Another Thanksgiving was well spent in Arizona with the weather as warm as one wanted. It actually got hot a couple of afternoons. The climate wasn’t the only reason for all the hot air blowing around the state. A cowboy named Mike proved to be one of the hottest windbags I have ever met. Granted, most of his outlandish statements and tall tales were part of the persona, “Cowboy Mike.”
Cowboy Mike is a trail guide from Sedona and works for one of the many jeep outfitters that provide off-trail services around the mountainous area. Cowboy Mike takes tourists he calls “Wackos, Weirdos, and Dopers deep into Vortex Country so they can polish up their Chakras.”
We were warned ahead of time what to expect from our guide. The company admitted we either drew the cream of the crop or the cur of the litter, depending on your point of view, especially political.
Cowboy Mike wasted no time in letting us know that he regarded himself as an equal opportunity scoundrel.
“I don’t like Wackos or Weirdos, New-agers or Foo-Foos, Pinkos or Lefties and I seriously don’t like the French.”
The scenic trip was one long excursion deep into the mountains surrounding Sedona, Arizona. The landscape was spectacular and we had plenty of opportunities for photo shoots. I eventually noticed that we didn’t necessarily stop for a photo-op at the most scenic spot. The stops were timed according to Cowboy Mike’s need for a cigarette. It didn’t really matter however, because the entire countryside was stunning.
The three-hour trip was much more than just a tourist’s adventure in the wondrous countryside. Mike told so many stories that the trip became a story in itself. According to Mike, after he graduated from Rodeo College back East (New Mexico), he worked for search and rescue teams in the Grand Canyon and throughout the southwest. He also worked as a private guide around Sedona for Madonna, Oprah, Robert DeNiro, and Nicholas Cage, among others.
Cowboy Mike made the claim that he was drinking buddies with Cage and when they went out together, Mike had one steadfast rule; “You don’t talk your liberal crap and I won’t tell you how to make movies!”
Cowboy Mike would protect Cage from autograph seekers by standing up at the table and declaring, “Get outta here. We ain’t signing nothing tonight.”
Although Cowboy Mike had movie star looks complete with handlebar mustache, you had the feeling he would have likely been given the role of camp cookie. One thing is certain; he would have led the storytelling around the campfire.
This guy told some whoppers. He began with his first dog. According to Cowboy Mike, his daddy once brought home a puppy with no arms or legs. (We knew this was a fib right away — a dog with no arms?) Mike put that puppy in a little red wagon and hauled him all over their ranch. He named the pup Drag and pretty soon Drag outgrew that wagon.
Cowboy Mike continued, “So’s I puts him in a wheelbarrow and every day after school I would push that dog all over the ranch. The last day of old Drag’s life, he sees him a rabbit. We chased that rabbit all over that ranch until old Drag couldn’t take no more. He looked me in the eye, then he up and died.”
“And that’s a true story.”
I lost track of how many times we heard that phrase. Overall, the trail ride was fun, Cowboy Mike was funny and we had dinner with Nicholas Cage, Madonna, Oprah and Robert DeNiro. And that’s a true story.