Category Archives: Wyoming

The road from Wyoming to Florida is…

…LONG, icy, slightly scary, and very sleep deprived.  However, it is also full of lots of laughter, beautiful scenery, welcome climate changes, and lots of yummy “Welcome Home!” southern meals.

I picked Charlie up from his last shift at the Wyoming hospital at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 24, and we hit the road for Florida.  Even though it would mean a late night, we wanted to at least drive the four hours to Cheyenne in order to help us get to his parents’ house in Alabama by a reasonable time on Friday.

I had all of our directions for each day printed, hotel reservations made, and we felt great about our 2,600 mile, four-day trip across the U.S.

Except, it started snowing the day before we left and didn’t stop.

We were wondering if we’d see a Wyoming snow, and at first we laughed that it came just in time to wish us off.  We enjoyed getting out in it during our last few days and seeing how beautiful it looked against the mountain sky.  Then, we almost cried as we got on the interstate Wednesday night and realized it was iced over for most of the way to Cheyenne.

There’s nothing on I-80 between Rock Springs and Cheyenne, not even street lights.  So we suddenly found ourselves driving 30 mph on solid ice in the pitch black late at night.  At one point, we got caught in a group of truckers who had all stopped to put chains on their tires because they couldn’t get any traction.  I saw a pick-up truck slip and slide across the road in our rearview mirror before he regained control.  It took us five hours to make the usual three hour trip to Laramie (45 minutes from our hotel for the night) only to find that I-80 was closed.

As in, it’s now 12:30 a.m., snowing, we’d been up for 20 hours, and now we had nowhere to go.

Since we had to leave the hotel at 5:45 a.m. anyway, it didn’t make sense to stay in Laramie without knowing if they’d clear the interstate in the next five hours.  And the snow was just going to keep coming down, so we’d probably wake up to worse conditions anyway.

Somehow we made the decision to just keep driving and go south to Fort Collins.  It would get us out of the worst of the snow and keep us on track to make it to an appointment Charlie had in Nebraska the next day to get his fingerprints made.  It was still pretty slow-going, but we finally made it another four hours to just past Fort Collins and checked into a Super 8 Motel at 4:30 a.m.

We then checked out at 6:00 a.m.

If that’s not a “Wow, I’m glad we’re going to Florida!” story, I don’t know what is!  Our car had been through hell, our bikes had been through worse, and we were pretty exhausted, but it was certainly an adventure.  The Lord definitely took care of us the whole way, even keeping our spirits up as tired as we were!  Plus, since we left before dawn, we were treated to a beautifully snowy sunrise as we made our way to Nebraska.

The next day was a gorgeous drive to Missouri, and on Friday we hit the road for Alabama and enjoyed the highways through the coppery-colored Ozarks.

We stopped at a little cafe on a small highway in Arkansas for a delicious lunch of fried catfish, okra, hushpuppies, sweet tea, pecan pie and lemon icebox pie.  We were officially in our homeland!

It felt great to drive into Alabama, be called “Sugar” by the gas station attendants, watch Charlie drink a Diet Grapico and see the sun go down through the pine trees.  Pulling into Charlie’s parents’ house at the lake felt even better.  It was a little more than a year ago that we pulled out of that same driveway headed for Connecticut, not knowing what crazy adventures awaited.

We enjoyed a full day with his family, catching up and laughing while keeping an eye on all the football scores.  Charlie ate his weight in his mom’s breakfast casserole, I overdosed on cheese grits and we all enjoyed a gorgeous fall afternoon family walk.  Being with family again was definitely a blessing!  We even got a double-dose as we headed to Florida the next day to stay with my brother and sister-in-law who happened to be spending the week in Sanibel.  Since they live in Costa Rica and won’t be home this year for Christmas, we weren’t sure when we’d see them next.  We were thrilled when we realized we’d all be in Florida at the same time.  They rolled out the coastal welcome mat and we had a great seafood dinner on the island and stayed up late catching up.

On Monday, we finally headed across the state to our new home in Port St. Lucie.  In the last week, we’ve been enjoying seafood on the water, fresh farmers’ markets, morning walks alongside the egrets and blue herons in our beautiful neighborhood, looking for shells on the Atlantic beaches and wearing short sleeves again.  I keep thinking we’re on vacation, but we really live here!

