Friday, May 29, 2015

Goodbye Arizona

I remember crossing the border into Arizona for the first time as a married couple, on August 16, 2013. While it was a relief to finally be in our home state, each passing mile of the drive reminded me of how far away I was from my family. After all the love they had showered on us on our wedding day, I realized how much I was going to miss them, and the days we spent driving to our new home were the hardest I had ever experienced. I learned that even though one long distance relationship was now over, another had started, and my heart felt torn in two.

I reflected on the story of Abraham and Sarah, and how they had faith in God when He called them to move to a new home, away from everything and everyone they knew, and they followed His calling to a place they had never been. I thought about Rebekah, and the huge amount of faith she had to leave her family and go with Abraham's servant so that she could marry a man she hadn't met and live in an unknown land. I knew I had it so much easier than that - I was with my new husband, who had lived here for 2 years already, we had friends waiting for us, and modern technologies would make keeping in touch with family infinitely easier. I knew that trusting in God and clinging to His promises would get me through, as well as clinging to Curtis.

God is faithful, and He provided us with a cute little apartment in a great location, wonderful people to be our friends, and a great church where we could grow together in our spiritual walks. While Tucson became my home, it still always felt like I was just on vacation because it was so beautiful! When we were driving into town for the first time, I remember looking at the mountains and wondering if I'd ever get used to seeing them. The answer is no...they always amaze me and they look so different even from day to day!

Tucson gave us a warm welcome when we first arrived!

Our first letterboxing hike in Tucson at sunset.

My first time going to Sabino Canyon.

There are so many aspects of Arizona that we will miss. The mountains, the deserts, the plants, the canyons, the history, the different climates, the beautiful national parks, and the weather. 

Our first weekend adventure - to Nogales, with several letterboxing stops along the way!

But it isn't so much the state itself that we will miss. We loved living there and experiencing all that we could, but there's so much out there in the world that we want to experience ourselves. To me, what made living here great was the fact that we had so much time to ourselves to travel and get to know this area better, and most importantly to grow closer together through experiences. We will miss that freedom so much now!

On the AZ/Mexico border!

And of course, we're going to miss all our friends in Tucson most of all. They made our time there so enjoyable, and because of them we have reasons to visit! We are so blessed by the wonderful people we met!

Our favorite way to bond with friends: crazy hiking adventures!

The canyon behind those clouds is pretty grand. ;)

When I remember our years spent in Arizona, I'm going to remember how we grew closer to each other through all our hikes and travels. I have nothing but fond memories of our days in the desert.

Our last letterboxing hike at sunset, the day before saying goodbye.

And now... On to our next adventure!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Last Week in Arizona

Last week was our last full week in Arizona. That fact has really sunk in, and we're both sad about it. Last week was filled with last get togethers, but somehow all I have to show for it is pictures of objects, food, our last adventure, and my dog. I'm going to regret not getting pictures of the people we saw for the last time. But at the same time, those memories will stick with me - the lack of pictures of our friends only says that we were too busy enjoying every last minute to think about taking a picture!

We've been going to our used bookstore, Bookmans, a lot lately. It was originally intended to sell books, games, and puzzles so that we could lighten our load, but as it turns out, it's a way better deal to get store credit than we ended up with all new books, games, and puzzles! We'll have to wait until we get to our new home in the fall to enjoy these, but it'll be fun to find them again when we're unpacking.

I think the saddest part of this whole move is that Charlotte doesn't realize that she doesn't get to see her friends anymore. Our little extroverted puppy has made so many friends - both dogs and people - and I know she'll miss them as much as we will!

We took a little drive to get away from the stresses of moving, and drove out around ghost towns and the Silverbell mining area one last time. One last spin around the gravel roads in middle-of-nowhere Arizona. The mountains up ahead are the Ragged-top Mountains, and I'm kind of thankful that we never had a chance to hike them. Those things are rugged!

Oh, and we randomly came across Ironwood Forest National Monument. I guess that's one more we can check off our list? I'm afraid it won't fall too high on our list of "Favorite Arizona National Monuments." (#1 is Chiricahua National Monument, in case you're wondering!)

