As some of you know, mikeroweWORKS was launched on Labor Day back in 2008. Every so often somebody asks me how that came to be, and whether or not Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe had anything to do with it. Here’s my original reply to that question.
A couple years ago I went to Congress, to see if anyone there was still up for an honest day’s work. Turns out, there is. Dave Moralez has worked in Congress his whole career, but holds no elected office. He’s a third-generation cattle rancher in Congress, Ariz., a tiny town in the Sonoran Desert. Dave is also a fan of Dirty Jobs, so when he wrote in to see if I’d like to help him transplant a cactus, I said “sure.”
Dave Moralez looks like Work. He’s deeply tanned and big all over, probably 300 pounds. He wears an enormous cowboy hat and a fat mustache that conceals a permanent grin. Unfortunately, there’s not much to grin about in Congress these days. Another drought and a lousy economy have forced many ranchers there to rethink their business. Today, Dave pays the bills by selling his cacti, which grow in the mountains behind his house. “Yesterday I was rancher,” he told me. “Today I’m a landscaper. Go figure.”
My crew and I flew to Phoenix in early August. We spent the night in nearby Wickenberg, and headed over to the Moralez Ranch at the crack of dawn. Dave led me across the dusty yard to a big pick-up truck with a large iron cross built into the bed. Not standard. His sons, Dave Jr. and Daniel, were loading supplies – a tamping bar, three sledgehammers, two picks, a saw, an ax, some two-by-fours, a box of nails, and a case of water. There were also several long strips of indoor carpeting, skewered with dozens of cactus needles. Once loaded, Dave drove his truck toward a sunken arroyo that snaked through the back of his property, and headed toward the hills. My crew and I followed in a tiny Hyundai, the last available rental at the airport, and the only obvious choice for off-road desert adventure.
After 20 minutes of random twists and turns, Dave informed us via walkie-talkie that he was looking for a very specific cactus, near the top of very specific hill, somewhere off in the not-so-specific distance. Why his sights were set on one particular cactus was unclear, since we were driving past hundreds of identical candidates. They were all around us – towering spires of thorny defiance, poking out of the unforgiving terrain like enormous green lawn darts. Read More...