Longleaf Stories

full circle in the hundred acre wood


Original journal notes:

January 31, 1999 – 11:33 a.m.

We left for our Mexico trip with Richard and Sharon on January 24th. This was a TREK dove and duck hunting trip. We also stopped in Tucson for a couple of days of hiking on the way out. Memorably good foods from the trip included tlapeña soup, tortilla soup, soup with garbanzos and cactus soup.

We’re flying home on an MD82 on this slightly overcast Sunday morning. As we are taxiing down the runway at Cuidad Obregon’s airport, the background music is Enya’s “Trees.” A very smooth take-off.

We’re headed home to Pensacola. Now begins the process of sifting, distilling, and assimilating our experiences from mexico and Tucson. As always, most fascinating is the interior landscape.

What a treat to have Richard and Sharon with us. Without Sharon, I never would have explored Obregon. We walked all over it. Such fine people. I am happy to know we have a lifetime relationship and that is seems to be growing in a beautiful way.

In brief, last Sunday, the 24th, we flew from Pensacola to Tucson. Checked into the Royal Sun Inn and Suites Best Western. Not a good neighborhood, but the place is nice and the people there tried very hard. They know they are fighting an uphill battle in that location. Lunch on site. Found a Safeway to buy provisions, drove around to get oriented to the town, unpacked, ate dinner at the hotel’s restaurant.

Monday: drove to the Saguaro National Park West. Weather cooler than expected and a high wind. Took short (maybe 5-6 miles) lowlands hike among the Saguaros and myriad other cacti. Marveled at all we saw: the desert architecture, both houses and plant life. The manner in which adaptations for survival and comfort have been made are awesome.

Monday night after coming in from the desert and getting cleaned up, we drove to a place for dinner called “Li’l Abners.” Buck found it in the yellow pages. It was about 20 minutes outside of town — what a trip! No menu, just filet or T-Bone or Porterhouse, chicken or ribs, with salad, garlic bread, pinto beans and salsa. The food is cooked over a blazing mesquite fire.

As I am writing, the varied experiences we had are coming together into a rich experiential soup, a complex layering of sights, sounds, tastes and emotions.

Li’l Abners has been in business for about 50 years. Before that, it was a stagecoach stop and before that — or maybe contemporaneous with — it was a bordello! Anyway, that’s their story and they stuck to it.

Tuesday we headed out to Saguaro Park East, again opting for a lowlands hike. The ecology of this side is more varied and the mountains are higher, up to about 8,000 feet, while Saguaro West’s highest peak was 4,600 feet. A great day. Absolutely cerulean sky. Richard and Sharon seem to be experiencing the joy of discovering the wonderful world of day hiking and it’s beautiful to see. It’s something Buck and I have enjoyed so much, and still do. It has brought us great joy and spirituality, too. It’s meaningful to share it with these kids.

Returning from the park, we showered and relaxed. Richard and Sharon walked up to The Gap in the shopping area known as the West Gate by the University of Arizona. We met them at 7 and ate dinner at “Gentle Ben’s Microbrewery.”

Wednesday to Mexico! From Tucson to Thermos and then Cuidad Oregon. Frank Ruiz, known as “Gambino,” met us and advised we would be staying at the Holiday Inn rather than the Lodge. We were greeted there with margaritas and quesadillas.

After settling in, we met back in the dining room where Frank Ruiz’s brother, Arturo, watched over us as we were hovered over by the staff. What appeared to be an impromptu guitarist performed several somewhat tentative ballads in one corner, while iced tea glasses were filled and refilled with a flourish. We ate lunch from the buffet, which included an excellent soup made with garbanzos and several other types of beans, along with short ribs of beef; salad with asparagus, guacamole and a sampling of hot items, including a rice and corn pilaf, chicken mole, a spicy shredded beef, pico de gallo, salsa and puree of black beans. i thought the whole thing was great fun, and delicious.

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