Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride | Testimonials
NOTE: You will see most everyone below has what we call a cowboy or cowgirl “alias.” We do request you come up with one prior to the ride, but it’s not mandatory. Why an alias? Who wants to ride with Bob, Jim, John, Bill or Steve when you can ride with Curly, Dutch, Doc, Ellsworth, Duke, and others. This is your cowboy/cowgirl fantasy… so make the most of it and have fun with it.
2016 Vendetta Riders’ Testimonials
GREAT JOB IN TOMBSTONE! See ya next year!
Bill Fredericks, “Wyatt,” Mattapoisett, MA
Thank you so much for the birhday & wedding presents as well as the trip of a lifetime. great memories… all of our best,
Rich & Christine, Parker, CO
This was my forth Vendetta Ride with Great American Adventures and Steve and Marcie Shaw. My first Vendetta Ride was in 2011 and I felt then that it was more like joining a group of friends on the excellent adventure – something really special. Steve and Marcie make sure their customers/clients genuinely feel like “friends”. This Vendetta Ride was awesome again. Our visit and “walk down” tour of Tombstone and the Old Kinderhook Corral (OK) was again remarkable. Don Taylor, Tombstone’s official Historian and our Vendetta Historian, provides such depth and insight about Tombstone, the politics, the people and the events leading up to the famous street fight and the subsequent events following. Don really takes you back and makes you feel a part of the history and the developing friction between the Cow-Boys, Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan Earp and Doc Holiday. Don’s extensive research reinforces the existance of the organized crime syndicate – known as the Cow-Boys. Our visit to the Empire Ranch was again wonderful. The history of the ranch is amazing and being able to ride the range on this amazing cattle ranch, see its historical buildings and facilities and have lunch and dinner there was very much fun. This is a great addition to the Vendetta Ride and very pleasing to the riders and the spouses. Tuesday we made the trek to Cottonwood Springs, the spot most historians believe the confrontation between the Earp posse and Curly Bill and a group of Cow-Boys occurred – with Curly Bill’s demise at Wyatt’s hand. We rode a new route to and from the springs that was somewhat shorter and very pleasant. As we got close to the springs, we were met in route to by none other than Curly Bill Brocius himself! We saw a rider shadowing us on a ridge just out of range. When he shouted that he “could pick you all off with a rifle”, we knew something was up. When we got to the springs Curly Bill met us there in full costume. This was a grand surprise. “Curly Bill” regaled us with the story and history of the place from a different perspective. He was informative, entertaining and fun. This is a new wrinkle to the Cottonwood Springs visit and I thought it was spectacular. It has become a tradition that the Cottonwood Springs visit is “red shirt” day (in honor of Curly Bill). Almost the entire posse was dressed in red, which adds so much to the fun. The more I research and read about this event, the more I discover what we don’t know, which makes it more exciting. Don Taylor joined us for dinner that evening and covered more detail to the Curly Bill encounter, why historians believe this may be the place and what may have happened. Always a supreme pleasure. Wednesday we rode through Tombstone down Allen Street in the morning and again in the late afternoon. This is always a thrilling thing to do to literally ride where the legends rode. All of the history comes alive as the posse moves down the street along one of the most famous streets in the American West. We also rode a new trail near Alanta on a large private Ranch we had not ridden before. The ride was interesting as it further illustrates first-hand the difficult terrain and makes one really appreciate how the folks traveled on horseback. We stopped on a high ridge to grab a bite of lunch and could literally see most of the areas the real Vendetta Ride covered. You could clearly see Tombstone, Sierra Vista/Fort Huachuca, Fairbank, the Whetstone Mountains where Cottonwood Springs sits and east to the Dragoon Mountains. It really gave me a greater perspective and appreciation for the long, hard ride Wyatt and posse made. Thursday we rode to Council Rock in Cochise Stronghold. We rode a new trail that was both beautiful and seemed shorter. We were met at Council Rock by our spouses, which had not seen this amazing, beautiful and sacred place. Our historian was Charlie One Horse, a wonderful Native American, who provided an excellent program as always. His in-depth knowledge of the place, spiritual connection and forthright discussions are very enlightening and enjoyable. His description of the Medicine Wheel and its spokes was excellent and connected Council Rock to other spiritual locations in Mexico and South America. He brings a unique perspective to the events that occurred in the area when the native peoples were systematically pushed out of their ancestral homeland. It was real special having the spouses join us. Bonnie was thrilled and fell in love with the place. She loves rocks and was in awe of the beauty and majesty of the place. This is a real special pleasure of the Vendetta Ride. Our last trail was a new and exciting ride into historical Fort Bowie. This was incredible and so exciting. The history of the Fort Bowie area is amazing. This is where so much history of the Apache Wars was made. The importance of the Fort was paramount in the Apache peoples’ struggles with the United States and the U.S. Army. Again, we literally rode where so many legends rode in the hard fought, long struggle that ultimately changed the Apache way of life forever. The historian at the Fort provided a very good synopsis of the history and seeing the old Fort ruins was amazing. Again we were joined by our spouses who shared part of this new experience.
The whole Wyatt Earp Vendetta Ride was spectacular as always. Steve and Marcie Shaw do something that no one else in the world does with these awesome adventures. The organization and planning is flawless and, above all, their passion and genuine desire to make each person’s experience wonderful and fulfilling is unmatched by any business or individual. The dinners and food was again very good and fun. The little extras and gifts they provide to all participants is unique and heartfelt. They make it feel like family. And the wranglers….Troy and his sons have to be some of the best around. They do such an incredible job of fitting horse to rider and, above all else, keeping everyone safe. These men work so hard and spend countless hours before and after each ride preparing the horses, transporting them to/from the trailheads, saddling/unsaddling, watering, feeding and picketing them each day. It is hard for us, the riders, to imagine how much work is involved to make our ride so successful. Steve and Marcie and Great American Adventures has done another incredible job. We participants have no idea how much work they do to make these rides happen. Dealing with Federal and State agencies alone and getting permits to go to the wonderful places we go requires so much work and perseverance and patience – we do not have any idea. And getting permission from private landowners to access and ride on their properties is a monumental task. Yet they do it year in and year out and we only see the excellent results – not the hard work and frustration making it happen. There are always some little hitches that develop, but Steve handles them so efficiently we never know they occur. This is a testament to their passion and love of doing these rides and trying to ensure we have FUN. I have gotten to know Steve and Marcie very well over these years. They have become very good friends to Bonnie and me. My first impression on my first ride in 2011 was a sense of friends and family. This has only been reinforced by our association and the seven adventures we have shared. These are very special, extraordinary people and Great American Adventures is an extraordinary business. Thank you Steve and Marcie for another awesome, fun time. I look forward to the Train Robbery again.
Many thanks again for the great ride in Tombstone. It’s a truly great adventure and you two make it really spectacular! I thoroughly enjoyed ridding with you two last week; it was very special to me and I feel blessed to have you two as good friends.
Don May, “Chocktaw Sessums,” Katy, TX
Thanks to both of you for the incredible experience of Tombstone. See you in the future.
Mike & Jean Spires, “Mike & Lying Lil,” Edinboro, PA
Oh what fun we had, this is my 3rd Vendetta ride and my 5th ride with Great American Adventures. This ride or any of Steve’s rides never disappoint. You are walking and riding the streets of legends and you can feel their presence. Historians on each ride talk about what happened each day at different locations. The scenery is beautiful and you can imagine what it was like back in 1880. The best part of all the rides is the life long friends you make along the way and you can’t wait to do it all again. Steve and Marcie are the perfect hosts as they go above and beyond to make your trip memorable. So come ride with legends Wyatt, Doc, Curly Bill, Johnny Ringo, Cochise and feel the magic. Ready for the next rides in 2017.
Charlene Houston, “Winchester Annie,” Winchester, VA
Thanks for a wonderful week and trip. Columbia Kass and I had a fantastically great time! I thought all five days were great and filled with wonderful information. For me anytime I am on the back of a horse I am having a good time. I really liked that horse I was given. That ride at Fort Bowie is a keeper. I loved that downhill descent. Kass sent you our thumb drives and our pictures last week. Hopefully you received them. I have instructed my daughter that she will be responsible to make me a photo album of this ride for Christmas. You two really deserve a lot of credit for making these rides possible. It was a dream come true! My sister and I will be back next year for the Monument Valley ride but we will wait until after the first of the year to send our deposits per your instructions. I also sent a testimonial last week so hopefully you got that. I sent that to your website. Again thanks for all your hard work and dedication to keeping the cowboy culture alive for all of us.
Richard Walsh, “Siskiyou Kid,” Ashland, OR
2015 Vendetta Riders’ Testimonials
I had a ball on the Vendetta Ride, my 1st venture with Great American Adventures. Here’s what I learned: on an adventure with Steve and Marcie, you’re not just attending the game, you’re in the game. Surrounded by spectacular scenery, on top of a responsive horse, looking around and just about everybody looks like they just arrived from 1880, well, darn, I’ve never been on a trip like this. It was an opportunity to live history, to learn, to make friends, to experience things you can’t do anywhere else. It was exhilarating, at times exhausting, some of the beauty was overwhelming, and I can’t get it out of my mind. Bottom line, I’m signing up for another one.
Jeff Cline, aka “Deal Again,” Hickory, NC
Being a long-time history buff, and particularly interested in the old west, the announcement of this event certainly caught my eye in a 2014 edition of the ‘Tombstone Epitaph.’ I toyed with the idea for months (distance and cost had to be considered, of course) before “biting the bullet” and signing up. This experience proved to be well worth the time, distance and cost! Visiting the actual sites of “Wyatt Earp” history, riding down Tombstone’s Allen Street and meeting and getting to know such a great cross-section of fellow history and equestrian enthusiasts was a true highlight! Steve and Marcie are excellent hosts and extremely well organized. Anyone interested in American western history – and particularly if they enjoy riding horses through beautiful and varied territory – should not miss this opportunity.
