Desert Rats

Well, our latest adventure has been a bit of a different one. If you follow us on social media then you’d know we made a bit of a move this last summer. After our Idaho adventure workshop we drove our beautiful ol Carmela straight south to Tucson, Arizona to which we now call home.


It’s been a bit of an adjustment, I’m not going to lie. We moved in the dead of the heat beginning of August. It was hot. Like 100+ hot. John’s been adjusting to not having any cold water to jump into and I’ll agree its a bit different for me as well moving to the desert where the landscape is barren and dry. But man, is there a beauty about it.

Tucson is green, there’s a ton of foliage, way more than I expected. I’ve never seen so many different forms of cacti and succulents. And it’s all just natural and wild? Thats insane. But hold on, let me backtrack for a second… we moved to Tucson kinda out of the blue. We had never visited before. My moms fiancé lives here and we moved across the country solely on the word that its a cool place. Luckily, it really is. Mount Lemmon is the tallest peak in the Catalina Mountain range which is the backyard to Tucson standing at over 9000 ft elevation. It goes from beautiful saguaro cacti to aspen and pine trees in a blink of an eye. In the dead winter, we will be able to leave our house at 70 degrees, drive one hour straight up the mountain to be greeted by a ski resort at the top of the mountain range. Dang. Thats paradise.


Tucson sits in a valley, in every direction you can see purple mountains in the distance all within an hours drive. The sunsets and sunrises are unexplainable. I thought the midwest had good sunsets.. the southwest tops that easy. I never knew the sky could make so many colors in one setting.

Something else that was new to us was the monsoon season. When it rains in the desert the water doesn’t really have anywhere to go. It doesn’t soak into the ground quickly and they get a ton of water really fast. So after heavy rains there’s quite a bit of standing water in the valley. But where it gets interesting is in the mountains. After heavy rains the canyons and gulches begin to fill up. And since the water doesn’t absorb into the ground it runs down, down, down the rock formations, through the sand beds and around the hills until finally drying up in the sunny heat or reaching the valley bottom. With all this running water, this creates amazing swimming / cliff jumping / waterfall opportunity in the rock pool between the gulches. Some pools are crazy deep and some are just the perfect kiddie pool, sun bathing depth. And the water is COLD! yes cold. Its coming from the higher elevations being chilled throughout the night, perfect for your afternoon dip in the dead of the summer. The monsoon season has come to an end but we hear after the winter and the snow melt the rivers and falls will fill up again bringing more swimming and exploring activities!!

I think what we’re most excited about with our new Arizona move is the relative closeness of things. We’re big outdoor people if you couldn’t tell quite yet. We climb and hike a lot and there wasn’t much of that in the midwest. With a short 20 minute drive, we are at some of the best climbing crags in the southwest. We ran into this guy who’s lived here for 20 years, climbs every weekend and still hasn’t hit all the crags. Location, location, location. We hit it. We’re only a short 4 hour drive to Flagstaff, a major ski resort with much more snow, 5 hours to southern California, 3 hours to the beach in Mexico and Utahs about a solid 7. But in the grand scheme of things thats relatively close with so much space and opportunity for exploration in between.

As of now, we’ve been crashing with my mom’s fiancé, Monty for the last few months while we acclimate and get our bearings. We knew moving here we’d both have to get steady “real” jobs to sustain ourselves until we can build up our clientele with photo, workshops and health coaching. I’ve been working for a school photography company while Johns been substitute teaching, but both still working on our businesses to achieve the real goal. It’s been working out just fine for now. We’re moving back into the van next week where we will turn into infamous desert rats… thats what they call them here. The summer heat has finally subsided enough where we can live in the van full time. It’s fairly easy to do here.. so we’ve heard but we’ve been scoping out locations where we can safely park at night being outside of the city but not too far away where it creates crazy commutes for us in the mornings.


All in all, thats a little recap from the last few months with our move to AZ. We both are still traveling a ton with photo shoots, weddings, workshops and most importantly our own adventures. Coming up on the radar is a trip to Northern AZ this November & February, Colorado over the holidays, and possibly a Mexico trip this march!!

Cheers! – Nicolette


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