California, Here we Come!

News Alert! News Alert! I have the information you have ALL been waiting for! Where are we headed next?

California! Martinez, California to be exact!

I am excited, and very nervous all at the same time! I have contracted with a new company (no problems with the last company they just didn’t really have anything available in my specialty and area we wanted to be. I’ll miss my really wonderful and friendly recruiter though!). So, we are headed to Martinez, which if you are unfamiliar with the area is about an hour Northeast of San Fransisco! We will be staying in a town a little north of Martinez called Vallejo since it was the closest RV park we could find, about 20 minutes from the hospital.

The position was listed online as a Mother/Baby but when I did the phone interview they were looking for level II nursery. We talked about my experience, specialty and comfort level along with the patients they normal see and decided I would still be a good fit, even though I have never officially worked in a level II nursery. (LV you prepared me well!)

I mentioned that I am excited and nervous and that’s mainly because of the hours not the starting over part (that comes with the travel nursing territory). The position was listed as 3 12 hour shifts but their need must be greater than that because in the interview the manager said she was looking for someone to work 5 8 hour shifts (This isn’t uncommon in California because of their nursing laws most full-time employee’s work 5 8’s since anything over 8 is considered overtime in a day) BUT, since I will be working nights I really didn’t want to work 5 shifts a week because I know I won’t wake up early to have time to do anything in a given day as I would if I worked days. (I think 5 8’s is a day shift’s dream, 7-3 I’d take it in a heartbeat! I think) So I told the manager I didn’t want to work that and she offered me 4 12 hour shifts, 48 hours a week. So THAT’S why I’m scared! That’s a lot of hours in a work week! I’ve done it before, without dying(ha!) once when LV was short-staffed for a couple of weeks so I know it can be done, it’s just really taxing and cuts down on your time off.

These last few weeks of trying to find an assignment have almost made me rethink this whole travel nursing gig. (I know, I hear you all saying “yay, come back home!” from my Louisiana friends!) I was truly spoiled with the ease of finding this first position in Helena. The job popped up, I applied, interview the next day, accepted the job in the interview and signed the contract the day after. Wam-bam and done! It couldn’t have been more textbook perfect. This next assignment was work though! I have spent the last few weeks researching location, pay, talking to new recruiters, filling out new applications, offering references (sorry for the million calls but thanks for the good reviews!) I was blown away by the differences in pay hospitals in the same area can have(a whole other story for another blog one day!)

That being said, I couldn’t be happier with the area we are headed to and the timing of this assignment. We are going to be an hour (give or take a few minutes depending on traffic) from San Fransisco and the Bay area. I have a cousin who lives in San Fransisco right now and I’m super happy to get to see her!

So what does this mean for the next few months?! We get to plan our trip home!!!! Yayyy!!! Like I mentioned, I have been real homesick lately (just missing friends, family and familiarity), coupled with the stress of the unknown. It’s all just made me want to go home! But alas, were back on track and have plans for our La visit in December! Unfortunately this assignment doesn’t end until December 27 (really the 28th since working night shift I wont get off until the next morning) So most likely we will book a plane to fly home that day or the day after! I think we are going to try to stay for 2 weeks at least so everyone clear your schedules so you can have quality Andrea and Jon time!! Yayy, the Nomads are headed h0me!

I think that about sums it up. I do want to say a special thank you to a few friends who helped me out when I was needing some local advice on areas to live! It’s hard to go into an area to live by just blindly picking so the advice I got was well appreciated and helpful! I still want to write more about my trouble’s getting a California license and finding a job in CA, but this is getting too long so I’ll save that for another day!

See you soon Cali!

All our love,

The Nomads

 

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The Pro’s and Con’s of RV living

We have officially been living in our RV for about three months and while that doesn’t make us experts in any form, we have learned a thing or two along the way. We knew when we bought our RV that life was going to be a little different {space issues, anyone?} than living in a regular apartment or house. Most issues we planned for, some took us by surprise! So here is my Pro/Con RV living list, 3 month edition!

