Have you ever been truly surprised? I don’t mean like walking into a surprise party that you’ve anticipated or getting a job offer after a really stellar interview. I’m talking about a moment that sincerely catches you off guard: like stumbling into something that you don’t even realize you want until it lands in your lap. Well my friends, that perfectly describes my time in Arizona. I’ll spare you the details, but when I finished up my nursing assignment in Washington state, Arizona was not even on my radar. If you’ve read my blog on the 49th state, it should come as no shock that I was shooting to land in Alaska for the summer. But when a spot opened up at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, I just couldn’t say no. And friends, after 8 months in this beautiful state, I must say – Arizona deserves a top spot on the list.

Arizona steadily went from a no-namer to a place I now long to live. At first, I accredited my infatuation to the ceaseless sunny days. After months of rainy weather in the PNW, I welcomed April’s vitamin D with cool shades and an old swimsuit. I may have had to pass out sunglasses to all the neighbors so they weren’t blinded by my paleness but by June, I blended in with the rest of the sun-kissed natives.

FUN FACT:the UV index in Arizona’s July is more than two times the UV index in Washington (insert sunburn here).”

But even as the sunny and 75 morphed into sunnier and 120, my love affair continued unphased. From the humidless air to the joy-filled people, my time in the grand canyon state has etched a special place in my memory, a memory I honestly have had a hard time moving on from. Over the next few posts, I plan to tell you exactly why I fell in love with this state. And why, at the end of my eight months here, this best-kept secret of the Southwest felt more like home than my three-stoplight town in Alabama. So lather on some SPF, grab your cowboy boots (or “shit kickers” as my local friend likes to call them) and take notes!

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Happy Travels,

Ragan & Danko

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