The trip home went off without a hitch. There were no cancelled or delay flights. Our rental car passed inspection---no dents, scrapes, or dings.
We had a 3-hour delay in Memphis, so I got to explore the airport a little (which is something I love to do, per my nerd tendencies). As we were descending into Memphis, I started to go over in my head some of Memphis' characteristics. Let's see...there's Graceland, the NBA's Grizzlies, blues music, and BBQ. As soon as we got off the plane, I smelled BBQ!! I literally began to salivate, as I was extremely hungry. I followed my nose to the food court where I found Interstate Barbecue, and I headed towards it like a fly towards a fresh cow paddy. For around $9, I got a huge heapin' serving of sliced barbecued beef, baked beans (the best I've ever had), hush puppies, bread, cole slaw, and iced tea. I sat down in the crowded food court and inhaled every crumb and drop. The sauce was tangier than my beloved NC BBQ. I wouldn't call it better or worse...just distinctively different. It was delicious!
There was plenty of time to kill, so we walked around and explored as we headed towards our gate. There's a restaurant in the Memphis airport that features a live band playing some Memphis blues. The music was thumping! It sounded great!
We landed in Charlotte around 10 p.m., and I walked into my apartment just a few minutes ago.
Here are some final thoughts about Arizona:
1. I cannot get over how kind and friendly the people are in Arizona. And I don't mean just the people within the tourist industry who are paid to be friendly; I mean the people who work at Walmart, Circle K, Denny's, and the Arizona Diamondbacks souvenir store. I've never met a friendlier bunch. When they said "Have a nice day!", I think they actually meant it.
2. North Carolina could learn something from the Arizona Department of Transportation. If there is an interstate exit off of which there is no gas station, food, or hotels, then the exit sign is labeled "No services available". Doesn't it make sense to do this? You know to keep on going if you're looking for gas or a place to pee.
3. It's a cliche, but there really is a difference between the humidity-filled NC heat and the dry heat in AZ. While the sun is intense, the higher temperatures are much more bearable when the air around you isn't filled with oppressive humidity. I'll never again make fun of someone when I hear them say "Well, it's not the heat that makes it feel so bad...it's the humidty."
4. While much of the AZ landscape looks completely different from that in NC, I was surprised at the many forests in AZ. In my ignorance, I expected nothing except sand, roadrunners, and tumbleweeds. And maybe an armadillo.
I enjoyed my trip immensely, and it was everything I had hoped it would be; I would definitely like to spend more time there. However, the western half of the U.S. will never feel like home to me. I'm an East Coast girl through and through. It's good to be home.