Thursday, November 21, 2013

A table for one...

When I was making my pros and cons list to take the leap to go travel or to stay in small town USA, I had to take in to consideration that I would be doing some activities by myself, including eating alone.  Honestly, I was less worried about being by myself and more concerned about driving through the mountains in the winter, so it wasn't something I spent a lot of time worrying about and as it turned out, I spent very few meals eating alone.  As I mentioned in my previous blog in my first travel assignment at PPMC, I met the best group of people a girl could ask for and it was an easy transition to the life of a travel nurse.  And as it turned out the first 13 weeks turned into a second 13 weeks and we all had a blast hanging out.  I never felt alone and always had someone to hang out with.  So when I was picking my current travel assignment, I wanted two things, warm weather and somewhere where I was going to meet a lot of people or already knew someone.  This past summer, I took a short vacation to Phoenix to visit my good friend Joe and made a new friend Liz (Joe's girlfriend) and I just knew that Phoenix would be the perfect place to winter.  It had all the components I was looking for, warm weather, friendly faces and since the snowbirds come in for the winter I knew there would be a large group of travelers as well.

Phoenix has exceeded my expectations. Not only have I met some great travel nurses to hang out with but I have been able to spend quality time with my two friends Joe and Liz. Joe was my college roommate and became a third brother, ironically, Joe has not only lived with me but he has lived with both of my brothers and I lived with his sister, we like to keep it in the family!! Liz has been great to me, she hooked me up with some free MAC makeup (and we all know how I feel about MAC) and educated me on uncovering the secrets to want guys really want.  I have appreciated all the time I have been given to hang with these two and I cherish the friendships that have formed because I am privileged enough to have a job that allows me these opportunities.

I am often asked if I ever get lonely or tired of moving all the time and I can honestly answer no to both questions.  I love meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends.  The moving can become mundane at times, but when you get somewhere have new places to explore it all of the sudden becomes worth the cross country drive to get there!!

Just a little side note, for those of you who read my blog yesterday and were wondering if Hood River and Mt Hood were really that great, let me tell you they are.... ;-)


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

 Mt Hood before the summer thaw
 The Grand Canyon this past Summer
 Golden Gate Bridge
 Sedona red rocks
 Mt Hood in the Summer
 Crater Lake
 My little grizzly bear
 Glacier National Park, trying to get a pic of the 8000ft drop
Grand Cayman

If anyone knows me at all, I am a picture taker.  I am have over 3000 pictures on my computer of the places I have been, I would love to post them all, so I narrowed it down to some of my faves!!

Conquering the Wild Wild West

It was recently brought to my attention that I had not post on my blog recently. When I went to see when my last post was I couldn't believe it was back in March!! I feel like a lifetime of events have occurred in the last 6 months and have no idea where to begin. Finishing my first travel assignment was a huge accomplishment, knowing that I could pick up and move across the country away from any familiar face for 13 weeks meant that I could pretty much do any thing I wanted from now on.  Just getting that first 13 week assignment under my belt was the door opener to continuing to travel.  My second 13 week assignment was awesome! It was in Portland but in a much smaller ER. I made some great friends there, the staff was amazing and so welcoming. It was fun to go to work and  because when you are working with your friends it makes the days so much easier.  I did a lot of sightseeing around Portland those 13 weeks. If you know anything about Portland you know it is known for its microbreweries and diversified culinary tastes. There was a group of us that hung out almost non-stop trying new restaurants and new beers. It was one of the best summers I have had just getting to know people and living life!! My third travel assignment was to Hood River Oregon.  If you have never heard of this little gem, you are missing out.  HR is a small town on the Columbia River in the middle of the Columbia River Gorge and it sits at the base of Mt Hood.  If you have never seen or heard of the Columbia River Gorge, your life will never be complete. The Columbia River Gorge is one the most beautiful place I have ever been to and ever seen, I am in awe of it every time I drive through it. I would put it up there with the Grand Canyon, so majestic!! Anyways, back to Hood River, this tiny little town of 5000 people jumps up in population to about 30,000 people in the summer because of the location on the CRG. HR is perfectly situated on the gorge that it is almost windy everyday, bringing an extra 25000 windsurfers and kite surfers, thus nicknaming it the "Windsurfing Capital of the World." I had the opportunity to be able to go down and watch the windsurfers and kite surfers on several occasions and it is amazing. I know it takes a lot of work and strength to keep yourself up. Hood River was my home for a short 8 weeks and I loved every minute of it. I loved waking up and looking out my window and see Mt Hood or every thursday going to the farmers market.  The hospital was a 10 bed ER and I was the only RN on from midnight to 6 am, most of the time I would take my ipad and just watch movies, every once in awhile I would have to actually be a nurse!! It was hard for me to leave Oregon when my contract was up.  I had been to so many amazing and beautiful places. For anyone who is looking for a vacation idea, the Pacific Northwest is filled with so many places to see. My top 5 there were Mt. St. Helens, Mt Rainier, Crater Lake, Cannon Beach and of course Mt Hood!! You will never be sorry visiting this part of the country.

