So Pancho and Lefty were, as usual, dragging up the rear of the caravan.
In trouble again with el Capitan, they had one last chance.
That was to guard the most precious cargo they had acquired on their trip to the desert which lie southwest of this hot and sweaty land.
Yes, hot AND sweaty. It wasn’t just sweat due to their hard work under the hot sun, but the humidity made it impossible to ever feel dry!
And when the sun went down … unlike the cool desert nights, it remained hot and muggy here even at midnight.
In any case, they were headed south along an old native and animal trail that skirted the local river.
A couple of days earlier they had crested el Diablo, the lone bump in the otherwise flat lands of Kanza and the northernmost edge of their journey.
From up there they could see forever, to the edge of the earth it seemed.
But now they were down here, on the trail with a wagon that had a broken axle.
A broken axle that had spilled their precious load.
As the light dimmed, they fixed the wagon and loaded it back up.
All except for this one flowering cactus, the lost bit of Coronado’s gold.
For these flowering cactus matched the golden color of the queen’s hair and after seeing paintings of them from Coronado’s previous journey to the southwest, she had specifically requested they be brought back to her.
I saw this flowering cactus as I rode down the Meadowlark Trail today. I decided to stop and take a picture on the way back, and as I proceeded down the trail I conjured up this story in my head and wrote it down, pretty much unchanged, after I got home.