Last time we moved, we packed most of our things in reusable tubs. We added a few more to our collection and filled them all up. This might be my favorite "moving tip," especially since we'll be moving a lot, and it's exhausting to run around and find free boxes! We also use the tubs for storage, side tables, dressers, and packing when we go on trips. 

To me, the 2 areas that need the most attention are the kitchen and my closet. I'm proud to say my closet has been completed, including filling one tub with everything I need to have with me for the summer!

We're trying to use up as much food as we can. This was our last exciting cooking experience - goat ribs! I wasn't too pleased with the smell, but they tasted great - kind of like pork. They did shrink quite a bit while baking though.

Last Thursday, we got together one last time with some of our letterboxing friends. All I have to show for it is this picture of a wild fire in the Rincon Mountains. We've enjoyed getting to know these people through the boxes that they plant and over the letterboxing events in Arizona. We love hearing about their adventures, and getting advice on places to visit and what to do while we're there. To our boxing friends - we'll miss you all, but hopefully our trails will cross again through different events and boxing opportunities!

Another sad goodbye that had to happen was to my beloved camo pants. As hard as this is, they're really in bad shape and have got to go! You have probably seen me wearing them ever since our first peak hike to Window Rock, and over many other exciting hiking adventures like Mt. Wrightson, Havasu Falls, Mt. Humphreys, and lastly, the Grand Canyon. What you don't know is that I've actually had these pants since 8th grade...I wonder if my family thought it was just a phase I was going through back then? Who could have known the places I'd end up wearing them! 

I'm going to need another pair stat.

Our moving cube was delivered on Saturday morning. Since then, Curtis has been hard at work filling it, and Charlotte has been terrified. All the big objects and loud noises have scared here, and having the door only partially closed has given opportunities for her to escape. (She's never left the apartment complex, thankfully!) When Curtis tried to show her the cube, the loud noise of the door sliding up scared her so much she slid right out of her harness! We know that she's going to have a great time this summer with me, our families, and their dogs, but first we have to get through moving week and the drive home.

On Saturday, we also had our last party with our friend group down here. This is when the whole moving thing started to sink in. We're going to miss these people so much! They've been a huge blessing to us and so much fun to hang out with over our first 2 years of marriage. They all blessed us with gifts to remember them, delicious food, great company, friends for our puppy, and a hilarious home movie commemorating one fatal move during the last Axis and Allies game. (I hope to be able to share that some day because it is amazing!)

And finally, on Sunday we had our last day of going to Berean Bible Church and working on the soundboard together. They have also been a huge blessing to us since we started going after we moved here. We are really going to miss everyone there, but we know we will be reunited with them all through Christ someday, so it's just a "see you later!"

I decided that my new life goal is to someday write a book that can be filed under this category: "True Adventure"! 

And just like that, moving week is upon us.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Graduation Weekend

Today, I'm sharing some of the memories from Curtis' graduation weekend. We had a great time visiting with his parents and giving them a mini-tour to parts of Tucson. One big bonus to being with them is having great pictures to tell the story, thanks to my mother-in-law Julie who is a very skilled photographer!

Good friends, who we will miss terribly!

We attended the College of Science Commencement on Thursday afternoon. Curtis was the 3rd to walk across the stage with the Astronomy class, and after that we sat for another hour and a half watching the other science majors stroll across the stage. We stayed until after the Physics class (Curtis' other major) had their turn, then hurried out before they began the multitudes of Psychology majors. ;) We ran a couple errands, then went to Curtis' favorite restaurant, Cody's Beef and Beans. We met Mitchell and Julianna for a celebratory dinner. :)

Mr. and Mrs. Jorgensen and Mr. and Mrs. Jorgensen. :)

The last Cody's dinner - the end of an era.

On Friday morning, we decided to drive up Mt. Lemmon. Rain was predicted and it was overcast, but as far as we could tell from the foothills, the top of the mountain was not covered in clouds so we went ahead with our plans! However, as we drove up, the temperature kept dropping - which we expected to happen - except it continued dropping, and once it reached 38 degrees we realized we had were not prepared with jackets or anything to keep warm!