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Pro:

  • Your house can move!: This has been great for weekend trips and the travel lifestyle in general. Notice I said your house can move. That’s the nice thing about an RV, it is totally yours and you can decorate and customize everything to your liking {more on this concept later}. Speaking specifically to moving though, it is so nice not to have to worry about packing {forgetting things} when we are going on a short trip. We have taken the RV on two trips with us while we have been in Montana and both times we left right after I got off working a 12 hour night shift. As you can imagine, the last thing I would ever want to do is come home and pack a bag for a trip. With our RV we are able to put everything in its place, check off our mental RV closing checklist, hitch up the truck and hit the road. Now don’t get me wrong, it takes a little time to get your house road ready, but in my mind its way easier and less stressful than packing bags for a trip AND I have EVERYTHING I own with me {how convenient}! Sidenote: there is a certain guilt factor associated with eating out on a trip when you have your whole kitchen with you 😦
  • Your house is yours: In the travel nursing world, your are most likely moving every 13 weeks. It is rare to find and assignment shorter than 13 weeks so packing up and moving just comes with the territory. If we didn’t live in an RV we would literally be packing our entire lives in boxes and bags and hauling our junk to our next place of residence every 13 weeks. Besides the fact that this would just suck, we would never be able to make a temporary living space “our own”. In our RV we we able to decorate {see: Our RV remodel} everything to make our home cozy and comfortable. We completely customized our RV and there is not a day that goes by that I regret all the hard work we put into making our RV into the home we wanted.
  • You don’t have room for a ton of junk!: I’ll admit, I love to shop. Before we lived in the RV I probably frequented Tjmax and Home Goods on a weekly basis and while this was great for my home decorating look, it wasn’t so great on my piggy bank! Now that we live in the RV I truly have to work to justify all my purchases {yes, I can fit that cute skirt into my already overflowing closet!}. So, I’ve taken to just staying out of my favorite shopping venues and subsequently saved my piggy bank a ton of stress!
  • You get to live REAL close to your housemate/loved ones: I know, I know, this one could have gone both ways for most couples. But Jon and I have been lucky and our close living quarters haven’t been any real source of conflict between us. Now this could also be that my job provides us with ample alone time for both of us since I spend a good 72 hours a week working/sleeping. But truly, we have enjoyed having our own tiny space of the world just for us!
  • Everything has to have a place: When we were deciding what could/should go in our RV we had to make sure we had a place for the said item. We couldn’t take it if we couldn’t ensure it had a designated travel approved spot. This makes cleaning up and putting away our junk a breeze.

Cons:

  • The black tank: Go big or go home right? So I’ll just start with the major whammy, our beloved {yeah right we hate that thing} black tank. The black tank has been a constant source of frustration in our humble abode. A fun “where’s that smell coming from” guessing game. Hint: 90% of the time the black tank wins! We also lucked out and found out that our black tank sensor does not work, so yes, we don’t ever know if “the s**t is starting to hit the fan” literally.  This has lead us to purchases such as the black tank cleaning wand and the see-through poop tube to ensure our tank gets nice and clean with every dump {no pun intended} day.
  • There is no dishwasher: I think if we could hire someone just to do our dishes we would {anyone in the job market for a traveling dishwasher position?} We both hate washing dishes and washing by hand really takes the cake. Not only is it no fun, but you have to work extra hard to make sure you’ve cleaned your dishes well because they aren’t going to run through the dishwasher after you’ve gotten all the food gunk off of them. And, since our hot water heater is only 6 gallons we run out of hot water REAL fast. So yes, I let Jon talk me into buying paper plates, and he could probably talk me into disposable cups and silverware if it wouldn’t break the bank!
  • The teeny-tiny refrigerator: As with every aspect of the RV, space is a major issue, and that is not spared with the fridge. From the outside it doesn’t look too bad, bigger than dorm sized, a little smaller than apartment sized, but man, try to squeeze a weeks worth of food into that thing is a loosing Tetris battle! There have been many grocery shopping occasions where we’ve looked into our basket and said “uh, I don’t think we have enough freezer space for all of this!” which only ends up leading to a frozen chicken vs. ice cream battle, and we all know who is going to win that one! So, I’ve learned am still learning to plan meals., it’s a work in progress.

So, all in all, it’s not that bad, we actually love it! There’s something to be said about having your own place, even if it is on two wheels and has an adjustable square footage!

 

Thanks for stopping by! All our love!

-The Nomads

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Banff’s beautiful Lake Louise, Lake Agnes and Lake Moraine!

