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.
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.
We worked Monday and Tuesday, as my floor started moving back to its regular med-surg population. Jamie’s floor would be the last to convert from a covid floor. We finished up our couple work days and spent Wednesday relaxing locally for a bit. I went for a run that morning, and couldn’t help but compare my jog on the streets of Ahwatukee to former outings in Santa Barbara. Of course, if scenery is a necessity while running, I could always head over to South Mountain nearby.
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.
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.
So we’ve been working quite a bit the past week and haven’t had time to do a ton of adventuring. We decided to put this post together to answer some FAQs about our lives as travel nurses and about travel nursing in general! I hope you enjoy learning a little more about what we do!
Thursday morning arrived rather frigidly, as the thermometer refused to bump over 40F. With stiff, cold fingers, we started the campsite cleanup. We’d decided it was time to move on from Colorado, despite having an excellent time. Nothing gold can stay.
Becoming increasingly efficient at loading up the car, we methodically put everything in its place and set our bearings towards Page, Arizona and Lake Powell. A stop-off at Mesa Verde National Park, just east of Cortez, CO, was a consideration as we set out.
Bijan and I were lucky to score our first travel assignment in the location that we had wanted! We were aiming to start our careers as travel nurses in the Phoenix area of Arizona because Bijan has a brother that lives there, and tons of aunts, uncles and cousins as well. Not to mention, February to May is the perfect time to be there. We got travel assignments working at Chandler Regional Medical Center in Chandler, AZ starting in February 2019. With the help of Bijan’s amazing auntie, we were able to find a 3 month lease at an apartment complex a few miles from the hospital, and his aunts lent us all of the furniture and housewares that we could need. Once we were all moved in, we started working, and Charley starting attending an awesome doggy daycare! We worked on different units at the hospital, but worked day shifts and, for the most part, the same schedule. With the first travel assignment came lots of anxiety, stress, and some tears, but we powered through the difficult first month, and made it through the entire assignment, even extending by a few weeks into mid-May. We actually ended up really enjoying working at this hospital and loved living in Arizona.
Leaving Moab was bittersweet. We were excited to reach our destination after 2 weeks of constant “go-bag” living, but sad to leave such a beautiful place. Gas for the car, coffee for our bodies, and onward we pushed. Our route would take us just under 400 miles SSW through Monument Valley, across the Arizona border and into the mountains of Tonto National Forest and Strawberry, Arizona.