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desert

This tag is associated with 3 posts

Mountain Standard Time

Ahhh yes… “Home”

Well. I made it through the final leg of my multi-state cross-country road trip with these last 350 miles from El Paso to Tucson. Mexican border within arms’ reach to my left, then into New Mexico, then onto Arizona, a quick rest/gas/pee stop in Willcox, and an hour later back in Tucson and straight to the gym, where I got 2 PRs: a new 3RM high hang snatch of 120# and new 3RM high hang clean&jerk of 150#.

New Mexico I-10 W

Arizona I-10 W

Yonder Tucson

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Then straight to a double-double protein style with a side of animal fries.

across the street from my house (no lie). Thank you, West coast.

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Now time to unpack! But that can wait until tomorrow.

Tucson really makes me smile. It really does. I’m with my family, I’m surrounded by sunshine and mountains,  I have my sturdy 5-speed Honda Fit, I have a great gym I get to lift at, I have meat in my belly, and I have an organized plan for my dissertation writing and have already made progress… it’s smooth sailing in the desert, folks.  Enjoying every moment.

290W/I-10W: Desert Trekking

I officially have “driver’s tan” now. It’s quite comical, really, like a farmer’s tan but only on the left side of my body. Tomorrow’s drive to Tucson won’t improve matters, either.

El Paso looks a lot like Tucson. Home is so close now!

El Paso from my hotel window (not pictured: the 'star' of Texas lit up on the side of that mountain)

I really must remember next time I’m driving on 290 to plan a stop in Fredericksburg, TX. The CUTEST little town I ever did drive through. You know, the drive from Austin to El Paso isn’t as terrible as many put it out to be.

long stretch of I-10 to nothing but desert mountains

Desert and blue sky!

But then, when I see open stretches of highway in front of me and nothing but desert and bare mountains to either side of me, I’m a happy girl.The desert rocks (pun totallyintended).

Don’t get me wrong, a verdant landscape is all well and good, but the desert will always claim my heart. Cross-winds, however, are AWFUL. Not only do they make driving quite treacherous, but they do horrible damage to the mpg average! I had to refill my tank about 100 miles under when I’d normally expect to do so. And when I got to the gas station to do so it took a lot of effort to open my car door against the wind. Yes, they really were that strong.

Oh, and…. Texas I-10… 80mph? Really??? Wow.

Oookay.

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Something I’ve learned while on the road (besides how incredibly vast this land is and that everyone should travel solo, something I’ve said many times before) is my “Secret Single Behavior” (SSB). I already knew that I talk to myself and have no shame blurting out songs whether or not the radio is on. And that I dance while driving. What I did not know is that I will talk to my food, as well, sometimes to a little tune. Example: “Yum yum carrot, you are so crunchy and sweeeeet I love to CRUNCH you yum yum carrot yum!”

Speaking of carrots, those of you who know I eat a pretty Paleo diet might be wondering how I get by keeping it clean on the road.

Venti iced coffee (unsweetened) with half'n'half.

Fast food joints everywhere, and the ever-tempting Dairy Queen (a road trip staple, if I may say so… though I have yet to actually have any this trip). Well, to be honest it’s pretty easy to eat well as long as you have a cooler.

Okay… I do start with coffee (it helps to keep you awake, and this large size lasts me all day… the need to stop and pee helps, also).

While driving I don’t really have too much of an appetite, actually. I’m not that active and the multiple roadkill sightings don’t do much for me. But it is true that hour after hour of driving can induce the munchies.  Munchies = crunchies, and carrots perfect. So are nuts. Before I start my journey I hard-boil some eggs to take on the road for quick protein bites during stops. And I make sure I have a few PaleoKits with me, just in case. They are jerky, nuts and dried fruit, and they double as a great jaw workout! One kit can easily last me two meals. Sliced deli meat is a huge staple for my cooler. And because the phrase “added water” or “added white meat” kind of weirds me out, I go for Applegate or Hormel’s All Natural 100% turkey. No nitrates or anything. Just 100% pure meat. And, of course, you should always be equipped with: water, water, and more water. And remember to drink often.

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Wave to Mexico!!!

Driving just North of the Mexican border. Hola!!!

Grounded?

“Home is where the heart is”, many say. Well, what does that mean? “Home” is where you’re happy? “Home” is where you have people you love and love you? “Home” is a place you love? What is “home”?

In my mere 27 years, I have a few places I’ve been lucky enough to call home: Tucson, AZ;  Claremont, CA (Scripps College); Charlottesville, VA (UVA), Rome, Italy (I think I’ve spent enough time there to call it a sort of home… I certainly feel at home when I’m there); and currently: Athens, Greece.

I’ve traveled many places and made footprints in many roads and hopefully made as much of an impression on people and places as they have on me. I’ve felt comfortable in all of them, but here’s the funny thing… whenever I’m in one place, I find that I am longing for another. There’s always the desire to travel, either to familiar sights and people or to explore new places altogether.

Is it natural for us to be grounded to one spot for life? Or is it more natural to travel from place to place, to see things and explore and learn and expand our life experiences?

When people ask me “where would you like to get a job eventually and settle down?” I honestly reply “wherever they hire me” (well, it’s a pretty honest answer). ….and hopefully a place which allows me to travel often.

I’m currently in Athens, Greece, and I’ll be here until December. It’s definitely a city with a city feel, and I could see myself living here. The city center is great for pedestrians, and the metro and bus system makes public transport very easy (when they’re not on strike, that is, as they are now). Being in Europe, other European cities are pretty easy to get to, and so are the Cycladic Islands (and Crete!). The language is different, yes, but language barriers are only as challenging as you make them. I plan to return to the States in December — but there is always the option to remain in Athens. Should I remain? Sure, why not. Should I return to Charlottesville, the place I’ve called home the past 3 years? That is easily done. Should I stay in Tucson for a few months while I write my dissertation? Also a lovely option. I’d be happy in each place. I’d also be happy continuing travels around Europe (anyone want to give me a huge loan so I could do that?).

When I’m on the East Coast I miss the desert, when I’m in Europe I miss the comforts of the States, when I’m in the States I miss the wonders of Europe (among other fabulous places)… it may seem like I’m just a complainer and never satisfied, I realize, but that’s not true. I’m very easily pleased. Maybe too easily pleased. I just don’t know if I’ll ever really feel “grounded” to a spot, to one place to always call “home” forever. But then… should I?