I'm an over-planner when we go on vacation. I lurk Pinterest, Instagram and Bloglovin' to find fun things to do off the beaten path. On our last night in LA, my mom suggested just heading out and stumbling upon somewhere for dinner and Angelo actually cackled. I like having a list of things to see, places to eat, ect. ect. I can't exactly remember how I found out about the self titled "Cactus Store," but I quickly added it to my list of essential pit stops after checking out their instagram.
We punched the address in to the GPS and made our way to Echo Park. My mom originally wasn't sure if we should stop by Echo Park, and was more interested in checking out Los Feliz and Silver Lake, but I insisted. After sitting in about an hour of LA traffic, we pulled up in front of a teensy shop and I hoped that I hadn't wasted everyone's time dragging them there.
We walked into the store and were surrounded – and I mean surrounded – by cacti. All shapes and all sizes. There were two other guys there, picking up a custom order, and we all just pivoted around each other – trying to avoid getting pricked and grinning like idiots. The owner greeted us and I stopped short when he pointed at me and said;
"You've been in here before, right?"
No, I definitely hadn't. Like really definitely hadn't. But it didn't matter; he welcomed us in and encouraged any questions. We went outside to the small side area where he potted a custom order while entertaining our questions with knowledgeable, informative answers that I had not expected. He was happy to share information with us and I was even able to clear up a few problems I'd been having with my succulents at home with his help.
The variety of cacti was amazing – and Angelo and I decided we needed to bring one home. The whole shop, the whole experience was just too wonderfully bizarre and we wanted to remember it. We scanned the different options, but kept being drawn back to a new arrival – the old man cactus (or cephalocereus senilis for all you horticulture nerds out there).
Before bringing a cactus that was native to Mexico all the way across the country and back to Baltimore, I made sure to talk to John – the owner of Cactus Store. I didn't want to give the plant culture shock and kill it. He gave me simple instructions – water it when I get it off the plane and then water it again… In March. Angelo had him repeat these instructions a few times, because they seemed a little too simple. It turns out that old man (men?) cacti thrive in drier soil, so if you water it once during the winter – it's a happy little cactus.
I wanted it, Angelo wanted it – so we bit the bullet and, after googling TSA protocol to make sure we could bring it through airport security, we snagged it. We promptly named him Ozzy (a la Osbourne), and packed him up just so airport security could unpack him and make sure he wasn't a threat.*
He wasn't and now we're back in Baltimore, +1 cool cactus.
If you haven't checked out Cactus Store, and you're in the area – I encourage you to do so. If you aren't in the area – follow them on instagram or check out their site. They're great, they know a ton about how to keep your cacti and succulents happy and who knows – maybe you could snag your own Ozzy to keep you company this winter.
*My mom actually waited in the cell phone lot at the airport to make sure we could bring him, because if you're transporting a funny looking prickly plant through airport security - it's always best to have a backup plan.