Charlie spent last week in orientation and officially started on his new floor today.  I’ll update more on his new job, where I’m volunteering and our upcoming trip home soon.  But for now, all we can say is: What a marvelous adventure!

See more pictures from our cross-country adventure here.

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The Ministry of Waiting

During my quiet time this morning, I started to feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for who the Lord is and what His presence means in our lives.  I was reading our Sunday school lesson in preparation for church later and smiled when I saw it deals with Abraham, Sarah and God’s incredible promise to make them the parents of endless generations – even in their old age.

Abraham accepted this promise at first and his faith in God was credited to him as righteousness.  Yet, after living in Canaan for 10 years without bearing a child, they began to get restless.  They surely must have thought that when God made that promise He meant for it to be accomplished soon.  And now He was delaying.  What was He doing?  When was He going to get around to them?  Maybe He’d forgotten?  Maybe He hadn’t really meant that Sarah would bear a child (because that’s impossible at her age anyway!) but that it would happen some other, logical, way (through Sarah’s slave, Hagar).

In their waiting, their trust began to waver.  In their waiting on God’s divine plan, they allowed their human reasoning to take over.   They decided God couldn’t really make Sarah pregnant in her old age and that he must have meant they’d have a child through another woman – a method they understood.  So they decided to help God out in fulfilling His promise by having Sarah’s slave conceive a son with Abraham.  There.  Now God’s promise was fulfilled, their anxious waiting was relieved and they were back on track.

Except, that wasn’t God’s plan.  He really meant it when He said that Abraham and Sarah would bear these nations.  He made that promise because He was capable of doing it.  It wasn’t like when we promise grand things to those we love out of what we wish we could do, then have to go back later and amend them based on what we’re actually able to do.  God promised something miraculous because He meant to do exactly that.

“Yet those who wait on the Lord will gain new strength.”  Isaiah 40:31

Through Abraham and Sarah’s time of waiting, their trust grew weak to the point of feeling like they needed to take matters into their own hands.  They didn’t wait – they worried.  They felt God was late in fulfilling His promise because they brought their own expectations to the table of how God meant to do it.  They would not have grown anxious if they had fully surrendered themselves to the fact that God always does what is best for us, in the best time and in the best way.

One thing we’re learning in our travel nursing adventure is to wait for God’s best.  As we start the job search anew every three months, it would be so easy to anxiously jump at the first offer just to have it settled.  We’ve also experienced still not having a job three days before our current job ends and wondering if God was leaving His solution too late.  Yet God promised to provide for us.  If we anxiously refuse to wait on His timing, we are choosing to settle for a solution we can see rather than the solution He has promised.  I’m learning I’d rather wait on His best for me than grab at what I can attain myself.

I’m also learning that in order for my strength to be renewed in the waiting, I must take advantage of that time by drawing closer to Him in prayer and through Scripture.  If I just sit around during that period, my anxious thoughts run rampant.  Yet the waiting offers time to worship and that is what renews strength.

How incredible is it that when God promises something that seems impossible, a solution that makes no sense to our human minds, He means what He says.  He is not just the best version of us – very well-meaning but sometimes unable to come through.  He is Lord over the universe.  He made everything we can see, He created us by breathing life into our lungs, and all things hold together in Him.  If He says He will do something, He doesn’t just mean He’ll accomplish that general purpose.  He means He will do exactly what He says.  I’m learning I’d much rather wait for His exact promise to be fulfilled in all its glory than give up and settle for something I can attain on my own now.  And if the waiting feels longer than expected, I can fight off worry by renewing my strength and my trust through worship, prayer and His word.

“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.”  Isaiah 64:4

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Fall Adventures

After Charlie’s appendectomy, we spent a few days resting and promoting his healing with frozen yogurt runs.  Before he got sick we had planned a couple of quick overnight trips to both Park City and Jackson Hole to do some hiking and enjoy the beautiful fall colors.  Even though Charlie was still a little sore and wouldn’t be able to do the hiking we’d planned, we decided to still get out of town for a change of scenery.  We’ve had a blast this past week taking advantage of his time off and discovering that fall in the West actually rivals our beloved New England!

