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Saying Goodbye to Arizona

Updated on September 20, 2011

Happy Trails To You, Until We Meet Again

Our family is saying goodbye to the beloved American Western landscape that has become our home during the last eight years. We are relocating from the Sonoran desert in central Arizona to America’s heartland, where my husband is going to work for a big corporation well known for its green tractors.

Endings and new beginnings always carry with them a sense of adventure, but for me, saying goodbye to Arizona is like wishing farewell to a quirky, but true friend. People form themselves to the identity of the landscapes where they reside. Or perhaps they are drawn to the places that reflect their personalities best. Ask the residents of Sedona, Arizona about this theory. They will tell you that it is karma or kismet or something astrological, even. Whether you believe in such things or not, Arizona is a unique place, a blend of ancient history with the brand new. Innovation takes its place amidst folklore and myth in a landscape that is a varied collection of geographic wonders, and an inspiration to western authors like Zane Grey, Leslie Marmon Silko, Barbara Kingsolver, Tony Hillerman, and Wallace Stegner.

I am taken in by what I see of Arizona, even my last day here. Arizona’s brilliant clarity of light attracts astronomers to places like the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, and a host of cowboy artists and landscape painters in Tucson. As we drive through the last stands of Saguaro “forests” north of the Phoenix metropolitan area, I think about the way that the Sonoran desert ironically mixes a harsh kind of endurance and survival with a surprising kind of beauty that may not be easily appreciated by someone who has lived their lives in the shadows of fifty-foot sycamore trees.

Arizona beauty is often tied up in the grandeur of its landscapes. As I write this we are travelling through Arizona’s northern plateau, a region where land disappears into miles of sky. Clouds form a canopy over expansive vistas that draw your eyes across hundreds of miles of terrain in a single sweep. This land is not beautiful in itself, yet its openness gives the soul a feeling of expansive freedom.

As we drive through this area, we see the authentic American West blended with myth and advertising. A place called MeteorCity, a tiny blip on the map, sports faded Kokopellis dancing against the walls of fake tepees and a giant geodesic hogan with a flashing sign reads “souvenirs.” MeteorCity reminds me of other such places peddling souvenirs, kitsch, gas, and stale sodas. These places exist in some of the most forbidding and barren landscapes, offering an oasis of sorts from intense heat or cold. Places with names like Nowhere, SkullValley, and BloodyBasin. I have to chuckle at these names. Some places in Arizona have horrific stories to tell. These stories are fascinating, though. Other places like SkullValley are hidden oases, kept so by their formidable, if false and pretentious, names.

Arizona’s harsh beauty and its muted palettes of agave blues, olive greens, and golden yellows offer up a few surprising last-minute gifts. A momma quail darts in and out of a scrubby stand of brush next to the bank where we do business, followed by 6 or 8 tiny quail babies. And I notice the lilly-like flowers of the Cereus cactus planted along the boulevard in my new neighborhood in the Phoenix suburbs. This cactus is a collection of tubular segments that clump together in ugly pillars. Their sole redeeming value is the large white flowers that bloom once a year, but only for a few hours. It was an exceptional gift to see this one last time before we head to a land of corn rows, deep, verdant rivers, and towering trees that dwarf the sky.

Saying goodbye to Arizona means saying goodbye to unusual billboards that read “Ostrich Eggs and Meteorites, 50% off” and warnings at public parks to watch out for scorpions and rattlesnakes.

In Arizona we leave behind some good friends too. I know that we will make new friends and I’m looking forward to the new adventures our family will experience. I’m already dreaming of a white Christmas, and perhaps a white Thanksgiving and a white Halloween too! Along with that comes a whole new collection of natural discoveries: leaves bigger than my hands, lightning bugs in the summertime, and temperatures cold enough to make baking a realistic proposition.

Goodbye, Arizona, until we meet again!

Nowhere Wasn't on the Map, But it is Somewhere in Arizona!

Skull Valley, AZ:
Skull Valley, Prescott, AZ 86305, USA

get directions

Skull Valley has a formidable name, but it is a pretty little oasis in the upper Sonoran Desert near the headwaters of the Hassayampa River.

Bloody Basin, AZ:
Bloody Basin, Mayer, AZ 86333, USA

get directions

This locale was the site of a massacre, but I'm not sure of the details.

Meteor City AZ:
Meteor City, AZ 86047, USA

get directions


Submit a Comment

  • wannabwestern profile imageAUTHOR

    Carolyn Augustine 

    7 years ago from Iowa

    Thanks Dr. Ken, I appreciate that. We'll miss Arizona, but when we're experiencing snow and wind and bitter cold, we will be able to say "at least the summers aren't 116 degrees!" :)

  • Dr Ken Romeo profile image

    Dr Ken Romeo 

    7 years ago

    Good luck on the relocation.

    I spent time in AZ during baseball's spring training (cactus league). What a great State. Sort of wish I lived there.

