Moving from Tucson, AZ to Charleston, SC, by way of Arkansas, Iowa, and Michigan | December 2015
I had previously shared the quick run down of our great cross-country move, but now that we’re getting our pictures (and our life) sorted out down here, I wanted to share a bit more about the details of our move. Just to fill in the blanks for those memories I want to keep alive!
For our last weekend in AZ, Curtis threw his best friend Mitch a Bachelor’s Party, for which they and 3 other close friends drove to San Diego to go camping and deep sea fishing in the ocean. While they were gone, the girls stayed back at Mitch’s to hold down the fort. It’s a toss up who had a better weekend – I mean, sure they got to go to California, but we had a sleepover, DIY wine and canvas party, AND had fabulous gourmet meals and mimosas all weekend long. So I think the answer is pretty obvious there! It was a great way to end our brief stay in AZ, by spending it enjoying every last minute with friends. (All went off without a hitch, besides Curtis catching a seal and the guys not catching enough fish to bring back for a last dinner together…but that’s all in the past now.) 😉
Our last day was a Monday. Curtis’ sister Lydia happened to be in town because her husband was there for meetings, so we got to enjoy one last day with Grace for a while. We packed up what little we had (which still turned out to be a car-ful for Ghillie!) and said our final goodbyes around 4. Our logic behind this was that we had done this overnight drive so many times, we wanted to change things up and see the land in different light. We also wanted to see if staying awake and alert would be any easier if we hadn’t just spent the day on the road. Also, we were planning to stop and see Curtis’ brother Joel at college first, which was 16 hours away and he would be most available in the afternoon on Tuesday. Logistically, this made sense, so we went for it! And off we went, heading East on I-10, waving goodbye to the mountains and watching our last AZ sunset for a while.
As we always do, we planned a route that went over a few new highways and took us through a new county in New Mexico (we’re so close to getting all of them – sadly it’ll be a while now before that happens!) We took turns driving through the night – I much prefer driving over the quietest hours of the night than during the day. There’s something so wonderfully calming about the dark, quiet roads in middle-of-nowhere NM. However, when I took over in Texas around 4 AM, I found Amarillo to be surprisingly busy and a bit overwhelming. We finally saw the sunrise near the TX/OK border, and Curtis took over for the rest of the drive to NW Arkansas. The drive went smoothly and was enjoyable as always, this time that was largely in part to a Christmas gift given to us from Mitch – Nik Kershaw’s Greatest Hits. If you’ve never heard of Nik, you are missing out, check out this music video to get a taste of the magic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qH4CT4f7fk
We arrived in the area at noon, but weren’t able to see Curtis’ brother Joel until after 2. Luckily, Curtis had a few letterboxes saved to help kill time. We drove to Natural Falls State Park just across the border in Oklahoma and decided to do some short hikes to see the falls and grab what boxes we could. We were the only ones out there on this Tuesday afternoon, but it was a beautiful day to be out and enjoying the Ozarks. We really enjoyed the boxes we found – through them we learned that the movie Where the Red Fern Grows was filmed around this area, and we thought it only seemed right that we use our hound dog to find the boxes for us. As it turned out, the only findings she had were “presents” left from other animals…which she rolled in because she thinks she smells so pretty. Oh my sweet puppy. The falls themselves were very pretty as well, and we enjoyed seeing them from all angles. Time flew by and we weren’t able to find all boxes while we were there, so I guess we’ll have to return another day for that!
We met Joel on his college campus where he gave us a quick tour, then we crammed into Ghillie and he guided us to a nearby area for hiking in the Ozarks. We had been hoping to do a nice hike together out there, but unfortunately every trail we came to was closed. We weren’t quite sure why, but we finally gave up after a while. We ended up driving back to Siloam Springs as it was getting later in the afternoon and we were losing daylight. We walked around town together before stopping for dinner at a pizza place with outdoor seating (because we had Charlotte). After a fun evening of catching up, we took him back to his dorm and said goodbye for a while. The whole reason we were doing this, going out of our way to see family everywhere, was because Curtis had a report date of December 28, and we were hoping to be moved in to our home in SC before Christmas. We know we won’t be able to travel and see family for a while, so we made our best attempt to stop and see everyone. It was a busy time for most, with college finals, school, and other activities still in full swing, but we are so thankful for every quick interaction we had with both sides of our families.
After dropping off Joel, we drove another hour North to Joplin where we spent the night in a hotel. After our sleepless night, I’m pretty sure we were all asleep by the time our heads hit the pillows. The next morning, we were up bright and early to make the drive to Iowa. The drive was quiet and went well all around. I remember passing by Lamar, MO, where we had our breakdown the previous Christmas. As we drove by, I noticed how there were only 2 hotels in that small town, and I was reminded of how well God cared for us during that desperate time. Not only did they have availability when I called the first one around 8 that night from the side of the road a mile North, but they were also dog friendly! I’m sure other pet owners understand the extra complications that traveling with pets can cause. It was so great to drive past and thank God for how He worked that night…and to thank Him once again that we now had a reliable vehicle!
