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Archive for February, 2012

While exploring the desert plants of Arizona for the past few weeks, the jumping cholla cacti have pricked their way into my heart. Don’t let the common name of teddy bear cactus fool you into thinking this is one of those fuzzy petting cacti. Contrarily, chollas have sharp and barbed spines that aid in its reproduction. As a segmented cactus, each segment is loosely attached to the one preceding it. So when an animal or an unfortunate human being brushes against the cactus, the spines get a good grip on the passerby and the segment breaks from the parent. The clinger can then take root and grow into a new plant, which explains why you often see these cuties clustered together. I like to think of it as the starfish of the desert. Pretty cool, huh?

The twigster,

Josephine

PS: Cholla is pronounced chȯi-yə. Chȯi-yə, chȯi-yə, chȯi-yə!!!!!!

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Gila Bend, Arizona; Day 2 of Desert Camp

Since PAC Tour has started, we have been changing towns and hotels nightly as the cyclists bike farther and farther. The other evening I had the pleasure at staying at The Space Age Lodge in Gila Bend, AZ. A relic of the past, this themed hotel welcomes weary travels with glowing neon lights and walls made of galaxies of stars.

The twigster,

Josephine

PS: Paint your own glitter wall. Everyone loves glitter.

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New York, NY –>Elgin, IL –> Sharon, WI –> St. Louis, MO –>Elk City, OK –> Amarillo, TX –> Tucumcari, NM –> Socorro, NM –>Tucson, AZ

We made it to Tucson! We had a few days before PAC Tour began so we spent two nights camping in Catalina mountains. Here are some photos from a 16 mile hike we took one day.

The twigster,

Josephine

PS: I now have even more respect for people that thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, averaging a 15-17 mile hike everyday. One day the twigster and her sister will be hitting that trail…

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New York, NY –>Elgin, IL –> Sharon, WI –> St. Louis, MO –>Elk City, OK –> Amarillo, TX –> Tucumcari, NM

A snowstorm in Elk City, Oklahoma forced the PAC Tour crew off the road and into the pseudo comforts of a Best Western hotel for the evening. You better believe, however, that bright and early the next morning we were plotting our escape from the icy parking lot and onto the highway in search of the sun’s comforting touch. So we hacked through ice using nothing more than a hand shovel and cleared a path for the big rig. On to Amarillo, Texas.

From Texas, we set our sights on Tucumcari, New Mexico, where we would reward ourselves with some Mexican food. Tucumcari is an interesting little town right along the historic Route 66 – one of the original U.S. highways. As we walked in search of the craved Unburritable Mexican restaurant, we saw relics of the town’s former glory. Neon signs advertised the comforts of the motels and enticed travelers to rest their weary eyes. How I longed to see the town in the 1950s, full of vacationers heading to Los Angeles. Suddenly I wasn’t wearing my jeans anymore, but a flared dress and cherry red lips. After all, I was heading west too.

The twigster,

Josephine

PS: Check out the difference in weather between those two pictures! Nothing but blue skies in New Mexico.

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NYC –> Elgin, Illinois –> Sharon, Wisconsin

Closing my time in Illinois with some deep-dish pizza, we headed to Wisconsin, the PAC Tour headquarters.  We spent a few days loading up the trailer and getting ready for the road trip to Arizona. One of the top priorities was putting some tasty rye and whole grain bread in the oven, and turning some milk into yogurt. Nothing compares to some good homemade food, especially when you know your only options for a few days will probably be fast food. Just as were finishing the PAC Tour pack-up, the sky sent down flurries of snow, a great start to us chasing down those sunny skies.

PS: Here’s a great French bread recipe. Yummy.

Sharon, Wisconsin

Snow!

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Having strayed little from the isle of Manhattan before my college days, my ignorance led me to believe that nothing but cornfields comprised the Midwest. Accordingly when my roommate and I landed in her home state of Michigan in order to evacuate Tulane for Hurricane Gustav, I was ready to get my picture taken while standing in tall fields of corn. While I did get my picture, I also got clued into the fact that there’s more to the Midwest than cornfields. Lesson learned.

I must admit, however, that while gearing up for my trip to Illinois, the images of the cornfields couldn’t help but flow back into my mind. Open land, and good old farmers. While I was warned about the suburbs of Chicago, the rows of crop still were the prevailing image. Upon arrival, I saw cornfields, but cornfields of suburbs and shopping malls. You hear about American consumerism and the big corporations, but until you see a shopping mall at least 5 miles long, and than that SAME shopping mall with the SAME exact chains 15 miles down the road, you just don’t comprehend it.

A lamenter of American consumerism, Parker began to point out just how developed the area had become. A huge vacant building, a former Walmart, was unoccupied because they built a bigger Walmart a few miles down the road. Housing development projects that had rows and rows of cookie cutter homes prevailed throughout the landscape. We began to hypothesize about what it would all look like years from now. What will a vacant Walmart become? We liked the rosy idea of it becoming a civic center, which spurred my next thought.

These housing developments were actually great environmentally. Yes they were gigantic homes, but they were also very concentrated therefore taking up less land and leaving more land for natural habitat and other creatures. With some forward-thinking, the developments can essentially become little towns, with their own stores right within the complex. With 400 + homes in some neighborhoods, the population could easily support their own grocery store, and overall, local businesses. Looking to the future, hopefully we can transform these developments into towns with mom & pop stores and homes intermingled. Then, perhaps, those cornfields of shopping malls will revert back to just cornfields or maybe even prairies. It’s our future, we do get to create it, you know.

The twigster,

Josephine

PS: Who knew the Midwest was so golden? Just take a look at those prairies.

PPS: Love is in the air. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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The other day was my first time in Chicago, and by far my biggest priority was to see the Bean, or the Cloud Gate. Typical tourist. I know, and I totally reveled in it.  I first saw some of Anish Kapoor’s work at Gladstone Gallery in NYC in 2008. Since then, his work has continued to fascinate me, especially his ability to engage the viewer in his work and question their perspectives.  Unsurprisingly, this artist has captured my sister’s attention too, and I invited her to share some insight on the sculptor’s work.

the twigster,

Josephine

The Cloud Gate in Chicago’s Millennium Park is a seamless construction, executed with precision and talent. A total of 168 stainless steel plates comprise the exterior, yet the Gate appears as a whole bean-shaped drop of “mercury” amidst the city backdrop.  The form and stainless steel material of the Bean then allows the sculpture to form a dialogue with both its audience and the surrounding environment. The sculpture entices the audience to play with their reflections and distorted shapes, and to walk around and even under the sculpture. The viewer quickly learns that different points of contact with the sculpture yield different reflections, different perspectives, and a totally different experience with the art.  This experience, with the backdrop of Chicago’s downtown reflecting in the Bean throughout, unites the viewer, the environment, and the sculpture as one entity. Anish Kapoor successfully created a world within a bean – a windy world.

twigster sister

The Bean!

The Cloud Gate, Chicago
Under the Bean

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