Got back from our trip last night. I had a great time and came back exhausted and happy to be back in my cozy little apartment.
Our first stop when we got to Tucson was the University of Arizona. This occurred because we ended up taking the wrong exit. Since it was only noon and check in at the hotel was at three, we decided it would be a good place to waste time. We walked around campus, deemed it better than ASU but not as good as UNL, and took in a show at their planetarium.
Next, since it was on our way, we stopped at the original Bookman’s. We visited both while we were in Tucson and both had very good literature/general fiction section, but the horror/sci-fi/fantasy/writing sections were a bit lacking. The original is in a 50s-ish building, the side of the building painted with a mural of damsels and dragons and prime Shakespearean moments. Do any of you book lovers have this happen? You’re looking at a shelf of books and one just draws you? You pick it up, look at, it seems interesting, not something you usually read though so you put it back, only to pick it up again and end up buying it? Well, this is how I came to own Legends of the Monastic Orders, a small, squat book published in 1879, in good condition written by one Mrs. Jameson. Eric does not understand the whole phenomenon by which I end up with such books and neither do I.
That evening, we decided to splurge and eat at the Olive Garden. I say splurge because we intended to eat cheaply during the trip. We took soda, cheese, meat, and crackers along to fill out our menus instead of eating out all the time. For example we had cheese and crackers for lunch, picnicking at U of A and feeding the very brazen birds pieces of Triskets. It turned out the Olive Garden was a good choice we had enough leftovers for dinner Monday night as well.
All of Monday was taken up by Tombstone. A word first about AZ. I don’t understand why more people haven’t settled further south. Tucson is generally a little better off weather-wise than Phoenix. The area around Tombstone (further south, but higher) is even better. The land is greener. It reminded me very much of Nebraska or Iowa. It is much more honest land. It sounds weird, yes, but there is a pretentiousness to this valley I live in. It seems to promise things and it knows they are false promises. The land south isn’t much. Its rocky and shrubby, but it says, “I’m rocky and shrubby. I’ll understand if there is nothing here for you aside from a few minerals in a few mountains.” It’s alot like how the plains, where I’m originally from, say, “Well, I’m good for growing, but you’d be nuts to live here!” Anyway…
Tombstone was pretty much how I expected it to be all in all. Which is to say, it’s a bit of a tourist trap. “The town to tough to die” is filled with gift shops, “saloons”, and gun fight re-enactments. This isn’t to say we didn’t enjoy the place. We picked up our share of stuff, including a huge mug and t-shirts we had especially made. We walked around the Oriental hotel (now a vintage clothing store), the Bird Cage theater (badly in need of restoration), the Grand Hotel (now Big Nose Kates’ Saloon), the Courthouse (a state run museum) and of course Boot Hill (still a rocky cemetery though one with a gift shop you must pass through first). Everything aside from the Courthouse took full advantage of every legend Tombstone ever spawned, and the bawdier the legend, the better. Tombstone isn’t a place for the whole family unless you want to explain about dancehall girls and bordellos. But if you’re expecting the remains of a turn of the century den of iniquity, that’s certainly what you’ll find. The people running the shops were very nice though. We ended up just talking to them about things. Luckily the busy season hasn’t started up and nothing was overly crowded.
Yesterday, we went to Old Tucson and the other Bookman’s. Old Tucson is a nice family-oriented theme-park-style attraction. It’s built around the sets movie makers have erected and used over the years. It has a hyper-real quality about it. It’s not the Old West. The Bird Cage theater, crumbling, dusty, and decaying, is the Old West. Old Tucson is the Old West recreated and made better. (Makes me want to go back and read the essay by Umberto Eco about this subject…) The main reason to pay the hefty admissions to Old Tucson is to see the shows. We didn’t go to see any “gunfights” in Tombstone mainly because we realized, we hadn’t even heard any blanks being fired after being there for hours. The shows in Old Tucson were done by actors. One was a true story about a rancher taking on an out law. The other two were fictional Zorro stories. The acting was fair to middling, but it was a lot of fun none-the-less with shooting, sword fighting and yes, even explosions.
I will have pictures eventually. I intend to document this trip in my scrapbook as usual. It was a good vacation. Let’s hope the rest of Eric’s week off is as good. I’m intending to go place disc with Eric this afternoon at Motorola, DM for a bit, and hopefully Eric and I will pow-wow about Marie a bit.