Career Break Month 4 Recap

November picked up where October left off…in my Tucson Airbnb house that I rented for a month. After two weeks in this desert town, I decided to settle in to Tucson a bit longer and find an apartment! Yep, I’m moving to Tucson! I found an apartment for mid-December and signed a 6-month lease. Yikes! A few people, who have likely never traveled more than 1 or 2 weeks at a time, asked why I was stopping “so soon.” Well, for starters, it’s exhausting and expensive! I really like what I’ve seen of Tucson so far, and I want to see more, from less of a tourist perspective. I also realized I’m getting the itch for international travel again, and it seems like that would be easier to do once I have a homebase and am not living out of my car. Not to mention launching a job search from the road…doesn’t seem like a good option! Yeah, sooner or later my “pre-retirement” will come to an end 🙁

Saguaro National Park

My mom came to visit for 6 days at the beginning of the month, and we did a ton of touristy stuff. It was her first time to Tucson and even though I was only here 2 weeks, I did my research and we had a really packed week, starting with an overnight trip to the old mining town of Bisbee.

Back in Tucson, we spent one evening at the Kitt Peak Observatory, looking through giant telescopes at stars, planets and galaxies. We also visited the Sonoran Desert Museum, a must on any Tucson bucket list. (I’ll be publishing one eventually!)

We visited both units of Saguaro National Park, Sabino Canyon, and spent some time downtown Tucson exploring the Turquoise Trail. (It’s literally a turquoise trail you follow around to various points of interest) And of course, eating so much good food, especially the abundance of Mexican food!

By mid-November, I’m settling back into my hike/swim/yoga routine. Then a cricket breached the (non-existent) barriers of the old Airbnb house I was renting. After a sleepless night, I decided to bail out of this place a week early. I probably overreacted, and maybe I was subconsciously itching to get on the road again. I don’t know, but it all worked out for the best. (Even though Airbnb was of no help since I didn’t report any issues within the first 24 hours. My host agreed to refund 50% of the nightly rate for the remaining nights.) We moved into the Sheraton Tucson for 3 nights while figuring out what do to next. It felt good to be back in a hotel again!

Sheraton Hotel Tucson

I decided to take the opportunity to head back to New Mexico. When I visited last month, I was starting to feel travel burnout and didn’t make the extra drive to White Sands National Monument. I regretted it soon afterwards, so this was a good chance to see the white sand dunes. We arrived just in time for sunset, and it was stunning! I was walking around just saying “wow” a whole bunch of times! Seriously, super cool! And dog-friendly!

White Sands National Monument

We spent the night at a cute little KOA cabin in Alamagordo, New Mexico and returned to White Sands the next day to explore a bit more. There were families sledding, and one family was posing in Santa hats, presumably for their Christmas photo. It certainly does look like winter!

Out of luck, a campaign I’d been pitching for a few months finally got finalized and I spent 3 nights in Prescott, Arizona. I loved this Northern Arizona town, especially the fall climate, and will be posting about my visit soon! I’m definitely going to be returning to Arizona’s Christmas City!

This left me with a 5-day gap before heading to Hawaii, which I decided to spend in Phoenix at the Crowne Plaza Chandler, a place I’d stayed previously for work and I had enough points for 5 nights! Chandler is a super cute suburb of Phoenix, and I just enjoyed the downtime, catching up on work and spending time at the pool, getting ready for my next two trips and the big move!

After 5 nights in Phoenix, it was finally time to head to Maui, which is where I ended the month! I arrived on the 27th and as of this post, I’m still here!

Beach at Westin Ka'anapal Ocean Resort Villas

After 6 nights in Maui, I’m headed to Chicago for a few nights. I’ll clear out my storage unit, catch up with family and then fly back to Arizona and settle in to my new apartment! It’s going to be a crazy month, and I’m certainly not anywhere near ready for the holidays, but I am excited to get back to Tucson and find a routine again!

Here’s my month in numbers:

  • Miles Driven: 2,285 (10,667 since leaving Chicago)
  • States Visited: 3 (Arizona, New Mexico, Hawaii)
  • National Parks Visited: 1 (Haleakala)
  • Hotel Nights: 17
    • Copper Queen Hotel, Bisbee, AZ (1)
    • Sheraton Inn & Suites, Tucson, AZ (3)
    • Holiday Inn Express, Deming, NM (1)
    • Residence Inn, Prescott, AZ (3)
    • Crowne Plaza Chandler, AZ (5)
    • Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort (4)
  • Campground Nights: 1
    • KOA Alamagordo
  • Airbnb Nights: 12
  • Expenses: $6,232
    • Lodging: $1,324 (Airbnb was paid in October, and 5 of my 6 Maui nights were paid for earlier this year)
    • Gas: $280
    • Food: $726
    • Bailey: $280
    • Other: $3,741 (yikes! Really high this month, partly due to paying 6 months of auto insurance, security deposits on my apartment and movers, plus hitting the mall for the first time since I left Chicago!)
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Career Break Month 1 Recap

It’s hard to believe it’s been a month already! I still just feel like I’m on a vacation and due back at the office at any minute. It’s been a whirlwind month, and I’m looking forward to slowing down a bit more next month.

I started August in Chicago. The 3rd was my last day of employment, and on the 4th I emptied my apartment and headed to my mom’s house in the Quad Cities. After a quick turnaround there, I flew to Europe for 17 days, where I hiked and traveled through the Swiss Alps on the Haute Route.

On the way home from Switzerland, I took advantage of Iceland Air’s layover option and spent 24 hours in Reykjavik. I visited the Blue Lagoon right after landing, spent the night downtown at the Hotel Fron, and in the morning joined Wake Up Reykjavik for a food tour before hopping a plane back to the States.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland

Sun Voyager Sculpture in Reykjavik, Iceland

Flying to O’Hare and not taking the Blue Line to my apartment was kind of weird. Instead, I crashed in a friend’s guest room and the next morning drove back to the Quad Cities, with a detour to LaSalle-Peru to pop in on the annual Criswell family canoe trip. After two more nights in the Quad Cities, I officially started my road trip!

Bailey ready for our road trip!

Ready for a 4-month road trip!

A 6-hour drive brought me to Olathe, Kansas for 2 nights where I was working with the Chamber of Commerce.

Lake Olathe - Olathe, Kansas

After 2 nights in Olathe, I headed West again to Denver. I stayed in the South suburbs for two nights and aside from dinner with Denver-area friends, I used this time to catch up on blog work before heading to the mountains for the Labor Day weekend.

Dinner at Racine's in Denver with Kathy, Lina, Karen, Margaret, Cheryl and Deborah

September will take me to Colorado, Utah and Oregon – stay tuned for updates! (Sign up for my email updates and you’ll get new posts emailed to you each Friday!)

So…how was your August? Any big plans for September? (It’s the best month for travel, in my opinion!)

 

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