I grew up in and around Tucson, Arizona, and I thought that I had a fairly decent appreciation of the history and culture of the area, but I was wrong. It turns out that visiting the Grand Canyon with the Brady Bunch doesn’t do it justice, and watching Val Kilmer offer his huckleberry services to the Earp brothers isn’t quite the same as walking the streets of Tombstone. Who knew?
I first suspected that my understanding of the place that I was raised was, well, suspect, when my wife and I visited Boston on our honeymoon (in 2001). We did all the touristy things, almost all of which were also educational and ripe with history. It was surreal and amazing, but it wasn’t until we saw a group of local schoolchildren reenacting speeches of liberty, and the apathetic boredom that hung to their every word, that I realized I had treated my old west surroundings in much the same way. Basically, that stuff was always there so I took it for granted. It happens.
That is why, when we visited Tucson over the holidays, we decided to take the boys on a historical day trip through the surrounding history of the area—a history of Spain, Mexico, Native Americans, and cowboys, none of which had video games of any kind. Challenge accepted.
Please note, the Grand Canyon is about eight hours away from Tucson, so it wasn’t included on this trip, and while there are tons of other wonderful things to do in the area we have either experienced them (Old Tucson, the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum) or will do so on future trips (Sabino Canyon, Colossal Cave).
The three places we visited on our day trip through history were the Mission San Xavier del Bac, the ghost town of Fairbank, and the pinnacle of wild west tourism, Tombstone, which is, apparently, too tough to die. The boys had a blast, and that means we all did.
And now for the post-vacation tradition where you sit in my living room (any living room will do) and I force you to watch a slideshow:
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Read more from Whit Honea at his site Honea Express and the popular group blog DadCentric. You can follow Whit on the Twitter or Pinterest (his opinions are his own and do not reflect those of Babble or most rational people).