Phoenix, Arizona

Oh, how life can change in a day. And thank god it did. When I left you last, I’d had an underwhelming visit to Roswell, NM. Now, we were on our way to visit one of Trev’s closest friends, Tyler. I hadn’t seen Tyler since our wedding three years ago, but I’ve known him over 10 years. Trev and Tyler grew up together and I’m sure if Trev were writing this post, he’d fill it with a million memories and Holliston in-jokes that I wouldn’t get. Here’s what I can say: Tyler is a great, fun guy and it’s always been exciting when we get to see him.

Our drive from Roswell to Phoenix was unlike anything I’d ever seen. I traveled the country a lot when I started working at MEDITECH, but I’d never been to the southwest. The desert landscape was more beautiful than I could have imagined. It was the epitome of the vision I had of the “open road.” There were snowcapped mountains and sand dunes, which was a surprise to me. There were also miles of dead plants and rocks – not as much of a surprise.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking for our drive-time sites. We were in awe at every turn. Oh, and it was also super creepy at times while we drove through nuclear testing zones and past super (not-so) secret military bases.

We arrived in Phoenix in the evening. Tyler owns a beautiful home in a gated community. He lives with his now-fiance (!) Jen, her two kids, and two dogs (one of which is an adorable puppy, which I will get to later). Trev and I were eager to meet Jen. We had had seen pictures on Facebook and heard a ton about her, but never actually met. We spent our first night there relaxing, which was a relief after two back-to-back days of long drives. We met Jen, who is great and so easy to talk to, and her kids, who are a lot of fun. Hobbes also met their new puppy, Dexter. As you can imagine, they were fast friends. Buffy, not so much. She’s too much of a cranky old lady to put up with puppy shenanigans and she let Dexter know it.

The next morning we dropped the dogs off at the coolest day camp/boarding facility I’ve ever been to. The staff were crazy friendly, the dogs got to be outside all day with kiddie pools and lots of doggie fun. They also sent us a picture of the dogs every day, which sounds silly, but it was fun to see what they were up to. Apparently Buffy went in the pool…a lot! Meanwhile Trev and I spent the next morning by Tyler’s pool while he worked. It was the first time I think either of us felt like we were getting where we wanted to be since we’d left. It was warm enough to be outside in a bathing suit surrounded by palm trees in March.

Tyler was able to work a half day and he took us in to Phoenix where we got food and drinks. You don’t hear many people talk about Phoenix, but it’s a very cool city. It was the first time on our trip where most things were designed for indoor/outdoor living, which is one of my favorite things. It was nice to catch up with Tyler and to see him and Trev together after so long. I have to say I’ve never known someone so good at keeping in touch as Trev. It’s one of my weaknesses, so I really admire that quality in him. Him and Tyler talk all the time even after all the years they’ve lived so far apart.

That night after Jen came home, we drove up South Mountain, which is right by their house, for the sunset. I have to say, it really does look like the license plates. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. We had fun drinking, chilling, and puppying.

The next morning we headed out early for a South Mountain hike. I was pretty excited to see more of the desert. I was also excited to get my body moving. One thing that’s plainly obvious to me now is how little I did before we left. They say working a sedentary job takes a toll on you and I thought that meant I could get away with running and doing yoga a few times a week. Obviously, that’s better than nothing. But what I can see now is that lifestyle has a ripple effect. When you sit all day, everything seems like work. All you want to do when you get home is sit. Exercise doesn’t have to be unpleasant or work. I don’t want that to be my life ever again. This hike in Arizona was the beginning of that mental change for me.

It really was beautiful out there. I got to see saguaro cacti up close (those ones with the arms, I had to look it up too). I fell in love with these orange desert flowers that don’t look like much in the pictures but are gorgeous against the all-beige landscape in person. I also got to spend some quality time getting to know Jen, which I was really thankful for. Tyler knew all kinds of interesting facts and trivia that were really fun to learn (did you know Arizona is the only place in the country where you can find the Saguaro Cactus and that damaging one is a class four felony?!). It was a really fun outing and we all promptly fell asleep when we got home.

Later, all six of us went to a pre-season Cardinals game. The tickets were so unbelievably cheap! It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a baseball game, but I’ve always loved going. Back when I was a kid (and the Sox sucked) my parents used to buy me tickets to a game for my birthday. Today that would be impossible unless you’re making a lot more money than I do (which wouldn’t be hard since I’m currently unemployed, HA!). We got overpriced truck food, beer, and shelled peanuts by the dozens. Trev literally rolled around letting the kids throw grass and peanut shells all over him while the rest of us watched and laughed at him. It was like a summer night out of a movie.

We were sad to leave the next morning, but we were on to my favorite place: California. Call me a walking cliche, but there’s nowhere I love more, not even Hawaii (!!), and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

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