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I went to IKEA for a bookshelf and instead bought a cactus

My inability to keep plant life living has been fairly well documented. It’s a bleak history, and though they say history is written by the winners I’m going to keep it real here today. I am horrible at nurturing plants. They all die. It may take a whole month a little while, but inevitably I kill them off. Dead as a doornail.

So that’s why, on a recent visit to IKEA to track down a bookshelf, I instead walked out with a cactus.

And a throw pillow. As one does.

I attempt to keep a cactus alive. (Photo by Anya Semenoff)

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Southwest/USA || a road trip essay

At the beginning of December I promised a look back at a couple of stories and photos I failed to get up here earlier in the year. Before we say farewell to 2015 and kick off shiny new 2016, here is one of those posts.


southwest usa road trip

The last time we road tripped together, the windshield wipers provided a tempo to our travel. This time around, we mostly stewed in the hot desert sun longing for some rain. When the rain did eventually start — 1,097 miles into our trip as we drove north toward home — we cheered it along. Perhaps it would loosen some of the bug residue built up on the windshield that sheltered us.

southwest usa road trip

A good chunk of my life has been spent driving across desert terrain. I grew up in Colorado, but my large extended family resided west in California. Being one of four, it usually made most sense to drive to visit them, my parents loading us into our old red Ford Aerostar van named Ruby and crossing Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and the northern slice of California to arrive in the Bay Area. We weren’t the rambling sort, instead opting to drive all of the nearly 1,300-­mile journey in one stretch. Only a 17­-hour trip if you really believe in yourself. At least once a year during the course of our childhood we would make this drive, waving to the likes of Cheyenne and Salt Lake City, reeling past Reno, and feeling our excitement grow as we crossed into the Sierra Nevadas for our final approach into San Francisco. We stopped only for gas, to use remote and sometimes alarming rest areas, and to eat 50­-cent ice cream cones at Little America.

I believe this somewhat maniacal family habit still inspires our adult travel adventures. Which is why my sister and I found ourselves at the beginning of May attempting a tour of the southwestern part of the United States with only three­ days dedicated to the feat. Three days to leave Denver, jaunt through Moab, Arches National Park, the Grand Canyon, walk the avenues of Williams and Flagstaff, Ariz., and then tour the southern corner of Colorado. Three days. No problem.

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