Jim Weyant, aka “Tom Horn,” Big Bear, CA
I just want to thank Steve and Marcie for a great time on Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride this year. Not only was it a terrific get away, but a great way to make friends with a common interest; whether it be horses or western history. You both did an outstanding job of putting this trip together. Warning: You will be seeing me again! Many thanks and best wishes to you both.
Mike Wood, aka “J.J. McAlester,” Baldwin Park, CA
I just returned home to London, England from the most amazing week in Tombstone! Thank you both for making it so special. I certainly am looking forward to the next time I see you. I know you both work really hard to make these rides so good and it is nice to see it all come together. We were all very lucky with the group of people we had. The wranglers were very professional and friendly and it was a real pleasure to be with them for the week. I can’t wait until April for your “Ride the REEL West” when we can do it all again! Kind regards,
Peter Mackay, aka “Pete Tenderfoot,” UK
Wow… what a party! I came away with a lot more than I even hoped for. I love meeting amazing people, and you both are at the top of my list. My wife and I are similar to you guys in many ways, and I learned some valuable life lessons while in your company. You’ve given me some great ideas for our Annual Cowboy Party on our ranch. Your Great American Adventure helped me get my “Cowboy” back. I’m in your debt forever! Thank you both so very much. I look forward to our next ride!
Arch LeMere, aka “Cowboy Arch,” Battle Creek, MI
Congratulations and thanks to Steve and Marcie and Great American Adventures for another outstanding Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride. This is my 5th Vendetta Ride, and my 6th trip with Great American Adventures. Steve & Marcie offer excellence, expertise, and legendary customer support to those who choose to attend one of the Great American Adventures. They are there not only for the trip, but are also available throughout the year for their customers. They have built a very loyal customer base. Like me, there are many repeat riders. However, new riders also attend every ride offered and are welcomed to the family. Many lifelong friendships have been made. While historic horseback rides is my interest, Great American Adventures offers other trips, too. It is worthwhile to visit the website frequently just to see what new Adventures are being offered. For those with an interest in the West, the Western, history, and riding horseback, Great American Adventures and Steve and Marcie Shaw offer the very best!
David Curtis, M.D., aka “Doc Curtis,” Newburgh, IN
Steve and Marcie’s Great American Adventure provides the vehicle for a great adventure, but you have to take the reins and ride into the West. It is all there for you to witness. During your great adventure you will find the West in all its glory. You will find everything that you have imagined. Sometimes that is all you need!
Gary Cook, aka “Omaha,” San Jose, CA
In October 2015, we attended the Wyatt Earp Vendetta Ride for our second time. We never thought the ride would be able to surpass all of the enjoyment that we experienced on our first ride in 2012, but guess what we did! The historic aspects of the ride, coupled with the gorgeous scenery made for a most enjoyable experience. Trail dust, clinks of spurs, boots pounding on the boardwalks, historic buildings, people dressed in 1880’s style clothing and dimly lit streets make you feel like you have stepped back in time. The ride itself took us to ghost towns, old mills, Cottonwood Springs (where Wyatt killed Curly Bill) and over trails ridden by the Earps and the Cow-Boy gang plus other locations. Watching an awesome sunset at the foot of the Dragoon Mountains was a real treat. This ride was also a reunion of lots of friends that had made the ride during 2012, plus an opportunity to meet more wonderful folks we now are proud to call friends. Steve and Marcie, we can’t thank you enough for all the hard work you do in organizing this ride and allowing all of us to experience so many good times. Thanks also for providing different entertainment and new aspects to the ride each year. Hugs and handshakes to such an awesome group of people to “ride the trails” with! Many of you will be our friends forever!
Max and Nancy Neese, aka “Mad Dog Max” and “Painted Lady,” Wetumka, OK
I can’t thank Steve and Marcie enough for organizing such a wonderful Vendetta Ride this year. The quality of the ride, entertainment, meals and, of course, the wranglers were unsurpassed. This being my 2nd Vendetta Ride, I found everything on the ride new and different. The trip to the Empire Ranch was a great new stop and I felt the historical aspect connected the 1880’s directly to my lifetime… awesome! Also, the folks on this trip were so easy to get along with and I left knowing all of them as new friends. Thanks again for a fantastic trip. I can’t wait to sign up for the next one. Keep up the good work!
Steve Gallant, aka “The Diamond Rustler,” Orleans, MA
This was my 4th Vendetta Ride and I have to say it was not like the other three. It was even better. I don’t know how Steve & Marcie do it, but it was worth every effort to get there and every dollar spent. About half the riders were repeats it and it turned out to be a “reunion” as well. The tour of Empire Ranch and the intro ride on Monday across the grassy plains of the Empire Ranch was absolute heaven. “Red Shirt” day in honor of Curly Bill on Tuesday with a ride to Cottonwood Springs was as breath-taking as ever. Cochise’s Stronghold ride was relaxing and exciting as ever and it is always a pleasure to experience the presentation by Charlie, a local Apache who entertains and enlightens us with the wonderful and colorful history of the Native Americans of that region. The time we spend together on the trail and the fellowship at breakfast and the evening each day is priceless. If you love the history of the old west, if you love riding horses and always wanted to spend a week “playing cowboy or cowgirl,” you owe it to yourself to ride the Vendetta Ride. I am 69 years old and I can honestly say that it is the most fun thing I have ever or will ever do in my lifetime.
Bob Crabb, aka “Doc Crabb,” Sequin, TX
This years Vendetta Ride was my 4th and, as with the previous rides, it was a great one. Steve & Marcie changed the 1st days venue to include a day at the Empire Ranch, near the town of Sonoita. Really enjoyed the history, lunch, riding and dinner there. The wranglers did a fantastic job with the large number of horses and riders. The dining during the week was great, especially enjoyed Big Mike’s catering and the last night in the barn at the Tombstone Monument Guest Ranch. Both the Doc Holliday presentation and author Mary Doria Russell’s presentation were interesting and entertaining. High on my list is the camaraderie and friendship of my fellow riders. I’m looking forward to next year’s “Ride the REEL West” in Santa Fe, New Mexico and have already signed up for the Vendetta ride in 2016… it’s like a reunion ride!
Al Hader, aka “Desert Gator,” Scottsdale, AZ
Steve, you and Marcie really gave us all a wonderful five day experience… it was well worth the money. To actually ride through the same country as Wyatt, Doc and the rest of the posse was awesome. Also, thanks so much for the wonderful horse to ride… I wanted one with “spirit”… and Got it!!!
See ya in Monument Valley.
Don Fordyce, aka “Klickitat Bob,” Sun City West, AZ
Thank you Steve and Marcie for a most excellent Vendetta Ride. This was my 6th ride and the surprises keep coming; your annual changes keep it fresh and exciting. This year I was head over heels. On the trip back home I pondered some passed rides noting that I met four authors (two of them awarding winning), have been entertained by current members of the Earp family, spoke with some of the foremost Tombstone historians, played Faro like the Cow-Boys of old in the Crystal Palace Saloon and had a blast playing cowboy. All of this besides the actual ride. I have seen priceless sunsets from the saddle and have made deep lasting friendships. The rides keep improving each passing year. Thanks again for another memorable adventure.
Ron Koster, aka “Lopin’ Jake,” Gwinn, MI
This was my son Matt and my 3rd Wyatt Earp Vendetta Ride with Steve and Marcie Shaw and Great American Adventures. This was also the 3rd ride that my wife Bonnie attended. This was the best Vendetta Ride yet!! As always, Steve and Marcie planned a flawless, exciting adventure for a packed house. Steve is always looking for new, fresh ideas for the trails and places to go. We did some new and different things this year. Don Taylor provided the great back stories leading up to the OK Corral confrontation and conducted a very nice tour of Tombstone, the “walk down” and visit of the gunfight site and OK Corral. I always learn something new about the politics and issues the history books never reveal. Following the Tombstone tour, we all drove out to the Empire Ranch, a new location and ride. We toured the ranch headquarters followed by a nice ride and finished with dinner at the ranch. Until this ride, I knew very little about the Empire Ranch, which was at the time one of the largest ranching operations in the world. There is always something new and exciting on this ride to look forward to. Of course we rode to Cottonwood Springs where the Earp posse encountered the Cow-Boys and Wyatt killed Curly Bill (controversy surrounds this site, which enhances the fun). This is a fun ride and gives one a real sense of how difficult travel was then and how tough those folks really were. The next day Matt and I were most privileged to participate in an interview for Great American Adventures for a segment on WorldWide Business News with Kathy Ireland. The next day we made the beautiful ride down the San Pedro River to Contention and Fairbank and saw something we had never seen before – the San Pedro River running above ground. We finished our week with a new trail, very near Johnny Ringo’s gravesite, in the Chiricahua Mountains – a great ride! This day was awesome and emphasizes Steve’s continuing effort to make this ride unique and special.
This Vendetta Ride was, as usual, so very well organized. The week was meticulously planned, the food was terrific again, the activities well thought out – the fellowship and camaraderie was excellent! The wranglers – and the horses – were again excellent and, as usual, went out of their way to make the ride fun and enjoyable. My wife had a great, great time with the non-riding spouses and spent a fun week with some old friends and new ones too. The new riders became fast new friends. Steve and Marcie attract a really fine group of people that share the love of the Old West, horses, and everything cowboy.
What a value these rides are! We really do not have any idea or truly appreciate how much hard work Steve and Marcie do to make these adventures happen. It is getting more and more difficult to acquire governmental permits from the BLM, Forestry Service, the State and private land owners to conduct these rides. I especially appreciate the hard work, time, the frustration and expense Steve & Marcie deal with to make these adventures a reality. It is truly their great passion that makes these adventures happen. Many, many thanks again for the opportunity to spend a quality week with my wife and son and for these life memories.
