November 20, 2021-February 8, 2022
Boy. It’s been countless weeks since the last post. Life gets in the way, I suppose. Out of concern that we lose the routine of this public journal, I’m going to try to throw together a post.
A whole lot has happened since Thanksgiving time, both personally in our narrative and in the greater human community. Ever-increasing polarity and tensions continue to rock the scene of society. It’s important to take a break from the chaos and noise and get outside. Reconnect. See loved ones and talk about literally anything other than covid and “crazy” people you don’t agree with.
Without further delay, an update from the Mangouris
We had a Friendsgiving with Andrew and Sarah, fully equipped with wine sans wine glasses or corkscrew (travel nurse probz). We’ve never really done thanksgiving with only 4 people, so suffice it to say there was way too much food, even for leftovers.
Jamie and I also got invited out to our friends, the Kims, house for Thanksgiving day. The spread was incredible and we had a lovely evening with our gracious hosts. They made us feel like family, for which we’ll always be thankful.
Jamie Charley and I took the ferry over to Bainbridge Island for a day trip and sampled the wineries in town. We took a drive through the hills of the island. It struck me as interesting that all of the Puget Sound islands, merely miles from Seattle, have such ample land and rural farm areas and undisturbed forests. You can easily forget where you are.
A trip out to Leavenworth was in order before Christmas. Situated in the eastern foothills of the Cascades, the town’s rain shadow keeps it relatively dry and sunny. And the Bavarian theme has it decked out in Christmas decor for most of December. We hiked up to a high point above the city, with views overlooking the valley and Leavenworth below. Dinner was at a phenomenal Italian restaurant in town before we made the two hour trip back to Seattle later that evening.
One rainy day, we three drove back out to Wallace Falls, a spot along Route 2 we’d visited before at the beginning of summer in Seattle. Our friend Andrew joined us. Waterfalls tend to be good hikes in any weather, and especially in the rain. The views are typically not distant, so visibility is less of a concern. It has the added benefit of swelling the streams for a more impressive falls experience, too.
We’d been in Seattle for 6 months at this point, and had yet to make it to a Seahawks or Sounders game. And now the NHL’s newest addition, the Kraken, were set up in Seattle. We bought some pricy tickets to see the new team and were joined by Daisy and Jeremy, our buddies we met at the beginning of the summer. A couple brats and beers at the nearby beerhall and we were game ready. The Kraken lost, 3-0, so there wasn’t much to cheer about. But we had great company and the newly renovated arena was neat to see as well.
Jamie and I had situated a couple weeks off in our contracts, and made the trip back east to see the greater Neureuter and Mangouri clans. We were heartbroken to leave Charley at a boarding place outside of Seattle for that long, but by trip’s end she was doing just fine and well acclimated to her “overnight camp”.
We spent a week or so in Mansfield and then Binghamton. We cherish that time with family, and everyone is doing so well. I do wish we could have somehow gotten Charley home to see her first love, River, though. We got to see Elliott quite a bit, and that boy has really grown!
We had a blast in Binghamton, too, as we hadn’t seen Shah Danielle and the boys in 2 years, since before covid started. Kaivan was home too, marking the first time we’d all been in the same place since that December 2019 gathering. It was too good to spend time with everyone, especially Kian and Enzo, who shocked me with how big they’ve gotten. They were the happiest boys this Christmas, being surprised with a little golden retriever puppy, Fenway.
This was right around a week after Christmas, during the covid bomb. We weren’t spared, as nearly all of us ended up getting sick, albeit mildly. Oddly, Jamie and I were the only ones that actually were positive for covid, though. Then snowstorms wrecked the midwest and northeast. It was a disastrous combination of covid surge staffing issues and weather delays that wreaked havoc on travel during the busiest travel period of the year. Our flight was delayed 3 days, and we ended up missing work because we were stuck thousands of miles away.
After getting back to Seattle and a few days at work, we linked up with our friends Andrew and Sarah for a day ski trip up to Snoqualmie Pass. The conditions were not favorable, with slush on the ground and dense fog settling over the pass. But it was fun nonetheless and we tried to keep up with our friends.
Picking out a day after several spent in the rain and fog, we decided to set out and hunt for the sun. Checking the radar, it looked like a sliver of light would be settling on parts of Camano Island. We took the hour drive up to Stanwood and over the bridge to the island, and were treated to pockets of sun and a beautiful lush forest.
Getting one last shot of skiing in, Jamie and I took a day and drove the 2.5 hours to Crystal Mountain. Crystal is a big mountain, well over a mile high in elevation. But it dwarfs in comparison to nearby Mount Rainier, the behemoth volcanic peak, sitting at just over 14,000 feet. We struggled on the slopes, but the effort was well worth the views. Mt Adams, St Helens, Baker, all members of the Pacific Ring of Fire, stood prominently all across the landscape. The nearby Cascade range seemed to stretch forever, and the Olympic Mountains were in view clear across the Puget Sound.
On one of our last evenings in Seattle, the sun came out. Folks flocked to Golden Gardens that evening, as did we. Situated on Seattles Puget Sound coastline, it has the best sunset show in town. Fires glowed all along the beach. We spotted a group of seals dancing in the water off shore and made out a few kayakers and paddle boarders gliding on the sound.
When the time finally came to leave Seattle, it was tough. It’d been home for us since June- the longest home we’ve had since leaving Boston in January 2019. We’d experienced its endless sunshine in the summer, and come to enjoy the fall and winter too. But it was time for us to move on. We’d miss Harborview, too. Our coworkers were some of the best we’ve known, and we’re grateful for their kindness and friendship.
The PNW has its stamp on us. Now, it’s time for Santa Barbara beaches, mountains, and sunshine.