Southern Arizona

Ger and I spent Monday and Tuesday hanging out in Southern Arizona watching our law enforcement units at their best, or worst depending on your point of view. The border patrol seemed to be everywhere. They must be inspired by Ashcroft’s visit and promise to bolster their forces for the good fight.

Highlights of this trip include:

-Caving at Kartchner Caverns
-Birding in Patagonia
-Slamming down cervezas while shopping in Nogales
-Dining at “La Roca”
-Hiking the Atacosa trail to Atacosa lookout in the footsteps of Edward Abbey
-Blowing out a tire in the backroads
-Bending down and taking a speeding ticket from a Santa Cruz Sheriff

Kartchner caverns, located in the Whetstone Mountains near Benson is quite a popular attraction and requires reservations months in advance. The state has done an outstanding job with the visitor center, trails and gardens. The caverns were discovered twenty five years ago but kept secret for fourteen years. The temperature is a warm 68 degrees in the caverns. This tour is well worth taking, even if you are not a spelunker.
We enjoyed a picnic lunch in the gardens and then headed for Patagonia where we spent a few hours in the backyard of the Patten's, watching hundreds of hummingbirds at their feeders. We saw many varieties, including the ruby throated and violet crowned. Patagonia is internationally known as a premier birder’s paradise and a wonderful spot to visit. Hundreds of other birds were at the feeders. This was a very mellow afternoon.
In the late afternoon we arrived at Nogales, got a room at the Best Western and went shopping. Shopping is so much more fun with a Pacifico or Negro Modello in hand.
We found a couple of little treasures and were on our way to dinner when we were approached by an hombre selling a beautiful jewelry set and willing to make us quite a bargain. Monday is the best day to shop in Nogales. His price went from $50.00 to $10.00. Ger commented that she had no outfit to wear with it, and the hombre replied “wear it naked”. I quickly handed him the ten bucks, and bought him a beer with visions of a wild evening in the old Best Western.
That evening we dined at “La Roca” a wonderful restaurant, evocative of another time, built out of the side of mountain rock. It is quietly elegant staffed with white jacketed waiters. I discovered La Roca on a guy’s weekend and promised to take Ger there. The food was excellent. She loved it.
The next morning we hiked up to the Atacosa lookout, west of the Pena Blanca Recreation area. This five mile round trip climb, up 1600’ of elevation presented an interesting array of plant types. The wildflowers were splendid! On top is an abandoned fire lookout that is in great shape. There is firewood and a wood burning stove. A nearby outhouse barely clings to the cliff’s edge.
Edward Abbey spent time here in 1968. Posted to the walls are excerpts from his “Confessions of a Barbarian.” It described Edward’s loneliness and despair, hiking up on a windy night in June 1968, after Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. Reading this left me with a haunted feeling.
This hike is rated a solid 9.6.

And then;
Driving back we suffered a blowout on a back road. The temperature was in the high nineties. An opportunity for problem solving. The last time we broke down we had two flat tires on the Mogollon Rim. Fixing one should be easy, however the stock jack was not industrial strength to do the job. Where were all the Border patrol that was crawling around before, now that you need them? We did finally get some help from a couple of very nice young bucs and a forest ranger with a decent jack.
We headed back to Nogales on the donut tire and made it to a Goodyear shop. While in the waiting room, El Lobo noticed that a German Shepherd was in the cab of his truck. Next, questions from a US customs agent. The dog was growling at the bag that had El Lobo's’soiled underwear. In the mean time, two other cars and drivers were being searched. After trunks were opened, handcuffs were applied and arrests made. El Lobo, fortunately was not charged with “dirty underwear” and we were free to start down I19 with a brand new tire.
“What a field day for the heat”
On the way back there was a border patrol checkpoint detour. On route to the checkpoint we could not help but notice six law enforcement cars clustered together. One started to follow Lobo while others followed other cars. The red light went on and a Sheriff asked Lobo if he knew why he had stopped him. Lobo responded “No Sir,” silently translated “perhaps, because you are a f*&^^ a&(&**e”
I received a ticket for going 76 in a 55 zone. “Thank you!” Silently translated to F*&k y*&. It appears a little funny that the speed limit at 75, changed so suddenly with the border patrol detour. Ambush-we were massacred!!
Traffic school will compliment my yoga, tennis, mountaineering and Spanish classes. I can always use the credit hours.
The trip rating was a 10 before the flat tire and ticket, now has been downgraded to an 8.
The ticket goes on my top five of all time gettin screwed.
We arrived home without further incident in time to rush and get dressed for an ASU dinner featuring a speaker on the historical human ecological impact. This was really interesting and ended the day on a good note.

Buenos Tardes

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