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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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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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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Road trip: New Mexico Edition

March 14-March 29

Wrapping up our third and final shift of the week at work, we had been making plans to visit some national parks with our eight days off. Initially considering a trip to Big Bend National Park in Texas, we reconsidered, as it would add two full days of driving just to get there and back. So we settled on a stop in Santa Fe for 4 nights, and the next 4 were spent visiting Carlsbad Caverns, Guadalupe Mountains, and White Sands National Parks. Charley would be spending the week back in Phoenix with my cousin and her family, as the national parks don’t treat dogs like humans (like we do), and thus they are forbidden.

Our route to Santa Fe took us up through Payson and to the Mogollon Rim, which we drove up and on to, and continued northeast for 7 hours or so until we reached our destination.

We’d spend the next handful of days getting the lay of the land, checking out a couple regions in the Santa Fe area, as well as the city itself- vibrant and charming in its old town, southwest turquoise vibe.

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Red Rocks and Butte-iful Canyons

February 7-February 18

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.

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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.

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Central Coastin’

November 25 – December 2

For Thanksgiving, Bijan and I had requested 8 days off from work, in the chance that we would be able to fly home for the holidays. Unfortunately, flying home was not in the cards this year, so we decided to use the time to travel up and down the California coast instead.

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Local Expeditions

November 9 – 16

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!

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