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May 15, 2017
Day 3- Fear and the Twilight Zone
We had a two-room suite, and at 5 am, I tiptoed through the dark into the back room while Miro slept. I wrote in my journal for an hour until the sun peeked through the saguaro rib shutters. The words flowed from me like morsels of grain spilling from a silo. I wanted to record every moment of this Osa experience. If I had a novel in me, I would come here to write it.
When Miro woke, we walked to the pool in our pajamas, tea and coffee in hand, and watched birds drop to the water for a quick drink. At an elevation of 3500 feet, the Sasabe morning in early May was still crisp, and I bundled in a jacket and bath towel. Later at the corral, we took photos of the horses in beautiful morning light. At 8:30, the breakfast bell rang. We dressed and headed to the hacienda for bacon, hash browns, and eggs scrambled with corn and peppers.
That morning we rode the electric bikes. I hadn’t been on a bike for 20 years, and what the heck was an electric bike anyway? It had super fat tires that could plow through sand in the wash and a throttle like a small motorcycle. James, the activity director, gave us a five minute lesson, and we were off on an easy desert trail above the ranch.
Steering the bike felt awkward. When we stopped at the top of the hill, I squeezed the right brake on the handle like I’d watched James do during the lesson. Over went the bike, and I jumped off to the side. Shoot!
“Squeeze both brakes at once,” James said, “and it won’t toss you.”
On the bike again, we headed back to the ranch where two other guests joined us. “Let’s ride into town,” James suggested.
Really? Into town? Three miles away? I felt trepidation. The bike could go 25 mph, and other than a helmet, we were exposed. Since I’d broken my hand, fear clouded any adventure that involved a possible fall. I’d spent 11 months in five different contraptions rehabbing my poor fingers and worrying if I’d be able to paint again. Now I was speeding down the road on a mini motorcycle.
Miro sensed my hesitation and assured me we could turn back any time. So off we went to the heart of town, our final destination the Sasabe General Store. Debbie, the owner and a fourth-generation native, greeted us at the counter.
I had stepped into the Twilight Zone! The dusty shelves were old and sparsely stocked with canned food, cowboy hats, an old mixer, and a typewriter. Ice cream sandwiches and popsicles beckoned from a free standing cooler at the end of the aisle. A pot-bellied stove was also for sale, as were four Goodyear tires. Out front sat an old-fashioned gas pump that serviced the 11 residents of Sasabe and the 2,000 people who lived just across the border. Mexico was just one mile south.
Debbie proudly gave us a tour and talked about how her great grandfather had founded the store. He had also donated the land for the Santa Elena Catholic Church that we had photographed the day before. This very church was made famous in the movie Lilies of the Field. At the end of the tour, Debbie let us peek through the secret door in the back which opened onto a bar – the Sasabe hot spot on Saturday nights. We bought a Gatorade, a cowboy hat for Miro, and a postcard of the church.
On the way back to the ranch, I felt more confident on my bike and began to enjoy the ride. Heck, when I was a kid we did crazy, stupid things like jumping our horses over a chain link fence, which guaranteed tragedy with one misstep. We rode on the hood of a girlfriend’s car, plastered against the windshield as it sped down the road at Island Beach State Park. Now I was proud that I had simply gone on a fast bike ride!
We showered and packed our bags, planning to leave before lunch, when Russell and Laura True pulled up with a trailer full of horses from White Stallion Ranch. They are now partners in this Sasabe ranch as well as the owners of White Stallion, and we’ve become very good friends. They had encouraged us to visit Osa since they’d opened it three months ago. Together, we sat at the long table and ate chicken salad sandwiches with cole slaw, and they shared stories about the ranch.
Russell talked about Richard and Veronica Schultz, two attorneys from Scottsdale who had done backbreaking work to restore the place over the past 20 years. Health issues forced them to sell it, and the guest ranch could not have passed into more capable hands.
In two weeks, a crew from Rural Farm Network (RFD-TV) was coming here to film for a new show about dude ranches, and Russell wanted a piece of art to hang in the dining room before the TV crew arrived. We looked through images on our website, and he chose “Art’s Siesta” – a painting of a guitar, a Mexican tapestry, and a bottle of tequila. “It’s perfect to hang next to the door that leads to the future tequila tasting room,” Russell said. Housing the largest collection of tequila in the world is one of the plans for Osa.
Now we’ll have to return to the ranch to deliver the art. We have yet to try their croquet, archery, and skeet shooting—more great adventures in store at the end of the Earth!
What paintings will this adventure inspire? Keep an eye on our NEW Tucson gallery website to see!
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