Cowboy Country

 Posted by at 12:42 am  Nick's Blog
Mar 232011

We spent yesterday exploring cowboy country. Many of the wild tales of the Old West, both real and fictionalized, took place in Cochise County, Arizona, and we decided it was time to introduce Greg and Jan White  to this historic corner of Arizona.

We left the fairgrounds about 9 a.m. and drove to Benson, where we took a quick tour of the Escapees Saguaro Co-Op. Greg and Jan had never been to this RV park, and were very impressed with the leased sites, and how friendly everybody was as we drove around. It’s amazing how much a friendly wave can do to make your day!

From there, we drove to Fairbank, a ghost town near Tombstone that was just as wild and woolly as any western town of its time. Fairbank saw its share of outlaws, shootouts, and Indian raids back in the bad old days. Today not much stands in Fairbank, except some ruins that are fenced off to preserve them, and a stone building that served as a school.

Fairbank buildings close 2 

Our next stop was Tombstone, the town too tough to die. Well, guess what? They killed the real Tombstone a long time ago, and in its place created a tourist trap that bears little resemblance to the frontier town where men like Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and the Clanton gang walked the streets. About the only thing you can do in Tombstone today, without paying an entrance fee, is breathe. And I’m sure that if the greedy promoters who have taken the place over ever figure out how to make it happen, even the air will have a price tag hung on it.

The one exception is Boot Hill Graveyard, where some of the most notorious of the Old West outlaws were laid to rest, along with a lot of victims of the violence that plagued the town in the 1870s and 1880s. You enter the cemetery through a visitor center, where they try to get you to fork out $2 each for a guide to who is buried there, but they never bother to tell you that you don’t have to buy the guide to tour the burying grounds.

Boot Hill entrance

Clanton graves

We spent some time exploring Boot Hill, and were reminded of how cheap life was at one time here. 

3 Fingered Jack Dunlap

Holo Lucero


We left Tombstone and drove to Bisbee, a charming little community where the houses cling to the steep hillsides, narrow roads wind their way up Tombstone Canyon, and the old saloons along Brewery Gulch have been replaced with funky little shops and studios. I like Bisbee a lot more than I do Tombstone. The people in the shops are all friendly and welcome you to come in and browse with no pressure, and if you don’t buy anything, that’s fine too. You’re welcome to come back anytime. We had lunch at the Bisbee Grill, and while I wasn’t too impressed with my meal, Terry, Greg, and Jan all enjoyed theirs.


One of the neat places in Bisbee is the Shady Dell, a little RV park where you can bring your own rig, or stay in one of their vintage travel trailers, which are all decorated in 1950s style.



And if you get hungry, stop in at Dot’s Diner for a great lunch, or a delicious milkshake.


Bisbee’s other claim to fame is the magnificent Lavender Pit mine, which yielded millions of tons of copper ore, along with gold, silver, and turquoise between 1950 and 1974. We stopped at the mine’s viewpoint to check out this huge hole in the ground. It’s sure a long way down from the top!

Lavender Pit

When I was a kid, I spent some time living along the border, and when we left Bisbee, we stopped at the old Border Patrol compound in Naco, just steps away from the Mexican border. Boy, those old walls were really talking to me, and a lot of long forgotten memories came alive for me there!



It was getting late in the afternoon when we drove into Sierra Vista, where we made our obligatory stop at Dairy Queen, and then drove by the Elks lodge to check out the RV parking there, before heading back to Tucson.

We arrived back at the fairgrounds as the sun was hanging low in the sky, and said our goodbyes before retiring to our motorhomes, tired from our long day exploring cowboy country.

Today I plan to go the the here in Tucson to see what is involved in transferring my care from the Lexington, Kentucky hospital to Tucson. We are in Arizona every year, and have a lot of family here, so it would be a lot more convenient. 

Thought For The Day – There is more to life than increasing its speed.

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  5 Responses to “Cowboy Country”

  1. I know that Tombstone is no longer a protected Historical Site since the money making items have come to pass. When we are in Arizona we just pass on through and go to where it is not a amusement park. Do not mind paying to go into a place like some of the many historical places in Arizona, but Tombstone is rediculous. The infamous would be shooting others if they rose up from the cemetery.

  2. Nick please let us know how it goes with the VA

  3. Sounds like a good day for y’all yesterday. A couple of things I noticed in your photos….1) it wasn’t rainy (been rainy here ALL month). Geeze I need some sun and spring fever. and 2) the tombstone of Jack Dunlap. Seems like the Dunlap name get’s around – in a good way or not. Just goes to show that we all have those secrets whether we own em or not.

    Hope all goes good for you Jack at the VA. Never had to use the VA (yet) simply thanks to God’s good graces.

  4. Last time we were in Bisbee, we were told that (1) Shady Dell no longer will allow you to bring in your own rig — they rent the vintage trailers instead; (2) Dot’s Diner is closed, with no plans to re-open. History happens even today. Sorry we didn’t get to see you folks as you toured our park, but you probably passed through while we were in a Board meeting (9:00 – 11:45am).

  5. I really like that area, Bisbee, Sierra Vista etc . One of my favorite books is ‘Going Back to Bisbee’ by Richard Shelton. It describes a day trip from Tucson to Bisbee. It has lots of history in it and is a very interesting, good read. Especially the part about Henry, the snake.

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