Even as my plane made its way over a Karl-the-fog covered San Francisco with views of Mt. Diablo in the distance, it already felt like this trip never happened. Had I not taken any pictures I might even be convinced that it didn’t. I tried to have a moment as my plane descended, thinking back to each place I traveled to, but the woman next to me was quizzing me on the various Bay Area bridges we flew over, and then we landed and I was back in the good old US of A. Ironically, I noticed that in appearance I was still a minority among US citizens making their way through immigration (I flew Philippine Airlines), and the agent didn’t even bother to open my passport before grunting me through the gates.
After a brief overnight in SF (thanks Liz!) and a quick meet-and-greet with one of countless new humans who have arrived since I left, I made my way to my new “home” in Henderson, NV. First stop? Albertsons. I’ve got to say, America really wins when it comes to supermarkets.
It’s a pretty stark transition to go from traveling alone for 11 months to living in a house with your parents, brother, sister-in-law, niece, nephew, and dog, in a suburb where not only is nothing a walkable distance away but even a walk around the neighborhood in the middle of the day is made impossible by the soaring desert temperatures (the week I arrived hovered around 110 degrees). Nevertheless, I have tried to treat Henderson like any other city I’ve visited along my trip, and after four weeks, here are some initial observations:
- The neighborhood is everything you’d want as a young family. After dinner the streets are full of kids playing on bikes, scooters, electric cars, and hover boards, there’s a community pool and splash pad, a monthly bunco night, taco nights, and an ongoing garage dart game. In terms of raising a family, it seems to be a pretty great place to be.
- Streets in Henderson tend to follow a multi-word desert-themed name, follow extremely curvy routes, and change names multiple times within a short distance. For example, just within our immediate neighborhood you can find Falling Mist Street, Tranquil Brook Avenue, Aragon Terrace Way, and Via Contessa. Further out you’ll find Anthem Highlands Drive, Anthem Parkway, Sun City Anthem Drive, Sunridge Heights Parkway, and W Horizon Ridge Parkway. Needless to say, it’s taking some time to get to know my way around.
- You’ll find bugs of a different sort in this part of the desert. The neighborhood is filled with millions of crickets that jump all around your feet as you walk. So far only my parents have spotted one but scorpions are also known to frequent the area at night. We also have some bats that fly around at dusk (I understand they eat the scorpions so I’m okay with this). I’ll take these any day over mosquitos and bed bugs.
- Henderson is actually the second largest city by population in Nevada (Vegas is largest) which makes it an interesting place to drive around. The entire city alternates between residential communities and strip malls, all sitting within a valley surrounded by mountains. Nearly every community is partially built which means there is construction everywhere, but it also means there are a ton of model homes. I’ve had some fun with my parents touring the model homes to get ideas for their own home being built about 20 minutes away from my brother’s house.
- It’s too hot now, but once the temperature starts to drop in September, Henderson is actually in close proximity to a lot of cool attractions. Just within Clark County are Red Rock Canyon National Park, Mt. Charleston, and Sloan Canyon, all of which provide great hiking trails. Within a few hours drive you can find Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, the Valley of Fire, Death Valley, St. George, and Zion National Park. I definitely expect to get back on the hiking trails once it’s bearable to be outside for more than 20 seconds at a time.
After the initial adjustment period, I feel like I’ve settled in to a bit of a routine. If I can get up in time to beat the heat I’ll go for a run or walk, I play with Kayla (my two-and-a-half-year-old niece), take a nap, play with Kayla, practice Japanese, play with Kayla, run errands, play with Kayla, help with dinner, go on a post-dinner walk (with Kayla), and watch a show. As you can see I spend a lot of time with Kayla, which is great, because she’s a really awesome kid.
Oh and my nephew, Lucas, is pretty darn adorable as well.
While it’s been a really nice routine for catching up on time with family, I have started to feel a bit aimless, and sort of like a free-loader even though I know I do a lot to help out around the house. It’s funny how different it feels to be travelling without a job versus home without a job. I never felt “unemployed” while I was traveling but I very much feel unemployed now. I’m hoping this will change a bit once I start my online TEFL course in a couple more weeks.
In the meantime, I’ll be continuing the “Emily meets all the new babies tour of America” this weekend when I travel to New York and Boston to visit with friends (and a new baby).
Finally, I haven’t taken many pictures of food because we eat in a lot, but I did make a trip up to SF to move out of my apartment and see some friends (and get a proper burrito), so for those of you that just scroll to the bottom for food, here you go: