Enchanted

Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is a vast expanse of wilderness in central and northern Washington. Headlining the region is, as you can guess, Mt Baker- a 10,000 foot glaciated volcanic peak.

We’d been up there last time we were in Seattle, and were itching to return. With a few days off, we loaded our gear and our Charley into Archie and rode I-5 northbound toward Bellingham, cutting northeast and into the Cascade range. We found a dispersed camp site near Artist Point, a jump off for several day hikes around Baker and the surrounding forest.

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Here for a bit, home for a bit

August 16-Sept 1

We tried to get out camping on our next few days off.

The Olympic Peninsula is a wild place. Remote, rugged, and wild. With rocky shores, mountains and glaciers, and a temperate rainforest, it checks all the boxes. On this trip, we’d stick to the national forest land, as again we had Charley and she isn’t allowed at the National Park.

We went on a tough but short hike to the top of Mt. Ellinore, after finding a campsite across the road from the trailhead. It was a perfect setup.

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Sharing the PNW

August 1-15

Before jumping into the post, I want to congratulate Abbey and Ethan on the arrival of their beautiful, healthy baby boy. We are thrilled for your growing family, and look forward to being the cool aunt and uncle he needs. Welcome to the world, Mr Elliott James Ouimet!

We worked a couple shifts after our friends Matt and Becca left. Nothing to speak of, except that the hospital is running overflow and short on beds, meaning as float pool nurses we’re tasked with opening, staffing, and closing border areas- inpatient “rooms”, but not a real department. Just beds situated in areas that can serve to hold patients, if needed. Trauma season is in full swing, and with the hospital serving as the only level 1 trauma center in 4 states (Washington, Alaska, Montana, Idaho), there are plenty of folks coming in.

We’ve decided to stay in town until at least the beginning of November, extending our contracts about 8 weeks.

On August 3rd, we decided to tackle a monster.

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May it last.

May is a great month. Not just because my birthday sits at the beginning, but in the northeast, it’s the first real glimpse of the promise of finer weather to come. In Arizona, May is quite the opposite. Cactus flowers have already hit their stride and are shutting their doors for the fiery summer to come. The state tree, the Palo Verde, has already beautifully bloomed and subsequently shed their horrible buds of pollen, to the detriment of everyone with a sensitive allergy profile. Sunny days are now accompanied by an ever-present haze that disrupts the clarity of the distant mountain ranges.

So it was a perfect time to head home to the northeast, to see family and to watch our friends Joe and Olivia tie the knot.

We wrapped up our contract at Chandler Medical Center, said goodbye to coworkers, now friends.

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April, in a nutshell.

My apologies as we’ve gotten away from our usual ~2 week blog post drop. Things have been busy, lots of moving parts, as we enjoy our last month here in the American Southwest and plan for the next location.

But let’s get to it.

The Mogollon Rim makes up the southern escarpment of the Colorado Plateau, and spans much of northern and northeast Arizona and into New Mexico. Its a dramatic climb from 4-5,000 feet above sea level up to around 7-8,000 ft. Tall stands of pine blanket the area, a sight seemingly surprising to those not familiar with the varied geographies of the 48th state.

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Solitude

January 16 – 22

We awoke Saturday morning in St George rather sluggishly. The motel room’s heater was on the fritz, having only two modes: off and full heat blast.

We took our time getting out the door, recouping after the long traverse across Nevada the day before. That afternoon, we took a nice 10 mile off-road drive from the corner of town into the Dixie National Forest and set out on a short hike to Yant flats and the Candy Cliffs. Pale orange and red striations cut through the sandstone around us, as we leisurely climbed a few hundred feet over a couple miles through the sagebrush and juniper trees. Ground-hugging cacti spotted the trail along the way, and we were sure to be mindful of Charley wandering about so as to avoid any needle sticks. 

Arriving at the Flats, we stopped briefly to take in the enormity of the landscape in front of us. An ongoing difficulty in the West is conceptualizing the scale of the cliffs, peaks and formations strewn about in the vast wilderness. The Candy Cliffs, farther along the same trail, offered a stillness that was lacking at the Flats, as most folks don’t continue on after that.

Keep Reading! (cool photos ahead)

Goodnight, 2020.

December 17-30, 2020

“Hi, Bijan, I’m calling from the staffing office. You and Jamie will be floating to the covid floor today.”

It’s the phrase we heard over the phone at 6AM for the next three days as we returned to our work after some time off. By the end of day three my poor nose felt like it was going to fall off from the N95 respirator glued to my face for 12 hours each day. The saving grace was that Jamie and I were going through it together (being sent to the same floor each day), helping each other out when the other was overwhelmed with their group of patients.

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“Home is wherever we are if there’s love here too”

October 8 – 11

Bijan and I spent our last few days before starting work, exploring our new temporary home – walking and biking around our new neighborhood to get to know the area. We figured out we are situated in the perfect location. Most places we will want to go around town are walkable or bike-able including work, downtown cafes/restaurants, and the beach! I find myself listening to a lot of Jack Johnson lately, it feels right being so close to the beach with all of the tropical plants, beaches and warm weather.

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On the road again…

September 9th: Departure day

We spent the morning wrapping up our car setup and enjoying a final meal with family. Google maps has it clocked at 2,787 miles to Santa Barbara, but with all that we have planned, we are looking at quite a few more.

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Southern Tier for the Summer

Settling down back in upstate NY in the beginning of May, Jamie and I were looking forward to a great summer. We were excited to spend time with my parents and also to get out and experience all that we could with the 3-4 short months we’d be there.

At work, we jumped through orientation and hit the floors, learning on the fly as we’re typically offered only a couple days of training. I had worked at Lourdes Hospital in the Emergency Department before going back to nursing school, so I was familiar with the facility and even ran into some old colleagues along the way.

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