Don May, aka “Chocktaw Sessums,” Katy, TX
My father and I have been on a Great American Adventure ride once a year for the past five years; the last three years we brought my mother; and on two of them I brought my son. These rides have been nothing short of amazing. We have been able to create life long memories and we have developed friendships with some of the best folks I have had the pleasure of meeting. It is clear that Steve and Marcie do a ton of work behind the scenes to organize and get permits to ride on the land we travel on horseback. They also provide the most professional wranglers in the business and every meal is excellent and well thought out. Our first ride was the Vendetta Ride back in 2011 and it was life changing and relationship bonding experience for my dad and I. We look forward to many more vacations with Great American Adventures. The scenery, “old west” clothing, fun people and of course their hard work behind the scenes make our vacation money well spent! See you both in April for our next ride… this time in Santa Fe for “Ride the Reel West.”
Matt May, aka “Junior Sessums,” Katy, TX
The Vendetta Ride was by far the best and most memorable experience my wife and I have had to date! This was our 2nd Vendetta Ride with Steve and Marcie. I never could imagine the 2nd trip surpassing the 1st, but it did. Seeing the actual areas and terrain really gives one an appreciation for the history of the west. The distances these Vendetta riders covered were vast and beautiful. The ride becomes a very personal experience because it’s shared with other riders with the same appreciation for the west. I love riding a fine horse into new country, and we experienced it every day of the ride. Life experiences are what we carry with us… forever. This ride, and the others that are offered by Great American Adventures help complete some of the most memorable. Thanks Steve and Marcie! We will be back.
Brett & Jennifer Sims, aka “Gus McCandles & Lorie Darlin'”, Benton, KY
The amount of history you learn on this ride is worth the price of the trip. The beautiful scenery is a bonus!
Jake Diemer, aka “Buffalo Jake,” Springfield, MO
2014 Vendetts Riders’ Testimonials
I attended the Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride with little previous riding experience. Specifically, I had sat on a horse and was told how to make turns and halt the animal – nothing more. I couldn’t even get in and out of the saddle by myself. With that, my family encouragement, and some self confidence, I enrolled for this Ride.
Steve, Marcie and the wranglers evaluated my application and partnered me with Twister, a mild, obedient, and savvy horse that understood what I was and how to get me through the week. Additionally, I had my son on the Ride and other fellow Riders who were constantly helping, adjusting, and otherwise watching out for me.
The experience was notable. I certainly enjoyed the Ride as well as making new friends and appreciating respect for Twister. I listened to what was told me and tried to follow through. The cadre was professional while personally helpful and the Riders are patient and empathetic.
Others in the Posse were accomplished riders intent at helping me have a good experience. There is a place for you if you are a beginner-class rider.
Jack Vozzo, “Afghan Jack,” Starkville, MS
Most importantly, the ride was awesome. It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity – that I hope to do again one day.
Pete Vozzo, Madison, MS
Ever since I started reading cowboy stories, watching films like Rin Tin Tin and Roy Rogers and series like Rawride, Bonanza, Gunsmoke and Have Gun Will Travel, I dreamt of riding a trail through the desert and prairies, a full canteen on the saddle horn, a Stetson and bandanna protecting me from the sun and dust. Steve and Marcie made that dream come true by their unique concept of the ride itself, emphasizing Old West history and period clothing which really adds extra reality to the adventure – this combination is nowhere else to be found. Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride honestly has been one of the most rewarding weeks of my life. Each of the five days consisted of highlights, but to mention a couple it would be our adventurous ride through the mountains, fighting rocks, arroyos, cactus and mesquite; or riding with our posse down Allen Street. When you walk back to your hotel at night, alone, hearing your boots on the boardwalk, you realize you just walked past the corner of Fifth and Allen Street, where Virgil Earp was shot on such a night. This is as close to history as you can get! After a week, folks in Tombstone greet you because they recognize the feared Vendetta Rider badge! And then there are my fellow Vendetta Riders: I have never seen a group of (for the most part) total strangers from four different nations really bond in just one week. As I left Tombstone, I felt I left friends, a new family. Steve and Marcie, you made that happen and I thank you, the wranglers, and all my fellow riders for allowing me to live my dream. The week was honestly one of the most rewarding weeks in my life. I have a hunch this has not been my last Great American Adventure!
Hans “Dutch” Brouwers, Zevenaar, The Netherlands
This year was my my third Vendetta Ride. It only gets better each year. The riders were great and the camaraderie fantastic. I will plan on participating on 2015’s ride. The day in Tucson and the ride through Old Tucson Studios was a great new adventure for this year. The meals are always a treat and the last night speciality diner was a real highlight. Our wranglers are the very best. Steve and Marcie make each ride a little different than the previous year for us repeat riders. And they go way beyond with nice extras and surprises. Thanks to all the riders this year for making this a wonderful experience.
Al Hader, “Desert Gator,” Scottsdale, AZ
I got so many great experiences and I have so many good memories! It was a great week with you and the entire group, an unforgettable adventure and the best people. I really enjoyed this time! Looking forward to seeing you again!
Mit freundlichen Gruben
Peter Schrader, “Peter Gun,” Berlin, Germany
A sincere note to tell you how much I enjoyed the ride. You and Marcie worked long hours and with originality to provide us with such a memorable experience. The entire week was fun and, certainly for me, quite a learning trip.
Jack Vozzo, “Afghan Jack,” Starkville, MS
I have traveled throughout the United States for history and historic places, but Great American Adventures’ Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride is one of the best adventures I have done… and I would do it again.
Gerald Scheberies, “Dusty,” Oakland, CA
2013 Vendetta Riders’ Testimonials
During the ride I sent a lot of text/FB messages to my family back home about how my adventure was going. One I described our Wednesday Dragoon Mountain experience. This is not someone else’s quote, just my personal description from the heart. Feel free to use it: “I started on this adventure green, will finish with GRIT.”
I can never thank you and Marcie enough for all you have gone through to make this ride and dream of a lifetime come true. In just 5 days, I have come away with a most magnificent appreciation of fellowship, camaraderie, team spirit and horsemanship. I have met some wonderful new friends in our posse. Even in Tombstone the day after the ride, I ran across fellow Vendetta Riders, talked some, laughed some, shared thoughts, and in shaking hands, could feel strong and sincere warmness between us. That is something you feel only when the experience was deeply rewarding, and it was every bit of that. This isn’t the end, but only a beginning of rides yet to come.
This was an experience beyond my wildest imagination. Both of you deserve a special recognition for the effort you put in on the Vendetta Ride. There is a lot of planning, coordination & thoughtfulness that made this adventure a success. In 5 short days, some of greenhorns became cowboys & friends forever. It just doesn’t get any better than that. And this couldn’t have happened without the effort & dedication you both put in. God willing, I will be on the trail again in 2014.
It’s hard to say how much I appreciated this adventure, but I think a quote from Turkey Creek Jack Johnson, from the film Tombstone, sums it up: “I ain’t got the words.”
Don Raymer, “Stuck N. Thepast,” Caneyville, KY
Congratulations and thanks to Steve and Marcie Shaw for an outstanding Fifth Anniversary Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride. This was my fourth Vendetta Ride, and each year simply gets better.
In my previous testimonies, I have commented about the beautiful country, the camaraderie of the group, the amazing historians that we meet, the gifts and extras and surprises that are provided by Steve and Marcie, and, of course, the excellent wranglers. All of these things remain constant, and are a great pleasure to experience. In addition, Steve and Marcie add new things each year. I am completely sold on this company. I have been and will continue to be a repeat customer.
There is nothing like a Great American Adventures Ride! I highly recommend it.
David B. Curtis, “Doc Curtis,” Newburgh, IN
I don’t know how Steve and Marcie do it, but they out do themselves each year and this year was no exception. Wonderful ride and a nice group this year. Again, thanks for everything. The ride this year and all the events in the evening were just fantastic.
Bobby Crabb, “Doc Crabb,” Sequin, TX
I am already putting my pennies together… I’m in for next year!! It is hard to put into words what this did for me! Life does move forward even when it is hard. Meeting such wonderful people and being so accepted was just what I needed. You and Marcie are what it is all about! Thank you.
Tracy Greis, “Copper Rose,” Phoenix, AZ
I had a great time, and you two were the Fantastic Duo as always. This ride had so many great memories that it’s hard to pin down just one or two that were “the” highlights, though the ride into the Dragoon Mountains is definitely one of them. So, I composed the following:
For many, the word “adventure” brings forth images of scaling tall mountains, or swimming with sharks, or visiting exotic countries. However, Great American Adventures provides yet another type of adventure, one where you get the chance to explore the Old West, riding on horseback where outlaws and lawmen, cowboys and soldiers, homesteaders and ranchers, roamed and lived in one of the most exciting periods of American history. No one else offers anything like Steve Shaw’s Historic Old West Horseback Rides. I’ve had the pleasure of joining Steve and Marcie on several rides and each has been interesting, entertaining and a whole lot of fun, as well as extremely well organized and conducted. The 5th Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride was without a doubt the best to date. Over 6 days we explored much of the territory around Tombstone on horseback, visited two western movie studios, toured Tombstone (including riding down the main street through town), were entertained by Wyatt, Doc Holliday and Johnny Ringo, and ate some fabulous meals. Horses and tack, along with helpful and friendly wranglers, are all included in the package, with riders being matched to horses according to their abilities. Everyone is encouraged to wear period attire and this adds significantly to the overall spirit of the adventure. My sincere thanks to Steve and Marcie for yet another fantastic ride into the Old West.
Bill Johnson, “US Scout” , Fairfax, VA
Thanks for an AWESOME ride. Unforgettable comes to mind right now.
Steve “Diamond Rustler” Gallant, Orleans, MA
I just returned home from the most awesome, fantastic, out of sight, wonderful week I have ever spent. Everything was first class and professional, and full of history. Steve, you and Marcie put on the best week of adventure combined with history available in this country today. I will never forget the good time you gave me. By the way, the word is out. You are going to be very busy next year. Best Adventure out there.
