Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Labor Day Part I

Initially, Will and I had completely different plans for our Labor Day weekend.  When they ended up falling through, we were at a little bit of a loss and ended up on a little impromptu road trip up north to Flagstaff, Williams, and the Grand Canyon.  

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Your girl, who is not a planner, pulled through in the clutch and did all of the research about the Grand Canyon, including where to stay, what to hike, and where to stop along the drive.  Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I did a pretty dang good job.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Sunset Crater Volcano

If you want to read about other National Parks Will and I have visited, click here!  When we had only been dating for about four months, we picked up a couple National Parks Passports at the Blueridge Parkway in North Carolina.  It became our mission to stamp our passports at as many parks as possible over the coming years.  So far, we are killing it in Arizona.  

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Visiting Sunset Crater Volcano was a great look into how volcanos, earth quakes, and volcanic eruptions can drastically change a landscape.  Similar to Mount St Helens in Washington, Sunset Crater once erupted in what would later become Flagstaff, Arizona.  Luckily, the locals at the time appeared to get the gist about what was going to happen and got out of dodge well in advance.  

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

There are several hikes around the volcano to view more of the volcanic rock and ecosystem around the mountain.  Will and I picked a short one miler since we had been driving all day and were eager to get to our hotel.

The Lava Flow Trail is paved and explores the “Bonita Lava Flow,” along with “numerous volcanic features while walking at the base of Sunset Crater Volcano.”  For more information, visit the National Park’s website here.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

The trail we chose is just a short drive past the Visitor Center, where we learned more about the people who once inhabited this area of Arizona, as well as what the volcano may have looked like back in the day.  

We loved getting to peek at the wide array of volcanic rock and dust that still dominates the landscape surrounding the volcano.  We could see high up on the mountain where old trails still leave scars upon the mountainside.  Hiking and climbing is no longer allowed on the crater site in order to preserve and protect it.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

We spent an hour or so on the trail, taking in the landscape and learning about the crater, before we hopped in the car and drove an hour to Williams, Arizona.  We checked into our hotel and headed out to spend the evening at the Grand Canyon Brewery for some delicious steaks.  That night we turned in early so that we could get up super early the following morning to watch the sun rise over the Grand Canyon.

Never fear—that blog post is coming soon.  Hoping you all have great weekends and praying for everyone in the Carolinas right now!  Praying over the impact of Hurricane Florence!

Don’t forget to give this post a like if you enjoyed it and don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already!

Until next time,
Jamie out

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Read More:
Labor Day Part II Labor Day Part III

desert life | Arizona part II

We are officially over half way through our time in Arizona!  Homesickness is definitely starting to kick in and I’m counting down the days until I can squish my little nephew and do my job in the office instead of remotely, but we are still having so much fun out here in the desert.

Will and I went on several adventures in month two, a lot of which we blogged about (click here to see our adventures).  I accidentally deleted a ton of pictures from Ramsey Canyon and Tombstone and cried when I realized I had done it.  But I still ended up blogging way more than I had anticipated because there is just so much to do and see when you live in a new place!

Arizona Part II

The #SuiteLifeofWillandJamie

Hotel life is still treating us well.  I’m building a rapport with the maids and they make fun of how much coffee I drink.  We don’t do a lot of cooking in our kitchenette, but the other night Will grilled some steaks and I made some mashed sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli and it was delicious.

Arizona Part II

Date night is one of my favorite things in life, but sometimes we just really don’t feel like leaving the hotel.  Cue the couch-bed.  Discovered in college and perfected over the years, here’s how to make your very own.  


2 couches you can push together.
All the pillows and all the blankets in the world.
Unhealthy snacks and beverages.

Helpful tip: if you can’t see the TV over the couches while in a comfortable position, opt for a laptop instead.  

Ideal for parents of young children or when one of you isn’t feeling well. 

Arizona Part II

That’s right, I’m still working my booty off.  Or rather… I’m working it ON because pancake booty is out of here when you’re doing 80 Day Obsession.  

