Spiders and scorpions and snakes: follow a charming Brit’s move to Phoenix, Arizona in ‘Sam Walker’s Desert Diaries’

Society & Culture February 9, 2022
Sam Walker's Desert Diaries podcast art
Listen to ‘Sam Walker’s Desert Diaries’

Former BBC journalist Sam Walker didn’t realize how badly she needed a change. She loved her life with her husband and two daughters in their home in Manchester, England. But, sitting in a pool in Phoenix, Arizona with a beer in hand, she felt something click. Sam had had a feeling for years that the life she was living was not the life she was completely meant for. She loved her friends, her home, of course her family, but she needed change. She needed to follow this call, and in her process of following this call and following her dreams, she created “Sam Walker’s Desert Diaries.”

“Sam Walker’s Desert Diaries” is all about her and her family’s move from the rainy, dark, cold Manchester to the desert that is Phoenix. It’s literally an audio diary of Sam taking a huge leap of courage to move the American West, and her ridiculously charming narration is under 10 minutes a week. Lucky for us, she has recorded nearly 150 episodes of this podcast since she started it in 2019.

In the first episode, Sam tells us what inspired her to pick up and leave her life. She cited an interview she did on her other podcast, “What Goes On Here with Sam Walker.” Craig Stone felt trapped in a life that wasn’t meant to be his. Instead of clinging to the life he hated, he quit his job and walked out of his rat-infested apartment, moving into a local park. He slept in bushes and on benches, bringing with him four pads of paper and a pen. He told himself, “I will either die in this park, or I will write a novel and change my life.”

And change his life he did. Craig wrote his novel, won prizes for it, lives in a rat-less apartment with his wife and son, and has published a number of books. When she interviewed Craig, he spoke so beautifully about the process of taking a chance, like jumping off the high dive, and it has always resonated with her.

He said that you think the leap will be the scariest part, hurtling back towards the water. But, on the contrary, Craig told her, it’s the climb up to the top. Everything leading up towards taking that chance is terrifying, but once you jump, you merely let gravity, or fate, run its course, and it’s exhilarating.

So, in the spirit of this, Sam and her husband put their house up on a house swap website so they could stay in various places for free. They stayed in cities like Boulder, Los Angeles, San Diego, New York City, but afterwards, they would just go back home to Manchester. She had a friend who had recently moved to Phoenix and could not stop gushing about the beauty of the desert city. Her husband, in the swimming pool with Sam, pulled out his phone, went to a job searching site, found an open job in his field in Phoenix, and applied then and there. They were far from the top of the diving board, but they’d taken that first step.

Five months after that day in the pool, he got the job. And thus, the long process of applying for visas began. Sam and her husband and two children were going to move to a city that, just a few months prior, she could barely point out on a map.

“Sam Walker’s Desert Diaries” is just so lovely. Not only is her journalistic prowess on full display in this podcast, but Sam is so utterly charming that you can’t stop listening. It’s an unassumingly gorgeous story about chasing dreams and taking a massive, massive leap. Especially inspirational in these unending trying times, every episode you hear her settle more and more into her new life in Arizona. You’ll hear her have run-ins with scorpions and black widow spiders, her first monsoon, snakes, a desert Christmas, and so much more.

Be sure to listen to “Sam Walker’s Desert Diaries” if you yourself have been looking for some inspiration out there, or if you want to hear from someone else who took a similar leap of faith you did.

Listen to ‘Sam Walker’s Desert Diaries’

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