On the Road Again – Tombstone Territory

Recently, we took a short trip to Sierra Vista to visit family and take in the local scenery. Unexpectedly, the trip also turned into a journey back in time.

This is monsoon season in Arizona, and it has been a whopper, so the cloud filled skies and green desert did not surprise me, but the hills and stunning rock formations did. My pre-trip perception was that this part of the state just north of the Mexico border would be flat, relatively barren, and harsh like any self-respecting desert. I was pleasantly surprised and made a mental note to return next monsoon with my camera and several days set aside to explore. This trip, however, was primarily focused on visiting family.

We did take one outing, a driving tour of two nearby icons, Tombstone and Bisbee. Tombstone has a rich western history, of course, and the town was what you would expect. There is not much there other than the old town, but the locals have done a good job of preserving its architecture and heritage. Lots of tourist shopping options, a saloon or two, the old graveyard, and of course the stagecoach ride and shoot out show. Tombstone was about what I expected and thoroughly enjoyable.

Bisbee was the treat of the day, however, and where I had the flashbacks to my early childhood. Our family used to drive the old U.S 80 highway from San Diego on our annual treks to west Texas. This was in the days before car air conditioning was common, so transiting the desert was done primarily at night. But I do have memories of the old downtown area and the bus depot (made that version of the trip a couple of times). Today, Bisbee has taken on a quaint and quirky feel, typical of towns we enjoyed in the gold country of the Sierra’s. In one sense, it is like a Hippies-meets-50’s mecca, at least it has that vibe.

As we traveled along the old U.S. 80, I recalled seeing the wooden plank road my grandparents drove in their Model A Ford as they escaped the dustbowl of the Great Depression for the ocean front of Southern California. I saw it many times while looking over the windowsill of my dad’s ’54 Chevy, watching it play peekaboo as it appeared and disappeared in the sand dunes.

Times are different now, almost everything is different these days. There are places, however, where the past comes to life, and which can bring our own past forward. We are better off now and life is easier, yet in some ways the old was better. Sometimes a short trip back can inspire a new vision of simple times and simple pleasures. And sometimes that can be pretty important.

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