the road home & the craziest lightning storm ever

And just like that, 5 Days of Blogging week has come to an end!  I hope you’ve all enjoyed it!  It’s been very exciting for me, personally.  I’ve been itching to blog again for a while now, and finally getting back at it has been a dream.  

Starting next week, I will be committing to post once a week, so keep an eye out for something new every Monday!  Until then, please enjoy these wonderful desert landscapes.

the drive home

The most beautiful desert drive I have ever experienced.  

the drive home the drive home

After an overnight road trip and a whirlwind reunion (click here to read that blog post), we loaded up our little Ford Fiesta and drove off into the Utah desert.  Will grew up surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscapes most of us only dream about.  Naturally, our first stop for photos at a look out was maybe only an hour after we left his mom’s house.  

the drive home

Personally, it’s my dream to see the Grand Canyon.  Well… not just SEE it, but hike it, and explore it, and photograph it, and kayak through it.  I want to be a proper adventurer through the Grand Canyon.  And friends, it is going to happen at some point during these next few months.  I can feel it in my bones.

the drive home the drive home

As we left Utah and headed for Arizona, the desert forest and mountains rose around us.  It smelled like camping.  Like that southern California, Sierra Nevadas kind of camping.  With the pine trees of the desert, not the pine trees of the Carolinas.  They have reddish bark and are spread out with little to no bracken and brush to surround them.  They remind me of the red woods of northern California, or the dryness of Spooner Lake in Nevada.

the drive home the drive home

We passed by the northern rim of the Grand Canyon and we resisted.  We watched a tour bus full of people pull into a restaurant.  We saw 4Runners with dogs and hikers, with kayaks on their racks.  And we didn’t go the 45 minutes out of our way to glimpse it.  

We did, however, stop several more times within the next couple hours because the views were.  just.  stunning.

the drive home

We rounded this corner and the trees went away, and the desert rocks and brush rose around us, and then there were these views of red rock and desert plains that went off into the distance.  I’ll tell ya, I have lived in super green places like Oregon and British Columbia and North Carolina, where you think that this must be the definition of beautiful.  But the desert is something else.  I’ve never seen so many shades of orange, and red, and yellow, and brown.  It is breathtaking.

the drive home the drive home the drive home

At this point in the drive, we decided that we needed to stop stopping everywhere.  Because we could have stopped every single mile, the landscape was just that incredible.  It didn’t help that just a few miles later we drove over a canyon and a river.  

the drive home the drive home the drive home

I could have stared at this river for ages.  We had barely made it into Arizona at this point and still had to drive almost all the way to Mexico.  So we took a few quick shots, and then reluctantly got back on the road.

the drive home the drive home the drive home

As we neared Tucson later that evening, we encountered a crazy storm.  It was so exciting!  The wind picked up and rocked the car.  It whipped the sand and created great clouds along the ground.  The skies got dark and in the distance we watched the most amazing lightning storm we’ve ever seen as it grew nearer and nearer.

the drive home

It eventually turned into a torrential downpour and the flash flooding was real.

the drive home the drive home

We passed through the storm and made it home after about ten hours of driving, grateful for an amazing weekend, a road trip for the books, and ready to crash and sleep immediately.  

If you enjoyed blogging week and those lighting pictures, please give this post a like and leave me a comment to let me know what you want to see next!  Don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already and I’ll talk to you on Monday!

Until next time,

Jamie out

the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion

Will is from Utah and his parents still live in the house he grew up in.  He had the kind of locational stability growing up that I got jealous of and longed for a bit in my teen years.  He has three brothers and one sister and they all live in this little clump in the western states right now.  We took advantage of the closeness of family almost immediately after moving to Arizona and road tripped up for a big family reunion—his mom’s 50th birthday party!

the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion

Friday, July 6, 2018

I spent the day packing and cleaning.  I worked out (leg day), did laundry, and prepped everything to go so that the minute Will got off work, we would be ready to leave.

We loaded up the car, got gas, and by 4:56pm we were on the road, driving north for Utah.

the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion

One thing you may not know about me is that I’m actually really self conscious about taking photos and videos sometimes.  I hate being a bother, or getting in someone’s way, so I really dislike asking for people to pose, or move, or stop their lives so that I can take their photo.  This is perhaps why I love capturing candid moments so much—I don’t have to ask for a whole lot, except to allow me to photograph the moment.  (Disclaimer: if it’s an actual session where I’m photographing a family, for example, that’s completely different because the client has literally paid me to boss them around a little bit from behind my camera.)

