Monday, January 26, 2009

Lunar Landing

We drove through south Texas to get to Tucson. Wow. The dramatic shift from the neon green jungle bayou to the moon got me pretty excited about getting outside once we'd gotten settled. There's no need to describe the stark olive drab expanse of the desert because everyone's seen western movies. Here are some pictures of comparing the southeast and the southwest.





Em and I love hiking. Lots of other people do too, so we don't feel too bad about it. We went to the Smokey mountains when we lived in Kville. They are amazing. If you live in the Southeast and have never been there (or somewhere like it), you are wronging yourself. The natural beauty of this region is overwhelming but approachable. Anyone can look at a hundred year old moss covered oak surrounded by smooth brooks, river rocks, ferns, and fungi and see its beauty and worth.

Upon first arrival to the Catalina mountains in the Coronado National Forest, Em and I felt like we were on the moon. Overall, it looks dead. It's hot in January. And the sagauro cacti are kind of freaky at first, random pillars of thorns that look more like a dada sculpture than an piece of flora.

Romero pools are filled with snowmelt and people.

A little creek way down in a draw (southwest term for a holler)

The trails are intense and our hike became more of a scramble. We are not in bad shape, but there were times I thought we wouldn't make it where we were going. Thank God we are both stubborn.

Mountain Biking
These are two of my favorite places in Athens and Knoxville. The Woods swallow you. Tall trees block the sun. The soft soil and dense underbrush make the trail seem more like being inside some creature rather than outiside at all.

Then I got out on some trails over here. I never thought the east was tame (here are phone pics of Hill of Truth and a road on the way to I. C. King park both in Kville). I thought Kville was rugged compared to Athens and rightly so. There are legitimate mountains in east TN. That's not a typo on the sign; 19% is steep, even if you're from East TN. Hill of Truth is a long killer climb at Haw Ridge (that I nor anyone I know could clear) and will make liars out of 99% of people that call themselves bikers.

It is a different world in Tucson. My first five minutes of riding is spent mostly off my bike, scrambling up the same stuff Em and I encountered hiking. Downhill here is more like sledding down large (softball to volleyball sized), loose, and jagged rocks than mountain biking. Switchbacks are not just technically demanding but intensely scary.

This is a crazy staircase. Twelve to sixteen inch steps. It looks natural too. Why is this a bike trail? Hike-a-bike in my Sidis.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Our New Jobs!

Hi everyone!

We are finally getting settled in here :) I am REALLY enjoying my new job at Cottonwood de Tucson!! I have been facilitating a challenge course (low ropes course), taking the patients kickboxing and on outings (local museums, hiking trips, canyons, caves...). I am also working with aftercare patients who have left Cottonwood and are staying in a more independent house. I am doing leisure education with this groups, in order to introduce them to tasks they can do once they are discharged back home. Working with people with addiction isn't as challenging as I thought it would be! It's similar to working with children and adolescents because they basically stunted their development when they started using. It truly is incredible to see the improvement in the patients.

While I was filling out paperwork with our HR lady at Cottonwood, she mentioned there was a position open in the kitchen. I mentioned it to Tommy and he applied and got the job!! The food at Cottonwood is SSOOO incredible! We have all non-processed and all natural food. I think Tommy is just glad to have a job in this economy. And it'll be nice for him to work in a kitchen without drug addicts and more accountability. :)

Tommy and I did some cleaning today and here are some pictures of our place :)Standing in the kitchen, looking toward the front door.
Standing in the living room, looking toward the kitchen and backyardOur huge kitchen! :)

Our master bathroom.

We're working on the upstairs right now, so stay tuned for more pictures :)


Sunday, January 4, 2009


Hi everyone! Tommy and I made it to Tucson! It is amazingly beautiful out here! The following is a recap our crazy, yet exciting, December :)

In the beginning of December, I was stressed to the max about completing my masters program before leaving town. I found out 1 week prior to graduation that I did NOT have to complete my internship requirement before I could graduate. Previously, I was required to complete 4 months of "internship" (my job in Tucson) before I could received my masters. This meant paying for 3 hours of tuition too. With that said, I officially received my Master of Science on December 13th! YAY! Because I found out one week before the graduation ceremony, I did not get to walk though.

Immediately following my graduation excitement, Tommy and I had to focus on packing! An empty ABF trailer was dropped off at our place in Knoxville. We packed the front of the trailer, using as little space as possible and then put up a partition (we only used 10 feet of the trailer length!). It was incredible how well Tommy tied everything down!

So, the truck was completely packed on Friday, December 19th and an ABF driver came to pick it up while we drove the dependable Camry to Atlanta for Christmas. :) It was VERY convenient!

While in Atlanta, we had a BLAST!! On Sunday the 21st, Tommy's sisters threw us an AMAZING engagement party! It was held in a completely renovated community center in There were delicious snacks, a fire place, wine, champagne toasts... it was so much fun!! We had so many wonderful friends and family come!

On Sunday, we went to Aunt Sarah's for her annual Christmas brunch. It was delicious! It is always nice to catch up with his family because they unfailingly have great stories and they love to laugh! I think their chattering volume rivals my family's! We ate so much scrumptious food during our week in Atlanta that we could have hibernated through the rest of winter! On Christmas Eve, Tommy's mom made perrogies from scratch and Aunt Annie brought over a salmon loaf and cookies! The butter I ate at that meal helped to lubricate my joints :) Then we went to a midnight mass at a monastery outside of Atlanta. It was so different from what I am used to! I really enjoyed observing and taking part in all of the Catholic rituals and traditions.

On Christmas day we went to Tommy's dad's house and cooked up ANOTHER feast! :) We had prime rib, macaroni and cheese, potatoes, green bean almondine, yorkshire pudding... Sport, the new puppy, had a BLAST at Christmas too! He and Willow became acquaintances over the week we were in Atlanta... but not quite friends :)

On December 27th, we left for Tucson on a new uneventful drive. We drove through New Orleans into Baton Rouge the first night. We then met up with my parents, Josh, Sarah, and Dom in San Antonio on the 28th. It was a random rondevous where we were all in San Antonio for very different reasons :) Sarah and Dom were there to visit friends and Dom's son Aiden. My parents and Josh were there for the Mizzou Alamo Bowl game, and Tommy and I were there on our way across the country. We then travelled into Las Cruces, New Mexico the next evening and then into Tucson the next day.

We finally got to see our new home in person, and we were VERY impressed! :) We LOVE it here! The city is completely surrounded by mountains, which we can see from our townhouse. We are only 14 miles away from a state park with amazing trails through the Catalina Mountains. It is very surreal. We equated it to being on the moon because the landscape is SSOOO different from what we are used to. Here are some pictures of our place through a progression. When we finish unpacking, we'll take pictures of the final product.

Well, I'm off to bed because my first day of work is tomorrow! Have a good week and we miss everyone dearly! :)