Report Card: Phoenix

I cannot believe how quickly three months went by. As many of you already know, our next location is Denver, Colorado! Or, more specifically, Aurora (a suburb of Denver). Now, before you start getting your panties in a twist about how Colorado can’t really be considered a “travel” location because I am from Colorado, let me just tell you that there is a huge difference between Denver and Colorado Springs. Jason and I have very little experience…actually NO experience with living in Denver, so we’re still, in a sense, getting to know someplace new. Not to mention being within an hour of both our parents for the first time in over 8 years will be an adventure in its own right. 

Love you, mean it!
Love you, mean it! =)

 

But the real reasons why I took this next assignment is because it is at Childrens Hospital of Colorado (ranked #9 in US News and World Report for Pediatric Oncology) it’s with their outpatient infusion center AND they aren’t open on weekends or holidays AND we’ll be able to drive home for Christmas. So…needless to say all of that played a huge part in the decision.

In retrospect, Jason and I realized that during this adventure and exploration, I need to come up with a measuring tool- an empirical way to determine the likelihood of living somewhere. After all, one of the main reasons for doing this travel nurse thing is to figure out where we want to settle down. The following categories have all been part of consideration: food, libations, outdoors, transportation and, of course, work. Jason and I tossed around the various ways to grade each category but the easiest seems to be the usual 1-10 scale. Don’t worry, this is nothing like the pain scale. Speaking of the pain scale, if you want a good chuckle you should check out Hyperbole and a Half.

It's a gem
It’s a gem!

 

I want to make it very clear that my opinion on Phoenix or Arizona says nothing about the people that live there. I actually considered listing people as one of the categories but I realized that, as my brother in law so sagely put, “you are going to meet awesome people everywhere you go”- and so far, he has been 100% right. While living in Phoenix, we met some amazing people, and I was able to reconnect with old friends from elementary, middle, and high school as well as college. Each reunion was a little reminder of how far I’ve come but it also harnessed me to my roots in a very odd, roundabout way. For example, when getting together for the first time in years with a dear friend of mine from high school, we actually got shooshed by an old lady at the cafe for being too boisterous.

Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize our laughter would attract the zombies...
Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize our laughter would attract the zombies…

 

It was a beautiful reminder of how much fun we always have together and it was great to realize that we can still make each other laugh so loud that we disrupt the little old ladies looking for peace and quiet. So…I am banking on the fact that we will meet and reconnect with people everywhere we go and they will all be just as amazing as they were in Phoenix.

I suppose I should just get on with it because that’s what everyone wants to know, right? The grade?

FOOD: 7

We really lucked out in our area of Phoenix. Arcadia is a neighborhood known for it’s grub and we were not disappointed. The cafe I mentioned before? The one where Izzy and I were chastised for being overzealous with our laughter? That was Essence Bakery, known for all things French, including amazing macaroons, croissants, and (of course) bread! Taco Tuesday at Los Taquitos offered $1 street tacos filled with all sorts of delectable meat. Gadzooks was like Chipotle but with enchiladas. Federal Pizza did some amazingly crazy, yet delicious, stuff with their pies, and did I mention the complimentary salted caramel cookies at Chelsea’s Kitchen? So…why not give Phoenix a 9 or 10? Because, even though we were impressed with a lot of the restaurants in the area, nothing really “wowed” us in Phoenix. We kept comparing it to Durham…Tastiest Town in the South, and that is a tough act to follow.

