder than I anticipated it to be.  

Eric, Isabelle, and I reeeealllly needed to get out of town for a minute.  El Paso is a great city with great people, but I can't tell you that it's our most favorite place that we've ever been to and it does something to us when we're here for too long.  But the Army would only let Eric go so far for the weekend he had off, so I wracked my brain for a good while trying to find somewhere we could go to get away but that wasn't too far.  Except that El Paso is pretty far from a lot of places.  All of those places are places we would really like to see while we are on this side of the world, close to El Paso or not, but we were a little limited on how far we could go this time.  I Googled until I couldn't Google anymore and wasn't having any luck finding anywhere close-ish to here that would be a place we could spend time exploring and I was beginning to feel that maybe I had no trip planning game at all anymore when....



Eric, Isabelle, and I packed our bags for a weekend trip to the Wild West!  We made the simple 4.5 hour drive to Tombstone where we were transported back in time to the 1880's Wild West of America!

It. Was. So. Cool!

We drove into Tombstone, parked the car, and started falling in love with every bit of the teeny tiny town with a giant personality!

Eric and I don't usually go anywhere with a whole lot of expectations.  We like to experience the world exactly as the world is, whether it's good or bad we make it a rule never to make demands of it.  We figure the world will give us a story no matter what and we've found that going at it without expectations allows us to receive more purely what the world wants to give.  But, we do loooooove an experience, and Tombstone was an experience!  We immediately fell in love with the atmosphere and knew we were going to have a blast.

Everyone was dressed up as they would be in the 1880's, the buildings and businesses were set up to look as though they would be back then too and I just couldn't get enough of it!  Eric especially loved it, and I had to laugh at how excited he was at everything because he doesn't often show much excitement (it was adorable).  Maybe it's because we honest-to-goodness had no idea what to expect when we got there and as long as our butt's weren't in El Paso for a few days we were going to be happy, but Tombstone ended up being way cooler than we imagined it to be!


The famous gunfight at the O.K Corral took place on October 26, 1881 and is what made the names of Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, and his brothers, Virgil and Morgan, go down in history as some of the most famous lawmen of the wild west.  
The showdown is one of the most famous gunfights of all gunfights and represents a time in our history when the American frontier was an open range for outlaws who were mostly unopposed by any kind of penalty or law enforcement.  They say that 30 shots were fired in 30 seconds, but I'd like to know who was honestly counting?  Virgil and Morgan Earp were badly wounded in the shootout but survived, and Doc Holliday suffered a superficial hip wound but also survived.  Three of the the outlaws died during the gunfight, while Ike Clanton ran in fear when the shots began.  Only Wyatt Earp emerged completely unscathed, cementing his name in American history forever.  

Movies have been made about these men and the gunfight (starring a 1990's Val Kilmer.... yum!), and Tombstone takes special care to do live reenactments every day.  I'm just giving y'all some context for some of my pictures.  The very first few pictures I posted above are of some reenactments too but I didn't catch what they were reenacting, but it's the pictures below that are of the reenactment of the infamous gunfight at the O.K Corral between the Earps and the Cowboys in 1881.  It seemed like everyone in Tombstone was in character of some kind and we were all apart of the show in one way or another.  It was seriously so cool!

"Doc Holliday" 

Morgan, Virgil, & Wyatt Earp

Me in front of the real O.K Corral

Eric, Isabelle, and I stayed in Tombstone all day and evening exploring every bit of the town.  The town is very small so it was all about going slow and enjoying the experience of it, which was exactly what we had hoped for for our weekend away!  We ate dinner at a saloon where an older gentleman was singing and I ordered a margarita that the bartender put a few extra shots of tequila in and I was feeling all kinds of awesome by the time we headed out to our hotel.

Our hotel was a replica of an old west town.  It was the cutest, most peaceful hotel we've ever stayed at.  I'm sure I've said that a bazillion times about hotels all over Europe, but this time I really mean it.  This place was so cute!  They had horseback riding available and trails to hike and a saloon with board games that you could borrow and then go play while rocking in the rocking chairs outside of your hotel room while listening to the folk singer inside the saloon - I mean....c'mon


This was our room, the Bordello. 

The morning horseback riding group just getting started!

Eric and I woke up early the next morning so that we could hike a bit before breakfast.  We let Isabelle sleep in and snuck out the door to explore around the hotel.  There were big rocks that looked to be perfect for climbing and I was itching to get out there.  Since this was all right behind our hotel I knew that we were safe to go out without any supplies, not like our disastrous hike a few weeks ago.  Eric and I vowed not to go hiking again until we purchased a few hiking necessities and we haven't done that yet (we figure they'll make for great Christmas gifts), but we were literally right behind the hotel so we didn't pay any mind to bringing anything with us other than our hotel key and my camera.  