Once in Iowa, our first stop was to see my Grandmother. Unfortunately Grandpa was out of town that day, but she served us lunch and we had a great time visiting that afternoon. And Charlotte was thrilled to be back in their backyard running free. 🙂 I had been able to visit over the past summer, but this is the first time we’d been able to catch up since before Curtis’ OCS graduation and all the excitement that occurred since then. We had a great time together and set off to our next destination mid-afternoon.
Our next stop was to see my brother, Grant, at his college. One of Curtis’ childhood best friends (and a groomsman from our wedding) also attends school there, so we met up with him as well to have dinner. It was a shorter visit because it was “dead week” there (and contrary to my belief, they actually have lots of assignments due during that time, it wasn’t a week of nothing but studying for finals!) but again we were thankful for this time to catch up. Sometimes my siblings are too cool to text me back so the best way to see what’s up is to actually visit them. 😉 We said our goodbyes and wished the guys luck on their finals, then took off on the last leg of the first part of our journey: to my parent’s house!
We got there late Wednesday night but were still greeted by everyone, animals and people, including their newest addition – a new puppy named Nala. 🙂 Charlotte jumped right back into her old games with Teddy, but it took a bit for the 2 girls to warm up to each other. Once they did, they were best of friends, and Charlotte quickly burned off all that energy she had been storing over the long car ride! I just enjoyed sitting with my mom till midnight and having much-needed girl talk. It was good to be home!
We spent the next couple days hanging out there, taking lots of walks with the dogs, seeing my brother’s basketball game, and celebrating an early Christmas/late birthdays for mom and I. My Nanna and Popa were able to come over on Sunday after church, and we enjoyed spending a few hours with them. As always, time went so fast, and before we knew it we were saying goodbye and on the road.
Next up, seeing family in Michigan! We left before dawn on Tuesday. On our way to Curtis’ family’s new home, we stopped for lunch and to visit with my Aunt and Uncle who live right along Lake Michigan. It had been a year since we last saw them, and we really enjoyed chatting about the different places we’ve all been and getting advice for places to visit. After that, we finished the short drive and arrived at Curtis’ family’s in mid-afternoon. We loved getting to tour their new beautiful house and yard, and see the town they now call home. While we were there, we were able to celebrate Curtis’ dad’s birthday on the day, pick out a Christmas tree and decorate their new house for their first Christmas in it, and we also made separate trips to either side of Michigan to see both sets of Curtis’ grandparents. For the first time during our move, it actually started to get cold, so Julie (Curtis’ mom) made Charlotte the cutest puppy sweater with teddy bears on it. She thinks she’s hot stuff in it. 😉 On our last day in Michigan, it snowed. What a way to end our tour of the Midwest!
On Saturday, December 19, we spent the day visiting Curtis’ mom’s parents North of Detroit before saying our goodbyes and starting off on the last leg of our trip. While we were in Iowa, we received a call from the housing office down in SC saying they had a house for us to move into, so we were now more confident in our travels knowing we had a “final destination” set in place! We decided to break up the 14 hour drive into 2 days, and spent the first night around Lexington, KY. This way, we could still spend a good portion of the day with family, and we’d be able to see the Appalachians in the daylight as we drove through!
On Sunday morning, we packed up and were on the road bright and early, so ready to be in our new hometown – even though we knew we’d be “stuck” there for the next year, give or take. We loved the drive through Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina – it was hilly, with snow on some of the bluffs, and the roads were quiet that morning. This was also during the time when the DOT had Star Wars themed messages on the roads, and we got to enjoy seeing some of those around Knoxville! We would have loved to enjoy more time in the more mountainous region, but there was no time for that this trip – we pushed through the last 7 hours and by mid-afternoon, we were driving across the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston. We decided to spend our night in a hotel in Mt. Pleasant since we would be living more inland for the next long while. After checking in, we set out for a walk around and had our first short adventure in Charleston. It was so surreal to finally be here after years of knowing this is where we’d end up one day.
Oh, and as we were entering our new state, we realized that it was December 20 – the 155 year anniversary of the secession of South Carolina. Just the first piece of history we’d learn over the course of our year here! 🙂
We were so thankful to be able to celebrate Christmas in our new home, with all our stuff that we hadn’t seen since May. Of course, it still didn’t feel right without our family around. We had to make do with our own new Christmas traditions: eating ice cream and doing a puzzle while watching Die Hard. Which, by the way, is absolutely a Christmas movie, don’t even try to disagree with us here. 😉
To see our Instagram posts from our cross-country move, search #Saguaros2Palmettos, or refer to our insta accounts – @curtisandjess (me) and @squatchis (Curtis)