Ever since I saw a picture on Pinterest I was baffled by the beauty the small area of Canada called Banff held. I knew while planning our Banff trip that we would have to take a trip to Lake Louise. Even the boarder patrol agent at the U.S./Canada border told us Lake Louise was a must see!
So on day 2 we loaded up our backpacks with snacks and water and headed to Lake Louise to see the lake and hike the Lake Agnes Teahouse Hike! It was super crowded when we got there around 12 and it took us about 15 minutes of circling the parking lot to finally score a spot (we have found this to be the case at many major national park attractions).
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The picture above is from my first sight of Lake Louise. The lake was a milky teal color that just beautifully complemented the snow capped mountains that stood behind. I snapped as many pictures as my impatient fiance’ would allow before he hurried me along to “get into nature and away from all these crowds!”, as he put it.

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The Lake Agnes Teahouse hike was pretty steep and we found ourselves huffing and puffing for the first mile or so until we adjusted to the change in elevation. For the first mile the trail followed the Lake which provided me with many more perfect photo opportunities.

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About 3/4 of the way into the hike we came to a lake called Mirror lake which was a crystal clear green colored small lake. It was absolutely gorgeous, surrounded by trees and fresh air! We could see in the very far distance a small house, which someone pointed out to us as the teahouse.

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So we ventured on to the teahouse. After what seemed like an eternity we reached the stairs to the teahouse and were greeted to the most picturesque little lake and small cottage turned into a restaurant. We grabbed a table and started to scan the menu. That was when we found out that the teahouse has NO electricity and is only accessible by foot! So what does that mean? Cash only, no ice(we kept hearing guests ask for ice water and ice in their drinks), and a very limited menu. We ordered tea, lemonade, tea biscuits with homemade jam and an apple crisp. All were absolutely delicious and even more enjoyable when we learned the workers make everything fresh every morning. The workers have summer jobs at the teahouse (since it is only open during the summer) and they live in the attic area above the teahouse for days at a time while they are working. They have no electricity so they are essentially one with nature while they spend their summer working, such a cool way to spend your summer!
A few pictures of the tea house and lake Agnes:
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After tea we headed back down the trail back to Lake Louise. The return trip is always much more enjoyable on trails where you gain a lot of elevation 🙂
Next I wanted to make sure we visited Moraine Lake since it was so close. It was getting late but we were so close I knew we had to make the stop, and we are SO glad we did. The scenery and beauty that Lake Moraine held is indescribable. We enjoyed a zero elevation gain walk around half of the lake while taking loads of pictures!! The trail was pretty deserted so Jon let me take as many pictures as my little heart desired, while he watched out for bears of course! We thought for sure we would spot a bear seeing as we were approaching dusk and it had to be dinner time for them as well, although we didn’t want to be there dinner so we were armed with a plan and our bear spray just in case we had a chance meeting with a big grizzly!
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Alas, we made it back to the trail head bear free and headed back for dinner in town. These two hikes were perfect if you only have one day in the Lake Louise area and want to explore a bit!
Thanks for stopping by, stay tuned for the rest of our Banff trip coming soon!
All our love,
The Nomads