Just a few places we miss about Durham...a few
Just a few places we miss about Durham…a few

 

LIBATIONS: 9

I realized after listing libations that narrowing it down to Phoenix just isn’t fair. I wouldn’t dream of judging Denver based solely on its breweries when everyone knows the best breweries are in Boulder and Ft. Collins…though Denver has some decent representation as well. So, in all fairness, when judging beer, I have to include the numerous breweries in Flagstaff. We never were able to get up to Jerome, but I hear the vineyards are amazing. I was able to try both a red and white blend from an Arizona Stronghold Vinyard and I was thoroughly impressed, but disappointed that I couldn’t find it in stores. They also have this amazing brewery in our neighborhood (of course) called O.H.S.O. For my NC friends, imagine that Durham and Carborro had a baby and that baby became a brewery/restaurant-complete with outdoor seating, numerous bike racks, and dogs EVERYWHERE. It’s a place where both professional and home brewers can share their brew craft with the masses. It was…beautiful. But, again, the comparisons are always present (that’s what this whole grading thing is about, right?) and I can’t feasibly give Arizona a 10 when we have the ever present beauty of Colorado beer right at our fingertips. In short, Arizona deserves a slow clap for their beer and wine representation.

Well done...well done
Well done…well done

 

OUTDOORS: 8

I have to give Arizona a high score because of Havasupai. I’m sorry, but it is just too majestic and amazing and beautiful to ignore. 

Exhibit A
Exhibit A
IMG_20150926_104611415
Exhibit B


And then there’s Fossil Creek

IMG_20150720_095324771

And the Mogollan Rim

IMG_20150917_164713645 IMG_20150917_170405071

And Sedona:

IMG_20150731_084923080 IMG_20150731_075754674_HDR

You can see why the West is so captivating. It’s expansive and wild. When we went to the Mogollan Rim (great tip, Jules!), we actually found seashells embedded in the rock on the top of the giant plateau. Seashells. You know, just a friendly reminder of how small you are in this universe and how young humans are compared with the rest of the world. Yet, Phoenix itself didn’t have a whole lot that really impressed us as far as outdoor opportunities go. Again, not entirely fair as we were there during the hottest time of the year. We could easily get away from the heat by driving an hour or so into the mountains, but for all the boasting of hiking trails just a short distance away, Jason and I were kind of underwhelmed by the hikes in Phoenix proper. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that Phoenix has an immense amount of urban sprawl, and you can’t really get away from it very easily. There is a canal trail that you can run on and ride your bike on but it doesn’t offer a lot of open space because there really isn’t a lot of open space there. The Salt River was SUPER fun, but I think that had a lot to do with the company. (I wish I had pictures of this, Ashley!)

I know this post is getting a little lengthy, and honestly it’s sounding a little whiney, too. So, I’ll try to wrap it up.

Transportation: 3

Phoenix is NOT a bike friendly town, but I think that stems from the fact that most of the people riding bikes were riding on the sidewalk…on the wrong side of the road…without a helmet. Seriously, if you bike stupid, then you’re not making a good case for bike lanes. Just sayin’. 

Sigh...idiot
Sigh…idiot

The bus system was pretty unreliable and a bit inconvenient (buying a multipass ticket required me to drive to a metro station downtown). There is this neat little metro train that goes to a bunch of the urban sprawl places I spoke of but we never used it. I imagine it is quite handy. However, Phoenix is incredibly easy to navigate and because it is on a grid system, the traffic doesn’t seem too bad. In short, not a fan of the available alternative transportation.

Work: 10

PCH was amazing, please see my previous post.

 

Phoenix Average Score: 7.4

I think this is a perfect summation. We really loved Arizona, but admittedly, Phoenix would not be our first choice. Maybe Flagstaff…if they could open a PCH branch in Flagstaff, we’d be golden!

 

An Ode to PCH

I'm going to miss this view!
I’m going to miss this view!

I might as well just get the apologies for not writing sooner out in the open now. I am well aware of how long overdue I am in posting but before I do the great reveal of our next location (that most of you already know about) I’d like to take this time to pay my tribute to Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

When I started out on this adventure, I envisioned the difficulties I might endure as a brand new traveler in a job that was outside my comfort zone. At the end of my interview with the manager at PCH, she asked me how I felt about the job and I said, “nervous, but capable.” Couple that with the constant reminders from the travel nursing Facebook pages about how awful it could be and I was, for good reason, apprehensive.