Charles “Buddy” Spear, Gulf Breeze, FL
Steve will take you places no white man, er… cowboy has gone before. Thank you and Marcie again for such a great, fun ride!!
Jake Diemer, “Buffalo Jake,” Springfield, MO
Colleen and I thank you and Marcie for another great ride. Vendetta Ride 2013 was truly a milestone event and having been fortunate to have been on all 5 Vendettas this was the best yet. It’s difficult to put into words the fun times had by the brotherhood of the Vendetta Riders and the comradeship that has developed. It’s always great to see our old friends and welcome the new ones as the ride begins.
As usual, the horses and our wranglers were superb and did their part to make the ride great. But most of all, you, Steve, made it spectacular. The time and effort you and Marcie put in is legendary and the results show it. I can’t wait for the next ride!
Rob Rich, Star Valley, WY
Great riding, great new friends, great food – always, great times, all for a reasonable price. With Great American Adventures you get the personal touch that only Steve and Marcie Shaw can bring to an Old West Adventure. I feel I can say this with much confidence since I have been on ten rides as well as Steve’s Canadian Rockies Train Trip over the years.
John Rankin, “Ben Craig,” Eaton Rapids, MI
I think my passion for the Old West and all things Cowboy is nearly as deep as yours, Steve. Sharing such a passion is special. On top of everything else you guys are really fun to be around. I don’t do enough fun things, which makes your rides and our association even more meaningful. You two give so much to your riders. All the special things you set up, all the special gifts you both continually share is so genuine and different. The rides are much more than a business and both of your warmth, great good humor and zeal makes it all the more special.
Don May, “Chocktaw Sessums,” Katy, TX
On this day, October 17, 2013, the Vendetta Riders, wranglers, and Apache scouts set out to find the Chiricahua stronghold, or as the scouts called it, the ancient spiritual ground of their forefathers, Council Rocks.
The Vendetta Riders followed along along the west side of the Dragoon Mountains in the deep gamma grass. There was no trail. We all followed the Apache scouts. Our route and destination had not been seen for over 132 years, although eighteen years ago a small group of Native Americans went there, or so we were told by the scouts. Our route was truly spiritual.
As we rode, the massive monolithic granite boulders made us look like a grain of sand. our elevation changed by about a thousand feet as we went deep into the canyons and ravines looking for the Chiricahua stronghold. There was nothing easy about this ride. We were in the saddle for six and a half hours with low hanging mesquite, granite boulders as big as a house so close together that we had about eighteen inches for the horse to go between them. There were deep ravines below where cold water rushed down the spring.
We were about four hours into the ride when our Apache scouts gave up the ghost and decided we couldn’t proceed further. The terrain had changed dramatically in eighteen years and the massive granite boulders blocked our way. We waited as our wranglers made a valiant attempt to find a way around the obstructions … but to no avail. Word passed down the line of riders quickly that we had to turn around and head back to base camp. There we sat on our horses, on a narrow passage, on a mountain slope… and we had to turn our horses around. Below was a huge granite slide with pinion trees partly blocking the slide. At that moment I had an epiphany, “trust my horse and my belief in God.” Without that trust I would not have made it back to base camp. All it would have taken for us to tumble off the precipice was for a mountain lion or a rattlesnake to make itself visible to the horses.
We did make it back. We didn’t reach our destination, the ancient spiritual grounds, but I want to thank Steve and Marcie for what turned out to be a wonderful ride, one that the Vendetta Riders will talk about for the rest of their lives. I have always believed that if you take no risk, you receive no reward. The view and feeling of closeness to the vast wonders of those Dragoon Mountains was the reward.
Steve’s trips are so inspiring that my universe is changing. My perspective on life in general is always affected by the experiences I have on Steve’s rides. I have met some of the most wonderful people on these trips. What you put in to a ride, you will certainly get back 1000% back.
Gary “Omaha” Cook, San Jose, CA
2012 Vendetta Riders’ Testimonials
The 2012 Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride is my third with Steve and Marcie Shaw and Great American Adventures. The event continues to amaze me. Like me, there are many return Riders who can’t seem to get enough horse back riding or enough history.
The first two years, there is the history, the beautiful country seen during the ride, the talent of the wranglers, and the close friendship of the group. The third year is all of that and more. It becomes like a family get together. the repeat riders look forward to catching up with each other as wel as to the adventure of a new ride. Thee are new friends to be made. By the third year, I also began to see not only what Steve and Marcie mean to our group, but what they mean to Tombstone. The merchants, the restaurant owners, the hotel/motel owners and managers, the business people of Tombstone greatly appreciate what Steve and Marcie do. They not only keep the history of Tombstone alive, they also promote business for the community. Steve and Marcie’s attention to organization and to detail provides each member of the group an opportunity to have a great experience.
Steve, you have a book out, several magazine/print articles, you do movies, television and you are the host of the best historically based trips available. I believe that hard work is rewarded. Keep up the good work. Also, thank you for all that you do for the riders. The things that you do for us do not go unnoticed and are greatly appreciated.
Steve and Marcie Shaw provide an outstanding Great American Adventure in the Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride. For me, it is a great value because of the friends that i have made, the history that i have learned, the beautiful country seen during the ride, and the chance to leep the Code of the West as well as the pursuit of happiness alive. For anyone who is interested in history and horses, I highly recommend Great American Adventures’ Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride.
David Curtis, M. D., aka Doc Curtis, Newburgh, Indiana
Steve & Marcie Shaw go to great lengths to re-create the atmosphere of the 1880’s and you live the life of a marshal in Tombstone, AZ Territory.
I’ve just completed by second posse ride and it was just as exciting as the first. The friendships made will last for a long time. The Shaw’s present an honest and exciting week.
If you love the history of the West or the western genre, this ride is for you. And, there are packages for non-riders as well. Come join the posse, follow the historic trails and landmarks and ride into history.
Thank you for all you do to make our western adventures a memorable event and all of the “extras” you throw in.
Todd D Copper, aka Marshal Todd, Cottage Grove, OR
We made a lot of good friends on your ride. I talk almost daily to several of them. I’ve had the pictures of us running down Mescal Studios blown up to 11×14 and have them framed. This was a trip of a life time for Nancy and me. Steve and Marcie, you did an excellent job on everything. Thanks again for the memories.
Max & Nancy Neese, aka Mad Dog and Painted Lady, Wetumka, OK
Steve, it’s your attention to detail that makes your adventures so memorable. The scheduling on the Vendetta ride was tight and engaging, the horses in good health and well trained, and the wranglers extremely competent and professional. It was the outstanding quality of this experience that motivated me to join your horseback ride in Sicily in 2013.
Lawren Louli, aka Bayou Belle, St. Petersburg, FL
Thank you for your wonderful “Vendetta Ride.” We were surprised every day by the quality of service you have given us and delighted by the reception of all participants.
Corinne Marchand & Didier Galichet, aka Magui Bowl & Bill Sacramento, Seine, France
I’d like to express my gratitude to you and Marcie for putting together another unbelievable ride. Although this is my third time to go on the Vendetta ride, much of it was still new and exciting. I especially appreciate having private access to many of the places we went with some of them being places that very few people other than your Vendetta riders have seen in over 130 years. I was especially gratified that we were finally able to convince Don Taylor (Tombstone Official Historian) that we had in fact found the exact location where Wyatt shot and killed Curly Bill. Don satisfied himself by doing research and verified using archival maps that we were at the right place. I think he was the last of the doubters that your riders had found a place that was lost to history.
Over the past three years on your ride I have met people that I now consider life long friends and I am so looking forward to doing the ride again next year and seeing what new experiences you and Marcie come up with. I am sure the 5th anniversary of the ride will be special and I am already looking at the calendar and counting the days until we can get together again.
David Taylor, aka Creek, Bullard, TX
I admire your skills and have to say “hats off to ya” for allowing me to escape once a year from a high pressure job to my favorite place, play cowboy and virtually go back in time for about 150 years. After two years in a row — and I’m coming back again in 2013 — it has nearly become something like a spiritual mecca for me and I can’t wait till next year. Your group has become like family… thanks for that.
Bob Crabb, aka Doc Crabb, Seguin, Texas
Like a good book, or a favorite movie, Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride is something that must be experienced more than once. 2013 will be our fourth year. The ride is never the same and seems to get better with each passing year. The ride is no dull, boring vacation, but rather a true life altering adventure. During the ride we have made many true and lasting friendships. It’s the best. I can’t say enough about it.
Ron & Michelle Koster, aka Lopin’ Jake & Major Purchase, Gwinn, MI
Here’s my Top 10 of the 2012 Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride
- Belle, my horse, navigated the arroyos, loose cobbles, cactus and mesquite. She was a wonderful animal and I really appreciate that I had her two consecutive years.
- Having several women who rode perhaps better than the men.
- On the trail to Contention and talking about pecans with Mad Max and listening to his spurs going jingle-jingle that was a cacophony of sound not heard in the urban areas.
- Going to where outlaw Curly Bill Brocius was shot and killed by Wyatt Earp and seeing the line shack with an oak tree growing from the center that I missed last year.
- Sitting in the dry creek by the Whetstone Mountains imagining that 131 years ago Curly Bill was shot here on this spot.
- Looking at the cows on the range on the way to Council Rocks and wondering how they fetch them.
- Lunches – next year I’m just taking water and fruit. I don’t need a sandwich and chips.
- The prehistoric petroglyphs at Council Rocks tell us about the ancient people.
- Steve & Marcie were wonderful hosts. Come and manage yourself and feel the wind, listen to the spurs, boots on the boardwalk, talk to people from across our nation, have a shot of Old Overholt, and be at peace with whatever you are thinking.