Banff Day 1

Canada O Canada!
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A few weeks ago we ventured north to the beautiful town of Banff to explore an area on both of our bucket lists! We made the decision to drive the car and rent a hotel as opposed to hauling the fifth wheel with us. It was difficult to find RV sites and we were unsure of diesel prices in Canada. We found a reasonable hotel in Canmore, a city about 20 minutes away from Banff and stayed at the Ramada Inn in Canmore.
We dropped Cooper of at a local boarding facility in Helena then hit the road for Banff! Banff is about a 7 and a half our drive north of Helena and we made it to Canmore right around dinner time. After we checked in and dropped our bags off we snagged some area brochures and picked a dinner restaurant. Jon decided we should use the picture method to choose a restaurant so after rating the restaurant pictures in the brochure we headed to the restaurant whose picture one for dinner!
We asked to be seated outside on the patio so we could soak in the picturesque view of the surrounding mountains. As we were sitting down we noticed some deer across the street just walking through the town, {so cool!}. I had a yummy salmon and veggie dish and Jon had a white sauced pasta dish.
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After dinner went back to the hotel and changed into our swimsuits. I really wanted to check out on of the local hot springs in Banff. The Banff Upper Hot Springs was the closest to us and only about a 10 minute drive into the mountains outside of the town of Banff. It cost us $7.50 Canadian dollars each to enjoy the springs. We actually were allowed to pay in US dollars but received Canadian change (two loonies and a toonie to be exact, I kid you not, I with I could have taped Jon’s interaction with the lady behind the counter while she explained this to us!)
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We spent about an hour enjoying the hot springs and the surrounding scenery.  I was surprised because the water wasn’t as warm as I expected at only 104 degrees it felt lukewarm to me.The Upper Springs is a mineral springs so it did have a slight sulfur smell, but we still managed to enjoy! It was pretty crowded when we went at about 8 in the evening, so it felt kind of weird sitting in a large bathtub with a bunch of strangers. I could only take about an hour in the warm water before I started to feel hot and uncomfortable so I suggested we leave and go get a sweet treat!
We headed back into the town of Banff and headed to Cow’s creamery. After the tormentors decision on a single ice cream flavor, we both ended up with the exact same flavor! Vanilla ice cream with cow (chocolate covered peanut butter) pieces and a caramel ribbon. Delicious! We enjoyed our ice cream while exploring the town of Banff a bit for a nice ending to our first day (or really evening) in Banff!
Stay tuned for Banff day 2- Lake Louise!

The Grand Teton Moose Mission

On day three of our Yellowstone vacation we decided to head down south and see Grand Teton National Park. From West Yellowstone it was about a 2 hour drive down to the entrance of the park. Because of this we decided to take Cooper along with us so he didn’t have to be cooped (pun totally intended!) in his cage. This meant we weren’t going to be able to do any hikes since dogs aren’t allowed on any of the trails. The weather looked like it had the potential for rain so we weren’t too bummed out about the hiking.
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The first thing we did when we arrived in the park was stop at the ranger station for a map, and a little advice on wildlife sightings. Jon was lucky enough to see his animal of choice early in the trip, while the animal I wanted to see had still managed to elude us! Jon likes to say I pick the hardest animals to find. I just wanted to see a Moose! So in preparation for the day Jon had researched the best places to find moose. Low and behold, all his research pointed to a place called Moose Junction and more specifically, Moose road. The ranger confirmed his research and told us that Moose Junction is prime moose habitat. So armed with a map and our moose sighting eyes we set out on our mission. A moosey mission as Jon called it, and if you recall from the buffalo sighting, there’s a song for this mission as well but I’ll spare you the boring details! Moose Junction is a straight shot down the park and is the last junction before the end of the park. We found Moose road and drove it back and forth with no wildlife sightings. At one point we got out of the car and picked some sage grass which was growing very plentiful in the area. It smells just like sage and reminded me of relaxing aromatherapy.
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Sage grass:
 
 
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At the end of the road Jon let me take over the driving and I let him take over the navigating. This was mistake #1! While deciding what we would do next Jon mentioned that there was a road up ahead that would lead to the Snake River. He said, “I think it’s a back road, it may be paved at first and I think we have a really good chance of seeing some moose.” So, I follow my navigators orders and turn onto a non-paved, very bumpy dirt road. It doesn’t take long for me to realize that we are headed into the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. Up ahead we notice an SUV stopped and the driver appeared to be scouting out the road ahead. He told us it looked steep but leveled out up ahead and we should be fine. So, we of course let him go first. He started to drive away then literately disappeared down the hill, at this point I’m asking Jon if he still thinks this is a good idea and he of course says yes. So we follow the SUV ahead until we get to the river. The SUV stops off at the entrance to an even rockier and dustier road. I’m starting to panic because there’s no way we are going to get back up this steep hill we came down and this road ahead looks uber sketchy. Jon of course is gung-ho for this adventure and as we switched drivers (because I was not going to be responsible for any truck damage we might occur on this treacherous road) he handed me the map. That’s when I notice the road he had led us down. The road is an obvious back road that says “ATV road, 4 wheel drive required”, to which Jon argues, “it says recommended, plus we have four wheels.” 4 wheels, 4-wheel drive…can’t be that big of a difference right?! HAHA
 
So, with no choice but to drive on, we started down the LONG dirt road. We were literately driving within feet of a very steep and high cliff on the banks of the Snake River. (Don’t worry mom, were still alive!) We stopped frequently for wildlife checks, convinced that we would see something with our great view of the woods below. We literately saw NO wildlife along the banks of the river or in the surrounding forest. It was so strange especially since it was such a deserted part of the park. The 12 mile road took us about 2 hours to drive. At the VERY end, I kid you not about 1/2 mile from the main road we came upon a heard of Bull Elk grazing on the surrounding Sage grass. They were beautiful creatures and made the long, bumpy and disappointing drive totally worth our time!
 