No joke, this is posted in some hospital break rooms (not PCH)! Sure makes you feel welcome!!
No joke, this is posted in some hospital break rooms (not PCH)! Sure makes you feel welcome!!

That’s not to say I really felt like I needed to “belong” but…okay scratch that I did feel the need to belong. It’s ingrained in my psyche. I also felt an insane pressure to prove myself. It was challenging to start out on 7th Floor for a number of reasons- mainly, out of my 4 years of experience, only 2 months of it were spent training on an inpatient floor…as a brand new nurse. I’m sure it was a little nerve racking for my manager as well, knowing how little experience I had before she just tossed me in with two days of orientation.

But none of my challenges at PCH ever had to do with my coworkers, and I cannot fully express how grateful I was to feel like I was part of the team, almost from day one. Lynette, my preceptor, all bubbly energy and optimism, yet clear about expectations and honest with her feedback-perfect, in short. When I asked for an extra day of orientation, just to be safe, she encouraged me by saying she didn’t think I needed it but understood if I wanted a safety net for one more day.

From many conversations before, during and after our shifts on topics ranging from Portland, to Colorado, to the must-see places of Arizona I got to know some amazingly generous and wonderful souls. It is because of the friendliness of the staff that Jason and I were able to experience this little gem:

Why hello, you beautiful world...
Why hello, you beautiful world…

After a rough day, my coworker opened my eyes to the best taco salad. Ever.

Cafe Rio, where have you been all my life??
Cafe Rio, where have you been all my life??

I also enjoyed a few dance parties and maybe I even rode the toy cars around the unit with a few other nurses. Maybe.

This is the real reason why we are in pediatrics
This is the real reason why we are in pediatrics

In my second to last week I had an emergency situation with my patient that required a “Clinical Assessment Team” otherwise known as a Rapid Response Team. This gathers doctors, residents, nurses, respiratory therapists all in the patients room…rapidly. The idea is that you call this before the patient needs CPR. My patient wasn’t in horrible shape, but I wanted more eyes in the room to assess the situation and I wanted them yesterday. There are a lot of things that go through your head when you have to make this judgement call and almost first and foremost is, “what could I have done to prevent this?” Obviously it’s better to call a rapid response rather than waiting until the situation is more serious but even then, I would argue that it is in the nature of most RNs to question almost every decision they make. I was no exception.

I bring this up because it is a prime example of why 7th Floor is so amazing. Almost every single one of my coworkers, including one of my charge nurses, supported me through this. There was never any judgement about the situation, even though there could have been. There was nothing but endless encouragement that I made the right choice. Through the rapid response, there were nurses covering my other patients, nurses hanging around the door waiting to help if needed. Afterward, I was constantly being asked if I was okay and if I needed anything. The amount of support and reassurance was so….nice. I’m not saying it was any different than what I would have had at Duke, but it was so wonderful that I was able to experience that kind of support at multiple hospitals.

I guess the point I’m trying to get at is this- I know how bad it could have been. I have seen pictures and heard stories of travel nurses walking into very hostile environments. I can’t imagine how long those three months would feel if that had been the case. As it was, I landed in one of the most welcoming, helpful and brilliant floors at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. I learned so much from so many nurses and had a great time in the process. I felt free to vent if needed, I felt safe admitting when I was outside my comfort zone and I felt comfortable enough to open up and be me, in all my weird, awkward glory.

I didn’t feel like an outsider, and that is all any travel nurse could ask for.

I LOVE YOU GUYS!
I LOVE YOU GUYS!

 

S*** just got real

Parental Advisory

 

 

Consider yourself warned.

 

Cancer has a way of putting life in perspective. Up until this point I have felt content to write about my experiences with as much honesty and humor as I can muster. Please don’t misunderstand- there is a lot to be said for a hearty dose of laughter in the face of something as devastating as cancer. But last week I reached a new level of hatred and loathing for the disease that has claimed the lives of so many- young and old. More importantly, I am so pissed and sad that we haven’t found a cure for not only cancer but many other diseases.

