Lessons From the Road: Arizona

My cousin's darling baby girl

Cousin Aaron’s darling baby girl.

We enjoyed several long-overdue visits with friends and family in Phoenix and Tucson.  Cousins Aaron and D’Bora, my aunt and uncle Blake & Elliott, friends Greg, Melody and Lori, JC’s dad, Michael, and his wife, Teri, and my uncle John and his wife Marilyn. We would have liked to have stayed a couple extra days and spent more time with everyone but I felt compelled to keep pushing us along on our schedule. By the third day, JC had thoroughly tired of my drive to move on. I don’t know why I felt like we had to keep moving. I was exhausted and stressed and avoiding doing anything work-related at all costs. I guess old habits (and conflicting behavior) die hard.

Clearly, we have a lot to learn about the RV lifestyle. We left one of the vent covers open when we pulled out of JC’s dad’s place. About 2 miles later we heard a strange wrenching-ripping sound from the back of the Schwartz and at the next stoplight a pedestrian asked us if we wanted the plastic cover that had blown off of the top of the RV. We also discovered that the expansion bars that fit into cupboards and keep the contents packed tightly against the back wall are invaluable – we bought two more sets. Oh, and you have to duck a lot.


From left: Teri, Rosie, Rudy, Michael

And, of course, we brought way too much stuff. We are finding places for things as we go and, as the remodeling projects get completed, we are able to offload and rearrange. Its going to be tough for a while though. JC feels like we are living like rats with piles of stuff everywhere. I keep trying to clean and put stuff away to allow more of a sense of space, but quarters are undeniably close!

Mattie clearly prefers air-conditioned carpeted living rooms to the bare wood floor of a wind-cooled, rattling RV – the scene of such a traumatic, cacophonous beginning. I hope that once the carpet is in and we aren’t in constant motion, she will learn to like it better.

Everything in AZ is surreal. We used to go to Phoenix a lot when I was younger.  Now, there are so many new stores and restaurants I wonder how they all stay in business. There is a lot of New – everyone seems to have a new Keurig coffee machine; every building looks brand new; and most everyone we spoke with who lives there wants to move to one of the new neighborhoods where “everything is new” – how much newer can new get?

Maybe everything I see is surreal because I continue to exist between planes? Between our home on Pine St. and the Road. Between work and vacation.  Between consumerism and sustainability?


Yellow riot!

One real thing: the desert in the spring is gorgeous! Cacti and bushes and trees erupting in bright blooms of every size and shape. If you thought everything in the desert was dead or dying, you need to look again. The vegetation is amazing. My favorite are the crazy tree bushes erupting in a riot of yellow flowers and the tiniest of plants with the tiniest of flowers clinging to cracks in the concrete and spaces between paving stones. JC’s high school friend, Lori (who was born in Orange County, CA but now lives in Cave Creek, AZ) was aghast at all the palm trees imported into Phoenix.  “Palm trees in the desert?!?”, she cried.  What about the golf courses?!? I mean, was a city in the desert meant to have that much grass?

Speaking of unsustainable consumption, our gas usage is so freakin’ crazy.  $100+ to fill up the tank and we filled up twice in AZ. I know that we will drive MUCH less when we start working on farms but right now it still feels terrible.  Here we are trying to create a life built around sustainability consciousness and we’re sucking up gas like a five year old at a chocolate soda fountain! I’m sure that living in the RV will teach us a new appreciation for the management of energy, water and waste, but, for the moment, we are plugging in at the houses where we are staying over night, so power and water have been plentiful. I wonder how it will be when we are “dry camping” with no hookups. I dread the day when we decide we need to use the generator.

DSC05336I am looking forward to getting some real sleep and a bit of that vacation feeling. And to our first farm, where we can get down to the learning/training portion of this project

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. And to being in the country, immersed in grass and trees and the sounds of myriad animals making their presence felt – where living things grow wild and unmanicured. Hopefully some of that wild will rub off on me.

Next up: New Mexico…

About Anastasia King Jaress

Anastasia is a former media producer who hit the road to sustainability in April 2013 with her husband JC and Mattie, the dog. She writes about food, community, sustainability, travel, family and the myriad questions that boggle them.

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