My road trip home lead me to some of our countries most treasured places. On the way home I went to Glacier National Park, Yellowstone and a quick trip to Wall Drugs in South Dakota.  Glacier National Park is in Montana about 30 miles from the Canadian boarder, sitting in the middle of the Rockies.  There is a road through the park called "Into the Sun" Road, I think a more suitable name would be, "try not to die" road! It is barely, and by barely I mean side mirrors are going to probably touch, wide enough for two cars to pass and you are at 8000ft elevation with no guardrails on the side, so if you are going to go off the side you pretty much will die!! I white knuckled it the entire time I was driving, the only good part to this is that I was coming down out of the rockies to a more suitable elevation and didn't really notice bc I was mostly concerned with not driving off the road and dying. Back to Glacier, it was beautiful, I saw rams and mountain goats and I was on a mission to see moose and a grizzly bear. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see any.  On the second day of my road trip home I went to Yellowstone National Park. It is amazing, and again if you haven't been GO!! So much to do there, you could stay a whole week, since I only had a day, I had to make it count!! I went to Old Faithful but had just missed it and it was raining so I didn't stick around, I went to the painted pots, I saw so many elk, the buffalo walk along the road and right up to your car. On my way out of the park I saw a cute little black bear roaming the prairie, but again no moose or grizzly or so I thought.  I was just about out of the park with I saw a line of cars stopped, this usually meant some creature was out and about, so I stopped and asked and sure enough there she was a female grizzly bear looking for food.  I was able to capture some pics and it was worth my whole trip there!! I left Yellowstone a happy happy girl!! Day 3 of my trip I drove 20+ hours to get back home and sleep in my own bed for the first time in 8 months!! It was worth it.

I had 5 weeks off between assignments so I decided to take advantage of this time. I spent as much time as could with the two cutest 2 and 5 year old I know. My mom was able to get some time off so we would pick them up from school and take them to the park or to the root beer stand. I was also able to have a cook out with all of my extended family. I had missed Christmas in July with my Benjamin family it was so nice to see most of them at my cookout and catch up with everyone!! I also took a two week vacation to Grand Cayman Island with one of my good friends. For 2 weeks all we did was go to the pool, the bar, the beach and bed. It was the best vacation I have ever had and so relaxing, after being gone for 2 weeks and not working for 5 I was ready to get back to work and get back to a routine!! Once again I packed up my car and drove across the country and landed in Chandler Arizona. Chandler is a suburb of Phoenix. I picked this area this time of year for the weather and let me tell you, I have to remind myself that it is a week before Thanksgiving, I keep thinking it is August.  Since I have been here it has been anywhere from 90 degrees to 70 degrees. I understand why people winter here, you can't beat this weather!!

I love the hospital, everyone has been welcoming. After being off for 5 weeks, I had to give my self a little time to get back into the hustle and bustle of the ER but it is like riding a bike. They have a different flow that I have ever experienced so it took a little time to get used to it but I like it. I went out the other night after work with some of the staff and had a good time. It is funny because we all were from the midwest. I have yet to meet anyone out here from actually Phoenix or even Arizona. Most everyone I meet is from either California or the Midwest.  I will be here until January 19th, I do get to go home for Christmas but only for about 4 days.  My mom is coming out here next week over Thanksgiving.  We are going to the Grand Canyon and Sedona.  The summer after third grade we took a trip to California to see my aunt and uncle, my dad was driving, apparently we were all asleep and he drove past the Grand Canyon, my mom was not happy about it so that is our first stop on Sunday when I pick her up from the airport!!

