Category Archives: Adventures

Football Games

We went to our first football game of the season on the day after Thanksgiving. Unfortunately it was also the last regular season game and therefore our last game of the season. I enjoy football SO much more when I’m actually in the stadium. There’s so much more to the game – the fans, the cheers, being able to see the whole field at once. I can actually follow the football when I’m at the game. I never can on TV, so I get bored easily and, if I care about the game, have Nate call me for the last two minutes if it’s exciting.

Band

The Band at Halftime – arguably my favorite part of football games

We had to venture out on Black Friday (something I NEVER DO) to buy our t-shirts. Ten years in Ohio and I never owned a piece of Ohio State gear, but 6 months in Arizona and I already have a UA t-shirt. We went in the evening, long after all of the serious shoppers had exhausted themselves on deal-hunting. The selection suffered for it, but we weren’t looking for anything fancy.

At the game

We sat way at the top, with a view of the whole field. There were some ASU fans in front of us, and there was plenty of good natured ribbing to go around. They won in the end, so it could have gone better, but we’re not too invested in the team yet.

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Arizona Desert Museum

The last Sunday adventure that we went on was to the Arizona Desert Museum. It’s pretty cool because the museum is somewhere between a hike through the desert and a zoo. There are many different desert animals there, along with displays of Arizona’s geological history and how deserts work, but you often feel like you are on a desert path with nothing around.

Desert Mountains

Desert Mountains on the drive to the museum

Prairie Dogs

Prairie Dogs!

Nate Saguaro

Nate with a Saguaro – the things you take pictures of when you’re not “from” the desert

Saretta Saguaro

My turn with the cactus

dead cactus

What a saguaro looks like when it’s dead

Javelinas

Javelinas

Water Fountain

They have water fountains all over the museum. Can’t let that dehydration sneak up on you. We took our water bottles, but it was nice to be able to fill them up.

Red Dirt

Red dirt in the desert

Play

He wanted to play!

My new favorite cactus

My new favorite cactus – too bad I forgot what it’s called already

Hummingbird

In the hummingbird aviary

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Finding Fall: a Corn Maze and a Pumpkin Patch

The weekend before last (the same weekend we had a Friday night picnic) we went in search of some fall activities. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Tucson has pumpkin patches and corn mazes too! I don’t know why I thought it wouldn’t be “a thing” here; I guess I thought maybe pumpkins wouldn’t be ripe at the correct time or something. There are also some apple orchards, but they are farther away so we didn’t go to them. Instead, we picked a farm about an hour outside of Tucson that had a pumpkin patch and a corn maze and started our first journey outside of Tucson by car.

I was amazed to realize that we’ve been in Tucson for 4 months and we have never driven out of Tucson (well, the Tucson Metropolitan Area, if you can call it that). We have not ventured into the desert, to the mountains, or even to Phoenix! Every time we leave, it is by plane. So we filled some extra water bottles (isn’t that what you’re supposed to do when you drive in the desert?) and began our journey.

Into The Desert

The drive was really pretty. The Sonoran Desert is actually quite green. I spent the whole drive looking around and saying “This is so cool! Look! There are trees, and cactus, and you can see mountains everywhere!” I’m sure that was great for Nate, who was trying to, you know, drive.

We really weren’t sure what to expect when we got there. We had never been to a corn maze in the desert. Would it be like the ones in Ohio? Would it all feel off? At first we thought it was going to be weird because almost everyone else there had kids. But we were quickly so lost in the corn maze that it didn’t matter.

Corn!

Corn! Just like in the Midwest!

WHAT HAPPENED was that we entered the corn maze and almost immediately got on what we can only assume was the emergency access path that went around the perimeter of the corn maze. We knew we were in trouble pretty quickly because the path was straight and there were no other paths branching off of it. So we walked all the way around the corn maze, in the heat, with the sun beating down on us, and THEN got into the maze and started from the other end. Don’t worry, we brought our water bottles so we didn’t die of dehydration.

Sun

We didn’t buy a map for a dollar at the ticket booth because we figured “how hard can this be?!?!” See how well that worked out for us? But once we were actually inside the maze, we did find all of the numbers to punch on our little punch cards fairly easily. Except for the last two, which were supposed to be the first two, and by that time we were hot and tired and hungry and thirsty and maybe a little bit cranky.

Pathways in the Corn

Pathways in the Corn

But it was fun! It was fun getting lost in the corn and giggling when we figured out what had happened. It was fun taking separate paths that always came together again. It was fun trying to be the first one to spot the next marker.