    A well written Hub.


  • Stan Fletcher profile image

    Stan Fletcher 

    8 years ago from Nashville, TN

    Old Poolman - I couldn't agree more. I'll be back in June and never leave again....

  • profile image

    Old Poolman 

    8 years ago

    Great hub, and sorry to see you leave our great state. I have lived in AZ for over 65 years, and can flat out guarantee you will come back. You now have some sand in your veins that acts like a magnet and pulls you back. I know lots of people that have tried to leave, and they all come back. Good luck in your new "temporary" location, and we will see you soon.

  • susansisk profile image

    Susan Sisk 

    8 years ago from Georgia, USA

    Loved reading this I'm looking forward to reading about your new home..

  • wannabwestern profile imageAUTHOR

    Carolyn Augustine 

    8 years ago from Iowa

    Thanks Anna Marie and Stan--Arizona has much to offer so saying goodbye was a wistful moment, but we are excited to experience life in a new paradigm, but best of all, my husband will be spending more time with the family. Thank you both!

    Hello, hello, thank you very much for the shout out!

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 

    8 years ago from London, UK

    Thank you for all your information and wish you all the best.

  • Stan Fletcher profile image

    Stan Fletcher 

    8 years ago from Nashville, TN

    A beautiful piece that made me long for the desert. What a beautiful and rugged world at is. I hope to move there in June and never leave. Thanks for this...

  • Anna Marie Bowman profile image

    Anna Marie Bowman 

    8 years ago from Florida

    I grew up in IL, so I am very familiar with the green tractor people. I also lived in AZ for four years. Getting off the plane for the first time was like getting off a spaceship on a strange planet. The landscape was so different. I grew to love it. I miss it. Reading this made me remember all the things I loved about living out in AZ! Thank you, and I wish you luck in the heartland of America!

  • wannabwestern profile imageAUTHOR

    Carolyn Augustine 

    8 years ago from Iowa

    Hello all,I have tried to reply to all of your kind comments three different times, but for now my internet connection is spotty at best.

    Dahoglund, we are in the QC area. My DH was just hired to work for John Deere. With such a great company, it looks like we could plant roots and grow a tree before we ever leave. That's okay. We love many things about AZ, but this area has much to offer too! It is fun knowing you have lived here.

    Bob and Dim, I lived in East Anglia for three years as a young girl and found the place magical. I have always wanted to go back to England, so I envy you a bit. I spent many hours traipsing around in the drizzle, almost 30 years ago!

    Cassie Ann, I am already a little chilly, but I'm bracing myself for real weather. Finally my kids will know real seasons! Thanks for the wishes.

    Creativeone, you are very kind! We already really like our new home, and i too hope it will be blessed!

    Kaie, I'm looking forward to exploring here in the heartland once we are settled a bit and the newborn baby is a few weeks older. We have met some very nice people, too. Thank you.

    Dallas and OneGoodWoman, we'll always love Arizona, and hope to visit back frequently. Dallas, I have a friend who lives in PV and Pinetop are both familiar to me and very nice places.

    Thanks to all of you for commenting and wishing us well through the big life change.

  • dallas93444 profile image

    Dallas W Thompson 

    8 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

    I lived in Paradise Valley, Az and had a summer home in Pinetop, AZ up around 7,000 ft. Best of both world... Thanks for sharing...

  • Kaie Arwen profile image

    Kaie Arwen 

    8 years ago

    I know you'll miss your home, but America's heartland is a great place to be.......... it lives up to its name! You'll be happy............. wishing you all the best! Kaie

  • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

    Dim Flaxenwick 

    8 years ago from Great Britain

    Oh If only l could have been as positive in my attitude when l had to move from my little desert island to the cold North of England.

    l must take a leaf out of you book and look forward to things that are different . I hope all goes smoothly for you and you´ll be very happy in your new area.

  • dahoglund profile image

    Don A. Hoglund 

    8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

    Welcome to our part of the country. You didn't say where exactly you are moving but I lived in the land of tractors in the Quad-cities until I retired. Might have to get used to Winter driving skills.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    I love Arizona and all desert places. Don't go to far east or you might end up in England like I did. Need that sun every day, not 6 times a year...Bob

  • Cassie Ann profile image

    Cassie Ann 

    8 years ago

    You sure will experience one huge climate change. Winters here are certainly beautiful - but can be very COLD! Good luck. I hope all goes well and you can adjust quickly.

    Baking on cold winter days is fun as well as delicious.

  • creativeone59 profile image

    benny Faye Douglass 

    8 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

    Have a safe and happy relocation. I hope your new home is a blessed one. Godspeed. creativeone59

  • onegoodwoman profile image


    8 years ago from A small southern town

    I can relate......Arizona is one of the best places I have lived. I made some true friend there.

    The road leads back....maybe we will journey there together someday.:)


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