Moving to Tucson, AZ from the Midwest | August 15-17, 2013
A mere 4 days after our Honeymoon, we packed up Curtis’ new/old truck Yeti, said goodbye to our families, and set off into the great horizon, ready to take on life as a brand new married couple. What better way to grow as a married couple than put 1600 miles between you and your family, friends, and place you’ve called home for the past 20.5 years? While this day had been much-anticipated for several years (since saying goodbye to Curtis as he moved to college in AZ for the first time) all of a sudden, the bittersweet feeling that had been growing inside me became mostly bitter. This was the best yet hardest decision that I had made in my short life, and we had come to the hardest part of it all: saying goodbye. Just 2.5 weeks ago, we had said goodbye to our family in my parent’s driveway as we took off for our honeymoon, but that one had been such a happy memory. Lots of smiling, waving, and laughter accompanied that goodbye. This one was much different. Tears, tissues, hugs, and prayers were the theme of this departure. I hated to be so sad as we were starting out on this brand new adventure as a married couple, but the goodbye overshadowed this day and loomed around like the storm clouds around us as we drove West.
But just as the sun lit up the sky in a gorgeous sunlight, so also the sadness faded, and hope overcame us as we realized that the hardest part was over, and there was so much more that God had in store for us on this journey. We had each other, we had our faith, and an exciting future was standing in front of us – and with faith, we would make it through this together.
The first day, we decided right off the bat that I-80 wasn’t for us, so we took highway 30 West before heading South on another highway. We were planning to get to I-35, but somehow took a wrong turn and found ourselves in new towns in Iowa that we’d never heard of. We embraced the adventure though and stuck with back highways for the rest of the day. (This really set the tone for our entire marriage and for all future road trips we’d eventually take!) The highlight of day 1 was when we were driving past Troy, Kansas, and saw a sign with a familiar name: Peter Toth. On our honeymoon, we had randomly come across another one of his works: the Whispering Giant in Two Harbors, MN. What are the odds that we’d randomly find another that same month?! Of course we stopped to go see the statue, standing in front of the cutest courthouse. I guess it’s worth mentioning that we also happened to pass by a replica of a Whispering Giant in Osceola, IA. We didn’t stop and get a picture of that one though as it wasn’t Peter Toth’s work – and it was painted over.
We eventually did get on the interstate, and made it through Wichita before stopping for the night around Oklahoma City. So besides our round about way of traveling, we still got to where we wanted to be. Bright and early the next morning, we set off on I-40, on which we would remain for the entirety of the day. Curtis had already traveled most of this on his way to Iowa at the beginning of the summer, so he knew a few places he wanted to stop to grab letterboxes and souvenirs. We stopped at a roadside stand in Oklahoma and purchased our Pendleton blanket, saw bison, ate at Cracker Barrel, and I realized how much bigger the bugs like grasshoppers were the farther West we went. Was I really ready for this?? Well, nothing we could do about that now!
Besides Albuquerque having some heavy traffic when we passed through late-afternoon, we didn’t have any trouble driving – which we were very thankful for since the truck had problems with overheating on our honeymoon. The clouds were just spectacular as we approached the AZ-NM state line that evening. It was such a weird feeling seeing the “Welcome to Arizona” sign as we entered the state, knowing I was here to stay…this was my new home. The land was so incredible – I was already falling in love with the big skies and the views across the horizon, but could this really be my home?!
We stayed in Flagstaff that night, then finished the drive on Saturday. We were already looking forward to returning to Flagstaff as we drove away. We made one stop in Sun Tan City outside of Phoenix to visit some friends and go out for lunch, then finished up the drive to Tucson taking highway 79. As we came nearer to my new home city, the mountains grew bigger, and the excitement grew within us.
Any worries or doubts about moving vanished in my mind as soon as we turned onto the street our apartments would be off of. It sounds so silly to say, but seeing that we had a Plato’s Closet (my favorite consignment store) right on the corner of my street was just a gift from God, as if to say “Don’t worry, I’m with you, you’re going to love living here.” (Spoiler alert…we did! Every second of it!) That afternoon, we signed our first lease together, moved what little belongings into our HUGE (to us at the time!) 2 bedroom apartment, went for a sunset hike/letterboxing trip on A Mountain, and ate at In-N-Out. These things seemed so new, so monumental, so “Arizonan” to me, but very soon they became our life. We learned to love and embrace experiencing these moments with each other, and they became our normal, right up until the day we moved away. (Spoiler alert: the exact things we did on our last night in that apartment were a sunset hike and dinner at In-N-Out!)