Fall Trip Highlights

Beautiful drive through the Wasatch Mountains along the Mirror Lake Scenic Highway – we were shocked at the vibrant colors of the changing leaves and the beautiful contrast they made against the evergreens.  And we loved the small towns we drove through while on our way to Park City.  We even woke up the next morning and decided to skip the Morman Temple in Salt Lake City all together in favor of another drive through the Wasatch!

Burnt Ends special at Pat’s BBQ in Salt Lake City – we got there just in time to score the last two plates of the Friday special, burnt brisket ends.  It was fabulous!

Detour through Weber Canyon – We took a random right turn and found ourselves in one of the prettiest canyons we’ve encountered yet.  It was literally on fire with neon yellows and oranges as we wound our way next to a pretty stream.

Beautiful morning drive through the Hoback Valley – we left early in the morning for Jackson and enjoyed a beautiful drive along the Hoback River in the soft mid-morning light.  Charlie was asleep, so I didn’t stop to take any pictures, but I loved watching the gentle light playing on the green meadows and colorful, rolling hills.  Even with all the drama of the other mountain ranges surrounding us, I have a soft spot for the more gentle feel of the Hobacks.

Meeting up with friends – Two other travel nursing friends from Rock Springs were also in Jackson, and we met up with the them to visit a wonderful wildlife art museum and hit up happy hour at one of our favorites, Snake River Brewery.

Finally hitting the wildlife jackpot in Jackson – Finally!  On our way to breakfast at our favorite Jackson spot, The Bunnery, we encountered three moose having breakfast on a local golf course.  Then, on our drive through the Tetons, we were able to get out and watch a male elk “bugle” to his herd of females before finally encountering another moose couple cooling off in a stream later in the day.  Throw in a bear sighting along the way and we finally felt satisfied!

Surprise detour into Idaho – After our drive through the Tetons, we weren’t ready to head home yet.  We took a right turn when we were supposed to go left and saw a sign that Idaho was only a few miles away.  Sold!  We spent the next two hours driving along the back side of the Teton range.  It was so fun to know we’d now seen the mountains from every angle.  Plus, we found a great local creamery turning out their own ice cream and cheeses for an afternoon snack!

See more pictures from these trips here.

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When the Nurse becomes the Patient

This past Sunday Charlie called me from work see if I would bring him some medicine.  He said he had the worst stomachache of his life and was bent over in pain.  I’ve never seen Charlie sick beyond an occasional headache, so I was concerned when I got there and saw that he looked really pale and was obviously in a lot of pain.  I tried to persuade him to come home, but he said they had too many patients for him to leave them all with just the one other nurse.  If there’s another thing I’ve never seen my husband do, it’s ask someone else to do his job.

So I continued to check on him throughout the afternoon, thinking the medicine would bring some relief for what we though was an upset stomach.  But he kept saying that the pain was worse and unrelenting.  He’s not one to complain, so if he was admitting to pain then I knew something was wrong.

Finally, about half an hour before his 12-hour shift ended, Charlie called to ask me to meet him at the hospital instead of just picking him up.  One of the attending doctors happened to be up there on a Sunday night and had worked it out for Charlie to be direct-admitted for observation and blood work.  This meant he wouldn’t have to wait in the ER for what could be hours since our small town hospital happened to be slammed that night.  About an hour later, Charlie finished charting on his patients in the ICU and we walked across the hallway where we he got into a bed on the Med-Surg floor and began receiving fluids.  Even though he was in such pain, we had a good laugh with the Med-Surg nurses who were pretty shocked to see him suddenly turn into a patient when they had seen him in the Unit all day!

Our doctor was extremely kind and got our test results very quickly, ruling out any gall bladder or pancreas issues.  By this time, Charlie’s pain had localized in his lower right side, and we all knew we were on the fast track toward an appendectomy.  A late-night scan confirmed his appendix was enlarged, and they scheduled the surgery for first thing in the morning.  In fact, a surgeon that Charlie knows well and had just worked with that day happened to be on call to perform his procedure.  Again, needless to say, she was shocked to receive the phone call that she’d be taking out the appendix of the nurse she’d just been with all day!

