Big Views: Rockies, Cascades

After a handful of shifts at Harborview, we geared up for another trip. We’d tried a trip to glacier national park two years ago, but our plans were thwarted by a September snowstorm bringing 5 feet of snow to Montana’s Rocky Mountains. 

With a quick check of the forecast, we were all systems go for a second chance at seeing the Park. Temps would be in the 50’s during the day, with ample sunshine.

Charley stayed back for this trip, unable to join us due to national park restrictions.

Everything out west is a drive. You just get used to it. And with the stunning landscapes offered out in the great northwest expanse, the reward is worth the cost.

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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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Seattle: Activities abound!

July 17-31

As we continued our Seattle summer, we were still without a car to drive. We decided to make our circumstance work, though, and tried to take other forms of transportation. It was Jamie’s birthday week, so I had planned some things that didn’t require Archie’s assistance.

On Friday the 17th, we grabbed a ride-share down to the harbor with Andrew and Sarah, boarded a water taxi, and headed over about 25 minutes to Vashon Island. There was to be the annual Strawberry Festival that day, loaded with live music, arts, food and beer. A great way to spend a beautiful Saturday afternoon. And as strawberries being my berry of choice, it was nearly obligatory to attend.

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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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Little trips, big adventures

February 19-March 12

Over the next week or so, Jamie Charley and I spent most of our time working (or going to daycare) and doing local things in the valley. We did a couple evening hikes, both in the Superstitions and at South Mountain, checked out a gym offering a free month membership to healthcare workers, ran the nearby trails and roads, and grabbed dinner with our friends Maggie and Brandon. We kept busy, but didn’t make any trips out of town.

We’d picked out a camping spot near Roosevelt Lake for Monday the 27th, about a 2 hour’s drive northeast of Phoenix. Taking an off-road route about 30 miles through the Four Peaks Wilderness, we passed countless mounds of crumbled rock, hundreds of feet high, and broken saguaros, ripped apart by the aridity and baking in the relentless sunshine. We skirted the trailhead for Brown’s Peak, the tallest of the Four Peaks that make up the Valley’s eastern horizon.

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Settling in, getting out

January 22- February 7

After unloading the car at our new home, a process that now takes maybe an hour at most, we picked up dinner and drove over to Kaivan’s to visit. He’d done a cross country road trip back west after spending a couple months in Binghamton in the fall and we hadn’t seen him since early September when we left New York. It was nice to catch up, though Charley was a bit confused as to why Uncle Kaivan was here in Arizona and not in New York.

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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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Stay at home, but get outside.

December 3-16

It’s been about 2 weeks since our last post. Let’s catch up.

We returned from our epic Big Sur tour and worked 6 of the next 8 days, making up for the eight days we had off for our trip. The in-between days off were spent hanging with friends and checking out other areas of SB we hadn’t been acquainted with yet. At the same time, Governor Newsom sliced up the state into 5 regions for Covid management purposes, and SB was lumped in with its big brothers LA and San Diego in “Southern California.” So on December 6th, SB and the rest of SoCal were placed on a stay-at-home order, and we had to say “see you later” to our favorite wineries, breweries, and restaurants for at least three weeks.

There are worse conditions in which to spend time under shutdown mandates, though, and we rolled with it.

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