Will is a huge blessing for me.  He notices moments too.  He sees things that are beautiful and he asks, “do you want to take a picture?  Do you want me to pull over?  I’m going to pull over.”  And then I get this little boost of confidence because my husband believes in me, and he can see the beauty in the moment too.  There was a lot of that on this road trip, and it really filled my heart.

the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion

It’s a little over 600 miles from our place in Arizona to his parents’ in Utah, and Will drove the entire way that night.  What a hero.  We listened to the music on my iTunes alphabetically by starting with the first “A” song that came up and tried to see how far we could get.  It’s weeks later now and we’re still trying to get to songs that start with a “B.”  We also listened to The Hobbit because we hadn’t finished it on our move out from North Carolina.

the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion

I passed out dead asleep a little after ten because I’m an old woman and really struggle to stay up late any more.  Will powered through, with only a few stops for gas and sustenance, and we arrived just after 4am to a very quiet welcome from his older brother John.  We slept another four hours and then woke up excited for a day of celebrating and reuniting.  

Will’s sister Cherie had a fantastic vision for their mom’s party, so we all became dutiful workers and errand runners and balloon inflators and amateur cake decorators for several hours.  Cherie even masterminded a couple balloon arches and jars full of cake pops to top everything off.  We filled things with helium and twisted crepe paper from the ceiling and I really regretted leg day after climbing up and down from stools for a while.

the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion

The party itself wasn’t a surprise, but all of the decor sure was, and Will’s mom Terri had the best reaction to the reveal.  Way to go, Cherie!

the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion

It was a great evening, complete with a taco bar (this girl needs absolutely nothing else in life but tacos), presents, a lot of cake pops, and fun 50 questions about life for Terri.  

the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion

All of the nieces and nephews were super pleased about the cake pops also.

Can you tell I like cake pops?  How many more times can I say “cake pops?”

the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion

These photos were taken about a year apart.  First of all, we’re missing a brother, but both times were super fantastic photo ops, and John always gives me the best faces.  

A crazy desert storm of wind and rain brought the party inside and we lasted long into the night with card games of all kinds.  My favorite is Nerts (very similar to Dutch Blitz)—think Speed and Solitaire combined, and then add about 10 people playing and your brain might explode if you aren’t prepared.  I have a tendency to test friendships with this game, because I’m very good at it and I don’t let other people win.

I’m also very humble.

I seem to remember rolling into bed around midnight after struggling to keep my eyes open for a while.  It was a blessing to get several hours of uninterrupted sleep.  

By the next morning, I couldn’t walk properly because of Friday’s leg day, and it was time for a Shugart style breakfast.  If you can think of a breakfast food, we probably ate it.  There are eggs and potatoes (my personal favorite), not to mention pancakes, sausage, bacon, french toast, coffee, tea, juice, milk, and all the fixin’s (as they say in the south).  I was way too interested in gorging myself to take the time to photograph the food, but Terri and I did make sure we rounded up all the troops to take a big family photo before everyone left.

the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion

This is my first big complete Shugart family photo that I’ve been in!  First of many!  I’m stoked to see how it changes over the years.  Also, I think every family deserves a token very-tall-man.  Thanks for being ours, BJ!  

We said our goodbyes, packed up the car, and set off again to head back home.  What a whirlwind adventure!  Just my kind, to be honest.  

Will and I stopped at so many gorgeous places for photos on the drive home that I think that deserves a blog post unto itself.  With Will and I combined, I think our future road trips might take a little longer than expected, due to many many stops for photos, and I’m totally okay with that.

Until next time,

Jamie out.

moving to Arizona

Moving to AZ 2018

Moving was a huge part of my life growing up.  I have lived in six states and two countries.  For most of my life I have called the west coast home.  From the deserts of Nevada, to the valleys and greenery of the Pacific Northwest, with the beach life of SoCal, I have experienced my fair share of American cultures.  

In 2014 I moved from San Diego to North Carolina, where my guy Will moved in 2015.  Will, unlike me, has not lived a lot of places.  He grew up in Utah, went to school in Utah, and spent a few months in Colorado after completing his undergrad.  

