7:35 p.m. We drive straight into a classic Southwest sandstorm. Strong gusts of wind lap against the side of our car kicking up sheets of sand along the freeway. Visibility drops, the horizon turns beige and both of Mark's hands hold the steering wheel steady.

9:03 p.m. We roll into El Paso. Mina has pretty much had it with the car seat. Can you blame her? She's a bit hungry and certainly bored. Every once in a while she blurts out a sharp noise. Not quite a coo, not quite talking, it sounds a bit like a baby raptor dinosaur. Right now she is clearly trying to make a point. We'll just assume she's begging for a change of position and scenery.

That "west Texas town" is one of the most profound and enriching experiences in my career. Due to its proximity to the border I covered many immigration and bi-national issues. I also frequently reported from Juarez, Mexico. While I was there long-standing Anchor Gary Warner was still on the desk. He was a newsman from the days when people took time to tell stories and everyone knew to check more than one source before putting something on the air. He was a role model who always made sure we remembered that it is better to be right than to be first. The people of El Paso are full of warmth and generosity. I will always treasure my time there.

Well, time to get my little raptor out of the car? friends and a pasta dinner await us.

Saturday

9/3/2011

1 p.m.

Phoenix

There it was. Our life, packed neatly in boxes, piled up on the front porch of our Phoenix home. As I stared in disbelief at the mounting wall of cardboard I remembered the day when all our stuff used to fit in just one car!

This would be our last 113-degree day in Phoenix. There is much I will miss about the Valley of the Sun. The exquisite Sonoran Desert with its majestic saguaros and breathtaking sunsets; the smell of the creosote bush after a Monsoon rain and prickly pear margaritas!

9/2/2011

11:56 a.m. (PST)

Phoenix, Ariz.

The day has finally arrived -- packing day!! Movers are packing the house as we scramble to grab all the last minute items we need. Last load of laundry? Check! Dishes clean? Check! Uh oh... dash to the dry cleaners to pick up a suit we forgot about! Whew... made it!

We are so excited to be Miami-bound! I was born and raised in Kendall. A graduate of Bent Tree Elementary, McMillan Middle School and G. Holmes Braddock High School (Go Bulldogs!).

Video: Before The Big Road Trip

At Braddock I was co-captain of the color guard team and anchor on WBHS, the school's news station! I then took off to Boston College before pursuing my passion for journalism. My career has taken me to London, Boston, Rhode Island, California, Texas and Arizona. Along the way I picked up several awards to include two Emmys and the Water Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism.

But just three months ago I was given my most important role, mother. Now I've decided to return home to raise my daughter and invest my experience into a reporter position at WPLG. Both my maternal and paternal grandparents and my father were born in Cuba. Making sure Mina is exposed to our family customs is also something that was important to me. Meantime my husband Mark is from Boston but his parents now live in Stuart, Florida. Having them nearby is also a blessing!

I can't wait for our Mina Sophia to know the taste of a guayaba y queso pastelito, or my childhood favorite, a batido de mamey!! I'm SO looking forward to hearing salsa music on the radio again; enjoying a Rum Runner at Holiday Isle in Islamorada; and, listening to someone play Jimmy Buffett songs while in Key West! When you live away from home those are the small things you miss. Miami is a very special place. I've spent years missing the food, the music and Miami's diversity. So saying I am thrilled to be coming back home would be an understatement.

This Sunday Mark and I will be loading up our baby girl, our 75-pound lab mix Fahrenheit and feisty cat Buddy into our family car for the cross-country trip to Miami! It is sure to be an adventure and you will be there!

We will be snapping pictures and recording video along the way. Wish us luck -- and if you have any tips for traveling with an infant please send them our way!