 

People who don’t work in the Oncology field often comment how hard of a job it must be, usually followed by how “I could never do something like that.” In nursing, it truly takes all types and that is why I love it. There are nurses who wouldn’t dare touch pediatric oncology. On the other hand, you couldn’t pay me enough money to work in an ER, ICU or psychiatric floor. I have plenty of friends from nursing school who work in those fields to make up for my absence and believe me, the world is better off because of it. 

 

Working in the field of pediatric oncology you see a lot of optimism. That is just the nature of the field. Kids are easily distracted and focused on living. Life in the hospital becomes their new “normal.” Admittedly, it’s sad, but it is also what makes them so resilient. As a nurse you want to make the whole process not so scary and unfamiliar. That is easier to do with a 5 year old than a 25 year old, which is why the real challenge lies with the parents. To watch their child endure the endless treatments that destroy their kidneys, liver, gut and even their skin- it’s heartbreaking. I’ve watched this process for almost 4 years now, so what brought on my new rage against cancer?

 

Cancer has dealt a blow close to home. Even when you work beside these families to help them recover, you don’t really understand until it involves your own family. What I’ve been dwelling on these past few days is the fact that I really have it easy. I go to work, do my best to keep my patients safe, pain free, nausea free and hopeful. Then-and here is the most important part- I go home. I drink a glass of wine, take a shower, watch Scrubs and try to process my day. I get a break, a chance to step outside of the scenario and see it with fresh eyes the following day. My patients and families don’t have that luxury. What I experience 36-40 hours a week they are living 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no lunch breaks.

 

I was spared a lot of heartache and worry when my mother underwent her own battle with cancer. I was only 11 at the time, so naturally she wanted to protect me from the brutal honesty of it. What my aunt endures with a seemingly effortless amount of optimism and grace is something that her daughters are now old enough to fully witness. There is no curtain, no veil to protect them from the reality that cancer is a bitch. It sucks on so many levels. The fact that the very treatments you receive to rid your body of cancer can actually give you more cancer. The fact that once you get cancer once, the fear of relapse or recurrence never really leaves you. These are things that I never had to witness as an adult. These are the things that, until now, I tried to forget on my days off.  I fucking hate cancer and it can go to hell.

 

Fuck Cancer

 

I wish I could say that this thought makes me more sympathetic and a better nurse. I truly hope that, on some level, it does. The reality is that I still get irritated with the demanding or rude parents. They lose sight of the fact that their child is not my only patient. I lose sight of the fact that they have only one to worry about- and no reprieve from that worry. When you are in the trenches, there is a tunnel vision that doesn’t bring out your best self. You get pulled in so many directions, interrupted by the minute and the stress of making sure you chart EVERYTHING you do is enough to drive me up the wall. Parents, in a similar but different scenario, just want any and all information you can give them, and they don’t want to see their children suffer for even a few seconds. Both sides have their own perspective, but I wish I could say that my perspective is easier to change.

 

But this post is not supposed to be about me. This post is about the gritty reality of cancer and our country’s focus on “awareness” that so rarely leads to the life saving research we need. My mother shared the following article that beautifully illustrates how we have become so focused on awareness we lose sight of what cancer really looks like- in all its disgusting and brutal glory. There is triumph, strength and beauty in these real stories. There is also heartache, despair and loss. While we don’t want to expose patients and families unnecessarily to the public, I feel like we are hesitant to show this side of cancer because we don’t want to scare people. Well guess what? Cancer is scary. It’s fucking terrifying. People who have never had cancer, myself included, cannot possibly understand what it is like. Until we are faced with the possibility that we have cancer or the likelihood that we will get cancer, we won’t understand. I know that I’m not going to change the entire funding of cancer research with a blog post, but we do have the power to do our homework. Find the organizations that work hard to raise money for research. There is plenty of awareness in the world-what we need is funding for cures. This extends far beyond cancer. There are multitudes of diseases that need better treatments and better outcomes- HIV and Cystic Fibrosis, for example. Most of all- remember those who are living this daily. Listen to their stories, walk a mile in their shoes. You will have more awareness than you could possibly imagine.

