January 17, 2016

Cactus Envy – Arizona & Mexico Author Rico Austin

“Cactus Envy! That is what many of us from other states suffer from, when we see the scenic pictures of Arizona,” is what a New Mexico Author told me a few years back at a book festival, after seeing a couple of my book covers with a cactus or two and an agave or three. 

An ailment of jealousy from travelers that wish they never had to leave the diverse surroundings of Arizona does not surprise me. Season upon season the multitude of retirees aka snow birds and those brave enough to quit their job security because she or he cannot and will not tolerate another winter, full of blizzards, add to the ever increasing population of the 48th State of the Union. Arizona was a state born on February 14th, 1912. The plan was for statehood to arrive on Lincoln’s Birthday, the 16th of February; however, big government and its employees have not changed much over the years with mistakes being plenty and many.

It is here in Arizona that I became a novelist, spending three years of weekends and evenings creating “My Bad Tequila” an epic tale of a College Spring Break trip from Idaho into Mexico gone bad, which devastated the lives of 19 students, 3 Chaperones and 1 bus driver.  Was it the Tequila?  

I, like many Arizonans, am a transplant from the cold country of Northern States. There are thousands of others from the Midwest and the Northeast looking to escape the harshness of freezing temperatures. In the winter of 1990, I swore that I would not tolerate another dreary, cold, fog infused, snow packed, slide and fall on my butt, icy winter in Idaho and left while the ground thawed in March of 1991.  I had a stucco, Santa Fe style house built in the Phoenix / Scottsdale area next to a young lady that had left Minnesota for nearly the same reasons as my nomadic departure from the Potato State. She too, had a house built, a few months earlier as she had left the Great White, Northern, Mosquito State where many a Viking have settled to ice fish their remaining days away. Connie from Minnesota arrived in the spring of 1990. Next door to me, I had found love, someone who had left her home state as I had, to start a new life where the sun shines strong and the cacti grow tall.

Yes, it does feel a bit overly warm on certain summer days in July and August; The Sun Devils of Arizona State with forks in their hands at September football games, do remind us that while we may not live in hell during these three months, there are days that we can see it from the Valley of the Sun.  

There are a select few that live in Arizona, who do long for the cooler climates such as Flagstaff, Show Low, Williams or Winslow, Arizona (I’ve stood on that corner and seen the girl in a flat bed Ford slowin’ down to take a look….)  Flagstaff at an elevation of 7,000 feet and a mere two hour drive north of the Phoenix metropolitan area will give a visitor a great taste of what it’s like to live in a Northern town. Humphrey’s Peak, the highest point in Arizona at 12,633 is located about 10 miles north of Flagstaff hosts one of three ski resorts, Snow Bowl. 

Flagstaff is also known as the gateway to the Grand Canyon which is over one mile deep and very, very steep.
The Grand Canyon is widely known for its visually overwhelming magnitude and its intricate, colorful, rugged landscape. Geologically it is extremely significant because of the broad sequence of ancient rocks that are preserved and exposed beautifully in the walls of the canyon that surround the Colorado River.

I suppose it was the cacti I saw in the Western movies that drew me to Arizona and the promise of long, hot days in summer with no regrets of oncoming fall and winter. No more plugging my dipstick in at night to eliminate the possibility of my car engine freezing up. No more falling on my ass because of a sheet of ice on the sidewalk. No more melted snow turning to dirty slush. When I miss these winter killjoys I turn on CNN or the Weather Channel and Thank GOD I am living the cowboy dream in the Wild West of Arizona. 

I have always longed to live in a time and place where if you had a quick gun and an even faster horse, your chances of surviving the hot desert climate, renegades and outlaws were greatly increased. I am living that dream: where cowgirls, horses, saloons, cacti and tequila abound.

“When my time of earth is no more, I want to be buried in my boots, six feet under, covered with Arizona soil that is warm to the touch.” Rico Austin, author & writer & tequila connoisseur.

Like the diverse landscape that make up Arizona, as a writer I have written my first six books all of different genres. “In the Shadow of ELVIS, Perils of a Ghostwriter” is the true autobiography of when I met the legitimate, illegitimate Son of Elvis Presley and the difficulties of writing the story of which some of the world did not want to see written in print and published. 

“Son of the KING, an ELVIS Paradox Unveiled” is the follow - up biography of the similarities and coincidences that John Dennis Smith Presley and his dad, Mr. Elvis Presley shared.  I believe there are no coincidences, which make for a very entertaining and awakening read. 

