the end | Arizona Part IV

Arizona.  We came, we saw, we loved.  

Our fourth month in the desert flew by.  We weren’t exactly sure what to expect when we left the south in June, but I don’t know that we knew what a fantastic experience our four month extended honeymoon would be.

The #SuiteLifeofWillandJamie

To our little hotel suite, with its tiny kitchenette, huge desk, desert themed photos, and ever failing internet.  You were just what we needed and more.  Despite the hotel turning off the AC half way through October so that our room became boiling at 80 degrees (really, we can’t be happy because without the heater is was 59 degrees), and despite the monsoons through the summer that curbed our camping exploits, we really could not have had a better time.

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We had a whole crew that went to the same church every Sunday.  The church was a great little place with good people and a good culture and great taste in music.  This one Sunday the boys all dressed alike.

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We went to see Smallfoot!  Guys.  It is such a cute movie.  Will and I really enjoyed ourselves.  It is funny and feel-good and we left much happier than when we went in.  This was also our first time at this tiny theater and Will discovered that I love the candy “Dots.”  Anyone else with me?  They’re delicious!

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I finished the seventh Harry Potter book and had intentions to read the following “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” when we got to North Carolina, but our storage unit flooded and that book was one of the casualties.  

(Don’t worry I will blog about the storage unit catastrophe later.)

Book seven was way better than I remember it being and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

I also almost killed us one night while making spaghetti.  I (accidentally) poured almost this entire thing of garlic powder into the sauce.  Let’s just say, we will be safe from vampires for quite a while.

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I ran out of contacts right before moving home so I popped into an eye doctor to update my prescription.  The doctor was probably the nicest eye doctor I have ever had and was super awesome.  If you are ever in need of an optometrist in Sierra Vista, Arizona, head on over to the Walmart vision center.  You know I wouldn’t steer you wrong!

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Adventures

Our months in Arizona were packed with adventures, and October was no different.  We began the month with a trip out to San Diego to visit Will’s family (blog post linked here), and over Will’s birthday weekend we explored Bisbee a little more with some friends.  

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The Queen Mine Tour was so much fun!  If you are in the area and have the chance to go, you definitely should!  It is on our list of favorite things we did while in Arizona.   

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We wore our warm clothes, got decked out in fluorescent vests, hard hats and flashlights, and set out underground with a hilarious and informed tour guide.  We told him we were from North Carolina and he decided to use the two of us for examples on the tour a couple times.

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After the tour we drove into the historic part of town for an incredible steak dinner at Cafe Roka.  Another place we would highly recommend!  Be sure to make a reservation ahead of time.  They are only open three days a week and serve some absolutely exquisite food.  The friend we went with was born in Bisbee so she knew everyone and we were treated very well.  It was a blast!

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Our very last hurrah was to visit Saguaro National Park.  It was the perfect bookend to our incredible Arizona experience.  

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If you want to see more photos of Saguaro, check out the blog post here.  To be honest, when I think of the desert I definitely think of these cacti, which are actually called Saguaros.  They are the universal symbol of the American West, can live up to 200 years, weigh more than a ton, and will probably grow to be more than forty feet tall.  If there was one thing we did not want to miss before heading back to the east coast, it was spending a sunset with this incredible plant life.

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Saying Goodbye

I’m not going to lie.  Writing this blog post has been hard!  We had SO much fun in Arizona and made so many great memories.  Saying goodbye has definitely been bitter sweet.  We miss our people, our mountains, and our animal style In-N-Out burgers.  The authentic Mexican food is making my mouth water as we speak.

Really, I am just so grateful that we had such an amazing time.  I am grateful that we had the opportunity to call Arizona home for a few months.  That we got to explore so many amazing National Parks.  That we got a little bit of time, just the two of us, to established our marriage.  And that we had so many amazing people championing and supporting us through all of it.

Thank you all so much for everything. 

Don’t worry—now that we are back in North Carolina, the exploring is not ending!  It might change a little bit, but if there is one thing I have learned in my thirty years (UGH I still hate saying that.  Thirty.) it is that life is always an adventure.

Until next time,
Jamie out.

the end | arizona part IV

a cacti goodbye to Arizona

Arizona, what do we say?  We had an absolute blast.  Four months is just not enough time to really explore and get to know you.  

For our last Saturday in the desert, we drove out to Saguaro National Park to see the nation’s largest cacti.  Little known fact, they are actually called saguaros.  Will had the great idea to drive out to see them around golden hour and sunset, and then to have a farewell dinner in Tucson.  

We stamped our National Parks Passports at their visitor center, drove a dirt road loop, and took photos on the side of the road as the sun dipped below the horizon.

Instead of embellishing this experience with words, I think that I will allow our photos to do the talking this time around.  If you find yourself in Tucson at any point in the future, Saguaro National Park should be high on your list of things to experience.  

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If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and let us know in the comments!  If you haven’t joined the family yet, hit that subscribe button and we’ll see you next time!

Until then,

Jamie out.

Coronado National Memorial

A lot of people love going on adventures.  Often times they are small—making a run to the gas station for ice cream, only to find that they’re closed and instead of admitting defeat, you run all around town searching for your favorite treat.  Sometimes the adventures are quite large—a honeymoon to Maine or an Alaskan cruise.

When it comes to adventures, Will and I really enjoy National Parks.

Will used to work for the Utah Conservation Corps, which means that he lived and worked outdoors while working conservation projects around the state.  I say this to impress upon you how much he loves and is accustomed to backpacking, camping, hiking, and the great outdoors.  He grew up in a state that has Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Arches, to name only a few.  

I grew up in a family that loved camping, albeit most of the time in a tent-trailer.  “Glamping,” some might call it.  My sister and I begrudgingly joined in on hikes and it wasn’t until after college that I started to love them.  

I took a trip with my family to the Appalachians and the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina a few years ago and found some National Parks Passports at their visitor center.  The passports are like any passport, except that they’re to National Parks, not to other countries.  Every National Park has an visitor center and a stamp station for the passports.  

Being of limited means, I eyed the passports longingly and then left.  A couple years later, I took Will back to the same spot and we each picked up a passport, deciding that our new life goals were going to be filling them up with stamps.

Arizona, we are happily discovering, is FULL of National Parks for us to explore.

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The Coronado National Memorial is one beautiful contribution to the National Parks community.  Located along the border of Arizona and Mexico, it climbs up from the valley and into the Huachuca Mountains.  Conquistador Francisco Vásquez de Coronado conducted the first expedition into the southwest in 1540 and the memorial serves to recognize the ties that bind the United States and Mexico.  Check out this website if you want to learn more about the “journey of conquest filled with exploration, wonder—and cruelty” that the europeans and Aztecs experienced.

Interestingly to myself and William, the memorial was established on November 5, 1952.  He and I met on November 5, 2016, so it’s always a date that sticks out to us.  (If you want to read about how we met, click here)

Coronado National Memorial

The Visitor Center

Our first stop was, obviously, to stamp our passports.  

The visitor centers has a small exhibit that mostly talks about the blending of cultures, emphasizing food and spices and highlighting the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos).  They also have a cute little book store!

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God bless the Spanish for brining coffee and cacao beans.  

There are no entrance fees for Coronado National Memorial, by the way, so it’s a super easy trip!  It’s only half an hour from Sierra Vista and has a couple hiking trails and a lot of picnic tables.  

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Coronado Cave Trail

Unlike our recent trip to Bisbee, we were smart enough to do a little bit of research before we visited the park.  We discovered that there is a cave trail leading to a 600 foot deep cave that hikers are welcome and encouraged to explore.  You don’t need a permit, but it is encouraged for explorers to get information at the visitor center.  

The trailhead is just a short drive from the visitor center and it’s a half mile hike up the mountain.  See—THIS is why I’m working out five days a week.  So that I can climb half a mile up a mountain and survive!  Haha!  (I’m only half joking, by the way.)

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Also, more advice—Arizona is HOT.  If it’s going to be in the mid to upper 90s, don’t hike after 10am.  We were lucky that it was only about 89 degrees that day and therefore we had until about 2pm to get all of our hiking in.  Heat stroke is real, people!

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The Coronado Cave

600 feet long, about 70 feet wide at most spots, and home to a select few stalactites and stalagmites, this was one of the coolest caves I’ve ever been in (without a tour guide).  

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Literally.  So much fun.

We climbed down the rocks (pictured above) and then took a few minutes to get our flashlights situated before heading in deeper.  

It is PITCH BLACK inside of that cave, y’all.  Will gave me the head lamp and he used a flashlight.  I was surprised at how massive the cave felt, especially with our limited light sources.  We climbed all around and explored a lot of side tunnels, but mainly kept to the real deal.  It was so much fun!  And a lot cooler than outside in the sunshine, that’s for sure.

At one point we turned off all of our lights to just sit in the dark.  It was nuts.  I couldn’t handle it.  I just kept picturing the creatures from the movie The Descent and had to turn my head lamp back on.  

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After a proper adventure and exploring all of the nooks and crannies, we climbed back out feeling excited and accomplished.  The half mile hike back to our car felt like nothing.

After spotting some deer who were crossing the road, we got back in the car and drove the winding road up to the Coronado Peak to sneak some views of the canyon before we had to head home.

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The valley is definitely greener than normal because of monsoon season.  I’m not complaining, though.  Apparently they get to experience all four season at Coronado.  I would love to see this place with some snow.

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Honestly, we have nothing but good things to say about the Coronado National Memorial.  We had a great time!  We’re super glad that we looked it up ahead of time, otherwise we would not have been prepared for the cave trail.  Ending the trip with a windy drive up the mountain followed by a view of the valley was perfect.  

Do you like exploring caves or do you get freaked out by the dark?  

Until next time,
Jamie out

Coronado National Memorial
We aren’t dorks at all.