Side note, I’m not a Beach Body coach.  I know I mention it a lot, but I am just talking about life, and I don’t go to the gym.  I work out in my living room.  And I have the booty gains to prove it.

I just passed day 40 in the program and am over half way through!  

Arizona Part II

It’s kind of comforting to me that the biggest car troubles I’ve ever had have been dead batteries (knock on wood).  It’s great that Will has a lot more experience with cars than I do and he is perfectly capable of changing a battery.  It kinda makes your girl feel all safe and fuzzy, you know?

Arizona Part II


The food in Arizona continues to impress us.  From the unexpectedly excellent service at Denny’s, with their quotable mugs and their delicious all-day-breakfast menu, to the once a week free dinner at our hotel, it’s not hard to get fat in the southwest.  

Literally.  Will and I had two dinners one night because we found out the free dinner at our hotel was nachos after we had already eaten.  

Arizona Part II

In-N-Out, you blessed place.  How am I ever going to leave you again?  Animal style burgers (google that secret menu, y’all), chocolate milk shakes, and fresh from the potato slicer fries.  You are the apple of the west coast’s eye.

Arizona Part II

Tacos are life!  There’s a whole crew at our hotel who crash every taco joint in town on Tuesdays.  Our small group back in North Carolina (#TacoTuesdayCrew where you at?!) is totally missing out.

Another helpful life tip: listen to the locals.  Go where they go, eat where they eat, and ask them what the best thing on the menu is.  You won’t regret it.

Arizona Part II

Date night, amiright?   

I used to have/still have this irrational anxiety about eating at Chipotle because every time I’ve eaten there I don’t know what to order and I end up not liking what I get.  I enlisted the help of a professional this time (Will) and he held my hand through the process so that I could discover what my life has been missing all along.

Burrito bowls.

Give me all of them.  I want them 24/7.  

Also, on top of that, is Culver’s.  We actually went to Culver’s three times in one week.  Will was legitimately upset when I pointed this out (because it’s not healthy and we’re both trying to do better with our nutrition).  But let me break it down for you.  Their ice cream is out of this world and we always order their concrete mixers.  Will’s favorite is vanilla with Oreos and marshmallow creme.  My favorite (which I actually discovered this last time we went) is vanilla with peanut butter and hershey’s.  I also really enjoy vanilla with butterfingers.  

Arizona Part II


Most distinguished among all of our favorite things in Arizona is all of the exploring we have been able to do.  From the “standing up rocks” of Chiricahua National Monument to the wonders of city life in Tucson, we don’t know how we’re going to see everything we want to see in the time that we have left.  Good thing we’ll probably be back here at some point in the future, eh?

Arizona Part II

There was some kind of something happening in Tucson—Second Saturday I think they call it.  A lot of businesses were in on it—hosting special events or sales.  In the evening there were food trucks and musical guests in blocked off streets of downtown.  There ware jazz musicians and country artists.  Will and I drove up for a few hours for some good food and city exploring.  We popped into a cool photography gallery downtown and spent some time looking at pieces valued at several thousand dollars.

Arizona Part II

My favorite adventure we went on was definitely exploring the Coronado Cave at the Coronado National Memorial (which you can read about here).  I actually shot a lot of video so maybe one day I will put that together for you guys.  All that I’m going to say is that if you’re in the area, Coronado is a must see.  

Arizona Part II

Last but not least are some of my only surviving photos from Ramsey Canyon and Tombstone that I mercifully saved to my phone before I accidentally deleted them from my camera.

Arizona Part II

We went to Ramsey Canyon with a couple we met locally who took us under their wing to show us what their town is all about.  We went up in the mountains early in the morning to this nature preserve to “spot some critters.”  We saw a lot of deer, a wild javelina right by the road, and even a whole flock of turkeys.

Arizona Part II

Tombstone was super interesting and I would love to go back.  We ate at a great restaurant, took a stagecoach tour of the town, had chocolate malts and milkshakes at an ice cream parlor, and toured the famous Bird Cage Theatre, which was a part of the red light district.  Downstairs beneath the bar and performance parlor is where the longest poker game ever played occurred—lasting over eight years.  