With everything decided around 1:00 a.m., we both got what rest we could before I returned to the hospital early the next morning.  They took Charlie down to the OR, where we thanked the Lord for His overwhelming peace.  Charlie’s never had surgery before, so we were both a little nervous just with anticipation.  However, despite being thousands of miles from home and essentially on our own during this ordeal, we felt very much like the Lord was in the room with us and that all would be ok.  It was hard to let go of his hand as he was wheeled back to surgery, but even in the two hours that I waited alone I never felt overwhelmed.  This all happened so suddenly and was so out of our control, that literally all we could do was throw our hearts upon the Lord and trust Him to carry us.

Charlie’s surgery went fine, and the doctor said that it seemed like his appendix had been inflamed for awhile, so the surgery really saved him from future trouble.  It seemed like he was back up in our room recovering before it had even sunk in that all of this was happening!  We spent the rest of the day napping, watching television and visiting with a lot of his coworkers who stopped by to check on him.  They, as well as I, couldn’t believe he finished the last six hours of his shift with acute appendicitis!  Charlie was discharged on Tuesday morning and has been doing really well at home.  He’s determined to recover quickly, so he’s up walking a lot and doing all the things his nurse’s mind knows will help him.  Sometimes he’ll look at me and say, “I just had surgery!” as if trying to make it sink in.  It all happened so fast – it seemed like I dropped him off for work on Sunday morning and then we entered a fast-paced dream world and suddenly we are back at home with some extra medicine and a few more days off.

Through all of this, it’s been so obvious that the Lord is in control.  He allowed Charlie’s appendix to not be critical until a time when we were at home for a long stretch, not off in the middle of Yellowstone or some Wyoming highway that’s always two or three hours to the nearest town.  He provided extra shifts for Charlie the previous week, knowing that he’d miss all of his work this week and not receive a normal paycheck.  His mercy allowed Charlie not to be sick with something more serious which our small hospital couldn’t accommodate.  He gave us His peace so that in our humanness we wouldn’t feel the added stress of being so far from home.

“You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.

If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.”

Psalm 139: 5, 9-12

God’s is constantly with us – not just beside us, seeing what we see, but behind us, before us, and over us.  Unlike our own eyes, He sees our whole path.  He knows what is coming ahead, He sees what is happening beyond our understanding that will affect us down the road.  Unlike us, nothing is hidden from Him.  There is no darkness for Him – nothing can hide in secret and then surprise Him.  Since all is illuminated to Him, He can see everything affecting our path and provide our way through it.

When we were driving a scenic road through Montana last week, I remember looking off into the distance and wondering about the beauty that lay just beyond what I could see.  Everything out our windows was so incredible, but I knew that we were also surrounded by thousands of beautiful acres that we’d never even lay eyes on.  All we could see what was in front of us.  Yet these beautiful streams we drove past began somewhere.  These lush meadows were fed by unseen rivers.   We couldn’t see the whole landscape, but we knew the sights on our own road were intimately affected by their connection to the nature just out of sight.

Thank God that He sees and controls what is out of our sight!  Thank God that He is Lord not just over the created world, but over the spiritual things which our human minds cannot perceive!  Nothing can enter our path that He is unfamiliar with, unable to provide for, unable to love us through.  He cares for the unseen rivers that run through our lives.

Psalm 139 says we cannot escape His presence, which means we also cannot escape His character.   His love, provision, mercy, kindness, forgiveness, grace and peace go before us, follow behind us, and lay over us no matter how our days may twist and turn in our own eyes.  Praise Him!

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Yellowstone, Part 2

On Wednesday morning, we woke up early and enjoyed hot chocolate and a cinnamon roll in front of the big picture windows overlooking Old Faithful as we waited for it to erupt in the morning light.  We could also see the steam columns rising across the geyser basin as the hot springs met the very crisp morning air.  After OF did her thing, we headed off to explore some of the springs and pools we had skipped the day before.

First up was the midway geyser basin, which features the Grand Prismatic Spring.  This very large spring is mainly covered by its own steam, but when the wind blows just right you can see a vibrant bacterial rainbow of colors along its edges.  This basin has several other blue pools that reminded me of the deep, clear color of precious stones.  And even though it was a cold morning, the heat coming off the ground warmed us right up!