 

On the road again…and other great road trip songs

We are heading back to North Carolina for the weekend!!

**Commence crazy, ecstatic dancing**
**Commence crazy, ecstatic dancing**

 

 

Our dear friend is getting married!! And in case you can’t tell, we are ecstatic- of course we’re excited for him, but really we just can’t wait to get back to Cackalacky country. Partially, our excitement stems from the multitude of delicious restaurants we plan on patronizing on our return (more on that later). Our true joy, however, will be visiting all the wonderful friends we have made out there.

Reunions are the best!!
Reunions are the best!!

 

But seriously, we know the coolest people in the Triangle area, just sayin’. Need proof? I’m glad you asked.

Flashback to May 2015. After eight years of calling North Carolina home, we have decided to hit the open road for adventure. We asked some of our friends to make mixed CDs for us to listen to (and drowned out the sound of Tobi’s incessant meowing) during our many road trips across the country. What resulted is a collection as varied and beautiful as our friendships. Some of them came with a track list, others without; one titled “The Fox and the Owl”; a few were a mystery and came in a plastic bag without the author’s name and titles like “Name That Musical” and “Happy” (we still haven’t figured out who made those ones); one was the audiobook for “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.”

 

Our journey, to make a very long story short, started at the end of May, when we loaded everything we could into our small Ford Fiesta and made a four day trek out to Colorado. We could have made the drive in two days, but it seemed cruel and unusual to expect our cats to hold their urine for longer than 9 hours.

amiright??
amiright??

We mainly stopped in small towns to keep the hotel rates low, which means we stopped in such tantalizing locations as Wytheville, VA, Evansville, IN and Salina, KS. The locations along the way were less important as we didn’t have a whole lot of freedom to explore with two cats and car full of crap. What proved more important was getting to our destination while still maintaining some shred of sanity. This proved true as well when, three weeks later, we hit the road for Phoenix. Our friends truly rose to the occasion- we had music and memories accompanying us all along the way. Here are some highlights:

 

Songs that made us dance

Minus the orange mocha frappuccino
Minus the orange mocha frappuccino

Jitterbug- George Michael

Busy Earnin’- Jungle

Footloose- Kenny Loggins

Came Out of A Lady- Rubblebucket

Pretty much anything by Michael Jackson

Ghostbusters Theme Song

Electric Love- Borns

No Diggity- Blackstreet

Take a Walk- Passion Pit

Happy- Pharrell Williams

Can’t Hold Us- Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Stayin’ Alive- Beegees

 

Songs that made us…I mean me…cry

That's right, #uglycrying
That’s right, #uglycrying

Sister Winter- Sufjan Stevens

God Only Knows- Beach Boys

Eyze Sheleg! (What Snow)- performed by The Women’s Voices Chorus

Carolina In My Mind- James Taylor

Because I Knew You- Wicked Soundtrack

Sisters- performed by The Women’s Voices Chorus

How Far We’ve Come- Dawes

Fire and Rain- James Taylor

Lay It All Down On Me- Barefoot Movement

Stubborn Love- Lumineers

Juliette saved the day

While listening to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, we noticed something odd. For those of you who have not read the book, it is written in letter format, with each character writing letters to other characters so the story unfolds from many different viewpoints. Read aloud, with a different voice depicting each person, it paints a very vivid picture. We listened to the book on our trip to Phoenix and started to notice that whenever the main character, Juliette, spoke (Susan Duerden is the name of the actual reader), Tobi stopped meowing. This was a HUGE blessing, seeing as she had a considerable amount of speaking time. Something about the lilt of her lovely, British voice must have put Tobi at ease. We weren’t about the question the oddity of it all- not if it gave us reprieve from his relentless vocalization of displeasure.

