THE EQ TEAM TAKES A CITY SLICKER’S ESCAPE TO A TUCSON, ARIZONA, RANCH.
BY JILL NOVOTNY PHOTOS BY GEORGE KAMPER
live in Brooklyn, New York, and ran the New York City Marathon the day before flying to visit Tanque Verde ranch in Tucson, Arizona. The marathon is a unique experience. It summarizes the intensity of New York and life here: overwhelming, energizing, diverse, crowded, and highly competitive. It’s intense enough to walk the streets on a normal day; to run them with crowds of thousands is an amazing experience. A day later, when I stepped off the plane in Arizona and hobbled down the steps to baggage claim, I was met by Jeff, who welcomed me warmly and began a fascinating lecture describing the culture, history, environment, and vegetation of the area and that lasted the 40-minute shuttle-van ride. Because it was dark, he pulled over to shine the headlights on various plants and trees. I arrived at the ranch later than the others, and it seemed quieter and darker than any place I could remember. I was definitely not in New York City anymore.
Below: George Kamper and Jill Novotny
A M ERICA’S LARGEST
Tanque Verde is the nation’s largest working dude ranch. It is nestled among the Rincon Mountains of Arizona and bordered on two sides by Saguaro National Park. The ranch spans 640 acres dotted with ponds and crisscrossed by a huge network of trails. There are currently about 150 horses that are herded into corrals each morning and saddled up for guests to ride. In the last 175 years, the ranch has been an important landmark for the area. It changed owners only three times. The first owner, Don Emilio Carrillo, bought the ranch in 1856, just after the land was transferred to the U.S. from Mexico. In 1904, it was raided by bandits, and Carrillo was hung from a beam in what is the card room at the ranch today. Cattleman Jim Converse bought the ranch from Carrillo’s son and built the present day ramada in the 1920s to welcome eastern visitors. During a bar-room brawl, Converse accidentally shot a Mexican cowboy. His troubles with the law led him to sell the ranch to Brownie Cote. Brownie’s son Bob and his wife, Rita, are around the ranch nearly every day and are well-known to ranch guests. I awoke the next morning as the sun rose on the chilly desert and joined George Kamper, EQ’s photography director, for a hearty breakfast before our first ride. We entered Continued on page 90 SP R I N G | 2 0 1 5 | EQ U ES TRIA N Q UA RTERLY | 73