We finished our last shift at Cottage Hospital on the 25th, and had only a moment to let that sink in. We’d pack up our duffels that night, drop off Charley at the dog-sitter in Ventura, and catch an early morning flight back home to visit family and friends.
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.
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.
Before Bijan and I went to San Diego, I was still wearing shorts everyday and enjoyed temps in the 70s. It felt like when we returned from our trip, the weather had changed to fall. We needed jackets in the morning and at night, and we started driving to work because it was too cold for us to enjoy biking. Now we understand when Californians say it’s a different kind of cold. We found ourselves talking about how cold it was when it was 55 degrees even though we are used to temps below freezing in New England. Maybe it’s because we are expecting it to be warm, that it effects us differently!
Friday morning I woke up at 5:30, showered and dressed for work in my usual routine. One thing was different, though. Today was the only day on our schedule I’d be biking to work without Jamie. She’d work the following day (Halloween) while I took my turn hanging with Charley. Other than that, we’ve been fortunate enough to share the same work schedule, affording us plenty of opportunity to get out and see some cool stuff.
Typically, when starting a new job, you can probably think of the first week like “syllabus week” was in college. Sure, classes are back in session, but no one’s fretting. Still got a week to get situated.
It’s not so much the case with travel assignments. The contracts are short term, and thus the onboarding and training are expedited. One day getting a general orientation for the hospital and a tour of the different units (we’d be working in the float pool and needed to know our way around), one day to crash-course the new electronic health record (Epic, in this case). We hit the floors on Wednesday to begin our first day back in the clinical setting since our last day on the prior contract, September 3.
The commute to work couldn’t be easier. Hop on the bikes, take the first left at the end of the block, and a mile later, we’re at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital (SBCH).
Our first glimpse of the Pacific came when we hit Pismo Beach on Saturday (Oct. 3) afternoon, a little over an hour’s drive north of Santa Barbara on US 101. The drive to get there from Yosemite took us along numerous state highways as we zigged and zagged our way through farmland lined with endless almond and pistachio trees. The air had a heavy haze and the thermometer was flirting with 100F. My only concern was our little Crosstrek; poor girl had been huffing and puffing over 5500 miles as she carried us and our worldly belongings to Santa Barbara. Easy does it with the gas, Bij. Climb the hills slow, steady, I told myself.
Spending the night in Rochester, we headed over to our friends Rob and Lesen’s house for a cookout and a fire to see some friends before leaving New York. Pete, Dave, Rob, and I all grew up together back in Vestal, and our partners Cora, Cait, Lesen, and Jamie were all able to make it as well. It was so good to catch up. You know you’re in good company when it can be 1 day or 5 years since you’ve last seen each other and it feels all the same.
After 500 more miles on the road, we’ve arrived at our friends and old Brighton neighbors Paul and Kelly’s place in Columbus, OH. The quote above was in reference to the pics we attempted to take at their apartment. The trip through western NY, dipping into PA by Lake Erie, and down into Ohio was frigid to say the least. Warming up to a balmy 15F (from -1F) by the time we reached our destination, the windows and wiper fluid froze nearly immediately. Not to mention dodging ice chunks flying off the top of tractor trailers at highway speeds.