“ARIZONA Is Where I Live” showcases my poetry and love of the animals, plants and scenery, which make Arizona so spectacular, in this Children’s Book.

Next on the list are two of my marketing books, “Authors, Artists & Anyone’s Marketing Guide” & “Entrepreneur, Realtor & Anyone’s Marketing Guide.”
“MEXICO got LUCKY” was just published this last, hot, monsoon filled summer in August, 2015.  This is a true story about one man’s unrelenting love and his determination to find Lucky, his dog that was stolen in the heart of Mexico.
I am now working on “Baja Loco, Racing Days & Tequila Nights!” It is a crazy autobiography as a crew member on a Championship Baja Race Team.  It is Wild!
For a chance to win (1) of three copies of MEXICO got LUCKY, please let a comment!  (3) Lucky winners will be selected and I hope it’s You & You & You & ……  Love & Peace, Rico
(All material provided by author)


  1. As another transplant from the north ( and east) to Arizona, I can attest to the state's beauty and diversity. I can also attest to the summer heat, but like they say, "It's a dry heat." The biggest problem I have when a visitor from back there comes is figuring out what to show them; so many choices spread over a large area. My biggest negative, the absence of seafood. When I'm asked where to go for a good shore dinner, I point westward and say, "Try San Diego." But man does not live by fish alone.

  2. I was captivated with your post. The vivid description of your winter experiences and the life you lead now gave me a great deal of pleasure and enjoyment. I too left the Great White North 20 years ago and do not regret it for a minute. The sunshine and blue skies warm my heart and soothe my soul. I cannot abide cold, snow or rain and the dampness is impossible so I am in the Southwest which I appreciate greatly. Your books are so intriguing and special. Wishing you happiness and success.

  3. What an interesting blog. I love the pictures you chose to accompany it also. Arizona is one of my favorite states which I have visited but never have lived there. Its stillness and serenity remain in my memory. My husband and I might have settled there but it was too far from family so we chose Florida instead. I much prefer your dry heat to our FL humidity. Your books sound very interesting and varied. I wish you continued success with your writing.

  4. You did a great job describing this beautiful state we call home. We must have met at some book event somewhere. Pleasure to have a sidebar by your blog. Wishing you lots of luck with your books.

  5. VERY interesting, and beautiful photographs. Thanks for sharing, Radine in Arkansas--a very different landscape!

  6. Arizona is my favorite place to visit. The sunshine, warmth and beauty gives me great enjoyment. The bright blue skies, the intense sun and the walks allow me to feel renewed and better. I left the cold northland and will never return. What a creative author and such fascinating books.

  7. Hello from another Arizonan transplant from Montana and Washington state! I live in Chino Valley near Prescott, which I think is the best place in AZ--300 days of sunshine and four seasons (not too hot and not too cold)! Your books sound very good!Happy writing among the cacti.

  8. Made my first trip to AZ in 2013...Mesa/Phoenix/Sedona...BEAUTIUFL!

    I see a couple more trips in my future.

    Good luck and God's blessings.

  9. I grew up in Mesa and attended Arizona State University. Even though I moved to San Diego some years ago for my work I still manage to get back home at least three times a year. I miss the desert and the nice winters there. It is a beautiful state.

  10. LOL. I never heard the word snowbird until I moved to Arizona. They are flocking here now in their RVs. Thank you for sharing your perspective on this beautiful state.


  11. I grew up here and have lived in Arizona for all my life. I have been around the world and have found only a couple of places that outdo Arizona for its stark scenery and colorful plants and animals. It has everything one would want as far as weather goes and working conditions. If one is an outdoor enthusiast then this is the place.
    Sure it gets hot in the summer but we accommodate ourselves with air conditioning, patio misters and iced drinks.
    Come visit.

  12. You images and descriptions make my heart flutter. I lived in North Phoenix for 8 years during the 1970s. Leaving was one of the most difficult things I've had to do. Have never forgotten the place and your images appeal to me more than I can say. Have never forgotten Arizona and have of late even been thinking to move back there to be closer to my son on the east coast. Yes, could leave Hawaii for him, but Arizona is the only place I would go. Now your comments and your feelings about Arizona (much like mine) have refreshed the memories I have.

  13. Gracias for all your comments; We have 3 winners selected for an autographed copy of MEXICO got LUCKY, my latest book. Mr. Kenneth Weene, Ms. Linda Swift & Ms. Mary Deal; Please send Annette your email address or mailing address & I'll be in contact with you & get your book in the mail! peace, love & tequila! rico


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