We next wound our way to the upper geyser basin, where our first fumerole and mudpot awaited.  The fumerole was like a natural chimney, constantly emitting steam from underground.  The neat thing was the whooshing roar sound it made as the steam swirled upward.  All of your senses get a workout at Yellowstone!  The paintpot was also noisy, like a large mud bath that bubbled up with loud “bloop bloop” sounds.  This one was a deep gray, and it definitely looked like dozens of gallons of thick paint had been poured on the ground.

Our next stop was the Yellowstone canyon area, on the opposite side of the park.  We took a beautiful detour by the Firehole River along the way and were treated to a tall waterfall and canyon walls of dark, volcanic rock.

It was crazy to think of this more traditional scenery being just up the road from all the crazy science experiments God seemed to be working in the ground nearby!  But we were soon in Norris geyser basin where we stopped to see more colorful paintpots and steamy, roaring springs.

It was after lunch by the time we made it to the canyon.  I had plans for us to hike down this natural staircase to the base of Lower Falls, etc., but we realized all we wanted to do was spend the afternoon exploring other less traditional areas and get back to the lodge for dinner and reading by the fire.  So we stopped at a few of the major viewpoints and were on our way.  We don’t normally blow past sights like that, but the driving loop through Yellowstone is over 200 miles and covering it in two days means a little compromising.  However, the light canyon walls and the roaring falls of the Yellowstone River were beautiful!

To continue our scenic loop through the park, we drove through Hayden Valley on our way to Yellowstone Lake.  This area is known for really great wildlife viewing but, again, all we saw were herds and herds of bison.  Not complaining!  We wound our way alongside the lazily beautiful Yellowstone River, enjoying the softly rolling meadow and clear afternoon skies.

Just before Yellowstone Lake, we reached another sulfuric hot spot and were greeted by the smell of a thousand rotten eggs on a hot street.  The sulfur content of these springs must have been the highest we’d seen, because the smell was almost nauseating.  A lot of people were walking the half mile boardwalk through this area, but I have no idea how they stood it!  We saw a few features near the road and were good to go.

Compared to the other areas of the park, Yellowstone Lake was very quiet.  It’s the largest high elevation lake in the United States and seemed more like looking out at the Gulf of Mexico than a lake.  We got our required giant ice cream cone at the general store and enjoyed the view and lack of crowds.  It was late afternoon by this point, so we completed our giant loop with a pretty, tree-lined drive back to our lodge.

After a quick nap, we had another yummy dinner and parked ourselves on a big leather couch with our books, hot chocolate and cookies.

Following two jam-packed days, it was so nice just to read quietly in our fire-lit lodge, watching the sun go down over the geyser basin.  I could have pulled a cot up next to the fire and been one happy camper!

The next morning was a real treat, and maybe my favorite part of the trip.  We bundled up and headed to the lodge for an early breakfast, thinking we’d watch Old Faithful go off for the first time in daylight.  As we waited, we ended up walking the boardwalk trail all around the area, hot chocolates in hand.  It was magical!  The early morning sun was still coming up, we practically had the place to ourselves as we explored all the beautiful pools and small geysers.  The early morning is my favorite time of day, and I love spending it with Charlie – it just makes the whole day cozy and perfect!

As the time neared for OF to erupt, we hiked about half a mile up to Observation Point where we watched the show from above.  It felt really good to stretch our legs after spending so much time in the car on this trip.  We were too high to hear the geyser, but to see the giant water column explode from the ground below us high into the air was such an awesome perspective.  We had now seen it go off in the early morning, at sunset, and from above – I think we thoroughly enjoyed Old Faithful in all its glory!

We had a long drive home ahead of us, so we packed up, said goodbye to our cozy cabin and picked up some final souvenirs.  We were just in time to watch OF go off one last time, and then we were on our way.  This was such a wonderful trip, and we were constantly surprised at God’s creativity and majesty at every turn.  His imagination as Creator never ceases to amaze us, and Yellowstone is surely one of His “show off” spots!