We met, we dated, we married, and just two months later, we packed up all of our belongings, put almost everything in storage, and moved to Arizona.  (By the way, that adorable baby on the bed is my nephew James—Will and I have not procreated yet)

Moving to AZ 2018

God bless my family for all of their help.  My entire immediate family lives in North Carolina currently, which has been a huge blessing.  One of the things I am missing most in Arizona is Sunday evenings at my parents’ house with the family.  They were an immense help in getting us ready to move and my mom and dad put their many moves worth of experience to work in helping us pack, move everything to storage, and clean the apartment before we handed in our keys.  They even let us crash at their place the night before we took off into the sunrise!

Moving to AZ 2018

Will and I didn’t live together before we were married, and we knew that we would be moving right away so Will moved into my tiny apartment with me.  It was definitely a challenge figuring out where to store things, and our second bedroom turned into a storage room/Will’s closet for a couple months.  It was a relief to get everything out of there.

Moving to AZ 2018 Moving to AZ 2018

Day 1—Wednesday.

We were determined to make really good time on our drive.  We had decided to bring both of our cars so we both drove all day every day—and my little Mazda doesn’t have cruise control!  Our first 14 hour day was a real treat, I tell ya!  

Moving to AZ 2018

We listened to several chapters in The Hobbit and I definitely utilized Podcasts as, for the first time in my life, I just couldn’t bring myself to listen to hours and hours of music while on the road.  I found some good marriage podcasts, and decided after one go at it to leave the political podcasts to someone else.

Moving to AZ 2018

We drove all the way to Jackson, MS and discovered that a convention was happening in the area and almost every hotel was completely booked.  We sat in the parking lot of our second attempted hotel and called almost everyone in the area before we found possibly the last available room in Jackson.  We were so tired and delirious and just ready to crash, but we celebrated finding a room in a hotel with a pool and a complimentary breakfast.  It’s the little things!  Plus we had a sweet water view from our window, which we entered right at golden hour so the sunset was stunning.

Moving to AZ 2018

Day 2—Thursday.

We didn’t push quite so far this day, as it was our two-monthiversary and Will picked a specific restaurant for us to celebrate at that evening.  

Did I mention that we used walkie talkies the whole drive?  Because we did.  I was Raptor One and Will was Captain America.  It made logistics super easy, and it also made the drive a lot less lonely.

Moving to AZ 2018

No road trip is complete without tiny donuts, and I have discovered that it is specifically Hostess chocolate donuts.  I’m partially blaming my newlywed-fifteen on these tiny donuts.  (Did anyone else IMMEDIATELY start putting on the pounds once they got married?  Because I’ve gone from a size 2 to a size 6 in three months.) 

Moving to AZ 2018

Day 3—Friday.

We made plans with my friend for dinner this day so our destination was set, and a good thing that was.  We arrived at our hotel earlier than expected and crashed for almost two hours.  We were absolutely exhausted.  I was so tired on this trip that I never even pulled out my real camera—I just took a few iPhone photos and videos here and there!  

Moving to AZ 2018

We had a delicious steak dinner with my friend Regina and her husband and talked the night away.  It was incredible getting to catch up with such a beautiful and generous soul who used to be such a light for me in North Carolina until she moved.  

 

Day 4—Saturday.

Our shortest day, and thank goodness.  We were excited, and exhausted, and nervous to see the hotel we would be living in for the next four months.  Also, we had been driving across Texas for DAYS and finally seeing another state was a sight for sore eyes.  The mountains rose around us and the desert heat came in waves.  

As two humans who grew up on the west coast, were born in desert environments and small cities surrounded by mountains, we got very very excited when we finally pulled up to our new digs.

Moving to AZ 2018

There is a pond, and trails up the mountain right behind us.  There are cacti and free coffee in the lobby.  There are sweet maids who deep clean our rooms and give us towels and pillow mints.  There is a complimentary breakfast every morning, and a pool to dip in during the hot days and nights.  And there is monsoon season—OH is there monsoon season!  

Moving to AZ 2018
We have a cute little suite (#SuiteLifeofWillandJamie) with couches and a kitchenette and a cute double bed that Will likes to hog.  I have a little cabinet to put all of my workout stuff in and Will has a huge desk he can spread out on and work at to his heart’s content.  There are big windows I can open to listen to the rain and the laundry is up one flight of stairs, which is only inconvenient if I choose to do laundry after leg day.

We are super happy and are having a blast on this little adventure of ours!  I’ll let you know what we got up to in July pretty soon here, so make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss it!  If you enjoyed this post, please like and comment to let me know what you would like to see from us next!

Until next time,
Jamie out ❤

To read about our first month in Arizona, click here.

Moving to AZ 2018