December 31 2020 -January 11 2021
To ring in the new year, Jamie and I worked three consecutive shifts again. Hopeful that COVID would magically disappear with the end of 2020, we were left disappointed, as case numbers continued to rise while bed numbers shrank. A dull hum of baseline stress seeped into the entirety of each day at work, as it seemed inevitable things would unravel more.
Selfishly, we could not wait for our two week break from work at the end of our contract. I think we both started to feel burnt out, and I had to keep reminding myself that what we were seeing on a daily basis was not normal, because we were getting so used to it.
Then we found out our housing that Jamie had set up for Arizona had fallen through. The cherry on top of our bitter emotional and physical exhaustion. The company, HelloLanding, had secured us housing in an apartment complex, and would be furnishing it prior to our arrival in AZ. But, suddenly, they could no longer honor their commitment, after we had paid our initial deposit (we did get refunded for that). So, short-term renter’s beware, this company has a scammy odor to them.
Fortunately, my wife is a professional of All Things Planning, and after we had reached out to several of our friends and family to enlist their help in the second housing search (thanks to my Auntie Susie, my father, brother Kaivan, cousin Masti, and Michael Thompson), we secured a new place in Ahwatukee, a neighborhood in south Phoenix. The only downside would be having to do to the furniture rental and utility set-up on our own. But we were happy to have some security in our living situation, as we were leaving town only a week or so later.
We wrapped up work on Saturday evening, and had three days to play with before we returned. There were some annoyances that come with travel nursing which we had to address (physical, lab work, etc) that ate up some of our free time. But Sunday morning I headed out for a run over to Hope Ranch, a private and secluded suburb on the cliffs northwest of us. As one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in California, Hope Ranch is rather inaccessible, other than the palm-tree lined main road that meanders through it. I kept my eyes peeled for Snoop Dogg, a resident of the community, but had no luck.
Jamie and Charley picked me up on the other side of the Ranch, and we grabbed lunch at Panino, a local chain with salads and sandwiches.
We decided our lunch would be better enjoyed with a view, so we drove up San Marcos Pass on 154 and turned right onto East Camino Cielo (Sky Road).
Camino Cielo runs atop the Santa Ynez Ridge and higher than a lot of the hikes we had done in the past couple weeks. It’s a truly incredible road, both in an engineering and enjoyment sense. The road cuts and weaves along the spiny earth, with impressive switchbacks and massive drop-offs to either side. It’s important to bear in mind that this route is frequented by cyclists (and what a ride that is!). To the south is Santa Barbara, the Channel and its Islands. To the north, never-ending layers of the San Rafael Mountains and the Los Padres National Forest.
We stopped off at what looked like a good knob jutting out from its surroundings, and figured it’d be an adequate spot to enjoy lunch. I guess we were correct, because as we approached the top of the hill, a lone paraglider was prepping for his descent down off the mountains.
“You guys picked a great day for a picnic. It’s usually pretty windy up here. Unfortunately for me, none to be had today. Discretion’s the better part of valor…” he said as he packed up his gear and decided against his flight down off the ridge. We enjoyed our picnic for a bit, soaking in the stillness of the afternoon, and decided to head back down off the ridge by way of Gibraltar Road, another impressive path down from the top.
Back at the hospital, things were much the same. No better, maybe a bit worse. Half of the acute care floors had been converted to covid floors, and critical care beds were being fashioned in non-critical care areas. But the shifts fly by when we’re so busy, and before we knew it, our time at Cottage Hospital was up. It sneaks up on me every time, and I’m always sentimental and bit sad when we end a contract. Jamie seems to handle it better than I.
We had a bunch of things on our to-do list before leaving town. First up, covid vaccine Saturday morning. We headed back to the hospital and received our first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. It brought with it sense of relief, but not much more than that. Still in the grips of the pandemic, I am tempering my expectations constantly. But we’re both incredibly thankful for the opportunity to receive the vaccine.
After the vaccination, I took my last run through Hope Ranch, this time snapping some photos of the route (not the private, camera-equipped estates) along the way. I wanted to be able to bring back these memories vividly after we leave town.
The rest of the day was spent packing up and cleaning out our place. And planning. Well, Jamie planned.
“What do you think about going to Tahoe?”
And with that, we were going to Tahoe. She booked a ski-off ski-on place in Stateline NV, on the east side of the lake, and ski rentals for Wednesday.
We’d stay there for 4 nights, and figure out the rest of the trip along the way.
We caught sunset up at Franceschi Park, looking out over Santa Barbara and the Channel beyond for one last time.
Sunday morning I went for a last run and Jamie met me down at Butterfly beach.
After putting the final touches of packing and loading up the Crosstrek, we took an evening stroll down Hendry’s (Dog) beach.
It seemed natural and proper to bring it full circle- the first and last sunsets of our time in SB at the same spot on Dog Beach with Charley. We watched the waves crash in and paddleboarders float the shoreline, and prepared our goodbye as the sun did the same.
Or is it “see you soon”?