Saturday, July 28, 2012

Birthdays and Auctions

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind! I've crossed the state of Wisconsin four times! After being away for five months, it is nice to attend family events. The first was the annual family reunion on my mom's side. Each year the extended family gathers over ample food, good conversation and an auction. The auction is a way to raise money to sponsor the next reunion. My grandfather usually has the honor of being the auctioneer. This year, the family had grown so much he had a bit of a struggle getting some attention. But he has his ways!

The next weekend included celebrations for my grandmother's 80th birthday and my friend's daughter's (Lily Belle) 3rd birthday. Both were equally special in their own ways! We celebrated Lily's birthday on Saturday. Wizard of Oz themed, she played the part of the good witch complete with a gown, jeweled crown and wand! It was so fun to watch her open her presents and see the excited smile on her face with each new toy or piece of clothing. I joined Lily, her parents, and three month old sister for a small celebration on her actual birthday on Wednesday. We went to Chuck E. Cheese. Man, did that bring back some childhood memories!

On Sunday, I headed back for home for my grandmother's surprise 80th birthday party. And boy was she surprised!

After dinner, grandma shared some words of wisdom and feelings on being 80. My grandma is such a special woman. She raised 8 kids with very little money and lived a hard life. You would never know it to look at the giant smile on her face. She is so full of joy that she lights up a room when she enters it.

The life of a travel nurse includes many sacrifices, the biggest is being away from family and friends. But, I now find that I cherish the moments I do get to share with them all the more now.

On one last note, I have started working on my next assignment. It will potentially take me away from Wisconsin in the near future. I am still working on the details with my recruiting company and the hospital, but I will keep everyone posted!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Let's go for a ride

About two years ago, my parents acquired some property across the road from our current house. They had dreamed of owning the land ever since we moved when I was 2 years old. Some of it is heavily wooded, with rolling hills and a pond. Soon after they bought it, my dad started making trails through the woods for his tractor. Then, they bought the "bad boy buggie." Its pretty much a golf cart on steroids. Electric powered, four wheel drive, a winch, and headlights to make it road legal; it is a beast.

So, whenever I am home, mom and I go for a ride in the woods. It is particularly beautiful at sunset. I love being back home, seeing the large open expanses of farm land and being back in the woods. I took some video of our last two excursions in the woods. Let's go for a ride!

(Mom was the videographer on this one, she thinks I drive like a crazy person and she's gonna die every time! )

(Mom was driving this time. Now tell me, who's the crazy driver?)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Da Yoopers

Oh ya, don'tcha know, hey?

My New England friends and I discussed many times the infamous "accent" of a Wisconsinite. I think, largely, the accent we have tagged to us is really an upper Michigan thing. The last day of our journey home included a stop in the UP. St. Ignace, Michigan to be more specific. This sleepy little town lies between the "main land" or lower peninsula of Michigan and the upper peninsula (otherwise known as the UP, for any of my New England friends reading this!).

In order to get to the UP, you must first cross the Mackinaw bridge. A stunning 5 mile long bridge that spans the distance over the Mackinaw straights, over 300,000 vehicles use the bridge each month. My mom is deathly afraid of heights and as such, is not a fan of bridges. So, invariably when we are traveling, I end up driving across bigger bridges.

We only spend one night in Michigan, but we were able to take in more of the beauty this great country has to offer!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Niagara Falls: Part Two

On our only full day in Niagara, we got soaked.

We took the historic Maid of the Mist boat tour. This is an experience every person should have in their life. Being at the base of the thundering falls, we felt insignificant in the grand scheme of things. The water churned around the boat, flooding the deck and rocking the boat back and forth. Everyone was dressed in the complimentary blue rain slickers handed out as we boarded the boat, but we still ended up wet!

After the boat had docked, we headed to the butterfly conservatory. With over 2,000 species of butterflies, the indoor rain forest was literally alive with fluttering wings.

When the sun had almost set, we made our way back to the falls one last time to have some dinner. We made it there at the perfect time as a full rainbow appeared, hovering delicately above the falls.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Niagara Falls: Part One

Mom and I made the 9 hour trip to Niagara Falls from Exeter on Sunday. Neither of us had ever been and, well, lets face it, I have a thing for waterfalls!

The falls were miraculous. A true example of the power of Mother nature. I think it is time for some trivia!

  • 3,160 tons of water flows over Niagara Falls every second. This accounts for 75,750 gallons of water per second over the American and Bridal Veil Falls and 681,750 gallons per second over the Horseshoe Falls.
  • The water falls at 32 feet per second over the falls, hitting the base of the falls with 280 tons of force at the American and Bridal Veil Falls and 2,509 tons of force at the Horseshoe Falls.
  • Four of the five Great Lakes drain into the Niagara River, (Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie) before emptying into Lake Ontario.
  • Over 12,000 years ago, Niagara Falls extended seven miles down river to what is now Lewiston, New York and Queenston, Ontario. Over the years, the brink has eroded, sometimes as much as six feet per year, to its present site

  • We were both overwhelmed by the number of tourists that flowed through the streets of Niagara. People from just about any country you could think of. It was almost a shame to see how tourist centered the area has become over the years; made me think of what visiting the falls must have been like 50, 75, or 100 years ago.

