Starting off by saying right out front: THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL ENDORSEMENT, NOR IS IT PROPAGANDA!
Now, with that being said, let’s talk!
My family had a very unique opportunity presented to us at about 10 AM, Thursday morning (March 17th). Warner and I were out feeding cattle on the ranch, and mom got a phone call from a representative of a Presidential candidate’s AZ campaign. After some discussion, mom came around to accept quite a challenge… She promptly called my cell (LUCKILY I HAD CELL SERVICE!) and told us right off the bat (before divulging anything else) that this was not a joke… So naturally, Warner and I figured that whatever she was about to say would most definitely be a joke! She convinced us, and then explained that we would be hosting a border tour and lunch at our ranch house for Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, some other special guests, their delegations, press and a few ranchers.
This definitely isn’t our first rodeo in regards to hosting and cooking for political delegations, so we knew what we were getting into. A security guy came out and “swept” the ranch (check for dangers, evaluate the situation in advance, etc) Thursday afternoon, and we pulled a late night of cleaning, putting stuff away out of the office (we lead a busy life here, don’tcha know!), and exchanging phone calls with people about the guest list and logistics. The next morning about 5:30, a crazy kamikaze bird collided with a fuse above the transformer on a power pole up the hill (leads to the house), and knocked the power out cold! Initiate: mom in a panic (she was a little frazzled in the moment). Upon calling it in to the power company and Warner finding the source of the outage, a Journeyman Lineman was on his way “stat” and had the power back on by 7:30! THANK GOODNESS FOR HIM!!!! As soon as the power was back, we proceeded in HAUL BOOTY MODE and finished cleaning, pulled ourselves together (hard to do in the dark when you can’t see in a mirror!) and started cooking lunch!
Mom left about 9:30 to meet the plane when it landed at the Bisbee/Douglas Airport (ETA: somewhere near 11-12ish). That left Warner to go on with ranch business (chores, feeding cows, and what not), Chello and myself to cook and execute the lunch. In the coming hours, I cooked, coordinated the kitchen (grateful when a few ranch women arrived and lent their hands!), answered the phone, declined entrance to some random folks (via phone call with a Sheriff’s deputy stationed at our road turn off- he was the bouncer for the day, essentially, and glad we had him there!), kept tabs back and forth with mom as she was traveling with Ted Cruz, Rick Perry and their special guest Steve Ronnebeck (details to follow in one of mom’s input quotes below) in her truck (timing is everything, especially when it comes to executing something this big!), and made sure everyone that was graciously part of the crew for the day was up to date on the latest from the traveling delegation and knew who was allowed to go where: all media (despite a bit of a pushy argument by one journalist-don’t mess with me!) was to park in the wing of our corral at the barn, the press conference had been moved from the porch down to the wing with mountains in the background (better for the press anyway… There wasn’t room for them to park at the house, their absence from the house provided privacy for the lunch, and the newscasters in stilettos and flats weren’t about to make the trek up the hill to the yard); the delegation (including about 12 vehicles) was to be directed up the hill from the barn to the house (avoiding a drive by the media initially) for lunch, and all special guests were to park on the second parking ramp by the house. Thankfully, it worked almost like a well-oiled machine, with a fantastic woman (partly in charge of PR for Cruz’s AZ campaign) taking charge of the press’ needs for the two hours before the press conference, and our rancher friends helping direct traffic and deter media from coming up to the house.
The delegation arrived just a few minutes after the scheduled time, we got them through the house and started serving lunch right away after Warner said grace… We are used to serving big crowds, and have miraculously pulled off some near-misses before, but not while multitasking everything aforementioned and having a constantly changing timeline to adapt to!
A discussion about border security (etc.) went on during the meal and the press conference at the barn went swimmingly (which was good, because we needed to have the delegation back to the airport for wheels up at 4 PM… they took off at 4:10… not too shabby!)
Rick Perry asked if I would be willing to jump in the truck with them for the trip back to town, which of course I quickly agreed to! Thanks to a security entourage of deputy vehicles, we made it to the airport in the nick of time (despite a suspicious vehicle that warranted deputies on literally every side of the truck, and lots of blocking intersections and confused passer-by’s)!
This part of the experience, in mom’s words: “The Cochise County Sheriff’s Department was on point all day… blocking intersections and allowing us to drive at a higher rate of speed…
The trip back to town was fun…we zipped right along…encountered two different suspicious vehicles (one which flipped a u -e and tried to drop into the motorcade…CCS was on it and had him cut out of the bunch in seconds).
I had a CCS radio in the truck with us (Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Mackenzie and the father of the young man shot and killed in Phoenix by and illegal alien-Steve Ronnebeck).
The CCS Helicopter was running in front and kept us posted of vehicles, etc.
