May it last.

May is a great month. Not just because my birthday sits at the beginning, but in the northeast, it’s the first real glimpse of the promise of finer weather to come. In Arizona, May is quite the opposite. Cactus flowers have already hit their stride and are shutting their doors for the fiery summer to come. The state tree, the Palo Verde, has already beautifully bloomed and subsequently shed their horrible buds of pollen, to the detriment of everyone with a sensitive allergy profile. Sunny days are now accompanied by an ever-present haze that disrupts the clarity of the distant mountain ranges.

So it was a perfect time to head home to the northeast, to see family and to watch our friends Joe and Olivia tie the knot.

We wrapped up our contract at Chandler Medical Center, said goodbye to coworkers, now friends.

We had a lovely get together with our Arizona family at the Farm at South Mountain for brunch, enjoying the company- we were unable to do so for most of our time in Phoenix because of COVID.

On May 6th we boarded our flights bound for Logan Airport in Boston, trading in temps of 100F+ for a soothing 60F. Charley was doing another staycation at my cousin’s house in Phoenix. We’d be in Mansfield visiting our Neureuter fam for 4 days or so before heading to Binghamton to spend time with the Mangouri and Whalen family for another 4 or so days.

So much catching up to do! We had dinner down in Rhode Island on Friday, meeting up with Ethan and Abbey. Abbey’s with child, due in September. We couldn’t be more thrilled for them and they seem to be doing real well. After dinner we had a fire at their new (to us) house down in cute Barrington, Rhode Island.

Saturday afternoon we headed over to our friends Kathryn and Shawn’s new house in Uxbridge for lunch and caught up with them and Erika and Andrew and their little boy Patrick for a few hours. It was so good to spend time with friends and hear about all of the latest happenings.

That evening Jamie and I went to Woburn to our friends Tommy and Ali’s house for a fire and gathering of friends. Everyone had good news! Tommy and Ali were expecting a baby in September; Matt and Becca got engaged and bought a house; Sammy finished nurse anesthetist school and got a job and her boyfriend John started a carpentry business; Billy passed his Professional Engineer exam and Laura finished Nurse Practitioner school and accepted a position at Mass General, and they were busy planning for their wedding next June. Whew.

Sunday was Mother’s Day, and Jamie and I prepared brunch for the family. Nana Betty stopped by. Moe still tried to help with the prep, despite it being her day. Always a mother.

We ate, laughed, played some yard games. Had a great time hanging out, being lazy on the couch. Jed showed me the blueprints for their new lake house they’re building up on Pine River Pond in New Hampshire. It looks pretty incredible, and the lot is in a beautiful nook, tucked away in a small forested cove of the lake. Can’t wait to see it when it’s done- they’re hopeful for Thanksgiving.

When it was time to leave on Tuesday, it wasn’t easy. It never is. But we were heading to Binghamton for time with my parents, something we were both greatly looking forward to. We had shipped our Snowflake to Mansfield, so it was ready to take us the 300 miles west to Binghamton.

Our time with my parents was fragmented- we spent Wednesday and Thursday with them, drove to Poughkeepsie for the wedding, and returned Sunday to Binghamton, flying out to Phx on Tuesday. The logistics worked out perfectly though.

Wednesday I played a round of golf with my dad and his buddies while Jamie went for bike ride with my Mom and Uncle Mark. We met up afterward at Beer Tree for a couple drinks and dinner, and Mark’s wife Rita joined us. Always great catching up with them.

My mom had planned a surprise Thursday for my 30th birthday. Mom, Dad, Jamie and I loaded into the car and we headed up to Skaneateles Lake, about 1.5 hours north. We walked around the lakeside town, popped into some shops, had lunch, and made our way to Mirbeau Spa for massages. Dinner was at Rosalie’s, an Italian restaurant just down the state highway a bit. It was exactly what we needed. Some rest, relaxation, and family time.

On Friday, we gathered our stuff for the wedding and drove out to Poughkeepsie, shockingly 3 hours drive east-southeast of Binghamton. Joe’s one of my best friends, we went to college together. In fact, he introduced me to Jamie- he went to Mansfield High School with her. Olivia went to SUNY Binghamton with us too, and we didn’t get to see them much anymore, as they live out in Littleton, CO.

It was so great to see them, and to see other friends Mike and Devin, Jay and Colleen, Jake and Chris Hall. It was a small wedding, beautifully done in the backyard of Olivia’s parents house. Joe and Olivia looked like they were having the best day of their lives, and we couldn’t be happier we made it to celebrate with them.

We drove back to Binghamton on Sunday, in time for a get-together with the Whalen family, and my friend Dave stopped by for a bit.

Couldn’t have asked for better, being able to see so many family and friends during our time home. It was a small window of time for sure, but we were able to fill it with good times, love, and laughter.

We packed up our stuff, said our goodbyes to mom and dad, and got a ride to the Scranton airport from my Uncle Mark (thanks Uncle Mark!)

Getting back to Phoenix around sunset Tuesday evening, Kaivan and Lulu picked us up and brought us home. We jumped back in our car, eager to go get Charley that night. After a few moments of whining with excitement, she acted as if we’d never left. Business as usual. She always has fun at my cousin’s house, and for that we are thankful.

As our apartment lease was ending on Thursday, we spent Wednesday packing everything up, getting it in order to be loaded into our new car we bought. Archie the Adventurer is our white Toyota 4Runner with a matte black grille and running boards. We bought it on April 19th in a real touch-and-go negotiation with a dealership in Scottsdale.

Meanwhile, we still had to secure jobs in Seattle, find housing, and plan our imminent road trip (albeit a loose and flexible plan). Stress is an understatement when describing Wednesday and Thursday. We spent our time alternating between packing things, trashing things, contacting folks for short term dog friendly housing in the ridiculous Seattle rental market, and reaching out to our recruiter regarding job opportunities.

As I write this sentence, on Friday, we’re still without an apartment or a job, driving north on US-395 through the interior of Southern California. We spent last night in Palm Springs, about 250 miles west of Phoenix, as we started our road trip on a rather stressful note. The weather has been less-than-desirable thus far as well, with sustained 30+ mph winds and heavy gusts preventing us from starting our camping journey with our new gear. We conceded and booked a room at the Vagabond Motor Hotel, the same spot we stayed at on our last trip through the area, two years ago.

Not a bad decision though, as we were both worn thin from the stresses described above, and a good night’s sleep and proper dinner would hopefully get us starting on the right foot today.

And so starts our 3 week adventure northward, to the Pacific Northwest. Stay tuned.

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