Monday, September 7, 2009

Quakies and Green Chili Burros

A couple of weeks ago Lance P.(“Pussy”) Boyle and I went on a day trip in search of big trees. According to the web site American Forests: National Register of Big Trees the biggest quaking aspen in the US resides in the Pinaleno mountains of southeastern Arizona. Lance had seen it once before with the help of a Forest Service person and thought we could find it again with Forest Service help. We planned this for late spring, but one thing and another kept coming up and we didn't make it until late August when the monsoon was at it's height.

We left about 0600 on a cloudy morning. By the time we got to the San Carlos Reservation it was raining; the rain really got heavy in Safford. It continued to rain partway up the mountain but quit near the top. The last 15 miles or so is dirt road so the jeep turned color from red to brown. We got near where the tree was supposed to be and checked in with the Forest Service for final directions. By this time the rain had stopped, but the cloud cover remained in place making the light flat and fairly lousy for what we had in mind. We were at about 9500 feet elevation. It was light jacket temperature.

We found the quakie easily enough. Picture taking was another matter altogether. The tree is on a pine needle covered slope and difficult to photograph because of other trees, poor light, etc. Plus trying to remain upright on a wet pine needle slick slope with camera and tripod is no small feat. Some how we managed without serious accident.

I was surprised to find that the bark of the big quakie was black and scaly on the bottom part of the tree and didn't become white until a ways up the trunk. It is one big tree. It is 130 feet high, with a diameter of 4-1/2 feet and a 36 foot spread of the canopy. I don't doubt that there are other quakies as big or even bigger than this one, but finding them is another matter. Quakies can live to be 150 years old.

We also found a big Douglas fir(above), supposedly the #2 Douglas fir in the US. I could not confirm that but it is also one big tree. It is about ¼ to ½ mile from the big quakie and equally as difficult to photograph for the same reasons.

Having spent many years traveling, working and eating in southern Arizona, I maintain that you take your life in your hands when you enter an eatery outside of Tucson. Zula's in Nogales is great and there was a diner in San Simon that served a great green chile burro, but only on Thursday. The other days the menu was barely edible, let alone the food. But I digress. We got back to Safford about 1430 hours and decided we needed lunch. We went to old downtown Safford and found a restaurant that Pussy claimed to have eaten in once and survived. It was clean and had people eating at tables which I thought was a good sign for a midafternoon Saturday.

I ordered a green chile burro. The waitress asked if I wanted it enchilada style. I replied “Of course.”
The chips and salsa were good, so I was very hopeful and looking forward with anticipation. After a bit she served the green chili burro, enchilada style. The entire plate was smothered with RED SAUCE!
I was stunned. The inside of the burro was green chili pork. In all my years of green chili burros this was a first. A Mexican gastronomical faux pas of the first order. I went ahead and ate it; the Good Lord only knows what I would have gotten if I'd complained. Later I found out what the problem was. My daughter's in-laws roots go back to Thatcher and she informed me that I had eaten in the wrong town! Surely this would not have happened in Thatcher! Oh, well. At least I survived.


  1. This post sure makes me want to eat a green-chili burro, without or without red sauce! Can't be too picky when you live closer to Canada than Mexico.

  2. Yeah...I remember a newspaper account, years ago, some guy got botulism and they traced it to a Mexican restaurant in Michigan.

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  4. I don't know which is worse -- asking for a beef enchilada out here and getting ground beef instead of succulent shredded beef; or mixing one's red with one's green. Hmm. Sorry about that.

    Those are some huge trees! Sounded like a fun trip.