On the Road: Man and Machine

May 3, 2014
Skippy Mesirow

Madera – Batopolis by way of Urique 

Copper Canyon Mexico, you know it as, the epicenter of the Mexican Cartel’s grow operations.  What you don’t know is that it is home to one of the most exhilarating stretches of tarmac and gravel, in the world.

On the Road: The Traveler's Dilemma

May 1, 2014
Skippy Mesirow

Douglas, AZ. – Madera, Mexico

Having traversed the great American expanse and gone through customs I find myself in Agua Prieta, a small boarder town. What lies ahead? I know the stories. War torn border towns, blood soaked streets, headless bodies dumped at the police station, crime, theft, disease. Northern Mexico and Copper Canyon, a dystopian Thunderdome of carjacking, mass murder and disappearances.  Despite my previous travels to say I feel no fear would be straight faced lie.  

On the Road: The American Experience

Apr 29, 2014
Skippy Mesirow

Aspen, CO. – Douglas, AZ.

Not all those who wander are lost. The script words on my friend’s ribcage immerge from the water. The clank of plastic glasses and the laugh of friends fill the air – the last hot tub of the season in Aspen, the embodiment of joy. Amazing friends, a breathtaking environment, an active lifestyle, great conversations, strong embraces. It’s what we all cherish and why we all call Aspen home. Yet for all its opportunity, all its character, and all its glory, to truly expand ones horizons, to expand ones understanding, empathy, and context for the world, one must venture out.

Helen Ward

I spent most of today in classrooms judging debate rounds. Topics varied from the serious like should governments allow completely unfettered free speech to more social topics like should marijuana be legalized? It was a long day with 9 rounds of debates. By 4pm everyone was exhausted. The agenda, however, called for mandatory appearance in the assembly hall to hear Arnoldas Pranckeviciys speak.

Helen Ward

My journalist friend Neil told me two things before leaving for Russia. First, it is often the best time to visit a country when we are embroiled in conflict. He is a war correspondent for the New York Times so he has a certain proclivity for conflict, but his point was that when tensions are escalating and both sides are being fed exaggerated points of view, remembering that we are all human and want essentially the same things; peace, prosperity, health, a better world for the next generation, beauty, poetry, music and dance -- is important.

We have hit a streak of  perfect spring weather which looks like it will last until we depart for Lithuania. We took advantage of summer weather to head 20 minutes out of the city to the summer residence of the Tsars, Catherine's Palace. One could yawn at this point from over exposure to gilt encrusted, lapis and onyx inlaid and pilastered rooms. Faberge and Sevres adorned furnishings appear mundanely in room after room and we have only visited three of the dozens of palaces. It would have been a shame to miss this one, however.

Helen Ward

It is Easter morning and the Nikolsky Cathedral is full. Russian orthodox services are delivered to a standing crowd. Families mill about listening to prayer, seeking inspiration from their favored saints represented in icons hung through out this gorgeous blue jewel of a church. They have picnic baskets full of treats which are being blessed with holy water by one of the officiants. The golden onion shaped domes of the church, sky blue facade against the perfect blue sky, budding trees couldn't embody resurrection more clearly, The crowd is joyful and we feel entirely welcomed. 

Helen Ward

Wow! A lot has changed since my last visit to St P in 1977 when I came with my High School teacher Dr Egan and 10 other classmates from our Russian History Class. Back then the monochromatic palate of the identical black Volga cars everyone drove,  the consistent shades of grey and black coats and hats, the low grey January clouds and pallor of everyone's skin made the polychrome onion domes and pastel palaces of the Romanov's shocking in their brilliance. Today the billboards, variety and magnitude of cars and fashion in every shape and size present a very different image.