- As far as the ride, you’ll never have a better time.
Gary Cook, aka Omaha, San Jose, CA
2011 Vendetta Riders’ Testimonials
Anybody who signs up for this ride should understand that it is physically demanding. Thirty-two of us started; 20 finished and — full disclosure — I was not among them. I bailed on the last day because of saddle sores and sheer fatigue, but I don’t regret a minute of the week. It was an unforgettable and rewarding experience that I am proud to have participated in, if only 4/5ths of the way! This is the coolest thing I’ve done since a summer of salvage archeology in the Australian Outback, 30 years ago.
The Vendetta Ride was a perfect balance of fantasy-fulfillment and realism. Many of the participants were Baby Boomers who grew up with TV westerns; for us, having an excuse to wear boots and hats we yearned for as children was big fun. As we rode through the streets of Tombstone, we looked so authentic, tourists photographed us, and that was a thrill. The camaraderie, the communal meals, the chance to feel a part of the town, having dinner with Doc — all those imaginative elements of the experience were grand. But there was no fantasy when it came to back-country riding over mountains, down gullies, through thorny mesquite forests. The rubbly, stony, challenging terrain was as real as real gets. Every bit of cowboy equipment suddenly made sense. The broad-brimmed hats, the leather chaps, the gloves, the canteens, the boots, the bandannas to fight dust that rises like a fog around the horses — that stuff doesn’t just look good in movies. It’s all functional.
For me, this ride was primarily research for The Cure For Anger, the follow-on book to my novel Doc. It was staggeringly productive, as such. When you walk down the broad Tombstone streets toward the gunfight site, you can still see what the Earps and Holliday saw: the buildings, the mountains in the distance. You become acutely aware of each of several corners, around which angry men with guns might be concealed. That much I might have imagined without leaving my desk, though I have a far clearer sense of the town and the events now.
What the Vendetta Ride Adventure gave me was an irreplaceable 3-D topographical understanding of the terrain, the landscape, the distances, and the geographic relationship of Tombstone to towns like Charleston, Bisbee, Contention, St. David, and Benson. Some of those places don’t really exist anymore. You can ride to where they were and find adobe ruins or stone foundations, but that’s all. There’s nothing to see, and yet – it was important to me to feel how long it takes to get someplace on horseback. Prior to the ride, I’d already done a year’s research on the events of 1880-1882, but a week in Tombstone and the surrounding mountains made words on pages into miles on horseback. The events have a physical reality for me that will make The Cure For Anger a much stronger novel.
As an author, and as an aging woman who never got the cowgirl boots she wanted for her birthday in 1959, I’m deeply grateful to Steve and Marcie Shaw for making this extraordinary adventure possible. To those who are thinking of indulging themselves by signing up for one of the Shaw’s rides: don’t hesitate. Just say YES. It will be wonderful.
Mary Doria Russell, “Digger,” author of Doc
Every guy, since they were little kids, loved to dress up and play “Cowboys.” We all had our heroes; Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Lash LaRue, Hopalong Cassidy, etc. and then as we got older, heroes like Wyatt, Virgil & Morgan Earp came along with Doc Holliday and the “bad guys” like Curly Bill, Johnny Ringo & Ike Clanton. The gunfight at the OK Corral became an icon in western history and many movies about it were made. Then in 1993, the movie Tombstone was produced and all of a sudden there was a following like the Star Trek junkies. Then add to that, Steve Shaw’s “Vendetta Ride” and it all comes together. Thirty-two people, all “Tombstone Junkies,” all have their own DVD of the movie, all have watched it at least 20 to 30 times and know the key lines from the movie by heart came together to ride in Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride and it was the most awesome and fun-filled experience that I have ever had.
The 5 days we spent in the saddle was a first class operation as well, and having made my living permitting and dealing with state and federal agencies for the past 32 years, I am aware of the hard work and planning it took to organize such as event. Hats off to Steve and Marcie for an excellent job of “herding us cats” around all week long. Very professional and highly polished. And the outfitters; Troy, Riley & Keeton made us feel right at home and he had a string of horses that fit everyone’s needs from beginners to experienced riders.
And what a wonderful group of people in the posse. I came away making a bunch of new friends with a common interest. The ride to and from the staging site each day was just as entertaining and joyful as the horseback ride. We talked the movie, our western heroes, guns, music and our families. A great time was had by bonding and fellowship.
So, did I have a good time and will I return to ride with Wyatt on the Vendetta Ride again? You betch ya! “I done made my B&B reservation before I left Tombstone” and my down payment will be headed to Steve here soon. How do I explain just how much fun I had? I can only quote Turkey Creek Jack Johnson: “I ain’t got the words.”
Bob Crabb, “Doc,” Seguin, TX
It has been a couple of weeks since I returned from my second Vendetta Ride and I still find myself drifting back to the time we spent on the trails. Even though this was my second Vendetta Ride in as many years, I am still amazed how Steve Shaw was able to make it different enough to keep it exciting and new. Even though we went to some of the same places we went last year, it was anything but a repeat.
The best thing about this years ride was the trip to the recently discovered Drew’s Station. The events that happened here played such an important part in the events that led up to the Shootout and Vendetta Ride and the fact that we were some of the first to visit this place in over a hundred years was very exciting.
Once again, our historians and everyone involved did a superb job to separate fact from fiction and to give us the true story of what really happened. It is so much more than a bunch of guys shooting at each other in a vacant lot but until you are actually there, its tough to understand. The private tour of the Courthouse was very informative and it was nice to be able to take the time to examine the exhibits and to hear of the history of this majestic building from the Director who was our own private tour guide.
The wranglers were fantastic once again. They ensured that the horses matched everyone’s riding abilities. Thanks again for another super vacation and I can’t wait until we all get to do it again next year.
David Taylor, “Creek,” Bullard, TX
This was my second Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride. I didn’t think that the first one could be topped, but I enjoyed it so much that I returned. The second ride was every bit as good as the first, if not better. Steve Shaw’s attention to organization and to detail continues to amaze me. Again, the ride is designed so that everyone can have the experience that they want from it. The items Steve & Marcie gave to each of us were unexpected and treasured.
The history and the scenery are both drawing points, but to be able to combine them and see the historical sites from a horse (horseback) is just amazing. Our historians were excellent. Speaking of excellent, our wranglers provided outstanding care for the riders as well as for the horses.
I can’t thank you enough, Steve, for your dedication to bringing history alive. It is a unique way to learn and to have a lot of fun!!
David Curtis, “Doc Curtis,” Newburgh, IN
Long time ago… a fella named Buffalo Bill successfully promoted great interest in the Old West… with great flare… showmanship… and panache. You may not know it… but there exists this very day… another flamboyant fella… doin’ the same thang… verbally… successfully… and demonstrably. It’s hard to believe… but I can tell ya… this fella is for real. I met the guy… he is a genuine, modern-day “Buffalo Bill.”
The fella’s name is Steve Shaw… a first-class historian.
If you ever want to go on a trip… take a look at this. Heck, I was ridin’ a pale horse down the streets of Tombstone, ridin’ past the OK Corral, ridin’ into Mescal Studios, where they filmed the movie Tombstone and The Quick and the Dead, ridin’, solemn-like, to the Cochise mountain-fortress… just an absolutely magnificent endeavor (this alone was worth the price of the trip), and, of course, all of us at Johnny Ringo’s grave-site.
Our wrangler… a first-class, no-holes-barred, hard-ankle… who, as bad as I hate to say it… purty-much protected the experienced… and novice horse-riders, alike. He minimized trail mishaps. I do admire this fella so.
And finally… our gracious hosts… Steve and Marcie Shaw… just really fine folks. Great show-people. They gotta a bunch of historical rides to participate in.
This ain’t my last ride with Steve… gonna ride the Butch Cassidy Ride next year… if the Almighty’s willin’…
Thanks! Glad I finally rode it… before my ultimate demise.
Allan Regeon, “Tennessee Stud,” “Wildman,” Columbia, TN
“Cowboy Up!” After participating in Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride, I now understand it is more than a catch phrase. Being a cowboy is not so much a matter of ability and skill as attitude and commitment. That ride is like cowboy basic training. I may not be a “real” cowboy, but I know I can “cowboy up.”
Thanks for another great ride. We’re making plans for next year (our third) already. It gets better and better each time. I can’t wait to see what happens during 2012’s ride. I really appreciate all the hard work Steve and Marcie put into these rides. Please know that you have done an outstanding job in keeping the Old West alive and making dreams come true for so many of us wannbe cowboys.
Ronald Koster, “Lopin’ Jake,” Gwinn, MI
Wow! What an awesome experience. I can’t begin to describe how much Matt and I enjoyed the Vendetta Ride. Anyone who participated has to have gained at least two to three points in their riding ability scale. Also, it was such a pleasure to meet and get to know Steve and Marcie – you are both such nice and warm people. I feel like we have two more good friends. You make this all the more fun.
The whole experience was most enjoyable and Steve and Marcie did a great job of organizing and executing – a ton of hard work. Dealing with landowners, governmental agencies (local, state and federal), etc., (in the pipeline business, I really do appreciate the work that goes into pulling this off). Further, dealing with more than 30 individuals each day and keeping everyone happy is a monumental task alone. And YOU both did it so well. You both deserve a huge pat on the back for everything – the riding, the history, the meals, the good humor and fun.
I love everything about the Old West – the history, the people, the firearms, and the horses. Matt was totally enthralled and he has jumped in with both feet (which really pleases me). This event has a way of opening one’s eyes to the interesting past we all share and the events that happened. Your dedication to the historical aspects is great – what a great series of history lessons! Matt has read more books since the Vendetta Ride than he has in years. He and I talk about the experience almost daily.
And the folks in the “posse” – what great people (Western folks, horse people, and “CAS Shooters”) as a general lot are FUN folks. I think you had a real fine group and Matt and I will never forget this wonderful experience. It is truly something he and I will cherish for a lifetime.
