Place: Alpine to Fredericksburg, Texas; Book: Reasoner’s Draw: Greatest Gunfights of the West

Alpine provided a fabulous breakfast and a stop (and purchase) at Front Street Books. We then hit the road for Sonora, Texas, and the Caverns of Sonora. Now, after Carlsbad, we feared this cave wouldn’t be able to provide an encore, but it did! It really did! White, ivory, pearly, buttermilk, coppery, even aqua and green formations created a sort of underground coral reef. The smaller scale, crystalline “butterflies” on the walls, and tight-packed speleothems made our mile-or-so walk to something like 155 feet below the surface an impressive one.

But back in the RV (where I’d been laboring under a deadline while The Bosun drove to Sonora), we found ourselves calling an audible when we discovered that our next stop—the Alamo—was closed for Covid. (Yeah, we’ve remained a bit “informal” with the planning, I know, but that has actually made the trip more fun; we’re just wandering.) Wrapping up my work project, I scrambled to find a stop-worthy destination ... and a place to camp for the night, when most RV parks were already calling it a day and setting their office phones to voicemail. Spontaneity paid off, though: a great destination presented itself in the National Museum of the Pacific War and the charming streets of Fredericksburg, Texas. An excellent German meal at the Altdorf (German food for dinner before a day at a WW II museum? hmmm...) and the woodsy, friendly KOA, and call us content.

And here’s where the book choice comes in: James Reasoner’s Draw: The Greatest Gunfights of the American West. I picked it up at Outlaw T’s Books & More in Tombstone, AZ (which offered a great selection of local-lore works). I’ve been reading it on the trip, so I don’t have a final verdict on it yet (I’m reading it for myself, as opposed to reading Doc aloud to The Bosun). But it has already painted a picture of the West, shootouts, the cattle drives from Texas to Kansas, and the violence of Old West gambling establishments.

With a deck of cards, three salty players, and some bull$h@t (the card game!) in the bus, we were a long way from a faro game in Dodge City or Tombstone, but that’s okay!

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