We worked up a bit of an appetite as we climbed rocks and boulders.  As we would climb one rock pile we would see another and make our way over to that pile, then we'd see another and another and keep climbing.  We could see over top of the horses and got to watch the handlers getting them ready for their morning ride.  Unfortunately the clouds hadn't cleared yet so we didn't get to see much of a sunrise, but it was still beautiful all the same.

At some point Eric and I decided to make our way back down, then we woke up our teenager and had a home cooked breakfast.  It was such a great way to get our day started!

My buddy


Since Tombstone is teeny tiny, we knew before we ever left El Paso that we were going to have to find other things to do to fill our time other than just watching reenactments.  Not that we didn't love the reenactments, it's just that we definitely wanted to maximize our time in that corner of Arizona.  So after I pinpointed a destination, I stretched my search out a bit to look for more things to do and found Saguaro National Park!

The park is located just outside of Tucson and about an hour from Tombstone.  I found that they have a 'Cactus Forest Loop Drive' and I immediately knew we had to go!


A few weeks ago Eric and I were in a very bad and very dangerous situation on a hike in the Franklin Mountains that really affected me.  I have fallen madly in love with hiking and have set some ambitious hiking goals which needs for me to practice hiking on all kinds of trails so that I can eventually get to those goals.  But I refuse to go back out on any trails until we get better prepared, which just means that we need to buy a few hiking essentials.  To be honest, we already should have those essentials and it's embarrassing that we don't.  I'm not sure that we can even consider ourselves actual "hikers" without them, but whatever, until we get a few things I absolutely won't go hiking again (but I still consider myself a real hiker {hair flip}).  
I'm also having major issues about being in the desert since our hike-gone-wrong.  Y'all... we **live** in the desert.  So I have anxiety pretty much every time I leave air conditioning, and I have to have water with me every time I leave the house.  When I tell you that that hike affected me, I mean, it affected me.  That hike a few weeks ago was really truly that bad, and we did not think we were going to make it out without help.  I wasn't and am not exaggerating it.  So going back into the desert to see all the cacti was something I was going to have to get my mind right for.

The Cactus Forest Loop Drive is an 8 mile scenic drive that winds through a saguaro forest.  It is a paved, one-way road that begins at the visitor center and allows you to stop as often as you want to take pictures and get as up-close and personal to all the cactus you could possibly imagine!

Since we knew that we would be driving through the desert, Eric and I packed 2 gallons of water and put them in the trunk of our car before we ever left El Paso.  I knew that the scenic drive meant that we weren't going to have to hike anywhere if we didn't want to from the research I had done, so if I got too hot I could jump back into the car whenever I needed to and wanted to.  But this is the thing about my husband... he is so empathetic and never makes me feel silly, and he knew that that wasn't enough to calm my fears.  So he stopped to top off the gas tank before we got to the national park.  Knowing that the car had a full tank of gas made me feel secure because I knew I had access to air conditioning at all times, and that we weren't going to get stranded out in the middle of the desert.  Also, Eric had packed three more extra giant water bottles that he had put behind the drivers seat unbeknownst to me, one for each of us, so that when I felt anxious he could gently tell me that there is water in the back seat where I could reach it if I needed it.  He did this because he understands me.  He did this because I take care of him in our every day life, and he takes care of me.  He did this because he understands my anxiety about being in the desert and because he too was affected by the very awful situation we had experienced together, and he knows I'm not being silly or over dramatic.   

I don't know what I would do without him. 

Since Eric took the time to care for my fears before we ever arrived at the park, I was able to completely enjoy our day!  It truly was a cactus forest!  You might not be able to see all of them in my pictures, but there are cacti of all shapes and sizes for as far as you can see!  Most are as tall as houses or taller!  It was really beautiful and really cool!


Big fella!

For our last little bit of time in Arizona we decided to go to the town of Bisbee.  It is a small town nestled in the Mule Mountains and is a very artsy, folksy sort of place.  Eric is NOT an artsy, folksy kind of guy, but he married the granddaughter of the most extraordinary artsy woman this world has ever seen, so he has a special place in his heart for the arts that that most extraordinary woman introduced him to before she left this physical world.

We didn't stay in Bisbee for long, just long enough to wander around and see the Historic District and enjoy the artsy vibe.  We were all really tired after spending the day in a cactus forest, if we were going to sit and enjoy music and food, we wanted to do it at our hotel.  But we seemed to be the only people who didn't want to stay because everyone else who was there found a cafe to settle into and listened to music and didn't seem to be leaving anytime soon.  

So don't be like the Schnell's!  Go to Bisbee and stay awhile!  You'll love it!

I haven't figured out if I'm good at planning trips, or if it's just the way that my little family approaches the world that makes our experiences so great.  Not all of our trips have been great, but all of our trips have given us a story, and I personally consider that to be great, and I'll take what I can get when the world is so generous to give.  But this trip... was more than we expected.  I think I was on top of my trip planning game, for sure!  I was just a little out of practice.  {hair flip}  

Sometimes, when finding that somewhere is hard, that somewhere finds you.