Credit card back in my wallet, Pete and I pushed southeast and picked up Interstate highway 10 toward Tucson. A long straight road underneath the sun meant the Sebring’s roof stayed down as we basked in Arizona’s warm winds enveloping our journey.
We made it our standard operating practise that as we travelled to our next destination, whoever wasn’t driving flicked through the guidebook and picked a spot for accommodation–in Tucson the bohemian Hotel Congress with Art Deco furnishings and a “lively bar downstairs” seemed the best fit.
The most striking thing driving into town was the kaleidoscopic sky above the distant hills, laden with swathes of clouds painted gentle hues of purples, reds, oranges and pinks. It was a nice welcome.
Another nice surprise was getting a message from a mutual friend of ours, Drew, also taking his post-operational Afghanistan tour leave and who also happened to be in Tucson—small world. He’d visited an American girl he knew but had to move on, so he hopped on board with us to go as far as Houston.
Leaving Tucson the three of us swung by Tombstone, “The Town Too Tough To Die,” and famous for the legendary gunfight at the OK Corral when at 2 p.m. on October 26, 1881, Doc Holliday, along with Wyatt Earp and his brothers Virgil and Morgan confronted a band of suspected cattle rustlers, the Clantons.
The only shots fired the day we were in town were blanks for the tourists; most probably a relief to Drew who of the three of us had easily had the most bullets winging over his head as a Fire Support Team commander hunched down in Helmand province.
Back on the I-10 we crossed the state line going east into New Mexico and didn’t have far to go before we’d be crossing another state line into Texas where our destination was to be El Paso–as Hunter S. Thompson wrote, “We had all the momentum.”