Kind of a thrill to blaze through Douglas at 45 mph and then Hwy 191 at 70-75ish…
(As Mackenzie and I returned to the ranch…I had to remind myself I was not Mario Andretti!!)”
During the drive, I was honored to share stories with Ted and Rick, and be shown lots of great pictures from Rick’s phone.
I was also honored to have everyone (including and honestly, most complimentary, Rick and Ted) rave over the blackberry sauce I had served with cake for dessert! (Sharing the recipe here from my book, super simple and such a hit!)
Otherwise, in mom’s words, here’s her summary of the conversations had: “…ranged from them asking me what we would like the next administration to accomplish…the national debt…border security and the importance of who the next Secretary of Homeland Security, and Commissioner would be…some of the hurdles and limitations that Border Patrol faces (FYI, they were not able to participate in the day’s activities because of the Hatch Act), including the attrition going on and the loss of agents and then the hiring process and the criminal element (cartels) that “out man” the Border Security forces. The need for Boots on the Border, air support, surveillance, etc. The options between a “bigger, higher wall” (in which they too shall breech) and the infrastructure that is already in place.
We talked about the far reaching small towns and rural communities that are lost and forgotten in the Washington scene…I applauded (Congresswoman) Martha McSally for the delegations she has brought to the front lines of the Border and expressed a desire to “not be forgotten” in the big scheme of things if he becomes President…
We discussed who might be his running mate…his family and their life in Texas…a lot of input from Rick Perry that would prompt conversation on certain issues, some of the intelligence people that we have hosted lately (thanks to a very special friend), and we even talked about (our upcoming) goat roping (FLYER AT END OF POST!)! Then as we went back to town, they had a grand time with Mackenzie (who Rick Parry asked if she could travel in with us)…getting her perspective…(20 years old, one of ten Anglo students in her graduating class, the poverty level and drug influences in Douglas, Beef industry statistics and Beef Ambassador, cost of ranching on the border because of border security and lack of…and why she declined a full ride to Harvard…)
And in the middle of all that conversation, Rick was a busy guy showing videos and photos of his life in Texas!!
My impression of Ted Cruz is much higher and more comfortable than it was during the debates…(and we talked about the debates and the wrecks they seem to cause)…
He has a deep faith, (appreciated Warner’s grace before lunch), he sees the possibility of becoming President as a complete, unadulterated challenge that he is ready to meet. We talked about his limitations as President, the timeline of trying to undo and correct messed up systems and policies, strengthen our weaknesses and regain the respect we have lost.
Rick Perry was a kick in the pants…highly intelligent, always thinking, and who knew he and (dear friend of ours) Gerry Bohmfalk went to college together… and so Mackenzie called Gerry on her phone and put Rick on and they reconnected!”
Big hugs all around once we got to the airport, and off they flew to an event in Phoenix.
Last bit of input from mom: “All in all…it was a great day…I know our family was honored that we were asked to be a part of this event.
A lot for us to review and at least I can say that I think he is a sound person with good values.
The media can tell you anything…I felt like Ted was here to listen, to hear, to contemplate…I felt he was relaxed and drinking in what he was seeing and hearing.
Immediately when he got in my truck…it was relaxed and easy to start a conversation.
I wish we could have the opportunity to meet and spend time with Trump too…I do not think that will happen… (But ya never know!) Politically, we will learn a lot between now and the fall.”
From my perspective, we talked with some truly great folks yesterday, and the remainder of the campaign season is going to be interesting to say the least. Having been involved in border issues from birth, I appreciate the effort put forth to make this trip happen for more than just a publicity stunt, but for genuine interest in these issues and concern for America’s well-being.
A big thank you goes out to Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels and the deputies he brought out as they were professional, efficient and all around awesome people to work with!
And an equally big thank you to everyone else involved in this thing!
It was crazy, it was stressful at times, it was an amazing opportunity, and quite frankly it was an event of a lifetime!
Here’s to good rains, great friends, and healthy cattle,
And now, more than ever, here’s to securing the border and ensuring a safe America,
P.S. I want to stress again that this is NOT an endorsement or propaganda, just sharing an amazing experience! Please be respectful and keep opinions respectful if you choose to share them.
P.P.S. Mom and I went to a really great meeting the other night in Animas, NM (major props to our dear friend Erica Valdez for pulling it together!). A great turn out of community members (including lots of ranchers and other agriculturalists), politicians and members of their staff sent to represent them in the audience. Several articles came out of the meeting, as well as this video:
Please share the video (and take the time to watch it!) and/or this blog post if you are so inclined; and please know that the issues we face living where we do and dealing with the struggles and dangers of an unsecured border are real; and you should take the time to listen to the stories of those who actually deal with all of this on a daily basis before making an educated decision come election time (be it local, state or national level). Thanks!
AND ONE LAST THING!!! Here’s the flyer for the goat roping/huge fundraising party we are having April 30th, 2016! Hope to see you there!