I have officially accepted my next position and it will be in a suburb of San Fancisco, Walnut Creek California!! I am so excited. This past summer I had the opportunity to visit SF for a few days while my aunt was there on business and it was amazing. I completely fell in love with the city and couldn't wait to get an assignment in the area. I start there in Feb!! I am looking forward to doing a road trip up the 101!!

I will post some pic of my adventures over the last 6 months!!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

And my next stop is....

I realized the other day I haven't told anyone but my family where I am going next.  After many phone calls back and forth with my recruiter and a little bit of stress, I have decided to stay in Portland for another 13 weeks!! I am going to a different hospital, Providence Milwaukie (yes it is spelled this way), it is a super small hospital, only like 77 beds total and the ER only has 20 beds.  They are implementing the computer charting system my current hospital just went "live" with, so many of the travelers I currently work with will be heading to this hospital too.  I am glad the girls I have been getting to know here are staying, especially since we are heading into Spring and Summer and the weather will be much nicer to get out sightsee, camp, and hike (well I won't be hiking).  Since my last post nothing exciting has been happening. My days off have been random and I haven't been able to do do much other than some day activities.  The weather is finally turning a corner.  I never realized how much I needed a little bit of sun, until I didn't have any sun for about 10 weeks straight!! This week, it has been 60s and 70s and sun nonstop, it has been wonderful, considering my friends and family were just hit with a late winter/early spring blizzard.  I can say, I'm not sad I missed the blizzard this year!!

In 2 weeks I will be home for just a few days for my cousin's wedding.  To say I am excited to be home is an understatement!! I can't wait to see my family, especially my little nieces! Even though we utilize facetime as much as possible, it is not the same as seeing them in person. I love that they are excited to see me too, I was a little worried they would forget about their awesome Aunt Apple :)

For all of my photography savvy friends I am wanting to upgrade my camera, do any of you have any suggestions on what to purchase?  Also, do any of you photoshop your pictures?  Since I have been out here I have noticed that my camera doesn't quite capture all of the beautiful scenery, I have done a little bit of editing on iphoto, but it is still is not quite capturing the essence of Oregon.  I would take any suggestions!!

Happy Easter to everyone!!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Camping 101

This past weekend I went camping for 3 nights.  First rule of camping: look at the weather forecast prior to packing!  I packed clothes for a cool summer night, not a freezing spring night.  We arrived to the campground on Thursday afternoon, set up camp and then went to the beach.  By dusk, it was starting to cool off considerably and I was adding the layers.  Since camping is not my first love and fashion is, I had packed enough clothes that I could layer everything up and stay warm I thought!!  Since I had worked on Wednesday night and went straight to the campground I was going on no sleep, I went to bed early.  I took a double air mattress to sleep on because there was no way I was sleeping on the ground, did I mention this is also princess camping, I certainly thought I would be warm with a blanket, sleeping bag and an air mattress...WRONG!!  I woke up several times during the night so cold I could hardly move, after some minor adjustments to the position of my sleeping bag, I finally found warmth and was able to get some sleep.  When I woke up on Friday morning there was ice on my tent.  I never looked at the temp but I am guessing it dipped down into the low 30s upper 20s on Thursday night.  I think that some of the girls were expecting me to pack it up and go home on Friday, but I stayed and camped through till Sunday!! It was a lot of fun and can't wait to go back, I will definitely be packing a little different next time!! I loved that you could hear the waves hitting the shore from our campsite and it was so peaceful at night.  I am not going to lie, on several occasions I did have fleeting thoughts that I was going to be murdered in my sleep, I guess that is what watching Criminal Minds does to your psyche :-), all in all I felt safe the whole time.  We also weren't the only ones camping, there were actually a lot of people there this weekend so that also made me feel safe!!
The Beach at Cape Lookout State Park
 My tent and bed
 Our campfire
 Lots of yummy food
 Sunset over the mountains
Sunset over the ocean
 One of the girls brought glow sticks to decorate our campsite
 me waking up on Friday morning with ice on the tent...sooooo cold
 Our campsite at night with the glow stick chain

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

twenty-five things...

