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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Watching Tombstone in Tombstone

Tucked far away into the southern reaches of Arizona near the Mexico border is the dusty town of Tombstone. I pulled in from the north, not quite sure what I was doing there. I had a hotel reservation, but why? I wasn’t sure. Obviously I had watched Tombstone the movie one too many times.

Tombstone was one of my favorite movies in college. On a regular basis my friends would pile into my dorm room, order cheap pizza, and watch different movies, including Tombstone. I can still quote many of the lines today. I think that’s part of the problem and what drew me to town. I wanted to see where all of the Hollywood magic actually took place.

I parked my car late in the day near the infamous Bird Cage Theater. Walking the street, looking for what made the city so special, I noticed several people dressed in cowboy garb. It was like an Old West-style Renaissance Festival where everyone, not just the employees, dress up in period gear because they think it’s fun and cool. In truth, it was rather disappointing.

I left after a quick jaunt around the historic Allen Street. I had no interested in paying the high princes to see some recreated OK Corral shoot out and I had no interest in socializing with the dressed up fanatics. I just wanted to go back to my hotel room and relax. I was tired from the drive down from Tucson, simply another leg in an already long trip from Denver. And so I needed rest before venturing out again for dinner.

While sitting in my hotel room I realized I wasn’t necessarily giving Tombstone a fair shake. What I had seen in the movie obviously wasn’t the same as in town; the city seemed like a sad shadow living off the legacy of the film. But there was still something interesting that brought approximately 450,000 people there each year. I was just missing it.

My stomach rumbling, I headed back to the main drag to find some dinner. Big Nose Kate’s, named after Doc Holliday’s girlfriend Mary Katherine Horony Cummings, seemed like a fine place to dine. Once the site of the famous Grand Hotel, which was built in 1881, it is now a bar and restaurant, allegedly still housing some paranormal guests.

Bellying up to the bar, I ordered dinner and a drink. It was a slow night, so I was able to chat it up with the manager and bartneder. He rattled off so many stories I could hardly react to one before he was on to the next. He was a wealth of information, particualrly about the bar and the old hotel; one night, if you wish to beleive it, he witnessed several glasses on a back shelf fly up and over ones in front of them only to crash into several pieces on the floor.

I laughed and turned to watch Tombstone, which runs in a continual loop on several televisions in the bar. He continued on, though, about how other mysterious dealings have happened and not just in Big Nose Kate’s, but throughout town. One of the most haunted locations around – the Bird Cage Theater – hosts regular ghost hunts for enthusiasts. I particiapted in one, interested to see if I could make contact with some interesting character – maybe even one of the Earp boys – but that is really another tale for another time.

I thought of the ghost hunt and my brief experiencee in Tombstone while driving north the next morning. It wasn’t what I had expected when I first planned my stop, a taste of Tombstone the movie, but it turned out to be more interesting than I had given it credit for at first blush. There is a reason so many people travel there each year, and I was just coming to understand it as I left.

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  1. The Tennessee Waltz, Tombstone, Arizona | No damn blog - May 15, 2012

    […] Watching Tombstone in Tombstone (jasonstravels.com) Share this:EmailFacebookTwitterStumbleUponDiggRedditPrintLinkedInTumblrLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in music, travel and tagged Arizona, Big Nose Kate, Connie Francis, cowboys, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, memories, souvenirs, Tennessee Waltz, Tombstone Arizona, Wyatt Earp. Bookmark the permalink. […]

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