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SEE ALL SIGNED BOOKS by J. Dennis Robinson click here
A Yankee in the Desert

Cactus by J. Dennis Robinson/


The editor, who doesn’t get out much, finds himself on a Phoenix city bus heading toward the desert. His mission is to meet his first ancient saguaro cactus. In the end, he meets hundreds, but your first cactus, they say, is always the best. The two part tour begins here (Click above)


JUMP TO Part Two

"You want to get off where, mister?"

The driver in the brown uniform and cap shouted loudly enough for everyone in the downtown Phoenix bus to hear.

"The desert," I repeated quietly. "I've never actually seen one before."

"Ain't never seen no desert?" she repeated, checking as if to be sure I hadn't stepped from a passing UFO. She pulled the chrome lever and the door hissed closed. The driver bounced on her air cushioned metal throne as she pulled back onto Washington Street. "Honey, where you from?"

"New Hampshire," I said, and it came out sounding foreign, like "Nahannana". The driver searched her memory for some connection. "It's in New England," I added. Flat stucco shops and imported palm trees whizzed by the murky bus windows.

"That anywhere near Philly?" she asked, and I nodded. Better off, when three hours from the Mexican border, to say you're from "The East."

A bus is a bus is a bus, Shakespeare rightly pointed out, and a bus by any name never smells sweet. The concierge at the Crowne Hotel had recommended I take a taxi to Papago Park at the edge of the city, not far from the zoo and the botanical desert garden. "Not far" is a term used by locals who drive cars, and it has no clear meaning for a tourist on foot.

"Are there cactus there?" I asked.

It had to sound as stupid as a Portsmouth tourist asking if he might see any boats or waves when he got to the ocean. But these guys are trained professionals.

Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, AZ /

Yankee in the Desert, Part 1

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