I sure hope Great American Adventures continues to do well because it’s something very, very special and unique. The wonderful people we met were so much fun and really good folks and the ride itself unforgettable. I applaud your ingenuity and taking the idea and making it work (well!). Steve and Marcie are the perfect people to pull it off.
Frankly, I don’t know how you are able to offer these rides and the things you provide for the price – I think it’s a bargain!
Thank you both again so very much. I hope you can continue these adventures because they are extraordinary.
We look forward to seeing you again, friends. We will definitely do this again sometime.
Don May, aka “Chocktaw Sessums,” Katy, TX
I wanted to personally tell you how much I enjoyed Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride last month. My family is very close but it is rare that my Dad and I get to spend one-on-one time with one another. Ever since we saw “City Slickers” we have been wanting to do something in the neighborhood of a horse ride vacation.
For many years, we have talked about just scheduling something and going and I know our trip last month was exactly what we needed. My Dad, Don May, loves the Old West and I guess some of it has rubbed off on me over the years, especially the fascination with Tombstone.
To say the least, we had an awesome time. From the people we met to the extent Steve and Marcie planned the week, I was nothing short of impressed the entire time! There is something magical about getting to walk down Allen Street dressed like Wyatt and going heeled! I felt a little like a celebrity the entire time.
Most of all, I will always have the memories of spending that time with my Dad. As a father of 2 with 2 extra in our house, I have realized time is one thing we never get back. The memories of our trip will forever have a place in my mind and heart and I wanted to personally thank you for your hard work.
Matt May, “Junior Sessums,” Katy, TX
Great ride, Steve! One of the greatest experiences of my life! Can’t wait to head out on another adventure with you and Marcie. Tracey and I could not stop talking about it the whole way home. Met a lot of great people and made some new friends. We know we want to do another ride. We don’t know which one though. Probably Hole in the Wall. But I would do the Vendetta Ride again in a heartbeat.
Tom Grant, Gettysburg, PA
Where to go on vacation? Join girlfriends for a spa weekend? Maybe enjoy the lights of Las Vegas? No! I was looking for a truly unique experience and found it on the Vendetta Ride. Thank you Steve and Marcie for the amazing amount of work (and trailblazing) you do to give so many people the opportunity to go where few have gone before. I would recommend your ride to anyone looking for good clean fun on a trail ride with purpose.
By the way, I ordered your book last week, Steve (Beyond the Rio Grande) and look forward to reading it. The great memories of the ride and the warm Tucson sun (along with my new director’s cut of the movie Tombstone) will keep me going through the cold Pacific Northwest winter.
Ann Hopkins-Austin, Port Angeles, WA
Great American Adventures created a great real life event. There is no other place that people from all walks of life, who believe in keeping the Western genre alive, can meet, ride and share history. Kudos to Steve and Marcie Shaw for having the insight to capture the Old West as it should be.
Todd Cooper, “Marshal Todd,” Cottage Grove, Oregon Territory
What an experience of a lifetime! The ride was very well organized and an exciting adventure for us both. It certainly will be a highpoint in our lives. Steve and Marcie, thanks for all the preparation – not an easy job. My horse Barkley was a perfect match for my experience level – I couldn’t ask for better. The wranglers, Troy, Riley, Keaton, and Marly (the pup) were most helpful and pleasant with the chore of dealing with 32 plus riders with various experience levels. We received a great education on the Old West from historian Don Taylor. The evenings were all wonderful and the special dinner at Apache Spirit Ranch was the best! We really enjoyed the camaraderie of the posse. It was great to stay over for Helldorado Days and participate in the parade.
We hope to be on next years ride and maybe some of the other great rides you offer. Thanks for the experience and friendship.
Al Hader & Cheryl Binkley, “Desert Gator” & Windtalker,” Scottsdale, AZ
I just returned from Mesa, Arizona, where the baseball team I was on won the Men’s Senior Baseball League 60 year old World Championship. While I am very proud of this achievement, I have to tell you the Vendetta Ride with 32 riders was even more unbelievable! For me, I enjoyed the experience of riding, more than the final destination, especially those places where our western history was made: oak trees with shade, tall prairie grass, rivers dry from the season, wild horses, more trail dust than my silk wild rag could hold back, mesquite bushes every where, prickly pear, barrel and cholla cactus.
Where we rode, the sun whistled down on all of us. I was always on the outlook for Mohave rattlesnakes, my voice shriveled up from the sun, and my lips were chapped where I could not whistle. I knew around every corner there would be a new magic, something I’d never seen. When people say, “This is Gods Country,” you better believe this is Gods Country. It was unbelievable.
My horse, Belle, handled that ground without any problems. She was a wonderful horse, and you know she knew I had just started riding once a week in middle of June. The 58 plus miles we rode were the most spectacular miles I have ever seen. I was amazed to see cottonwood trees with a circumference of 14 feet, the San Pedro River dry, knowing water rushes down when it’s the appropriate time of year, and the leaves like snow dropping from the heavens. You are on a horse and you’re riding to a stagecoach trail and foundation that has not been seen in 130 years. God Bless America! I will never forget the arroyos, gulches, loose cobbles, mesquite, cactus, and anything else that will bite you or sting you. Those will always be the undeniable features of how this county was founded and I thank God for my birthright. The Vendetta Ride was Hard … but it’s the Hard that made it Great! Thank you for an inspiring time on a horse!
Gary “Omaha” Cook, San Jose, CA
2010 Vendetta Riders’ Testimonials
First off, we’d like to thank Steve and Marcie for doing such a great job of getting the Wyatt Earp Vendetta Ride organized. To begin with, the “Meet & Greet” at the Crystal Palace Saloon proved to us that this was going to be a fantastic experience. Meeting all the participants started our ride off on a good note. We made many lasting friendships and met lots of interesting people.
As for the actual ride, the stories and historical information made the surroundings come alive. It helped knowing the history of the land and the people who rode through it. The one trip that was most enjoyable was the Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains. I was really amazed at the feeling I got while visiting there. To be able to stand where Cochise had stood was overwhelming. Also, riding down the streets of Tombstone was a dream of a lifetime for this cowboy.
Another highlight was the trip to Johnny Ringo’s gravesite. The ceremony that we participated in there was also quite enjoyable. We’re sure that Johnny was looking over our shoulders.
Marshall Trimble, Arizona’s official historian, was an excellent source of information. Also, Nancy Sosa was outstanding in her presentation of historical facts.
We’d also like to point out that the hospitality of the Livery Stable staff was superb … and the food was out of this world!
Our wranglers were the best. They were always right there when you needed help or assistance.
A million thanks to everyone involved with this experience. Would I recommend it to others?? You bet!! In fact, we can’t wait to go again — SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!!!
Marv “Arizona Kid” & Barbara “Belle Starr” Patterson, Clinton, UT
Just returned home from the 2010 Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride and wanted to drop a note and again express my heartfelt thanks to you, Steve, and Marcie for putting on such a wonderful ride. This was without a doubt the best vacation ever.
You obviously put a lot of work into organizing this and left no stone unturned to ensure that we had a good time. Everyone from the folks at the Livery that took care of the cooking, to the wranglers working with the horses – they were just super and really went the extra mile to ensure we had a good time.
Then there is the ride itself. WOW, to actually get to be at the exact places where so much western history happened was incredible. The opportunity to hear people like Marshall Trimble (Arizona’s Official Historian) and Don Taylor (Tombstone’s Official Historian) talk about the events that happened in Tombstone and then to mount up and ride the same trails as Wyatt, Virg, Morg, Doc, Curly Bill, Ringo, Ike and others was simply the thrill of a lifetime for any true Old West history fan. However, as great as that was, the biggest thrill for me was the ride down Allen Street. Countless times as a child I rode my “mop horse” through a pretend Tombstone and you gave me the opportunity to do it for real … twice. It as just an incredible experience.
I have told all my friends and just about anybody that would listen that if they are looking for a great experience and a truly unique vacation, they need to get on one of your rides. You don’t have to be an expert horseman, in fact, we had several people that had never been on a horse in their life and they did great.
Thanks again and I can’t wait to do it again next year.
Dave “Creek” Taylor, Bullard, Texas
I’d like to thank Steve and Marcie for founding Great American Adventures and Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride.
The 2010 Vendetta Ride was much more that I ever imagined or expected. My father was a history teacher, and when we vacationed while I was growing up, we always traveled, did something fun, and we always visited historic sites where we could learn something, too. I have always been interested in the Old West. Since the movies Tombstone and Wyatt Earp, I have been fascinated by Wyatt and the events of his life. However, I had never been to Tombstone, Arizona. When I found the Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride, I knew that I had to attend.
From our group’s first gathering at the Crystal Palace Saloon to the walk to the Gunfight Site near the OK Corral, to our rides through Mescal Studios, to the site of Curly Bill’s demise, to Pete Spence’s wood cutting camp, to Johnny Ringo’s grave, and other historic sites, the company and camaraderie of our group was fantastic, and the scenery during our rides was spectacular.
History discussions with Marshall Trimble, Nancy Sosa, Don Taylor, and members of our own group were enlightening and brought new perspectives to things I had read, as well as added new knowledge. I thought that Nancy Sosa’s discussion of her work to find (and her finding of) Drew’s Station was fascinating. The books that were provided were great.
Our wranglers were superb. I enjoyed talking to each of them along the trail. Sugar, my good horse for the ride, was perfect for my riding ability (novice, beginner).
Excellent meals and entertainment was also provided.
Of course, the ride would not be possible without your vision. Your organization and itinerary allowed each of us to have the experience we wanted and needed from the ride.
New friends, fun, great scenery, and education all made an experience that I will treasure and always remember.
My dad would be proud of us. This is more than a vacation, though. The Wyatt Earp Vendetta Ride is a Great American Adventure.
David Curtis, M. D., Newburgh, Indiana
As Toby Keith has said many times, “I’ve should’ve been a cowboy.” This has been going through my mind ever since I returned from Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride. For several years my wife has been encouraging me to find a trail ride or cattle drive to get my “cowboy fix.” However, nothing I came across had the right combination of realism, history, and riding flexibility that Steve’s Vendetta Ride offers. As soon as I saw the full page ad and review in True West Magazine, I knew this was the event for me.
In reality, this ride is a hundred times better than its description. Steve and Marcie Shaw treat this as an event put together for a group of friends. No effort is spared to make sure that everyone (including non-riding spouses) shares in the adventure and that all expectations are exceeded. Steve starts you off with lots of pertinent information about the places you’ll go, what you’ll see and how the history all fits together. When you get your 1880 “duds” on and lope through the set of “Tombstone” or ride over the hill into Cottonwoods Springs, you really believe you’re right next to Wyatt and Doc and are ready to avenge Virgil and Morgan! Every day is an exciting new adventure.
If you want to make this an adventure for a couple, and only one of you rides, not to worry. A number of the locations which we visited were accessible by vehicle and the non-riding spouses were shepherded by Marcie to these spots. Other days included shopping in Tombstone which is a Mecca for Old West clothing and art.
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to have ridden with Wyatt and Doc, you will live out that dream on this ride.
Next year, it’s Billy the Kid’s Regulator Ride in New Mexico and a whole new adventure for us!!
Bill & Shari Hill, Prescott, AZ
I’ve been on both of the Vendetta Rides now. I was asked by my wife Colleen which of the two I enjoyed the most. After a moment’s thought all I could say was both of them. While in theory the same, they were both different and immensely enjoyable. On this ride I learned new facts about the history of the event and those involved, rode great horses into different and spectacular parts of southern Arizona and again thoroughly enjoyed riding with my fellow Vendetta Riders, especially Steve and Marcie Shaw, the organizers of this event. They both work hard to make their adventures a great experience and it shows. We’ll be back next year!
Rob & Colleen Rich, Phoenix, AZ
2009 Vendetta Riders’ Testimonials
Steve, a special thanks to you and Marcie and all the ladies for making my wife Loretta feel so welcome. I can’t thank you enough for including the non-riding spouses in many of the activities during this ride. She was infected with the enthusiasm and camaraderie instantly and it did not wane through the week. She had a wonderful time. Each night as I returned with my adventure stories of the day, I had to wait until she told me hers first. As with many of us that love our wives and vice versa, it is of utmost importance that our partners have a good time too. I, also, felt the genuineness and integrity of the people on the ride. I felt like a cowboy and knew in my heart we were all, in our own way, riding for the brand. As a result, Loretta and I are interested in joining you on the June 2010 Hole-in-the-Wall Ride again. If I can, I intend to have my son join us and a good friend of mine too. So figure between two and four from my camp.
If you have problems writing about “WHAT I DID ON MY VACATION” you’re taking the wrong trips. Great American Adventures makes every day – every hour – a memory worth sharing. It is always a treat to see friend’s faces light up when I describe the “Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride” or “Butch Cassidy’s Hole In The Wall Ride”. Even those that don’t know one end of a horse from the other get into the spirit. There is no more fascinating period in American history, maybe even world history, than the nearly unbelievable period surrounding the 1880’s in America – the old west. Even the town names are too bizarre to be true – but they are. Cripple Creek, Whiskey River and, of course, Tombstone. And who could have made up such names as Curly Bill Brocius, Texas Jack Vermillion, Turkey Creek Johnson, or Wyatt Earp. Yet they are all true, real monickers. Their unbelievable adventures rival and live up to their unique names. Great American Adventures literally puts you on the Outlaw Trail and on the streets of Tombstone where you might meet up with Wyatt or Doc Holiday – or even be one of them. If you’re looking for memories, not just a break from your regular world, give GAA a call. You won’t regret it.
Larry Palmer, Norco, CA
Since childhood I’ve been intrigued by the Earp’s …Virgil, Wyatt and Morgan, who took on the forces of corruption in Tombstone at great personal sacrifice. I’ve watched every movie and read every book about them, their lives, and their exploits. Once I became a lawman, my interest only increased. When I learned that you were organizing a trip where I could follow in their hoof prints, literally, on horseback, I knew it was the trip for me.
It wasn’t at all what I expected…it was BETTER! A great horse, experienced wranglers (whose companionship was an experience in itself), fantastic food, loads of historical information provided by western historian Bob Boze Bell, the opportunity to participate in an historical expedition that actually made a significant discovery about Earpian lore, the hard riding over open country to Cochise’s mountain lair, standing over Johnny Ringo’s grave, riding down the middle of Allen Street in Tombstone, impromptu cowboy entertainment around the campfire, I can go on and on. What more could a would-be Western lawman ask? Although it may sound cliché, this for me was the trip of a lifetime.
My heartfelt thanks to you, your lovely wife, our wranglers, and the staff of The Tombstone Livery Stable (our base camp). I’m perusing the web site of Great American Adventures trying to choose my next trip!
Lieutenant Harry Thomas, Cincinnati Police Department (ret.), Carmel, Indiana
I want to thank you, Steve, for allowing me to be apart of this past weeks adventure; we were surely the talk about Tombstone this weekend and True West magazine is all abuzz about our ride. You were a great host and it was obvious your intent was to provide a memorable trip for all who attended; I have memories that will last a lifetime. Please thank Marcie for her hard work; she certainly played a big part in making our trip a success. I hope to see you in June!!
Kevin Hogge, Chesapeake, VA
My Husband and I just returned from Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride in Tombstone, AZ. WOW!! What a trip. We absolutely loved it. We rode more than I have ridden in a long time. I brought my mule Henry and rode along with the other horses, which wasn’t a problem. Everyone got along beautifully. We rode everywhere. We went to Cochise’s Stronghold and found a cave with petro glyphs, went to Johnny Ringo’s grave site, and rode to the movie set where they filmed “Tombstone” … OMG that was so cool! Rode down the streets of Tombstone, with tourists taking tons of pictures since we were dressed period and were locked and loaded; also road to Fairbanks and Contention.
We also made history – if you saw the movie “Tombstone” there is a scene where Wyatt Earp and his posse come across Curly Bill and his Cow-boy gang. There is a shoot out and Curly Bill dies. Well, we found that exact spot according to Wyatt Earp’s memoirs. Bob Boze Bell was with us and he had just finished telling us the story during our lunch break and said the only thing they couldn’t find was the line shack to prove the spot we rode to was the spot Curly Bill was killed. Shortly after lunch one of the riders said they found a foundation. We all rode up to it. Wow! It was just like Wyatt Earp said. We found the line shack’s foundation to support the location of the gunfight. It was so exciting! Bob Boze Bells hands were trembling. Honestly the history and riding in the places that few have ridden were so amazing. We were so fortunate to have a historian with us on part of the trip. We didn’t know any of the folks but we sure got to know them. Most didn’t own horses and they surprised both Jim and me that they actually rode the entire time. I bet they were sore but they toughed it out. We were impressed. Jim rode a black steed from the movie “Far and Away” (I think Tom Cruise’s or Nicole Kidman’s horse). Bob Boze Bell interviewed Jim and I think he is going to be publishing an article about the Wyatt Earp Vendetta Ride in True West Magazine. He may also talk about it on the History Channel or Western Channel, but not sure of that.
If any of you ever get the chance to take this ride you should. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate this a 15. Steve Shaw did an excellent job “herding us cats” (private joke here). The food was great, horses were great, and we always felt safe. Our wrangler was wonderful and we even had some great entertainment. Thanks Steve for the awesome job you did in organizing this trip. Gosh we’re ready for the next Great American Adventure!
Patty & Jim Ruwoldt, Larkspur, CO
I really didn’t know what to expect when I signed on for Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride, as it was the first time I had participated in any such event. My wife Colleen is really the one who urged me to go for it and I’m sure glad she did. Words can’t adequately express what a great experience this was for the both of us.
Getting to know Steve, his wife Marcie, and all the other great people we had a chance to meet and become friends with; the way Steve flawlessly organized the ride, coupled with enjoying the great beauty of Southern Arizona on horseback and all the history I learned along the way, far exceeded any of my expectations. I always thought I had some cowboy in me; Steve, you and this ride brought it all the way out!
Thanks again for all your hard work. See you in Wyoming in June.
Rob Rich, Scottsdale AZ
Steve, first off let me say that what you were able to accomplish over the past year to make this adventure of a lifetime happen is completely amazing and your hard work was certainly prevalent! You left no stone unturned and there were astounding surprises every day and each day became more and more exciting. Our wranglers were simply an amazing way to show that you wanted each of us to not only be safe and in good hands but also to have a great time.
Words cannot even begin to memorialize what I experienced during my week on the trail. Simply put I felt as though I was at home and at peace out in the Southern Arizona desert on horseback. My heart and soul has always wanted to do exactly what we did. This trip for me was not just an adventure of a life time but more. It was a life changing experience and was extremely emotional for me. We lived the lives of those that came before us and experienced a dream come true. We experienced history first hand by one of the best historians of our generation – Bob Boze Bell. We made history in being the first group to visit the true site of the fight between Wyatt Earp and Curly Bill Brocious in Cottonwood Springs and further made a huge discovery of the line shack and out building just a few yards down the wash. Unbelievable!!!
We paid tribute to a man who still today is shrouded in mystery and toasted a drink of whiskey to his memory. I met many great people on this trip and indeed made fast friends that I hope to hold close forever. The experience that we shared together will always be a special one not just for what it was but for who I was able to do it with. We talked and shared stories. We shared our opinions of how we interpreted history in Tombstone. We had an enchanted moment during an evening of singing cowboy songs around a campfire as the sun faded into the night; priceless! We shared many special moments together with many special people and this was the glue that made this trip an everlasting memory.