Flower

It was fun spotting the little flowers that grew in the corn.

together

We did eventually make it out of the corn maze. We had an incentive – there was kettle corn! There were some food and beverage stands, a petting zoo, a bull you could ride and get your picture taken with, and a few craft stalls.

Kettle Corn

Kettle Corn!

We didn’t get a pumpkin. One of the side effects of autumn heat is that it makes your pumpkins rot really quickly. Our neighbors carved some and they wilted within about 2 days. So we just watched as families took the tractor ride out to the pumpkin patch and came back with their big orange loot.

Pumpkin Patch

They grow them big in Arizona

And of course you can see the mountains.

Mountain Pumpkin Patch

Right next to the pumpkin patch? Cotton! Now that’s something you don’t see in Ohio!

Cotton

Tucson

Tucson in the Distance

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Finding Fall: Our Trip to Ohio

Fall has always been my favorite season. Of course it helps that my birthday is in the fall! But I love the cooler temperatures, snuggling under cozy blankets at night while keeping the window open, and the crisp smell of the air. I love warm fall afternoons, especially when they are filled with cross country meets followed by apple cider and watching the turning leaves fall off the trees in my parents’ back yard. I love the colors – the leaves, the apples, the pumpkins, the decorations that begin to adorn neighbors’ front doors. And the smells – the cider, the cinnamon, the leaves, the air.

Of course, it’s still hitting 90° here and even if it were cooler, I don’t think the trees that grow in the desert turn colors quite like the maples do. We’ve been faking it with apples and cider and pumpkin spice lattes and fall candles. We open all the windows at night to capture some of the cool night air, then shut the house up in the morning to hold it in for as long as we can.

Our monthly trip back to Ohio (although this was the last one until the holidays) fell at the end of September. Friends were getting married in North Eastern Ohio and we traveled for the festivities. We caught the very beginnings of Ohio Autumn – trees starting to turn, temperatures starting to drop. It was a beautiful warm bright Saturday for the wedding; a perfect fall day. And we from Arizona got a little taste of fall to take back with us. I just hope it was enough to last until it cools down here.

Highway Trees

Fall leaves along the highway

Town

View over town

Fall TreeAt WeddingWe had an extra day that we weren’t quite sure what to do with. We planned all our Ohio trips so that we flew out of Tucson early Friday morning and flew back Monday night, so that we would have time to visit everyone. This trip was far enough from our family and friends that our typical visiting loop wasn’t as convenient. We stayed with a friend in Columbus on Sunday night, and spent Monday driving around Columbus and eventually hanging out in downtown Gahanna (which is both cute and right by the airport).

Pillow

Awesome IKEA pillow at friend’s apartment

We had lunch at this adorable French bistro. It was so cozy and the food was good. We had this little back room almost all to ourselves.

Cafe

La Chatelaine Bakery and Bistro

Gahanna

Walking around in Gahanna

Walking around was dark and dreary and blustery – all the things that Tucson is not right now. We wished we brought jackets, and pulled our light sweaters tighter around us. We walked in and out of little shops – a toy store, a book store, a coffee shop. It can be fun to peruse when you know you won’t buy anything! We had no more room in our luggage, so we just looked and gathered ideas for Christmas gifts.

The trees weren’t fully turned, but they were getting started. Eventually it started to rain. But we headed back to the airport glad to have had a little bit of fall.

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New Sidewalks / New Shoes: Adventures in Walking

One of the things I disliked about our first apartment in Tucson was that it was so far away from everything that it was very hard to walk anywhere. It was also super hot (I think the 90 days over 100° this year were the first 90 days we were here) which made it hard to be outside at all. So when we moved to a bigger place, I wanted to be able to walk places! The walks from our apartment are a bit long, usually over a mile, but the weather has cooled down to the “beautiful” stage that everyone was telling us about (OK, so it still gets near 90° but the evenings are wonderful) and all the basics are walkable – groceries, library, pharmacy, park, church, Starbucks, etc. This weekend was in the 70s so we went on some walking adventures.

Well, it actually started when I took my bike out last week. I’ve outfitted it for hauling groceries and library books and such, with panniers and a rack. The rack that came with the bike did not get along with the panniers and almost led to a wipe-out one bike ride in Cincinnati when the pannier came unhooked and got stuck in my wheel spokes. So I needed a new rack for the back of my bike, and some lights for if I’m ever out after dark. Off I went on my bike to the bike shop, having not really ridden my bike since I was a little kid. I rode a few times in Cincy, but always on back streets with no traffic. It was terrifying. The super-busy main street was actually totally fine. It has a bike lane and is well taken care of – smooth road, no potholes, no gravel. The side roads were quite different. The one with traffic was extra bumpy and had tons of potholes. The one without any traffic was covered in very fine gravel. Because no one has grass here, yards are all covered in gravel. I guess it’s quite hard to keep the gravel in the yard, and it often spills into the street. And gathers in little piles where the traffic pushes it, and makes novice bike riders like me panic a lot.