Life in Portland has been pretty quiet these past few weeks.  The hospital went "live" with their computer charting (which is the reason why I am here). I must say it went fairly flawless, they were very diligent about getting their staff educated and experienced with the new computer system and it made a huge difference.  I can also tell a difference in the staff's attitudes, the must have been really stressed about EPIC because they are so much nicer now that the "go live" has commenced!  I had a nice stretch of days off, unfortunately I came down with norovirus, so I spent all my time off on my couch and in my bed. It was not pleasant, but not nearly as bad as my patients act when they come to the emergency room.  Since I do not have any pictures or sightseeing adventures to post about, I thought I would do a "get to know me" blog.  Here is a list of 25 things you might not know about me!!

1. I hate to sweat
2. I am tone deaf
3. I spent 4 years in marching band never once playing my instrument while marching because I had to focus on keeping the pace marching ( I couldn't do both).
4. I am an online shopping junkie, I hate going to malls
5. My favorite color is pink
6. I love sequins, sparkles, and glitter
7. I absolutely have no desire to have kids and I don't feel bad about it
8. I love to watch tv
9. Sleeping is in my top 5 favorite things to do
10. If people talk to me for to long and its not a topic I am interested in, my mind turns to a screensaver
11. I have 5 tattoos and would like more
12. I love gay guys but lesbians intimidate me
13. I don't understand the mullet hairstyle and who are they going to that is recommending they keep that hair style
14. If I wasn't a nurse I would be a make-up artist
15. I loved living at my parents house the past two years
16. I think the book "The Catcher and the Rye" is one of the worst books I have ever read
17. I totally judge a book by the cover, if it has a cute cover, I am going to read it
18. I currently do not have a tv, I am watching all of my shows on the internet and I love it
19. I love all the "die hard" movies and can't wait to see the new one
20. As a nurse, I have decided that the general population is truly stupid
21. I went camping one time and liked it and have been wanting to do it again, which is amazing since I hate the outdoors
22. I think having an iphone is the closest I will get to having a personal assistant, I would be lost with out it
23. I spend way to much time on facebook and should be embarrassed by how much time I spend on facebook, but I'm not
24. I attempted to go hiking a few weeks ago, made it 5 minutes on the trail and turned around, went back to my car and read a book while my friends finished the trail
25. The older I get the easier it is for me to be honest with people and to speak my mind

This was way harder that I thought it would be!! Thursday and Friday of this week I am going camping with some of the other travelers down in Tillamook, OR.  The campground in on the beach, I am really excited, and the weather is suppose to be great!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Picture day

No worries, this isn't like when we were in school and had to look our best for picture day.  I have more pics of my Oregon adventures to post.  These are just  a few...enjoy

Another one of Multnomah Falls.  It is one of the most beautiful places I have been.  There are actually trails around the falls you can hike.  I made about 30ft on the trail and turned around, hiking is not for me!
 This is Mt. St. Helen's.  I wish my pictures were better.  It was a cloudy and rainy day and this was as close as I could get up the mountain.  In Oregon and Washington you have to have chains on your tires to get to certain places and this is one of them.  I do not have chains for my tires so I was unable to get up the mountain.  Both Mt St Helen's and Mt Rainier are on my list of places to return before I leave.
 This is downtown Portland
 I have yet to actually visualize Mt Rainier, this is the national park that surrounds it.  I went to St Helens and Mt Rainier in the same day. By the time I made it to Rainier it was dark and I wasn't comfortable driving through the national park by myself!! This was as far as I went!!
 For anyone who read "50 Shades of Grey" this is the Heathman Hotel where the two love birds had romantic moments.  I thought if I stood outside for awhile I would find my own Christian Grey, unfortunately, one never came along ;-)
 This is on the Oregon Coast at Hug Point. I highly recommend the Oregon Coast as a vacation destination in the Summer, especially Cannon Beach, it truly is a beautiful place
 A cave in the coast line
I went to the coast on Monday with some of the other travelers.  While I was at Cannon Beach a sneaker wave came up and almost whisked me away.  Thankfully, I held my ground, however my flip flop was not so lucky, or so I thought.  After I had walked back to the car to get some other shoes, one of the girls I was with found my flip flop up on some rocks!! It was a great day on the coast, we ate lunch seaside and drove through a national forrest.  The scenery out here is great, I'm just not an outdoorsy kind of girl.