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Weird Science at Yellowstone National Park

We know that our little home on the range is where the deer and the antelope play.  What I wasn’t as aware of is that it’s also the playground of bubbling mudpots, eery sulphur pools, geyser basins that give off tall steam clouds in the crisp morning air and sapphire-blue hot springs that seem like a crystal clear portal into the center of the earth.  All this nestled among the aspen trees, trout-filled streams, and – of course- herds and herds of bison.

Welcome to Yellowstone!

I love that we are making the rounds of our nation’s amazing parks.  We have such a varied landscape in this country, but nothing really prepared me for the craziness of Yellowstone.  I hate to say it, but the geyser basins were so interesting that we sort of breezed by the gorgeous canyons and rivers because we couldn’t get enough of those logic-defying, steaming towers in the sky.

Yellowstone is six hours away from us, and we started our trip with a fun stop mid-way in Jackson Hole.  Since we’re going back there at the end of the month, I’ll do a post later on our times there.  But let’s just say, it’s everything you’ve heard – the cutest, ritziest little Western town you’d ever want to visit.  I can see why people love to vacation there in all seasons!

After a great breakfast in Jackson Hole, we headed drove through Teton National Forest on our way to Yellowstone.  I don’t think anything can prepare you for the sheer majesty of the Tetons.  Wheat-colored meadows full of bison roll up to an aspen tree-line which only serves to highlight the massive heights of the craggy mountains behind.

We stopped to take a million pictures of the bison herd roaming along the road.  Little did we know we’d reach the point on the trip in which we’d find ourselves saying, “There’s more bison.  Want to stop?” “I’m good!”  They’re literally everywhere in both parks, and it’s so fun each time you come across a group by one of the rivers or causing a traffic jam on the narrow roads.  It’s also fun (in a completely mean and un-Christian way) to watch other tourists try to get a little too close to one for the perfect picture.

Our plan for the day was to cover about half of Yellowstone before falling into bed at our cabin at Old Faithful.  We stopped at some beautiful viewpoints overlooking golden meadows, cascading waterfalls and wide, still lakes.  We made a quick trip to OF to check into our cabin, and it was there we realized that each major area of the park had a general store that sold the most delicious mountainberry ice cream.  Sold!  We had huge scoops each afternoon for the next two days!

Back in the car, we stopped at a few points in the Norris geyser basin on our way to the Mammoth Hot Springs.  It’s really hard to describe the strange beauty of this landscape.  It’s as if the earth’s crust is only a millimeter thick here, and what lies just beneath is crystal clear, sapphire blue pools that feel like a direct portal to the center of the earth.  When the crisp air blows over the water, it produces these tall steam clouds that you can see as you drive through the area.  It’s almost like a scene from Mad Max.

We took a little detour and found ourselves at Fountain Geyser right before it was scheduled to erupt.  It was such a great surprise!  We waited about 20 minutes and then, suddenly, this flat place in the earth began to spit up water before erupting into a huge water spout.  It was amazing!

Since we knew we’d have more time to explore the geyser basin the next morning we drove on to Mammoth Hot Springs, passing beautiful forests and rivers along the way.  When we arrived at Mammoth, it was like we were on the surface of the moon.  The minerals in the springs have spilled out on to the earth’s surface for thousands of years, creating a rocky, white surface that forms stair-step formations in many areas.  In the direct water flow from the springs, bacteria changes the color to a bright orange.  It looked like giant piles of soft powdered sugar that were dripping melted orange creamsicles.  Again, it was beautiful in this completely strange way!

It was getting to be early evening, and we had one goal: get to Lamar Valley and see some wildlife as they began to stir.  The valley was bathed in the soft twilight, and we saw countless bison out enjoying the tall grass.  It felt like we were driving through a painting with the trout-filled streams winding through the soft valley floor full of bison and the mountains in the background.

Halfway through our drive, we got stuck in a herd as they slowly crossed the road in front of us.  These guys were not in a hurry!  We turned off our music, rolled down the windows, and enjoyed hearing them “talk” to each other (sounds like burps!).  I realize now that we are lucky they weren’t agitated, because they could have easily rammed every car there because we were so unbelievably close!