I will see you soon Steve. You are truly a tremendous man and I am proud to know you and am grateful to have been a part of Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride!
Bill Curtis, Lakewood, CA
Steve, great job organizing the Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride! You even appeared to maintain your sanity! Marcie, with her assistance no doubt, spared you a lot of grief. The group was too easy on you Steve; we’ll have to work on that next year! I really enjoyed the trip. I’m hooked! Hopefully my wife and our son will join together for a ride next year.
Again, great job. Hope to see you and Marcie soon. Semper Fi,
Bill Fredericks, Mattapoisett, MA
Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride was the best vacation we have taken. The history, rugged country, Tombstone and dressing like a Cowboy were fantastic. Ronnie and I want to be included in the October 2010 Vendetta Ride.
The wranglers were great; Doug and Terri great hosts at the livery stable. We enjoyed meeting you and Marcie and all the participants.
When we rode into Tombstone the tourists loved to see everyone in their authentic clothes. I have never had my picture taken as often as we did when we were in Tombstone. A lot of people remember us riding in the parade. The most interest was the badges – we had several people asking where they could buy a badge like ours and I was proud to say they couldn’t. The badges were designed for the ride.
Ronnie and I were interviewed during Helldorado by the Tombstone Epitaph. Maybe we will make it in the newspaper. Thanks, we are looking forward to next year.
Ronnie and Rita Bryant, Ashland, AL
I want to thank you for the ride of my life! I have done cattle drives and pack trips in Montana, and even took a turn at open range riding in Utah, but this was the very best ever!!! It was very exciting and eerie to ride in the hoof prints of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday and the others. To see the grave of Johnny Ringo, and walk the streets where these legends walked was like going to the shrine of the West. To get to see the very place that Wyatt killed Curly Bill, and the others, and to see it with the voice of Bob Boze Bell narrating it in real time – that was indescribable!!!!
You have my utmost appreciation and regards for what you created. I am looking forward to my next adventure with you, hopefully in Montana in June of `11, for the 135th Anniversary to the other legend of the West, at the Little Bighorn, your “Custer’s Ride to Glory.”
Larry Auerbach, Point St. Lucie, FL
I just wanted to say I had a great time on the ride and know that I will never take another riding vacation that ever compares to this experience. Thanks for the adventure!
Mike Gilmore, Midland, TX
It looks like you did it again! I thought it would be hard to beat your Horsemanship Clinic, but you did! Having riders come together from all parts of the U.S. to experience the ride of their lifetime and seeing a part of history, coupled with learning about the area and era from Bob Boze Bell – simply unbelievable. Some of us have wanted to be a cowboy or cowgirl since we were kids … you allowed us to live our dreams! Riding into Tombstone that morning felt like we had gone back in time for just that moment. And, when we galloped through the studio set where the movie “Tombstone” was filmed was great!
Everybody was wonderful and we made some new friends. If the Hole in the Wall Ride is anything like the Vendetta Ride I cannot wait for June to come.
Thank you Steve for the chance to live a dream I thought could not happen but has. The best thing that comes out of these adventures, and this is my fourth with you, are the friends you make for life. Thanks again, and thanks for your friendship. Keep the Cowboy Way going and never let it die!
Joe Demarest, Sulphur, LA
Thanks to Steve and Marcie Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride was a true Great American Adventure in every aspect. Participants walked back to 1882 on Sunday night when attending the meet and greet at the Crystal Palace Saloon and reluctantly re-entered present day only a full week of horseback and good company later. Steve says he likes surprises and proves it throughout the week. History is all around you and there is no better way to hear about it than from Bob Boze Bell who joined us in Tombstone and later at Cottonwood Springs.
Many thanks also go out to the wranglers for all their help. They picked out beautiful and often challenging trails to ride but made sure everyone, no matter their riding ability, had a good ride. Oh, and another surprise for us one night as well―an enjoyable evening around the campfire.
To top things off the folks at the Livery Stable added just the right touch for meals and our final night as a group.
Well done start to finish. I see “Justice is Coming” to Tombstone again in 2010 – don’t miss it!
Rick Rea, St. Louis, MO
A trip back in time to the site of one of the most infamous towns in the Old West history of our country – in my opinion Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride was just that. While spending my childhood in a large city I always knew that someday I would visit the true west and learn all I could about Old West history, but never did I expect I’d get the chance to experience it like this. I have read many different versions of the Shoot Out at OK Corral – seen all the movies – visited there on several occasions – but all of this is nothing to compared with the experiences of Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride. I guess really the ride made me feel like I was experiencing history instead of just reading about it and visiting historical sites. Just riding into Tombstone on horseback with the group – all of us dressed in period clothing was an amazing experience. Not to mention each day of the ride and the things we saw and did. Being able to visit Johnny Ringo’s gravesite was also memorable – even having a shot with him. Real Old West stuff! Of course the best part of the whole ride was discovering the line shack at Cottonwood Springs – not only were we re-enacting an Old West event – but actually contributing to history. Truly amazing! I probably don’t even need to mention that having Bob Boze Bell there to talk to us about all of these events added a lot to the ride. I have read True West magazine for many years and of course many of his articles. Need to mention that as a new rider I appreciated having the wranglers to help me with my horse and keep me from breaking my neck. It was really great to meet and get to know the other riders – and Becky had a great time with the women – all in all – this trip was a real dream come true for us – it will be hard to top it! Thank you Steve for letting us be a part of it.
Jim Epperson, St. Maries, Idaho
Arrived in Tombstone, Arizona … saw another shooting in front of the OK Corral. This town’s pretty rough. Met up with Ellsworth T. Kincaid (aka Steve Shaw) and the rest of the Wyatt Earp Vendetta Posse at the Crystal Palace for dinner. The posse is riding Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Trail. If you’ve seen the movie Tombstone with Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer, you’ll remember that after Wyatt’s brothers were shot, he went on a vendetta ride to eliminate all of the gang responsible. Steve has researched the places Wyatt went and we’re going to ride the route.
First thing this morning we had a guided tour of Tombstone with Bob Boze Bell, Western historian and writer you’ve probably seen on the Western Channel. We then headed to the livery stable and picked our horses. I picked Twister, a nice black horse I had ridden last year at the Little Big Horn. With Twister, I knew what I was getting and trusted him right away for jumping the arroyos and galloping through the cactus.
Next we rode over to Mescal Studios, where they filmed most of Tombstone – quite fascinating. We took photos of us galloping down the streets.
After a quick lunch we headed out again. Next stop was Johnny Ringo’s grave, the place where he was found shot and buried. Some say Wyatt; others say Doc Holliday got him. We’ll never really know. Steve brought along a bottle of Ringo’s favorite whiskey and we all drank a toast to the mean murdering son of a gun who got what he deserved.
Yesterday we rode to Cochise’s Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains, where the Apache Cochise hid out during his 25 year war with the United States. It’s a beautiful but rough country with oak trees and scrub, hills and canyons, and mountains made of gigantic round boulders. It’s easy to see how he could lose the cavalry up there. Could have been Indians behind every rock but that’s another story. We went there following the path of Wyatt Earp’s posse looking for his brother’s killers.
Today we rode to Cottonwood Springs where Wyatt caught up with Curly Bill Brocius. It was a pretty little camp site by a creek. The creek was dry but sometimes has water. Historian Bob Boze Bell recently found this place by the descriptions in Wyatt Earp’s writings. He’s 90% sure this is the place but couldn’t prove it because he couldn’t find evidence of a line shack that Wyatt mentioned. Today, we found the foundation of the line shack and now Bob is certain this is the site where Curly Bill met his end. It was quite thrilling to be part of the discovery of this historical place. After lunch we rode the route Wyatt used to come up to the camp. They rode up an incline and then could look right down into camp. Both parties were surprised. If you saw the movie, then you know what happened next.
On our return to Tombstone we took a shortcut over the mountain. What a ride that was! Steep and covered with cactus and brush. Everything had thorns on it. Those tough mountain horses we had made it seem easy.
Thursday we rode our horses into the real town of Tombstone. It requires a permit from the sheriff now, not like the old days. We came in from the north up Allen Street, past the OK Corral, Big Nose Kate’s and up to the Crystal Palace. This is where it all happened, the gunfight that lives on in history. By the way, you can’t ride your horses into the saloon anymore either.
In the afternoon, we went back to the livery stable and had a horsemanship lesson with our wrangler. The wrangler has been a Wyoming cowboy all his life and knows horses better than anyone I can think of. I’ve been riding over 15 years and always learn something when I’m with him. You should see the way he gallops his horse along, pulls up to a stop and in one fluid motion pulls the rifle out of his scabbard, swings over the saddle and lands on both feet with the rifle at his shoulder. I’m planning to go to his ranch in Wyoming next year for a week of his and Steve’s Horsemanship Training and mountain riding. He also entertained us around the camp fire that evening with his fine singing and guitar playing. He says he learned the guitar long ago so that he could have his pick of the cowboy jobs. A cowboy who could entertain in the evening had first choice.
Friday found us at Fairbanks, AZ riding down the dry San Pedro River bed. A hundred years ago this river ran full of water. There were many stamping mills along the river and we saw the remains of them, mostly the parts that were built of stone. The ore would be hauled in on giant wagons and dumped into the top. It would be gravity fed and screened and crushed to the proper size for extracting the precious metals. We had lunch at the abandoned town of Contention, AZ along the trail and then back by a different route.
Saturday & Sunday was Helldorado Days in Tombstone. This is a town festival celebrating the cowboy history of Tombstone. There were possibly more cowboys carrying guns in town today than in 1881. This was a great ending to a great riding week.
Anyone interested in future adventures go to www.Great-American-Adventures.com. This is my eighth adventure with this outfit and I’m planning at least two more next year … what a ride!!!
Rob Arntzen, Winnebago, IL