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Next up was dinner. We went back into Moose Junction (With the hopes of seeing a moose of course) and went to an outdoor chuck-wagon cookout. The food was sub-par but the entertainment was great. They were having a live music session showcasing anyone who felt like stepping up on stage to play.
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The entertainment was awesome but we had a mission to accomplish. We decided to drive Moose road one more time in hopes that the evening would bring about more wandering wildlife. No such luck! We saw a few dear but NO moose, or any other wildlife for that matter (I would have settled for a bear sighting as well!) After finishing our drive along Moose Road we aborted our mission and headed home. Hopefully we may have better luck moose hunting on our next trip in Banff National Park.
 
So, although I didn’t get to see any Moose, we thought The Grand Tetons were beautiful and are even talking about coming back to camp and hike in this area before we leave Montana. Our trip to Yellowstone and The Grand Tetons was short but it was definitely an awesome experience!
 
Thanks for following along! Until next time!
 -The Nomads
 
A few extra pictures from our day:
We stopped for lunch at Leek’s Marina a long Jackson lake and took these pictures!
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Yellowstone Day #2

On our quick and jam-packed trip to Yellowstone we decided to spend day #2 touring the Upper loop of Yellowstone.

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I put some chili in the crock-pot for dinner that night, Yummmm. An important point for RV living is that you have to make a point to eat at home otherwise you’ll be spending a fortune eating out. Take advantage of the fact that you have your whole home with you to make cooking easier even if you are on vacation!

We were staying in West Yellowstone which gave us easy access to the Upper loop for our drive. Our first stop was Norris Geyser basin home of the Porcelain Basin and The Back Basin. The Porcelain Basin was a really interesting flat piece of land made up of multiple geyser’s and Hot Springs. We walked the short board walk then went on to the Back Basin. Most of these boardwalk walk’s were short little detours from the main road, but man, the Back Basin threw us for a loop! It was only a 1.5 mile loop trail with very little difference in elevation. But of course we had decided to start this loop in the heat of the day and without our water. BAD IDEA! This basin area was a vast land of non-shaded hot geysers and springs, as you would imagine from its name. Most of the thermals at Yellowstone are very acidic and are made up of Sulfur which, if you remember I mentioned in the last post smells disgusting! So, we ended up with headaches and I got to listen to Jon’s rant about how dangerous this had to be for our bodies (who knew he was so concerned?!)

DSCN1840 I am pretty sure a bear scratched this tree!

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After we got back to the car and loaded up on water and snacks we drove north to Mammoth Hot springs. This area featured a really neat cascading natural limestone display (and a female Elk walking through the flat limestone area!). My pictures are limited from this area because my camera was showing memory card full and I didn’t figure out until we made it back home that I had forgotten to delete the prior day’s pictures when I uploaded them to my computer.

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We stopped in Mammoth for a snack and headed on to Canyon Village. The Canyon Village area is home to an area that they call “The Grand Canyon” (We can cross Arizona off our bucket list now right?!, Just kidding!) The Yellowstone River flows the Canyon’s length, which is about 20 miles. We stopped near the Upper Falls to get a view of the falls and take some pictures. I had done a good bit of research on the area and really wanted to do a hike near the falls but our time was really limited this day and it was very close to dinnertime. If you are ever in the area please hike the lower falls south rim trail and take pictures so I can live vicariously through you!!

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Once we arrived home we were greeted with the delicious smell of my homemade chili! It is always a gamble leaving food all day in Jon’s crock-pot, it’s a very temperamental appliance. Jon mentioned something about user error but we all know that’s a joke! The chili turned out delicious this time. Dinner was great and we were exhausted so it was time for light’s out and sweet dreams for our upcoming day in the Grand Tetons!

 

Stay tuned for our Grand Teton adventure! (and since we always air on the side of adventure, I’ll just preface it and mention that it was indeed a grand adventure!)

Until Next Time!

 

-The Nomads