Exactly seventeen years ago Jim and I visited Arizona. We were in our mid 20's and that summer Jim had just finished competing in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics as a member of the British Rowing Team. When he returned to England he would be starting his masters degree in environmental science at Imperial College in London. Earlier that summer I had just completed my masters degree in London and after our trip would be starting my first job in Human Resources in Washington DC. At the time we didn't know what the future had in store for us career wise, family wise, even relationship wise but we knew it was one of those new chapter points in life, exciting in many ways but also full of some unknowns. Looking back now it all turned out even better than I could have ever imagined. Perhaps that is why Arizona always stayed with us because it was the start of another very positive stage for our relationship and what turned into our future together.
Seventeen years ago I never could have even imagined returning to revisit Arizona with our three children so in a sense I feel like this trip is as close as you can get to time traveling. We have literally stopped off at all of the places we visited the last time we were here. We left Raleigh at 6:40am and were pulling into the parking lot of the best Mexican restaurant we have ever been to, El Charro, in Tucson at 12noon (there are a few now but if you visit go to "the original" El Charro). The difference this trip is that we went for lunch and not dinner. From there we headed onto Tombstone, an old Wild West town in the middle of nowhere, the discovery of gold and silver in the late 1800's, the shoot out at the OK Corral and many Western movies since put Tombstone on the map. The boys were in heaven, real cowboys walking around with spurs and all, a stagecoach riding through town, all helped along by the infamous Arizona landscape which does not disappoint.
On from Tuscon to Flagstaff which will be our base for three days. We booked a teepee at the Flagstaff KOA which is a fun experience for us all, complete with two beds and even a bedside lamp it seems the perfect way to set us up for day trips to the Grand Canyon and Sedona. Breakfast at Macy's European Bakery and Coffeehouse to relive the jalapeno bagel and coffee I had 17 years ago. I was so glad to see it was still here and hadn't turned into a Starbucks (I love Starbucks but it would not have been the same).
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We booked the trip a few months ago and didn't realize at the time that this trip would also signal a new chapter in our lives. Since my Doctors visit last week I have had a further appointment with a Breast Disease Specialist, the amazing Dr. Lisa Anne Tolnitch. Following my biopsy I now know that I have invasive ductal breast cancer in my left breast that is triple positive for hormone receptors (that means that hormones are helping the cancer to grow so there is specific treatment to stop those hormones and stop the growth). I have an appointment on Monday, the day the kids start school, to find out more about the next steps which will involve some surgery, and also a visit with an Oncologist to determine the full treatment plan (thank you Elizabeth for all of the juggling). So some unknowns ahead but I am very happy that we timed this Arizona trip the way that we did. Seventeen years ago it was the perfect start to our next chapter and I am sure this time around it will be the same, I have another trip planned in 2030!