Ohhh I get it, your unhappy??
Ohhh I get it, you’re unhappy

Through our first trek to my first assignment, we were left with such mixed emotions. We know so many amazing people in North Carolina and our sadness at leaving them was only matched by our gratefulness for their support. That is one of many reasons we are so thrilled to see them again! As the Avett Brothers put it so aptly…”Carolina, one day I’ll, Someday I’ll come home…” (and for the record, what they say about Salina in that song is completely true).

Square One- First Impressions of Travel Nursing

I get a lot of questions about what exactly it means to be a travel nurse. Granted, this is my first travel assignment so my understanding of the concept is that of a novice. There are a few experiences that I have encountered thus far that really illustrate what the travel nurse experience is, and more importantly, what it is NOT.

Being a travel nurse means you are a contractor. A medical mercenary, of sorts.

Yeah...maybe that’s giving the wrong idea.
Yeah…maybe that’s giving the wrong idea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These days, there are a million and a half reasons why a hospital might need a contracted healthcare worker such as: they can’t fill their positions fast enough and they need a qualified person yesterday; Someone may have a medical emergency that requires a long period of recovery; they may have multiple people on maternity leave (or paternity leave, if the hospital is awesome).

Three cheers for equality!
Three cheers for equality!

They may also be in a state where nurses are unionized, so there may be a staffing shortage due to a strike.Whatever your feelings on that last issue, the point is that people still get sick, and hospitals still need to have enough staff to function safely. That’s where travel nurses come in.

The concept is pretty much the same as any other contract position. You sign on with a company, they find you work, you sign a contract with the hospital, hash out the details, sign your contract and boom! You’ve got a job for the next 13 weeks, or however long the contract is. The details, however, can be a bit more hairy. Here are a few examples-

I signed on with four different companies. That’s right. Four. Here was my logic- I had a very specified niche of healthcare that I had experience in. If you are looking for travel nurse positions, they are loaded with jobs in areas like critical care, emergency medicine, surgery and general medicine. Most of them are inpatient (read “in the hospital on a medical floor”). A few of them are pediatrics. Even fewer of them are pediatric hematology and oncology. Still fewer of them are outpatient. Every company contracts with different hospitals. Some of them contract with the same hospitals, but I figured if I can cast a large net, I was more likely to get the right kind of job.

A good plan, eh?

That one’s for you, Julianne!
That one’s for you, Julianne!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turns out I just made the process that much more overwhelming.

When you sign on with a travel company, you are assigned a recruiter. I prefer to call them my “agents.” It sounds fancy, and everyone knows I am fancy.

Really I just love that song.
Really I just love that song.

My “agents” would get an idea of where I wanted to travel, look over my resume and talk about my past experience, then they would scour their job requests for a good match. For a few weeks, I felt like I was fielding calls, texts and emails from my agents almost daily, gauging my interest in places like Portland, OR (YES!!) and Corpus Christi, TX (NOOOOOOOPE). I remember doing three phone interviews in one morning ranging from a pediatric hem-onc floor to adult outpatient oncology clinic. What I certainly didn’t expect was to have more than one option present itself, but that is exactly what happened. I turned down three other positions to take my current job. One of those interviews was so awkward it made me uncomfortable (and that’s saying something) and yet they still offered me a position. what

 

After the dust settled, I realized my first truth about travel nursing: there will always be jobs out there, it just boils down to how much I am willing to challenge myself.

Sure, people told me that I would never want for a job as a nurse, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I was picky. This was my first assignment, and I wanted it to be a good experience. I wanted a travel friendly hospital, a position that would push me outside my comfort zone but not so far outside of it that I felt unsafe. That’s a tall order. I’ve been working for about a month at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. PCH, particularly the floor I am on, is truly wonderful. Everyone is very friendly and helpful, but there is a reason that they need travelers; they are BUSY. This is probably the hardest I have ever worked as a nurse…ever. It’s like the hardest days I had at my old job, except every day.

