Although I’d been tired, I hadn’t slept that well. An alarm outside somewhere had gone off frequently, and I just couldn’t sleep. I got up at 06:15 and started getting ready for the long day ahead. At the Springhill Suites we were staying at the breakfast starts at 07:00 on a Sunday so we wanted to be ready to have breakfast then so that we could be on the road as early as possible.
As we left the hotel it started to rain, and by the time we were in the car and on the road it had intensified considerably. Our first stop though was at the local Walmart so we could buy some water – this was incredibly cheap at $2.98 for 32 bottles. After this though we could start our journey in earnest.
The rain did stop eventually, but it also started again a number of times as rain clouds passed over us. By the time we reached Tombstone it had been dry for some time and was starting to get warmer. It took a while for us to find some parking, but we eventually found some near the old Court House which had an honesty box to put $3 into.
To start with we wandered down part of the main street before walking into the OK Corral shop where we bought tickets for the show at 11:00 for $10 per person. As we’d got some time to wait we headed back out wand looked around the rest of the town and also spotted a sandwich diner we could eat at later.
The reenactment of the gunfight at the OK Corral started off with introducing us to some of the backstory. Billy Claiborne, Ike and Billy Clanton, and Tom and Frank McLaury were cowboys (the villains of the story) who had been antagonising and threatening the Earp family – all of which were lawmen in Tombstone. Eventually this got to a point where the Earps (Virgil, Morgan, and Wyatt) and Doc Holliday confronted these outlaws outside the CS Fly photography store (not the OK Corral) and shots were fired killing three of the outlaws. One of the surviving outlaws, Ike Clanton, filed murder charges against the lawmen, though these were eventually dropped.
The show lasted for almost half an hour, and following this we looked around the museum area before going to the diner near 6th street for lunch. I had a turkey sandwich on wholegrain bread, and this came with plain crisps for $8.95. After we’d finished eating we headed over to the Tombstone Epitaph where we each got a free copy of the paper that had been published the day after the showdown, and photographed some of the classic printing equipment there.
Our plan for the afternoon was to visit the Madera Canyon, a recommendation from our Grandad due to the number of wild birds he’d seen whilst there. This was going to take some finding though as the satnav didn’t have the location for it. To start with I looked at Google Maps and decided that we would need to get to Sonoita first and then get onto Highway 83.
This went according to plan and eventually we saw a turn on the left we turned off onto. This road quickly deteriorated into an unmaintained gravel path that meant progress was slow. We had no idea how far along this we’d need to go either, it was just a guess based upon the map I’d been looking at.
The winding trail continued for quite some time, with numerous bumps in the road. Eventually we stopped at a clearing where they had a map marked as “OVH” and it indicated that we were on the right path to Madera Canyon, but was nowhere near it yet. Whilst here I saw some large black insects that looked a little like grasshoppers, but they could cover massive distances and flashed with red as they jumped.
More time passed, and we even had to make a couple of ford crossings – one of which after the Apache reservation was partly blocked by a fallen tree. I tried to move it but couldn’t do it alone. Instead we decided we might be able to drive between the tree and the embankment so me and my sister guided my friend through the small gap.
Not long after this though we had to turn back. We’d reached a dead end as the road reached a fence across the path where it could no longer be followed by vehicle. The map hadn’t indicated this, so disappointingly we turned back and headed back to the main road faster than what we’d gotten there originally.
Back on the main road it wasn’t long before we saw a signpost for Madera Canyon, and another turning. It turned out that the road we’d travelled down had been the wrong one! This one was a proper road for the first few miles but then changed to a dirt track which the sign posts referred to as a mountain pass. The road twisted around as it climbed through the mountains and at one point we decided it’d be good to stop to take photos of the scenery. We also noticed that by now the car was an absolute mess – coated in the reddish powdery sand that had coated the trails.
Eventually we were back on tarmac road for the remainder of the journey to Madera Canyon. The visitor centre was closed and said to use the honesty boxes to pay for parking wherever we parked up. We decided to travel to the end of the road before parking up, and here it was $5 along with a form to fill in. Whilst my friend did this, he noticed a tarantula crawling across the floor so called me over.
After a few photos we joined my sister and went for a walk off the trail and down to a very weak waterfall. We didn’t stay long and soon headed back to the car, where the tarantula had by this time moved to in front of ready for a few more close-up pictures.
Down the road we stopped again at a place where they had a number of feeders set-up for hummingbirds. Although it was getting dark, there were still plenty about so we sat and watched them for some time, including both male and female Arizona woodpeckers that we could see on a tree in the distance.
We left the canyon before it got dark and was only 20 minutes outside of Tucson when the sun finally set. We turned off at the junction for the Titan Missile Museum looking for some gas to fill up with before continuing the rest of the way to the Comfort Suites hotel we’d be staying in overnight.
It was about 19:00 by the time we checked in, so quickly got ourselves sorted (including making up the sofa bed I’d be sleeping on) and headed out looking for food. Just minutes after leaving out we found ourselves at a place called Dave’s Famous Barbecue where I decided to go for the tender chicken pieces with potato wedges, barbecue beans, and a muffin.
Once we’d eaten I was exhausted from the lack of sleep and so was asleep a little after 21:00.