Leaving Arizona

In September of 2016 I traveled to Crescent City in Northern California to photograph the Redwoods. Unbeknownst to me at the time, that trip changed me and started to put into motion events that would culminate in my leaving Arizona.

My usual routine when returning home from a major trip is to spend weeks cataloging, researching, tagging, and describing the thousands of images I made. I then spend several months crafting my favorite images into fine art pieces. It’s easy to burn-out fast when spending too much time on the computer, so I try to regularly get out for local hikes, and I make new images during those walks.

My first hint that something was amiss was that I was not going out much, and when I did I seldom made any landscape images. I also sensed a growing sense of dissatisfaction within me.

I switched focus from landscapes to bird images. One of our local canyons is well known for being hospitable to migratory species and I spent early Spring hiking up and down that canyon making images of the Elegant Trogon, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Painted Redstart, and others.

I enjoyed those hikes and I learned a lot about the habits of the birds I stalked. However, I was becoming increasingly frustrated with the poor quality of the images that the Nikon P900 creates and after a couple of months I stopped chasing birds and stopped doing photography.

When I say I stopped doing photography, I mean I stopped doing all of it: no more making or processing images, no more working on my Lightroom catalog, no more uploading or participating on the social media sites I frequent and share images with. I stopped everything.

Now, I’ve gone on a photography hiatus before, but this time it felt different. It wasn’t just photography that no longer interested me. I also had lost all interest in going out for a hike or to enjoy a good walk.

It took me a while to finally realize what had happened; after 45 years, I was tired of Arizona. I was fed up with having to watch where I placed my feet to avoid stepping on a rattlesnake, sick-and-tired of my energy being sapped by the blazing heat of the desert Sun, and absolutely numb to the thought of taking one more photo of a rock or dead tree.

I was missing green grass jutting from dunes overlooking surf lapping the compact wet sands of a beach that stretches on for miles in either direction. I missed the sound of crashing waves on jagged rock outcrops, and the wind rustling the leaves of the alders as it sang through the needles of the towering Redwoods.

Frankly, I’m a coward when it comes to making major changes in my life. Even as I became increasingly miserable, I convinced myself that moving elsewhere was out of the question for I had too much invested in Arizona.

I tried to fill my creative void with music. I had always wanted to play the piano, so I purchased a Roland FA-07 workstation. I put my heart and soul into learning the basics of playing piano and surprised myself with what I was able accomplish in 6 months. I’m by no means good, nor even adequate, but the fact that I’m able to make music on the piano thrills me to no end.

But I still felt the trees and the surf calling out to me, and the dissatisfaction of not being where I wanted to be continued to well up inside me.

Life has a funny way of hitting us upside the head with a clue-stick when we most need it. In my case, some personal issues cropped up, and after dealing with them I found that I no longer had any excuses for not relocating elsewhere. So, now I’m asking myself, where do I really want to end up at?

Though it is somewhat isolated, I plan on moving to Crescent City. Yes, I have doubts about living there. Will trees and surf be enough to help bring me to a peaceful state of mind? I don’t know. Also, though I’ve spent months searching, I have been unable to find a decent and affordable home there.

Maybe it’s too soon to find a permanent home. Perhaps a temporary apartment might be a more suitable base of operations from which I could explore the area and continue my search for a new home at a more leisurely pace.

Surprisingly, apartments are very hard to come by in Crescent City, and as I expand my search further North and South, I find that apartments are hard to come by anywhere on the coasts of Northern California and Southern Oregon.

Aside from Eureka, there’s really not much South of Crescent City, and I don’t see anything there to entice me to call it Home.

I’m now looking Northward, first to Brookings, then Bandon, and then Coos Bay and North Bend.

After a cursory look, I’ve decided Brookings is not where I want to be. The cost of living is significantly higher than in Crescent City and it seems to be mostly a retirement community that’s precariously perched along the rugged Oregon Coast.

Gold Beach… uh, sorry, but no.

Port Orford is nice but very isolated.

Bandon… I love Bandon! However, all the apartments there seem to be for low-income families and seniors, and aside from Face Rock and the miles of wonderful sandy beach, what would I do there?

Which leads me to Coos Bay and North Bend. I’m not a city person, but after a lot of research, I find that the area offers more amenities, has access to all the places I’m interested in, and has better medical facilities, the latter being an important issue when you’re on the short end of your allotted life span.

So, I finally managed to secure a nice apartment in Coos Bay, and it should be available for occupancy at the end of May. I plan on it being Home for the next several months, from which I can explore the Oregon Coast and make excursions down to Crescent City to be amongst the Redwood Trees.

I’ve also got myself on a waiting list for a nice apartment in Crescent City. If all goes well, I should be able to move there some time in November. Then again, who knows, maybe I’ll find Coos Bay to be the better place to live.

Most everything I own is now in a storage shed, and a corner of my living room contains a carload of essentials I’ll require for moving into a new Home. So, I’m waiting for the end of May to arrive and then it’s adios, Arizona!

It’s been an interesting 45 years here in the desert, but it’s time to start a new life elsewhere, where things are green instead of brown, where there are four seasons instead of two, where flowing water is the norm and not an oddity, and where I’ll be inspired to make new images once again.