The biggest change is that I feel like a brand new nurse again. I am struggling just to get all the charting done by the end of the day, constantly asking questions, making mistakes, and not knowing what to do first.

Pretty much how I feel every day
Pretty much how I feel every day

It took me about a year at Duke to finally feel competent enough in my job that I could develop close relationships with my patients and start to think outside the box. Now, I feel like I’m back at square one, and I’m frustrated that I’m not the same caliber of nurse I once was. My only consolation are the few marketable skills I retained from my old job. My first week, I was able to help another RN out by starting an IV on her patient. Selfishly, I needed that- to remind myself that there are skills I have that make me an asset and not a liability. Yet, I am so busy just trying to keep up with it all that I rarely get the chance to use those skills and make myself feel worthwhile again. I feel like I’m just barely getting by and still staying late charting.

The part that really gets me is realizing that just as I’m getting comfortable with everything it will be time to go through it all again!

And yet, through these challenging days, I’m still learning, and I am seeing small improvements. Outside of the job arena, I get to spend my days off hiking by natural mineral springs in the middle of the desert

Yep, this is quite the life
Yep, this is quite the life

OR watching my husband rock out with his friend’s band (check it out here)!

Even with rough assignments, when I feel like I’m not the level of nurse I want to be, I still love taking care of kids, mainly because of stuff like this:

 

And so it begins…

Phoenix, Arizona. Land of ten thousand suns. Land of blistering, unyielding heat. Home to scorpions, tarantulas, rattlesnakes and all manner of creatures that thrive at ungodly temperatures. At least, that’s what I imagined. I intended to start the blogging process sooner, to discuss the path that lead to travel and, ultimately, Phoenix, but seeing as I failed to do so, I’ll have to do this Tarantino style. Here is what we have learned about Phoenix in 24 hours:

1) There isn’t a big difference between a hot day here and a hot day in North Carolina. Both locations boast a sweltering midday summer heat that sends you running and crying for the next air conditioned facility. In both locations, Tobi insists on going outside to explore and doesn’t seem the least bit hindered by the ridiculous temperature. I also still consider anyone exercising outside midday to be insane in both locations, and yet I see people doing it all the time.

Running was a bad choice
Running was a bad choice

2) Phoenicians are proud of their city. No joke, we already have a laundry list of things to do in Phoenix from both the bartender at the Mejicos (no joke, that is really how it is spelled) and the lady at the membership counter of CostCo. From tubing down the Salt River to microbrews at Ohso’s to First Fridays (!! like Raleigh!!)- I was struggling just to write it all down so I wouldn’t forget.

Slow down, Professor!
Slow down, Professor!

3) They take their tequila VERY seriously. Upon entering CostCo, we saw a large display of various types of tequila, most of it 100% Agave, much of it higher end. Chris, the bartender at Mejicos, concocted our margaritas from tequila, agave nectar and freshly squeezed lime juice. Perfection. He even told me where to find the best agave nectar for mixing margaritas. Chris is a pretty stand up guy.

Give or take the cuantro
Give or take the cuantro

4) Phoenix gets rain in the summer! I am aware of the monsoon season, but I didn’t expect a drop of moisture until then. A pleasant surprise to get caught in a sprinkle of rain on our walk back from the coffee shop. It was too small to be called a shower, but the smell? Incredible. All this in the same day as a haboob. Seriously, I just got a warning on my phone to avoid travel until 8pm. Don’t worry, Weather.com. I won’t be leaving my air conditioned apartment unless forced to do so.

Yep, that looks like a big old pile of nope. Not going outside.
Yep, that looks like a big old pile of nope. Not going outside.

5) I miss North Carolina and all the people in it terribly. Initially, our move out to Colorado just felt like vacation, and the finality of leaving North Carolina didn’t truly set in until we arrived in Phoenix. Since then, my heart literally aches for my dear friends and coworkers back in NC. But in remembering all these wonderful people we know, it has also sparked excitement at the new friendships on the horizon. Probably with Chris.

Truth
Truth