Last Friday we drove up to Tombstone, AZ and Saturday we visited Bisbee. Both are “tourist attractions,” but with somewhat different angles on attracting tourists.

Tombstone is the site of the famed shootout at the O. K. Corral. It started out as a silver mining town, and even today the ground beneath the town is riddled with old mines. But like the dwarves in Moria, the miners delved too deep, encountering the water table at 520 feet. The mines flooded, and it became too expensive to keep them pumped out. The “town too tough to die” survived as the county seat until that was moved to Bisbee, almost became a ghost town and reinvented itself as a tourist destination.

We happened to hit the first day of “Helldorado days,” which emphasizes the wild west side of the town’s history. Not only were gunfights staged in the streets, they could be watched in air-conditioned comfort indoors! Even the street fights were enlivened by details of how the fights would be staged for the camera today, with frequent cries of “Cut! Action double!”

In addition to the wild west theme, there is a good assortment of shops, some featuring local artisans. I spent most of my time in Arlene’s, jumping at the occasional gunshots. My painted ponies have all come from there, and I bought a new one as well as a set of much-needed place mats.

Bisbee, the current county seat, was also a former mining town, though the ore here was rich in copper, gold, silver and zinc. An entire mountain was removed for its mineral wealth, but the city is still surrounded by mountains, the buildings trickling down valleys. Although the mining history is still a part of Bisbee, with tours through the old mines, my vision is such that only my cousins took the tour, while I shopped.

The city today is primarily occupied by retirees and artists. Stores tend toward art galleries, jewelers, antique stores, and other specialty stores. I couldn’t resist a copper butterfly for my wall from the Coppershop, or a variety of honeys and a honey Dijon mustard from Killer Bee Honey. One of my favorites, alas, was no longer present – I used to visit Kate Drew-Wilkinson at Uptown Tribal, where she had a workshop for making her glass beads as well as a store, but she seems now to be only on the web. Her activities as a traveling teacher of lampwork took her away from the shop too often.

Both towns are higher and cooler than Sierra Vista, but still warm to a visitor from Alaska. I have been in Bisbee when there was melting snow on the ground, but this week I was seeking shade.