Throwback Thursday – Hunting Cacti

It’s more efficient to rent a motorcycle in Las Vegas and drive it to the desert, than to spend all of that time riding to get out there, so in spring 2012, that’s what we did. We wanted to ride along some of old Route 66 and see as much of Arizona as we could. 

Once we got out of Vegas, it was so cold in the mornings, we could see our breath. I was freezing in my light riding jacket designed for the maximum amount of air flow in hot weather. TV weather forecasters admitted it was odd, and predicted hot weather in a couple of days but in the meantime, I was shivering on the back of the Harley Electra Glide. Derek tried to McGyver a wind shield by making a vest out of a garbage bag and it helped but didn’t provide any insulation. We’d need a better solution.

We found it in Kingman, Arizona where the proprieter of a souvenir-type store said, “Wait here”, when we asked if he sold windbreakers. He was a rider who had lost a leg in a crash, and he returned with a beaten up, road-weary leather jacket about 3 sizes too big for me. “I’ll take it”, I said, and Derek reached for his wallet. “Naw, you can have it. Just pay it forward when you can.”

We settled into a booth at a diner and I went to work on that coat with a container of Armor All wipes. Beneath the dust and grime was a beautiful, quality jacket in excellent condition. The sleeves were half-a-hand too long and I could have fit a couple of bulkly sweaters between me and the lining, but I loved it. It cut the wind and kept me warm and smiling.

We settled in Flagstaff for a couple of days and took day rides to several sites including the Grand Canyon and Sedona, via miles and miles of hairpin turns on steep mountain roads. It’s a spectacular ride and we kept looking for cactus. There were several kinds to see including little fright-wig style brush but we hoped we’d see Wile E. Coyote versions from the Road Runner cartoons. Finally, south of Sedona, they appeared.

Derek looks like a toy soldier between two cacti that must be more than 35 feet tall

That’s Derek, looking quite tiny between the massive growths! We were so excited to see them and stopped several times.

From watching the cartoons and westerns as a kid, I just assumed they littered the state of Arizona! Conditions have to be just right – or wrong, if you consider the harsh ground and lack of moisture – and after a few miles, it was back to brown fright-wigs and scrub.

Lots of people retire to Arizona but, boy, does it get hot. Just a couple of days after freezing my hiney off, I strapped the leather jacket to the back of the bike and rode in just a tank top and jeans. The temp. reached the mid-40s and back in Vegas, the humidity was so thick, it was difficult to breathe. So we thought we’d be smart and stay indoors, going through underground walkways and visiting casinos and shops, until nightfall when it would be cooler. At 10 pm when we headed out to visit Caesar’s Palace, the temperature was 38C and the air was still thick. And the jacket? It now belongs to my brother-in-law who will probably keep it forever. It fits him like a glove.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *