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.  

A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park

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.

summer in the desert | Arizona Part III

As month three in Arizona pulled to a close, Will and I quickly realized that there were only a few weeks left in the desert before we will be moving back to North Carolina.  What a whirlwind we have had out here!  

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

The #SuiteLifeofWillandJamie

In month three we settled into a little bit of a routine.  We went on a few adventures here and there, but also found ourselves staying at home a little more often.  I spent my time watching the last month of Big Brother season twenty (yes, it’s still on the air, and this was a FANTASTIC season), working my butt off in the workout program 80 Day Obsession, and working remotely for a company back in North Carolina.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

I discovered the folly of bringing hot coffee on errands when it’s still summer in the desert.  AKA, don’t.  I didn’t drink any of it and was lucky to make it home alive after leaving the house in the afternoon.  

We also found this fantastic Jurassic Park Jeep and decided that whoever owns it needs to be our BFF ASAP.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

There is a fantastic mountain right behind our hotel.  One Saturday we hadn’t planned to do anything, so after lunch we took our books up to the top and sat together to read and enjoy the view.  I’ll be honest, the attacking bees, wasps nests, and plethora of ants were a little off putting but otherwise we had a fantastic afternoon.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

Shopping

I have mentioned before that Will and I love shopping on holidays.  We always need things, and the things we need are often expensive.  So we try to wait for holiday sales to really get our money’s worth.  We drove up to Tucson on Labor Day this year to hit the outlets.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

I picked up a couple pairs of jeans from Old Navy for fifty percent off.  We also stopped by Nike, which had great sales compared to last year.  Will got a lot of new workout gear he’s been needing and I picked up a couple things as well.  I also stopped in J. Crew for some shorts and, in a surprise twist, walked out of Kate Spade with my first piece that was seventy-five percent off!

Also, shameless plug—my sister is a Mary Kay consultant if you’re in the market for one!  I’m sure she would love to help you!

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

Food

Our food experiences in Arizona have absolutely never disappointed.  From some classic Taco Bell hot sauces (secretly probably Will’s favorite fast food restaurant) to some breakfast bowls in which you can see all the ingredients from a local cafe, we are basically eating our way through our time in the desert.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

I was SUPER excited to finally find the holiday section tucked away in my grocery store and brought home our supply of pumpkin spice.  It was a blessed day!  We also went on a date night to our favorite Mexican food joint—La Casitas.  It is deliciously dangerous and we almost missed our movie (A Simple Favor) because we were enjoying ourselves so much.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

The Grand Canyon

Among our many adventures recently, the Grand Canyon was a huge one.  I’ve already blogged about it, so if you would like to you can read about the sunrise here, or our hike along the rim trail here.  

summer in the desert | Arizona part III summer in the desert | Arizona part III

We woke up at 3am, got ready, ate breakfast, and then drove about an hour to get to the park before sunrise.  It was incredible.  We stood there for an hour, easily, to witness the canyon see the first light of day.  I never regret early mornings while on vacation if the purpose is to experience a sunrise like this.  It’s probably one of my favorite things to do, and something I very rarely do in my everyday life.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

We spent the rest of our day at the canyon hiking the rim trail—12.2 miles.  It was an amazing seven hours in the presence of one of the most incredible natural wonders in the world.  

Once we had completed the hike, part of which was in the pouring rain, we hopped on a shuttle back to the visitor center to stamp our National Parks Passports and then learn a little more about the park before heading back to our hotel in Williams.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

This diagram of the Grand Canyon at the visitor center was really cool.  It was awesome to see where we had been all day.  

