We’ve been living in the Airstream for a few weeks now. After the retreat in Rocky Mountain National Park we played in Boulder, CO for a few days. While we were there I frolicked through one of the best Whole Foods imaginable and without guilt I loaded my plate up with anything and everything at the endless food bars. Ellie appreciated their kombucha selection (see video below) and her usual self demanded a gigantic pile of broccoli for breakfast, lunch AND dinner. I found myself complaining to Zak about her obscene broccoli consumption and he gently brought to my attention the fact that there are worse things in life than your child eating too much broccoli. Speaking of food… if you get the chance to eat at Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant in Boulder, CO they have PHENOMENAL cauliflower tacos. I never thought I’d go on and on about cauliflower tacos but if you appreciate an explosion of flavors from the kitchen these are the bomb diggity and here I am a few weeks later and still drooling over the thought of them.
On our last night in Boulder we headed over to the Team ABC Climbing gym. Ellie ran around non-stop and loved every minute of it while she scrambled and climbed throughout the “Magical Kingdom”. There was a big twirly slide that took you from the second floor down to the first floor, a zip-line, a slackline, endless age-appropriate bouldering and best of all a gigantic see-through climbing wall. Ellie got into her harness with excitement and cranked all the way to the top of the wall where she rang the bell in celebration.
As we left Colorado and drove through South Dakota we were impressed by the unexpected beauty of the green rolling hills and diverse landscape. There were wild buffalo peacefully grazing in the hills and we had the open roads all to ourselves. We stopped for the evening in Hot Springs, SD and swam in the warm spring water at Evans Plunge. Ellie ripped down gigantic waterslides and Zak and I both completed the swinging rings over the pool (see video below). Swimming was a nice break from the long drive. That night we camped at Fort Welikit which was a forested family campground near Custer City. It had a huge open field to run around in and a playground for Ellie. Zak and I also survived a few games of heated tetherball and came out alive without a broken nose on either of us.
The next morning we made our way past Mt. Rushmore and on towards North Dakota. The land became more and more flat and desolate the further north we drove. The rain set in and it pounded cats and dogs for what felt like nearly a week. After that, the wind moved in and the clouds continued to settle over our heads. At the time, we were convinced that this part of the country had never seen the sun. It was depressing. What kept us alive was the health food store (Natural Grocers) and a membership to the YMCA which gave us access to three swimming pools, a weight gym, a children’s indoor play-park and a small top-rope climbing gym. One pool has a 15-foot-tall climbing wall over it and another has a beach-like play area with little slides. The climbing gym itself is small but enough to keep us moving. They set some decent routes up into the 5.12 range and the staff and local climbers have been a pleasure to meet. I’m not one to favor auto-belays but a part of me is excited that the gym has two auto-belays because it will be an easy way to keep up on my endurance. The best part has been the weight room. Zak and I have each started a lifting routine and although I feel like a lost puppy amongst all the protein-powered muscle men I’m excited to see how much I can change in the 13 weeks we’re here. I’ve also been running because nothing spells running like flatlands and living at 899 feet elevation.
Last week, we went out to the Detroit Lakes. We really enjoyed the park on the lake and playing at the sandy beaches. Zak jumped in the deathly cold water for a swim and I’m sure as the weather gets warmer I’ll eventually find myself in the lake as well.
To my relief, working in the NICU here has been an easy transition. I’ve enjoyed many of the conversations I’ve had with the staff on the unit. Everyone has been welcoming and kind. I’ve realized that preemies are preemies wherever you go… they’re ADORABLE tiny humans that are still learning how to eat, breathe and adjust to the outside world. I love going to work and caring for them.
Well, that’s it in a nutshell. We’re settled in and loving the Airstream. We’ll be heading to Portland in a few weeks and from there we fly to Kauai. We plan to climb at the local gyms in Portland, eat at my favorite restaurant and frolic throughout the trails at Forest Park. In Kauai I want to surf for the first time, find the sea turtles and run through the tropical mountain trails.
As for a glimpse into the future, we plan to get our next assignment in a destination that is surrounded by both outdoor climbing and indoor training. I think something near the Red River Gorge would be fantastic however, we’re keeping our options open with Colorado and Oregon on the radar as well. After that we would love to spend a few weeks boondocking and climbing in Bishop this fall. Ideally, we’ll end up in Red Rocks throughout the winter so that we can climb and soak up the sun during the cooler months. The big trip in the making is spending 4-6 weeks backpacking and climbing in Europe next summer. Somewhere in-between all of that we’ll swing through Flagstaff for a few days. One thing is certain, flexibility is key with travel nursing but somehow that’s half the fun.
I think that sums up our latest. I can see continuing on this path for years to come… but hey, we’re only a few weeks into this and nothing is set-in-stone. All I know is that it’s been an adventure and that’s exactly what I was hoping for with this life on the road… we’re excited to see what the future holds.