While I’m on the subject of gravel . . . it’s the gravel that required me to get new shoes. Also, I can always find an excuse for new shoes. But these are not my typical shoes. Usually, when I go shoe shopping, I end up with heels or flats, at least one pair in a bright pattern or color. This time I ended up with these:

Sandals

on purpose. I wanted sandals that I could walk/bike in, for quite a long way, through the gravel without having sore feet. I grew up in those velcro-strapped sporty sandals – Teva-type but Teva’s were too expensive – and I was looking for the grown-up version of those. Turns out they’re kind of hard to find, especially in October. So I spent several hours going to every shoe store I could find in Tucson and ended up back at DSW (where I started). I hope they will be practical and comfortable and still be appropriate to wear out. We’ll see.

So, for the real story, we thought that we might take our bikes out together over the weekend, but I wasn’t really up for the stress quite yet. We took our trusty feet out for a walk – we got pizza, walked to the park, and had a lovely little picnic. There were tons of people at the park – kids were playing on the playground, people were out walking their dogs and kids, a soccer game was in full swing. We ate our pizza, then lay down on our picnic blanket for a while and enjoyed being outside and in the company of other people. It was a fun Friday night.

Saretta Picnic

Our picnic spot.

Pizza

Mmmmm, Pizza

Nate

Nate’s just really happy that we got pizza for dinner. It doesn’t happen very often.

Picnic Tree

The big pine tree we sat under.

Sunset

If you look closely, you can see the mountains.

Church

Church at the edge of the Park

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Tucson Greek Festival

Apparently Festival Season in Tucson starts at the end of September! I’m very excited about this – I love festivals! It’s a chance to get out without really needing to plan something to do. They are usually pretty inexpensive or (even better) free to attend, and there is almost always lots of good food.

This past weekend we went to the Tucson Greek Festival at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church. To be fair, I went for the baklava. As long as there was baklava there, I was going to be happy. Considering it was a Greek festival, my chances were approximately 100%. And I was not disappointed! Not only do I love baklava, I love Greek food in general. We went a little befor dinner and wandered around the display stalls and the festival grounds to see what there was. Not too much beyond the food and stages, but that was OK by me. Then we went a got some delicious food and stayed for a bit to watch the dancing and listen to the music.

Festival

Keo

Dolmathes

Dolmathes – Delicious stuffed grape leaves

Always the Mountains

Always the Mountains

Loukoumades

Loukoumades – deep fried dough dipped in honey

Baklava and Coffee

Baklava and Coffee

Dancing

Dancing

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Second Saturday Downtown: Our Adventure on the Town

A few weeks ago we decided to go out and explore some Tucson culture. Every second Saturday of the month, downtown Tucson is host to a free urban street fair with live bands, food, street vendors, and kids activities. We’d never gone, although we’d been talking about it for a while, so we went to check it out.

Combo Westside

Combo Westside – Jazz, Bossa Nova, Bolero, Soul, Funk

The Tryst

The Tryst – Soul, Funk, Rock, Jazz and more

Deceptively Innocent

Deceptively Innocent

Storefront

Chicago Music Store Storefront – not sure why Forever 27

I really enjoyed the music from The Tryst, and Nate liked Deceptively Innocent. Turns out they’re a Green Day cover band, so no surprise there. They are all about 16 and they played for 4 straight hours with way more energy than I will ever have.

It was a nice night out, although I’m not sure we’ll make it a monthly excursion. It was a pretty small crowd and there weren’t a ton of options that we could see, for food and drink. Well, there were no options for drink, so that might be part of it. But the music was pretty good and it was fun to be out around other people! Yay!

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And they came and packed up all our stuff

I wrote this over a month ago right after the movers finished packing everything but hadn’t loaded the truck yet.

I’m sitting in my house by myself.  It’s not for the last time, but pretty close.  I dropped Nate off at the airport so he could get back for work tomorrow.  The movers just left.  There is cardboard all over our little house – covering the floors, stacked against the walls, holding all our physical belongings.  The furniture is still left, so I’m sitting on the couch.  It’s something Nate and I did a lot this weekend, enjoying couches and chairs and beds – basically anything padded to sit on above the ground.

A moving day storm

Our carefully painted walls hung with photos and artwork are again bare.  You can see how many tries it took us to get the nails in the right position.  The movers complimented me on my kitchen organization.  Score.