Once back at our hotel room, we crashed for several hours and then ordered pizza to eat in bed while we watched Harry Potter.  Now if that isn’t a perfect day, then I don’t know what is.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

Camping

Our first time camping together (ever) was a bit of a disaster, and you can read that blog post here.  To be fair, mostly we were just ill-prepared and already a little grumpy before we even left the house.  But sleeping in a tent in the fresh air and under the stars is always worth it.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

I have been dying to test out my tent since I bought it, and these views were certainly impressive.  My absolute favorite thing about being in Arizona has been the outdoor exploring we have been able to do.  Exploring like this was not something we were able to do back on the east coast, but we’re resolving to change that.  

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

As our time here in Arizona is pulling to a close, we’re busy building lasting memories, cherishing the time we have left, and watching all of the Harry Potter movies in existence.  #NoShame

If you have any suggestions for things to explore in southern Arizona or adventures we should go on back in North Carolina, leave them in the comments below!  We would love to hear them!

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like, don’t forget to join the family and subscribe if you haven’t already, and we’ll see you guys next time!


Jamie out

More posts:
Moving to Arizona | Arizona Part I | Arizona Part II

our disastrous first camping trip together

Our first time camping together was slightly spontaneous and outrageously under-planned.  We did little to no research, left much later than we intended to, brought no smaller bills to pay for our camping spot, and ending up setting our tent up with the use of flashlights and the very last bits of orange on the skyline as the sunset had already passed.

our first time camping together our first time camping together our first time camping together

Parker Canyon Lake

The camping spot was actually super cute and had a great view.  It’s five or ten dollars a night, all the spots have easy access to the bathrooms, and the break in monsoons had left the place nice and green for us.

As far as we could tell, the camping sites were first come first serve.  We packed up some odds and ends for breakfast, brought some extra water, and then stopped at Subway to grab dinner on our drive out.  Unfortunately, our navigation took us the long way to get there so it took twice as long as anticipated.  We watched the sunset during our drive instead of from our campsite.

Despite a somewhat frustrating start to our spontaneous camping trip, we made the most of it.  We resolved to be a little more prepared next time, because a camping trip without firewood (and s’mores) may not even be a camping trip at all.  

our first time camping together our first time camping together our first time camping together our first time camping together

Despite having purchased my tent almost two years ago, I had never actually used it.  It was super nice to break it out and realize that the six-person tent is huge for just the two of us.

Will is a very experienced and avid camper and backpacker.  He has all the gear.  Despite having brought all of it to Arizona with us, we unfortunately didn’t plan well enough in advance to use most of it.  The consequence of spontaneity, I suppose.  Hopefully in a few years we’ll have this down to a science.

our first time camping together

We woke up a little after six, as you do while you’re camping, got dressed and ate breakfast.  We didn’t bring any kind of camping stove or firewood, so I made do with a few creative food items from our hotel room back home.  One item on my wish list is definitely a french press, or at minimum instant coffee and a means to heat up water.  Your girl had the worst migraine of her entire life later that afternoon and starting off the day with zero coffee didn’t help.

our first time camping together our first time camping together

After we ate breakfast, we packed up the tent in the already eighty degree weather and then drove down to the lake to take in its views and enjoy its peace for a bit.

our first time camping together our first time camping together

Items I added to my camping wish list:

  • Table cloth
  • Bug spray
  • Tiny broom
  • Mallet
  • Better stakes 
  • COFFEE

Let’s be real.  It was NOT the best camping trip in the world.  Hopefully we’ll do better in the future, but hey, not every adventure and spontaneous trip is going to be golden.  Despite some loud neighbors (who arrived after we did and left before us as well—what a whirlwind!) the camp site was great.  You can rent boats at the lake, go fishing, or even swimming.  It seems like a great way to spend the weekend, honestly!  Next time we’ll arrive earlier, bring fire wood and coffee, and it will be ten times better.

Any suggestions for whirlwind camping trips?  I’d love to hear some easy ideas!  I’m used to tent trailers and campers, so tent camping as an adult is new to me!  I need all your advice in the comments!

If you enjoyed this post, give it a like and don’t forget to join the family by hitting that subscribe button below.

Much love,
Jamie out.

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