    On our first night, we tried to take in as much of the falls as we could. It happened to be Canada day, so the Canadian side of falls was a particularly popular place to be. Each night they light up the falls with large colored lanterns. On this night, they also had fireworks over the river. We didn't stay for the fireworks, finding a place to view them was a challenge and we had our fill of pushy tourists!

    Friday, July 6, 2012

    The End

    I have officially made my way back to my home in La Crosse. It feels good to be back, but surreal at the same time. It is as if the home I left 5 months ago isn't the same. I don't think it has changed, but perhaps I have changed. It is amazing to me to think of a year ago, that I never thought I would make it to this place in my life. That I would never really accomplish such an adventure, only dream about it.

    The last few days of my assignment were tough. It was hard to say goodbye to the amazing people I had met and scary to think of losing the friendships I had made. I had to promise myself, and some other people, that I would return one day, if not for work then for vacation. This made my departure easier.

    In my last week, my mom flew into Boston on Tuesday to stay with me and help me drive back to Wisconsin. I enjoyed showing her around the East coast. She was able to meet several of my co-workers and my amazing landlords. We came home from dinner one night and found a surprise hanging from the door.

    Yep, fresh steamed lobsters. Again, my landlords were amazing.

    Mom and I began the process of packing the car Friday night and took the day on Saturday to bum around shopping, filling the car even more! The weight of leaving finally hit me Sunday morning as we got in the car to leave. It is such an odd feeling to describe. I felt torn between two worlds. I have a life here in La Crosse, but now I feel like I have a life in New England. I wanted to go home, but wanted to stay at the same time. This was the bittersweet part of travel nursing I had not prepared myself for.

    My recruiters have already been pursuing my next assignment; but for now, I'm content to join the ranks of the unemployed and catch up on the life I was missing here in Wisconsin.

    Pictures and video from Niagara Falls in the next post!

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

    It must be a sign

    Where am I? I am in St. Ignace, Michigan tonight, my second to last night on the road. Mom and I finished up our mini vacation in Niagara Falls and have stopped in the UP for the night before heading for my parents house tomorrow. I will officially be back in Wisconsin tomorrow! I have tons of pictures and video filling up my camera, awaiting my return home to be edited. While you are all patiently waiting for them, I wanted to post something I've kept from the beginning of the year.

    Some of the people close to me know the process I went through in deciding to travel and the "signs" that pointed me in the direction I eventually went. The first sign was, ironically enough, my 2012 yearly horoscope. Now, I'm not usually a person to vest much interest or confidence in horoscopes and actually rarely read mine. But, I was in the midst of my deliberation process when the new year rolled in and I saw a link on my Yahoo homepage to read your 2012 horoscope. I figured, why not? I wanted to share with you the career section of that horoscope. Keep in mind, I started my first assignment in February and I had been debating leaving my job for travel nursing for a while, but felt I wasn't prepared or experienced enough.

    You're in stellar standing in 2012, especially during the first half of the year. You'll definitely feel like the 'It' sign, with Mars and Jupiter doing your bidding. Your creativity is off the charts with the action planet, Mars, running an extended six-month stint in your sector of self-expression. Mars will be retrograde during the first quarter, which could create the illusion that not much is moving forward - and yet you've never felt more creative and inspired. Trust that all your inner preparation will meet with great rewards and forward motion.

    Neptune had been causing some confusion about your professional identity over the past few years, but now that it will be leaving your career sector for good in February, clarity - if not a major epiphany - is coming. Write everything down, because breakthrough ideas will come like flashes of lightning and will be as easily forgotten as fast as they come. It's time to translate all the gifts of inspired creativity and vision that Neptune brought you over the past several years into flourishing future plans. The tragedy would be to keep all of these gifts locked up as mere potential.

    When the big eclipse points hit your money and talent sector this summer, you'll see another huge wave of changes unfolding over the latter half of 2012. And since you can be the most stubborn of all signs when it comes to embracing the new, you may actually welcome this colossal cosmic push. There is no going back, Taurus - you're destined for bigger and more glamorous things (with many of them likely involving extensive travel). La Dolce Vita, baby!

    Crazy, right?

    I hope to have pictures and video posted by this weekend, bear with me!

    Sunday, July 1, 2012


    I just wanted to post a quick note to everyone who follows the blog. I have finished my assignment in New Hampshire and have started the journey back home. I'm actually writing this from the hotel room in Niagara Falls in Canada (the first stop on the three day trip home). I plan to post photos, video, ect when I get back home and have settled back in.

    Thanks again to everyone for their support and I intend to continue posting here through my time off and during the next assignment, wherever that will be!

    Stay tuned!