It’s kind of unnerving yet oddly familiar to see the boxes everywhere.  We just did this, although today I sweat significantly less than usual.  That’s the great thing about movers: the do everything, and so quickly.  Tomorrow they will come and load it all into the truck.  After that, we wait and search and hope that someone will buy our house and we will buy another so that we can get our stuff back.

Shortly after the mover finished the kitchen, I found a water glass I had stashed somewhere.  I’m notorious for hiding glasses around the house, for filling them, drinking half, and forgetting where I put them.  It worked out today, though.  It was the only beverage container I had.  After drinking so much water almost constantly in Arizona, my body has been thoroughly confused about why I’m not drinking as much water here.  Also about the lack of sleep and the odd eating hours.  I imagine that by the time I make it to my parents’ house later in the week I will be exhausted and probably sleep a lot of the time.  Or I could just wait until I get back.  We all know I don’t have anything pressing going on.

the couch, all wrapped up

I’m closing up the house, turning off the lights, shutting the windows, closing the blinds, pulling the shades.  I remembered to turn the air conditioning back to 85, but I doubt it will get that warm before 9 am when I return.

the important stuff

It’s so odd to have someone come in and pack up your life, put it on a truck, and drive it away to a new place.  I know I’ve done this a million times, but it’s always so strange.

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One Year.

It has been a whole year since I posted for the first time and embarked on this sometimes-spotty journey of blogging.  While I haven’t been as diligent as I had originally hoped, I lasted a lot longer that I expected!

Nate and I celebrated our second anniversary yesterday in typical Saretta-and-Nate fashion.  Meaning, we ate our dinner on the dining room floor and said “Happy Anniversary” and talked about how crazy it was that we are married.  No cards, no flowers, no gifts, it’s just not our style.

Mmmmm, gelato

We did go out for gelato after dinner, though, and halfway through it started raining.  The temperature had calmed down from the 106 that it had been so we were sitting outside.  We were under an overhang so we watched the storm as we finished our dessert.  As we giggled in the car after getting soaking wet when it was time to leave, we joked that we would have to call Brandon to rescue us again because it was raining so hard.  It’s official, three years in a row it has downpoured on us on August 14.

An anniversary rainbow to go along with our thunderstorm.

And what a year it has been!  We bought a house, Nate graduated from college, we moved to Arizona and put our house back on the market.  I’ve started taking my architecture tests, drank a lot of coffee, and started running again.  I chopped off all my hair; I finally got an iPhone.  I went from crazy-over-my-head with stuff to do, to very unscheduled and free-form.  I basically have the control I wanted over my life, except I don’t have a job – which is a huge part of my identity.  I’ve read a TON of books.

I expect this next year will be almost as crazy.  I hope to get a job, sell our house, buy another.  To take my architecture tests, to keep running, to get rid of my car.  Maybe one day it will slow down.  But until then, I’ll enjoy the adventures!

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Mission “Find Fireworks” : Success

Nate had Wednesday off last week – a mid-week holiday we certainly didn’t complain about.  It was the first real “monsoon” day that we have experienced (yes, that’s a whole season here) so it rained on and off most of the day.  We lounged around, went to the gym,  and swam in the pool between showers.  I botched dinner by not reading the directions beforehand (#1: Brine chicken overnight – fail).  ALWAYS READ THE DIRECTIONS.  We had ravioli.  So very patriotic.  We wore our red, white, and blue.

Then, about the time we thought we should go to bed, we got into the car and went downtown to watch the fireworks.  It was a good end to a holiday, and a fun way to be out around people!

Pants

Hooray! Pants!

While the rest of the country was baking, it was only 75 here in Tucson.  The best part about this picture?  Not my new white sandals, although I’m pretty happy about them (side note: I only had to step on one cactus spike before I decided that the foam flip-flops from Old Navy were not going to cut it.  Solid soles for me.).  Also not the super awesome fake tile in our kitchen.  No, the best part is that after almost NEVER wearing shorts, especially outside the house, I have been in shorts since the day I got here.  I LOVE my jeans, and this is the first opportunity I’ve had to wear them!  I was super excited.  And it turned out to be a good thing, too.  Because in Tucson, there is very little grass.  So instead of a nice grassy hill to sit on to watch the fireworks, we sat on gravel.

Not Grass

Not Grass

Mmmmmm comfy.  Even with jeans on I had gravel imprinted in my backside by the time the fireworks were over.

Smile

Smile!

It was a fun adventure and I’m glad we ventured out of our apartment to partake in a community event!

Cactus

A very large cactus

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