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In July, we ventured north of the towering Great Border Wall, a “supposed” barrier against migration, on our way to the enchantment of Arizona: To the promises of Sedona’s mystical allure, the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon, and the mysteries of Navajo Country, all under the spell of an impending eclipse. Before leaving Texas, we stopped in the Guadalupe Mountains for a shot of the night sky: The Milky Way <- you are here

On our journey into Arizona, we stopped to see what the legendary town of Tombstone was all about. After Tombstone, we had a 3-month house/cat sit, during which time we tackled a good chunk of Ivan’s ambitious van renovation list — an impressive transformation featuring a brand-new toilet, a state-of-the-art kitchen faucet, and a revolutionary stove that actually ignites at the push of a button. Our old stove hadn’t done that for years!


We had to discover the reason behind Tombstone’s seemingly enormous fame.

The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral put Tombstone on the map. The firefight didn’t last more than a minute, yet it gave rise to legends like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. The real catalyst was Stuart Lake’s biography of Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshall published two years after Earp’s death. The book spawned a series of Old West films starting with the 1932 Walter Huston’s Law and Order, and ending (so far) with Tombstone Rashoman in 2017. There are at least sixteen movies about Tombstone listed in Wikipedia!

The old gallows where the famous gunfight took place

The town itself, at least in the nineteenth century, was a booming, prosperous silver mining town. After a string of disasters in the 1930s, including fires and the flooding of the silver mines, the town was all but abandoned.

This is the craziest part: The almost ghost town, taking full advantage of all the culture surrounding its name, and playing it just like an Ace up its sleeve at an Old West poker game, has remade the town into a kind of historical theme park. Museums, diaramas, antiques, a gun shop, and even a live re-enactment of the famous Gunfight at O.K. Corral. They even sport their own craft brewery.


The sandstone landscapes of Sedona, Arizona, are well known for their distinctive red-rock formations. It’s a destination for hikers, backpackers, and even filmmakers. The town itself is very artsy and a tad new-age, with a requisite allotment of vegetarian restaurants.

When we arrived, we managed to crash a wedding. One of the popular viewpoints in Sedona is called Lover’s Knoll. Unbeknownst to us, it’s apparently a destination for outside weddings. The bride was lovely. But we weren’t invited to the reception.

We had planned on doing some hiking around Sedona. We thought we had an easy-level starter hike, but the Devil’s Bridge route turned out to be moderate, with a rock climb at the end. Deena’s poor right knee took a beating.

Fortunately for us, we always carry our foldable, carbon-fiber Leki walking sticks. We walked back to the van using the easy, direct route. We made it without incident, but the next day, Deena could barely walk.

Trail plus road return, our hike map

So much for our lovely hiking career. We’ve scheduled an appointment with the doctor who replaced the left knee two years ago. Now Deena will have a matching set of titanium joints. That will probably happen in November.


Although the plan for Grand Canyon National Park was to hang out on the less popular north rim for some awesome hikes and views, the bum knee vetoed that idea. We opted for the easy, take-the-shuttle-bus sightseeing on the south rim. It’s all about the photos anyway!

Post Script

Although we saw the eclipse, Ivan was disappointed to learn that the neutral density filter he already owned just wasn’t going to work on a solar eclipse. So although he actually calculated where to stand for the perfect framing shot, it wasn’t worth saving. While there in Navajo Country, he collected some awesome Monument Valley photos. Stay tuned for that gallery!

(Click picture for larger view)

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