August came and went and we had a blast.  We’re ready for fall, for cooler weather, for building upon friendships we have made, and for even more adventures.  

September began with a bang—Labor Day weekend in the Grand Canyon.  Those blog posts are coming up soon, so don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already!

What adventures did you get up to in August?  Leave it in the comments below, and If you enjoyed this post, give it a like!

Until next time,
Jamie out

More Posts
Moving to Arizona Month 1 in Arizona

Chiricahua National Monument

Part two in our exploration of Arizona’s National Parks.

We have discovered not only that there are a plethora of parks in Arizona, but that a good amount of them are perfect for day trips.  National Parks are incredible preservations of nature, often highlighting a significant aspect of American culture and encouraging people to explore natural rock formations, caves, mountains, lakes, and forests.  

The National Parks of Arizona have yet to let us down.  We last visited the Coronado National Memorial where we  learned about the Spanish and Mexican influence in our culture and explored a 600 foot deep cave.  This time, we grabbed our passports and our friends and drove a few hours away to see some pretty spectacular rock formations.

Chiricahua National Monument

Chiricahua National Monument

The monument was created in 1924.  The Chiricahua Mountains are an inactive volcanic range surrounded by desert grasslands.  The monument is in a particularly exquisite area that once experienced quite violent volcanic activity.  The ash formed into rocks and through the passing of time, incredible rock formations, forests, and wildlife have created an ecosystem that is worth venturing out to see.  

Chiricahua National Monument

Our first stop was in the Visitor Center to stamp our passports.  All of the National Parks should have a stamp station, and additionally should have passports on sale if you don’t have one already!  Our friends J and M picked one up!  The stamps always have the name of the park and the date you visit so it’s an awesome way to keep track of where you’ve been and have a memento that lasts a lifetime.

Chiricahua National Monument

We spent a little time in the Visitor Center perusing their prickly pear jam selection, as well as learning about the local plant and animal life.  Apparently the rocks of the Chiricahuas are called “rhyolite” and the monument was created to protect them.  

We planned a three mile hike so that we could see many of the rock formations, which sometimes tower hundreds of feet into the air.  

Chiricahua National Monument

Echo Canyon Loop Trail

There is an iconic rock formation known as “Pinnacle Balanced Rock” that is probably the most photographed feature of the park.  Unfortunately, it is over a seven mile hike to see it and this girl had not brought enough snacks (or let’s face it, leg muscles) to brave that trek.

However, the incredible and totally reasonable Echo Canyon Loop Trail worked perfectly with our 1:30pm arrival time and promised to show off the features of the park spectacularly well.

Chiricahua National Monument Chiricahua National Monument Chiricahua National Monument

Beyond the rock formations, there are plenty of faults, lava flows, and other caves to explore along the route.  Our friend J got extremely excited about the prospect of bouldering and quickly talked everyone into climbing on basically everything.  Let’s just say, it took us a little over three hours to go three miles.

Chiricahua National Monument Chiricahua National Monument Chiricahua National Monument Chiricahua National Monument

None of us could get over the rock formations.  Everywhere you turned there was a valley of spires, balancing boulders, or tumbling caves and formations with jagged pieces.  It was red and brown and orange.  It was just stunning.  I couldn’t put my camera away.

Chiricahua National Monument Chiricahua National Monument Chiricahua National Monument Chiricahua National Monument Chiricahua National Monument Chiricahua National Monument Chiricahua National Monument

According to the National Parks website, the “Apaches called this place ‘The Land of Standing-Up Rocks,’” and one can see why.

Chiricahua National Monument

This crevice was super cool!  As we hiked down into a valley, we felt an incredible wind whipping through this formation.  It was great to stand right in the opening and feel a fierce cold wind on a hot summer day in the desert.

Chiricahua National Monument Chiricahua National Monument

This park is such a treasure.

Chiricahua National Monument

We found some water!  The summer monsoons have greened up the countryside and left their evidence in a little bit of running water through the mountains.  We also spotted a snake at the bottom of this little creek.

Chiricahua National Monument

We’re not sure what this plant was, but it was growing out of some kind of cactus and grew super tall.  They lined one part of the trail.