Since Curtis' parents enjoy letterboxing, we took them to Kellogg Mountain Trail to find a great series of boxes. We braved the cold and were able to find all the boxes!

Okay, so I gave in and used Charlotte's car blanket. It was really cold! Charlotte's harness looks funny in the above picture because we tied her leash to a tree, and she tried her best to get out of it. :)

After finding the boxes, we drove to Summerhaven and grabbed "lunch" at the cookie cabin. Our "lunch" consisted of 6 cookes, "6 scoops" of ice cream, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream. We ate every last bite, and it was delicious. ;) 

I think the only thing about this that makes us crazy is that we had just been freezing outside, and we decided we needed ice cream.

Then, we began our drive down the mountain. We stopped at Windy Point - it happens to be one of the best lookout points on the Catalina Highway, however Curtis and I had never stopped here together before. Curtis' reasoning for that is because it "stinks" - literally! There are restrooms here, and it is truly a windy point. ;)

I am glad we waited until today to explore here though. It's worth having great photographs of us overlooking our beautiful city. I can't believe we have just over a week left here - we're really going to miss it here!

Overlooking a stretch of the Catalina Highway

Ray & Julie - my in-laws!

Our last stop on the way back was at the Gordon Hirabayashi recreation area. We stopped to read the boards about the history that took place here, get a letterbox, and let Charlotte wander around. She likes to learn about the history through her nose.

My baby!

Remains of the prison camp that was once here at Gordon Hirabayashi

We had some extra time once we were off the Catalina Highway, so we letterboxed our way back to our apartment. We stopped at Case Park, Fort Lowell Park, and the San Pedro Chapel. Curtis and I had been to these places when we first moved here, and it was fun to revisit and remember those days.

We came home and pizza for dinner with Curtis' cousin Gen, who lives here in Tucson as well. We had a great time visiting, and Charlotte soaked up all the attention she could possibly get.

Life's rough when you're the pup. ;)

Other memories from the weekend include:

 ~A potluck at church on Sunday, and fellowshipping with the church family that warmly welcomed us less than 2 years ago and has been such a blessing to us
~going to Tempe on Sunday evening for Curtis' sister Lydia's baby shower, and spending some more time with Lydia, Jeff, Curtis' parents, and our friend Anna
~One last lunch at one of our favorite restaurants (Samarai - hole-in-the-wall, but best sushi in Tucson!) with one of our favorite couples, Austin and Seneca. I can't believe we're already having to say goodbye to our dear friends down here. In the short time here, we've formed such great friendships with some awesome couples, and it's so hard to say goodbye to everyone! (But like we always say, remember you're not losing friends - now you just have places to stay when you want to go on vacation!) ;)

Monday, May 18, 2015

University of Arizona, Class of 2015

Taken by Julie Jorgensen

Graduating with a double major in Physics and Astronomy with a minor in Math... My husband, everyone! :)

Taken by Julie Jorgensen

I am so proud of you.   You've accomplished great things in school, and even greater things outside of it! Thanks for giving up the "normal college life" to let me be a part of your world. I've loved every minute of this adventure, and can't wait for all the new experiences we'll have together. 

Thursday afternoon, college of science commencement

We've had a great weekend celebrating Curtis with his parents here. Now, we're into our last full week of living in Arizona! Stay tuned, exciting times are upon us! :)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Graduation Throwback

Today, we're celebrating my husband's graduation from the University of Arizona! I am so proud of him and how well he's done, even with having me as a distraction. ;) I'll share pictures and memories from today later, but today, I thought I'd share a few pictures from 4 years ago that are pretty special to me.

From our high school graduation - 2011

These were taken by his mom, Julie, and you can visit her photography website here. Oh, and how do you like my prom shoes? My feet are crying from pain just remembering those!

Here we are, 2 almost graduates - him about to go to college 1600 miles away, me thinking I was going to a private college, and had no idea what would happen with "us." 

...But we sure had a lot of fun together. :)

This one was also taken by Julie. We were having our graduation party together, so we had a photo shoot together.

And this was taken at our grad party by our good friend Dennis. It was a hot, humid day, but such a fun party! So great that we threw another one 2 years later...but for that one, I wore a white dress. ;)