So another one of our rules is that we have to “do something out of the house as a family” at least one day out of every weekend, which usually happens on Saturday (no completely lazy weekends for this family). Like every other weekend, I gave the girls some options to start. The Children’s Museum of Tucson? No. Patagonia Lake? No. Because Grandma and Papa had such a good time there this week, the girls decided they wanted to go to Tombstone, AZ, or as they call it, “The Cowboy Town.” They told me that one of the reasons that they wanted to go was so they could ride horses, so I added that we could go to the Buffalo Corral Riding Stables after we got back to post. After Elaina was famously quoted as telling me that “Dad, kids like to do things, not look at things!” during the tram tour at the Pima Air & Space Museum, I figured that they would be bored in Tombstone; as always, these girls keep surprising me.
Aside from complaining about the 20 minute drive through the beautiful Arizona desert (which according to them lasted “forever”), the girls had an absolutely amazing time in Tombstone. They told me that they did not think that they would see a “real” cowboy or cowgirl, but sure enough, they were pleasantly surprised to find a few even before I had parked the car. Which led to them approaching the first one they saw to ask them how they could become a cowgirl (it had to be a cowgirl, as they firmly believed that if they said “cowboy,” the transformation included getting their hair chopped off).
This occurred though after they took a quick look around and realized that they needed cowboy hats. I assumed that the hats would not only cost too much, but was fairly certain that the girls would not find something that they liked. Again admitting my ignorance and surprise, the first store we walked into had pink cowgirl hats with tiaras attached to them. Well played, Tombstone. And of course, they needed Sheriff’s badges to go with them.
They then patrolled the streets of Tombstone, searching for more cowboys and cowgirls. Until they saw the stagecoach, and then it was all about horses for about an hour. This was pretty good considering we were going to head to the stables after eating lunch, but it meant that they thought they could ride every single horse they saw, which led to a few outbursts. We ended up taking the stagecoach tour, which the girls absolutely loved, and my youngest spent the rest of her time in town begging me to go on it again. But as expected, they quickly realized that they were missing a key cowgirl component: Boots.
After getting the final addition to their attire (no toy gun, holster, belt, or spurs this visit), we moseyed on over to Big Nose Kate’s Saloon for lunch. The girls had already seen the two ice cream parlors in town, so needless to say, they were very incentivized to eat their lunch (which they did). It also helped that one of the cast members, upon being continually questioned about how to become a cowgirl, told them that the first thing to do was to eat your meals so you can get big and strong to fight off bandits. Thanks for helping a Dad out.
After finishing their meal (to my satisfaction), we walked down to the ice cream parlor and the girls got their usual: Chocolate for Elaina and Vanilla for Gabby. While Gabby’s did not last too long (she dropped it after about five minutes and I was forced to relinquish my triple chocolate cookie before chaos ensued), Elaina thoroughly enjoyed hers until the bowl was licked clean. And they were quite the head-turners too, being fully decked out in pink and red cowgirl gear, eating ice cream, strutting down the streets of Tombstone. Proud Dad right here.
While they were not too happy to leave, the girls were really excited when they pulled up to the stables. Elaina had never been on a horse before (she is not a particularly big fan of animals in general) and Gabby had only ridden one for about 30 seconds at our local fair. They each ended up getting 15 minutes on Champ, our horse, and they absolutely loved it. They did not want to leave, or share the same horse for that matter, with the entire walk back to the car consisting of them asking me if we were coming back next week. While I knew Gabby would be fine, Elaina did much better than expected. Not only did she want to go first, but kept petting and encouraging the horse throughout the ride. Excellent. Maybe soon I can start bringing up getting a dog again without her freaking out (Gabby was sold on a dog before she could walk). But I will leave that topic for another post.
So this was a great day, and completely unexpected based on the girls’ choice of activities. They are already talking about going back to both Tombstone and the Buffalo Corral Riding Stables, even though I think the former might be just so they can get a pair of spurs. The lesson learned here for me was that sometimes when you let them choose, the end result will not only will surprise you, but has the possibility of working out much better than expected. And it always helps that, when you put them to bed, your oldest uses “thanks Dad” and “best day ever” in the same paragraph. To quote Maui, “You’re Welcome. And thank you.”
As a parting thought, I probably should have remembered that they could not wear their cowgirl hats on their horseback rides beforehand, which may have led me to go to the stables first. At least they forgot about it once the ride started. Hope you enjoyed hearing about the great day we had. Cheers!