Even though everyone talks about abundant moose sightings at Yellowstone, these bison were the only wildlife we encountered on our first day.  We were a little bummed, but soon realized it was pretty funny that we were now taking things like driving up on a herd of beautiful bison for granted!  It was getting dark now, and we made the somewhat long drive back to our cabin.  It was soon so dark outside that it seemed to swallow up our headlights.  Around one turn, we nearly freaked out when another car’s headlights illuminated  the steam cloud of one of the hot springs, making it look like we were driving through some creepy horror movie.

It felt so good to finally crawl into our warm beds. We had so much to see the next day, and we were eager to fall asleep so we could wake up and begin exploring.  Stay tuned for the rest of our trip’s recap!

See more pictures from our trip here.

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Our 12 Favorite Memories from the Past 12 Months

It’s our travel-versary!

One year ago today, we pulled into New Haven, CT, and officially began our travel nursing adventure (though I kind of think the three day trip up there was a major adventure as well!).  Our car was filled to the brim, and our hearts were full of hope and excitement.  We had anticipated that day for over three years, yet we still had no idea what was in store for us.  Twelve months and four assignments later, we have racked up a lot of memories and learned a lot of lessons.  The Lord has blessed us, challenged us, encouraged us, and brought us closer to both Him and each other.

We thought we’d celebrate our one year of traveling by choosing our twelve favorite memories from the past twelve months.  This was not easy!  So many wonderful experiences are not mentioned here, but are certainly reflected on the rest of the blog.  We each chose our favorites, then shared them with each other.  A few overlapped, so we listed them together then continued with our separate lists.  Also, these are definitely not in any order!  Choosing 12 is hard enough, but ranking them would be impossible.

So, while we look back on this year, here’s to another!  I can’t even begin to imagine what He has in store.

Top 12 Favorite Memories (from both lists)

1.  Spontaneously deciding on the Martha’s Vineyard ferry to stay a second night on the island – the moment we realized how flexible our new life was and how we were in charge of making this experience whatever we wanted to be.

2.  Our full day in Vermont – waking up at our first B&B, the cozy drive on Route 121 to Grafton through the movie-set of leaves, cheese and maple syrup tasting, dinner with Kami and Kevin at the Perfect Wife

3.  Madison’s visit – nonstop laughter and fun with one of our favorite people in the world

Charlie’s List

1.  Floating the Green River in Wyoming for our third anniversary

2.  Just the two of us hiking to the summit of Picacho Peak in Arizona

3.  Hike alongside Vernal Falls waterfall in Yosemite National Park

4.  Morning hike to watch Old Faithful erupt from above at Yellowstone National Park

5.  Driving the coast of Maine and being suprised how we were constantly surrounded by the ocean

6.  Running out into the Pacific ocean for the first time in Monterrey, California

7.  Kayaking in Half Moon Bay

8.  Staying in the La Posada hotel in Winslow, AZ

9.  Breakfast at Indian Gardens Market in Sedona then driving through the canyon to Flagstaff

Rebecca’s List

1.  “Friendsgiving” – even though we were all away from family, we had the most wonderful Thanksgiving celebration with our “Connecticut family”, Joe, Nicola and Jessica.


2.  Skipping rocks at sunset on Pemaquid Point in Maine, then driving in the twighlight to dinner at a small town diner where the whole town seemed to be having pie.  Falling asleep next to the fire at our B&B was the icing on the cake!


3.  California picnics – our first day in Sonoma at GunBun winery, our impromptu picnic overlooking Pescadero Beach with fresh goat cheese and artichoke bread, and our shady picnic looking out at Yosemite Falls

4.  Trying all four of Levain Bakery’s 6 oz. cookies in one sitting in NYC


5.  Dates at “our place” in Phoenix, the Cherryblossom Noodle Cafe – I loved driving up in the early afternoon for coffee at Lola’s, then having a long, lazy dinner where we felt as much like “regulars” as possible.

6.  Sunset at Menemsha, followed by equally exquisite sunrise at Oaks Bluff on Martha’s Vineyard


7.  The ladies’ Bible study at Victory Baptist, and all the fellowship we enjoyed with the people there

8.  Breakfast of banana pecan french toast at MJ’s and shopping the Brentwood, CA farmer’s market on lazy Saturday mornings

9.  Hiking in Sedona all day then hanging out at our favorite brewery, Oak Creek, for drum circle night with good beer and free popcorn

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