We’ve been living on the road for about seven months now. We’ve traveled all over the country, visited National Parks, hiked and climbed in new locations and seen an incredible amount of friends and family. One of our main concerns while transitioning to life on the road was maintaining a community. We’ve found that the climbing community will always keep us connected wherever we go but, we’ve also stayed connected to a handful of old friends over these past few months. In Bishop alone, we climbed with friends that once lived in Flagstaff but have now settled into this unique little mountain town. We were out bouldering one day and met another climber who also happened to be a nurse at the local hospital. She had a son around Ellie’s age and while the adults climbed and mingled, the two of them made paper airplanes, played in the dirt and worked through a coloring book together. Zak was even doing laundry downtown and ran into an old friend from another state. It’s a small world and with todays technology, staying in touch with people is easier than ever. Especially if they engage on social media platforms. Social media simply makes it easier to track people down. I would not hesitate to say that my social circle grew exponentially once we hit the road. The key for us has been reaching out to people in each location and making the extra effort to meet up with them. Even if it’s a bit out of the way.
Now, as many of you can guess, life on the road is not 100% perfection. While our social circle has grown on the road, there are a few close friends that we deeply miss from our hometown. We do our best to stay in contact with them and we look forward to visiting with them again in the future. We plan to occasionally travel back through Flagstaff. Life on the road can also be exhausting at times. We’ve put thousands upon thousands of miles in these last few months and while it has taken us to amazing places, it has also added up to an extensive amount of sitting in the car. We make the best of it by listening to podcasts (our current favorite is the Tim Ferris series), reading books out-loud, teaching new curriculum to Ellie, writing in our journals or simply sitting back, relaxing and chatting the day away.
Another downside to this lifestyle is the paperwork. The paperwork that comes with travel nursing seems endless at times and I feel like I’m constantly in the clinic getting routine TB tests, drug screens and physicals. People often think that Zak has a “free ride” while I work but in reality, he works just as hard as I do. He makes late night trips out to the town so that we can get paperwork printed and faxed. He manages the Airstream on the road, hooks it up at each new location, empties the tanks and organizes our finances. When something breaks, he fixes it. He also researches and organizes our contracts at each new RV resort. In a nutshell, he makes sure that we have a place to live, he cares for Ellie while I’m at work, he cooks, he fills up the propane tanks, he cleans, he folds laundry and he’s an all-around super dad.
To paint a better picture of our flow on the road, here’s a little snapshot of how we settled into Las Vegas this past weekend:
We drove from Bishop, CA (where we had three weeks off) to Las Vegas, NV. I start work on Monday and we’ll be here until February 20th. While we don’t have the beautiful grass yard or the fire-pit like we did in Eugene, we do have everything we need including space for our outdoor table and the training tripod. If friends or family want to visit, we have a clean hot tub, a heated swimming pool and a playground with soccer fields in our “backyard”.
There’s a 31 mile-long trail system just down the road where people love to run and bike and there’s a wildlife preserve as well. I ran a race out there yesterday. We set ourselves up with memberships to the local climbing gym (Origin) and we’re incredibly excited to train at this new facility.
I found an indoor soccer program that Ellie can attend once we get completely settled in. We plan to explore the local library and engage in their reading programs. It gives Ellie an opportunity to learn from a new instructor and engage with other children. We often pick up memberships to the children’s museum and join organizations that will facilitate her educational growth on the road. Red Rock State Park is just “next door” and we’re excited to do a ton of outdoor sport climbing there this winter. I’m currently looking into tickets to see the Nutcracker; which is one of the many benefits of living in a big city. It was one of my favorites during the holiday season and I’m now excited to share that experience with Ellie. We may take a trip back to Flagstaff at some point (it’s only four hours away) and we may go back to Chicago to see family if we can squeeze it into our schedule. There are natural hot springs in the area and we’re already planning a backpacking trip to go swim in them.
Ellie has been to Vegas once before. She remembered the volcano that erupts in front of the Mirage and has been asking relentlessly for us to take her back to it. We finally took her there last night and she was both enthralled and terrified. Zak researched the best seats for the show and we got really close to the volcano. Too close for Ellie. The sound effects were loud and the heat from the eruption nearly melted my face off. We smoothed over her fear by showing her the “musical water show” at the Bellagio. She loved that. Today she talked non-stop about the volcano and how she wants to see it again… only not get so close to it. I guess we’ll be heading back there in the days to come so she can conquer her fears.
The weather is warm but perfect for living in an Airstream. My biggest complaint is the smog which I saw as we drove into the city. The health concerns associated with city smog will chase me out of here faster than anything else. We’re not “big city people” but it will be fun living here for a few months. I’m not sure if I’ll have the holidays off. My schedule is in the hands of the hospital and I’m here to meet their dayshift staffing needs. I did however request off vacation time in January so that we can attend the Outdoor-Retailer Show in Salt Lake City.
That’s it. That’s a snapshot of what we expect our next three months will look like. My muscles are sore as I type this blog and I’m in love with our new training facility. Hello Las Vegas.