It’s a long drive to make by yourself (okay, technically with my cat, Lucy) – especially when you’re leaving everyone you know and care about behind. Yes, I had plenty of time to think about everything from teaching and friends to politics and love. As graduate school wound down (i.e. I successfully defended my dissertation and completed the necessary revisions), the daunting reality of relocating began to set in as I finalized my plans and said my goodbyes. The day the movers came I felt slightly anxious because I just longed to get on the road to St. Louis. As I finished vacuuming and then turned in my keys to the management office that afternoon, I felt relieved to be in route.
Lucy slept most of the ride. When I tired of listening to the music I brought along, I turned on the radio. An observation: nationally syndicated, ideologically-driven talk shows (either conservative or liberal) are hyperbolic and predictable. No thanks. Maybe it’s all of my graduate school training or that I simply know better, but I’m not interested in being manipulated by people who make a living spouting opinions (often with anecdotal evidence) in such a caustic manner. So, I rode in silence for periods of whatever length of time.
Once I reached New Mexico I found myself captivated by the beautiful desert landscape. Somewhere along the way I encountered a really intense thunderstorm. As the dark clouds grew closer, the rain began to pour so hard that I had to turn on my hazards because I could barely see the truck in front of me. The lightening flashes appeared to strike the ground in the distance. The thunder shook the car. I tightly gripped the steering wheel, focused on the road, and wondered if I should just pull off onto the shoulder to be safe. I didn’t. After I arrived in Albuquerque I watched another thunderstorm engulf the mountains from the hotel window.
During the last stretch of the trip, I passed numerous mesas and through the Painted Desert. Upon reaching Flagstaff it started to rain again. At some point, I noticed the dramatic change in temperature as the elevation decreased. Flagstaff’s summers are more comfortable in comparison to Lake Havasu’s. It’s common for there to be a 20-30 degree differential between them. When I finally arrived in town Thursday afternoon I picked up my keys from the property management company and drove over to my new residence. While unloading the car, I felt the intense heat and realized that I had just moved to one of the hottest parts of the country.