Tucson or Bust

Call us crazy. Or desperate. But last Tuesday through Friday, The Varmint, Varmint Senior, six-week-old Mak and I packed the extended family wagon chock-full of baggage, bedding and baby gear and vamoosed 8 hours east to Tucson, A-Z for a few frenzy-filled days of errands, high-stakes shopping and adult decision-making.

Fun it was not. But fruitful it was. The Varmint and I are putting our collective familial booty on the line and coughing up some serious savings to buy a townhouse in the Tucson Foothills (check the top two pics).

We'rTownhouse_Patio.jpge not moving. We're investing. It's a whole different ball of wax, fraught with stumbling blocks and a constant measure of immediate expense versus long-term gain.

Considering that buying property and having a kid are two of the highest hits on the stress ranking index - and we've decided to tackle both in two months, well... we're feeling a little overwhelmed.

It's not just the massive question mark of the foreign and mysterious Arizona real estate market. (My ongoing question: "Why would a place that can give your ass permanent seatbelt-burn scars be growing so exponentially?") It's the little stuff like, "Do we invest $200 in cabinet knobs to help drag this early-80s kitchen into the 21st century, or do we just pretend it isn't there and screen for renters without taste?"

The list of stuff to do to bring the place up to snuff is currently eight pages long. Literally. Throw in the fact we live a state away, have a newborn, run our own company and are walking zombies currently making such sound decisions as tucking away our house keys in the safety of the refrigerator butter drawer . . .It may be we're none too bright tackling this right now.

But sometimes, life doesn't offer up the luxury of choice. It does sometimes offer the occasional stroke of good luck - such as a father-in-law with real estate know-how, who also happens to own property in the same city as the one you're buying in, and Knows People.

Having Monte (a.k.a. Varmint Senior) with us for the four days helped immeasurably. He greased the slide into Renovation Land, prevented panic, and helped to keep us organized and on-track, even through the distractions of an Extremely Fussy Baby, a Frazzled Wife + Mother and a Stressed, Under Deadline Husband + Father.

Mostly, our issues were due to the poor Varmint being forced to keep his furry little head buried in his laptop, designing away throughout the nights for one of our more favorite international clients. This was for the duration of the entire trip - and the resulting stress cascade created the equivalent of a high-pitched environmental hum that never gave us a break. 

Despite the wailing, the messes, the sweaty nights and the fits, I managed to pull myself together enough to care for the baby - who was obviously starving to death and angry that we were poking her with sharp needles. Spit-up spackled and worn, we limped home Friday, even stopping to eat our bag lunches and check out the shuttered and somewhat creepy old Pullman Motel at I-8 and Highway 84.

We made it home in good time, with our freshly-angelic baby in good shape. AllAboard_PullmanHotel.jpgPerhaps the rest of us were a bit worse for wear. But considering everything, we think we did well.

Wonderfully, our to-do list was chopped to a nearly manageable level and we developed a newfound confidence for Traveling with Baby.

Crazy as hoot owls you say? Well, if we can make it away for four days under that kind of pressure, my view is that should inspire hope. We might just be able to make it away for four days as a family for a - dare I say it - mini v a c a t i o n.

Wow. I can't believe I just said that, effectively signing myself up for another road trip with baby so soon... Maybe I am delirious. Or just a raging amnesiac optimist.

Either way, I think it speaks volumes that we'd all be willing to go at it again. I call that a successful trip.


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I am a writer and lazy artist who loves travel, architecture and design. Right now, I'm into photography. My fabulous husband (a.k.a. The Varmint) and I are also the principals of a San Diego-based creative agency - and new parents to the divine Baby Mak. Read More >