Chiricahua National Monument

Guys, I seriously suggest that you check out a National Park close to you.  There are some seriously cool things in nature that are worth the time and effort it takes to see and experience them.

If you liked this post, let us know down below with a like or a comment and don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already!

Until next time,
Jamie out.

our 4 favorite things in Arizona

Happy Monday, friends! 

I super love writing favorites posts, because I get to share a little piece of what I have been loving.  My standard favorites posts from back in the day (click here for examples) would have me all up in my personal day-to-day, and you know I have been getting down with some T-Swift and Gilmore Girls these days, but what I want to share with you today are four things we have loved the most so far in Arizona!

#1—The food!

our 4 favorite things in Arizona

My new life goal is to only eat Mexican food for the rest of our time in Arizona.

No but seriously, the tacos are out of this world.  My parents grew up in southern California, I have lived in San Diego, and have been to Mexico twice.  I am well versed in consuming authentic Mexican food.  Any time I move somewhere far away from the border, I get a little sad about leaving the legit carnitas tacos and sopapillas behind!  

When Will and I found out we were temporarily relocating to Arizona, the FIRST thing I got excited for was Mexican food.  My first taco that I bit into was pork and pineapple and I never ever want to eat anything else ever again.

our 4 favorite things in Arizona

Okay well… maybe I’ll make an exception for In-N-Out, because their animal style burger satisfies my soul, and I cannot get away with a trip to this iconic California dining experience without one of their chocolate shakes.  It may stick to my hips temporarily, but it will live in my heart forever.

#2—The storms

the drive home

We are dead in the middle of monsoon season, and it is to die for.  Every roll of thunder, every crash of lightning, every gust of wind has me running to the window or outside my suite to get a peek at the incredible weather sweeping across the desert valley that we are blessed to call home.  

The air quality is so exquisite that as you drive across the plains, you can see the billows of clouds for miles and miles.  You can see a rain storm from a great distance because it looks like a great black cloud has been smudged down to earth.  

our 4 favorite things in Arizona

There is lightning almost every day, whether near by or far off, and it slices through the sky and clouds with an incredible ferocity.  Unlike Florida’s typical afternoon storms that make you feel like you need to get indoors immediately otherwise you will be drenched and electrocuted, the monsoons here are more of a spectator’s storm.  Usually.

#3—The mountains

our 4 favorite things in Arizona

Mountains vs. Beach.

I PICK MOUNTAINS!  Everywhere you go, they are different.  Will grew up in a Utah valley and I was born in Nevada, in the shadow of the Carson and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges.  The desert mountains have their own unique beauty and characteristics that just scream home for us.  We both love camping, hiking, national parks, and lakes.  Mountains are just home.

our 4 favorite things in Arizona our 4 favorite things in Arizona

There are some great mountains right around us here on the Arizona-Mexico border.  We had the blessing to explore Ramsey Canyon a couple weeks ago, but we also have a great mountain right behind our hotel that we love to climb in the evenings at golden hour. 

#4—The friendly neighborhood dinosaur

our 4 favorite things in Arizona

Last but certainly not least, is this dinosaur we discovered one day as we were driving home from Tucson.  He lives outside a McDonalds in Benson and we pulled over immediately upon seeing him so that we could introduce ourselves.

According to the internet, this ravenous raptor is not the only prehistoric dino that lives at Arizona McDonalds across the state.  Apparently there is a T-Rex at a Tucson location and he has lived there since 1994, shortly after Jurassic Park came out.  I definitely think he deserves a visit next time we go to Tucson!

If there’s anything to love about Arizona, it is that the state appears to share my love for dinosaurs.  

As Will and I marvel at how fast our time in the desert is slipping by, we are definitely trying to take advantage of this opportunity to explore a new place.  There’s so much to love here!  If you have been to southern Arizona, let us know what your favorite things are!  

If you enjoyed this post, give it a like or leave us a comment about what you would like to see next.  Don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already and we’ll see you next time!

Jamie out.

our 4 favorite things in Arizona