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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Seattle, the sequel

Over a month has passed since our last post. That’s a lot to cover. So to avoid rambling, we’re covering the essentials. The meat and potatoes, if you will. The main events and experiences. Only the most important aspects of our first 5 weeks here. Not a lot of fluff.

Already rambling.

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PNW

June 3-9

Leaving Crescent City and the Redwoods was sad; it’s a special place. You can find big mountains in a lot of places, but the redwoods of Northern California are a unique sight to behold.

We set our bearings toward Bend, Oregon, as we climbed further into the Pacific Northwest. Crater Lake National Park was nearly on the way, adding only an hour to our trip. So we made a stop around lunchtime at the impossibly blue lake. We’d visited it once before, on our last northbound trip to Seattle a couple years ago. It’s very cool to see, but in our opinion, unless you’re camping or backpacking there, it’s not worth the hefty detour you’ll likely have to take to get there. It’s rather isolated in Oregon.

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Mountains, oceans & trees

May 29. Waking up after an excellent night’s sleep, it was time to move on. We slept til 7, prepared oatmeal, loaded with peanut butter, mixed berries, granola and honey, 2 mugs of coffee.

“Where should we go?”

“Head toward the coast and up?”

“Sure”

Be skated westbound from Yosemite and the Stanislaus Forest. Route 1, riding the coast northward, would be our initial destination. I figured we could pop the roof tent on any of the number of pulloffs along the highway overlooking the Pacific. Two slowly realized issues to this thought: 1- it’s not legal, and 2- its very very windy in those spots, anyway.

We began to (slightly) regret our decision to take Route 1, instead of the inland US 101- very beautiful in its own rite. Every mile we continued along the coast got us farther from any possibility to get back to 101. Every campground sign along the coastal byway: FULL. Every inn along the coastal byway: NO VACANCY. Memorial Day weekend, probably the worst time to be improvising a road trip with no reservations for lodging or campsites.

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“Forever I will move, like the world that turns beneath me”

May 26-28

Waking up Wednesday morning at our June Lake campsite, we already knew our plans for the day. Yosemite. We cooked up some breakfast sandwiches on the stove as the campground yawned and folks rose from their tents around us. It was a beautiful clear morning, brisk and fresh. Birds were singing their morning songs, all was well. Then, of course, somebody’s car alarm chimed in. Half a minute later it ceased. Then again. And again. Five times in all, as we wondered what the hell could possibly be keeping the campers from figuring it out. There goes our peaceful morning.

We have a morning ritual that includes unzipping all four windows to Nancy the Nest and letting the air rush in. Condensation inevitably fills the interior plastic roof with water droplets from our heavy sleep breaths. After about 30 minutes, while we make breakfast, the tent dries out.

We hit 395 again, heading north. We’d be saying goodbye to California’s scenic interior highway, cutting west on CA 108 up and over the Sonoran Pass in the Sierras. Rocking out to the latest Black Keys album, Delta Kream, Jamie played captain and steered us up winding routes that had Archie struggling to maintain 15mph.

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