I've put around 300 miles on these tires so far and have yet to suffer a single flat. I ride in the desert southwest, too, where spiky plants and "goat head thorns" (google it) are as common on roadways as cigarette butts in the parking lot at the Kentucky Derby. My previous tires regularly suffered the wrath of spiky street gangs, and I usually had a flat every 50 miles or so.
I've romped more times than I would like to admit through loose gravel stretches laden with pointy glass shards, spiny goat heads, and chunks of broken rock--a gauntlet that my gators have guided gallantly with no flats to date.
Also, I think these tires ride just as fast as my previous, lighter tires, as my average speed hasn't dipped. So far, I love them.