Northern Arizona .. I don’t even remember anymore what had inspired it. Maybe it was one of the short stays at the Briar’s Patch Inn, or the family vacation when we stayed at the Orchards Inn, hiked Bell Rock Loop and visited the Grand Canyon, or way back in 1992 when we were driving down the 89A from Flagstaff passing through the Oak Creek Canyon for the very first time.
The future is all around us, waiting, in moments of transition, to be born in moments of revelation. No one knows the shape of that future or where it will take us. We know only that it is always born in pain. – Babylon 5 Season 3 G’Kar ending in Z’ha’dum
Economical reasons, which drive so very many Californians from their beloved state, sure, those played a role. Natural disasters, which California is known to be a magnet for, I guess those too were a small consideration. An empty room however, which used to belong to a high school and later college student, who grew up way too fast and moved to the big city at the Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest, definitively sped things up. Despite all that, our road to Arizona started long before May 2019, when we sold our home in Ramona, California and loaded the U-Haul truck, ready to leave this little hick town for a desert town near Flagstaff with a very similar name. A town surrounded by red-rock buttes, steep canyon walls and pine forests: Sedona, noted for its mild climate and vibrant arts community.
Selling our beautiful home in Ramona, we had dubbed “Yellow House” and sometimes “Tech-Casita”, turned out to be more challenging than we had imagined. The house was in move-in condition, showed so very well, and many showings resulted in offers. However, each offer had issues and even the best one, a no-money-down offer from a veteran, fell through and unnecessarily prolonged the process and added anxiety, especially since we had already signed a rental agreement for a house in Arizona.
Another equally shaky offer, however, sailed through with little drama and soon enough we didn’t own a home anymore. A new feeling of relief and also insecurity, after being a homeowner for almost 20 years.
We had imagined this moment for a long time, a year, maybe much longer, but once you put your home on the market, something very profound happens: it’s not just a thought, an imagination, or a remote possibility anymore, and you now need to find a new place to stay.
Coffee Pot Rock Road
At the end of March, we had spent a long weekend at the Poco Diablo Resort, our base camp to look for rentals. If you think about it, it’s ridiculous, but finding a place to rent is much harder than putting down an offer to buy a home. We went through hard credit checks and had to pay application fees, to just look at apartments and homes. To this day however, I believe we were lucky, to have found and secured a house in our preferred location, the Village of Oak Creek, a laid-back residential community with outdoor attractions like Cathedral Rock, just south of Sedona.
A long distance DIY move
By committing ourselves to a cheap, do-it-yourself U-Haul move, we were most certainly bitting off more – much more – than we could chew. We rented a larger U-Haul truck on two consecutive weekends, loaded on one day, drove the at times treacherous road to Sedona for about nine hours on the next, and unloaded and returned the truck on the third.
Driving a 20ft U-Haul moving truck through the desert can be quite deceiving. You think you came to an understanding with the long vehicle until it comes time to refuel the bastard and while affordable, the tight gas stations in Yuma, AZ can create a truly humiliating challenge. Fortunately, I seem to have reached a stage, where I feel no shame anymore, asking for help, if knee-deep in the shit. I had navigated the long truck way too close to the pump and needed someone to guide me to adjust. Fortunately, a guy, who looked very much like the situation I was in, happily helped me out. Note to self: Never lose your belief in the good in people, especially if they don’t look like it.
Both moving weekends had many similarities. There was unusual rain, fog, and thick clouds from Ramona all the way up to the Desert Tower. Covering the distance between Yuma and Gila Bend (a place Google Assitant prefers to call ‘Hula Bend’,) which was our meeting point for a short break, felt like half of a lifetime. The Interstate 17 between Black Canyon City and Bumble Bee was a bitch, every single time. Still, we made it through both times, delivering the load without damage.
In limbo in the Digital Desert
Selling a home in California seems to favor the buyer, they could have backed-out anytime, only losing the small commitment of a few dollars, while we were already on the road to Sedona. Fortunately, that didn’t happen, the new owners of our Yellow House truly are “good people”. We like them very much, wishing them the same good of times we had there, seeing their kids growing up happily.
On the 1st moving weekend, totally exhausted, mentally and physically, we had a quick dinner at Famous Pizza & Beer and crashed in the nearby Holiday Inn Express. On the 2nd moving weekend, we were arriving late on a Sunday evening, unloaded bed and mattress before having dinner at the same place. On Monday we unloaded and returned the truck and on Tuesday, the Cable Guy was supposed to show up, hooking us up to the Internet, a somewhat necessary thing for a remote employee, depending on a fast Internet connection like fish need water.
The coax-cable that runs from the street to the house was old and insufficient. It was also cut somewhere, just like every coax cable near and inside the house. I’m afraid, the owner must have taken the term “cable-cutter” a little too literally. Still, the cable company promised to run a new cable from the street to the house. A process that shouldn’t take more than three months maybe.
Due to our Internet-dependency, we desperately ordered service from Viasat (Internet access via Satelite Dish) and CenturyLink (Internet access via Digital Subscriber Line).
Once we got these services finally set up, a lingering suspicion was confirmed – both were entirely insufficient. Viasat’s latency makes video conferences impossible and the upload speed through CenturyLink was below the LTE speed, we got on a cellphone.
Considering the disappointing connectivity issues of this house, we were considering extreme measures. I.e., breaking the lease and moving out, not a pleasant thought tho…
Fortunately, I was somehow able to talk the cable guy into hooking up the renegade cable we had run overground from the street to the garage (something totally frowned upon here, requiring permits, etc). Petra had painted it and concealed it with small rocks, making it completely unnoticeable.
Exploring her new home
Exhaling .. not yet
As I’m writing this, things have settled down a little. The car has Arizona plates, we have our Arizona Driver Licences, and I have also traveled to the office in Mountain View. However, the exhaustion is still very much apparent and has not relented just yet.
We have started to explore, Petra is checking out a dentist next week and I have already gotten my first haircut. And of course, we already did some familiar and some very new hikes.
Feeling blessed …
Thinking of my grandfather, who died at age 92, 25 years ago. Whenever we left after visiting, he said: “Come back real soon!” Today a son traveled some 1,375 miles (or 2213 km) from Seattle to the VOC, and that was just one way, to visit his old man. What can I say .. besides “Come back real soon!”