Neenah Wisconsin

Wow!  Has all this stuff really happened in one day?  We woke up this morning in Madison WI at the KOA and had somehow (a good tent perhaps) managed to stay dry through all the rain during the night.  It was quite a nice campground, and I was sad we didn’t spend any time there.



20140802-215724-79044308.jpg We packed up, got breakfast, and picked up Myra from the Kennel.  She was happy as always, and returned with a good report card.  Seriously, they gave us a report sheet of how she did throughout her stay, and she passed with flying colors.  We had a two hour drive to Neenah and our new apartment.  We arrived to meet our new landlord at the pre appointed 12:00pm.  We all piled out of the car.  Unloading the car was the easy part, and we worked steadily at putting things away.  For this assignment we chose a new kind of adventure, unfurnished housing.  It was going to be around $2,000, a tad more, to rent furniture for three months.  Probably not a bad price for what we were going to get, but we have to get a bigger place having 5 people than I would get if it were just one, and pet fees as well to consider (way lower here than in NM).  Also, we needed to work on rebuilding our savings a bit.  We decided to take on the challenge of furnishing our provided housing.  When we had our car unloaded and half the things put away, we headed back out to dig up the furniture and accessories we would need to get by for the next three months.  Air mattresses, sheets and pillows, dishes and silverware, groceries, measuring cups, hand soap and a broom.  Our car was filled to the brim after three stores, Goodwill, the dollar store and Walmart, so we headed home to put things away.  Chad set up the beds. Caleb has a cot he found at goodwill that he is completely attached to, and the girls were digging the new sheet sets in their favorite colors.  After everything was set up, we still need to get a couch of some kind and a table and chairs and we will be completely set.  The upstairs, all things considered, actually looks pretty homy. We ate dinner on a picnic table in the back yard.  The kids played in the freshly mowed grass clippings.  They are glad to be “home”.
Goodnight from Neenah!
Here is my new hospital.  The nerves aren’t as bad as last time, but still a little nervous.




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The Last Day of July 2014

Over the last week, we have stayed our last night in New Mexico, two nights in Colorado, a night in Kansas, one night in Missouri, one night in Illinois, and now for our first night in Wisconsin.  It’s kind of surreal, and the scenery so far is quite similar to that of Missouri and Illinois.  So green, with beautiful trees, amazing cornfields, and picturesque farms. We have listened to Ramona Quimby and The Last Battle, and the Capitol buildings have been so fun to see.  In some ways, they have been so similar, and other ways so different.  With each tour we have learned more things about each state.  I’m so glad that we have done it.  Today we toured the Illinois Capitol building, the tallest Dome Capitol at 405 feet from ground level, and grandest of all state capitols.  The Capitol building in DC is 297 feet tall.
The stained glass window in the dome is quite impressive.

We entered the Capitol through an underground tunnel that connected it to the nearby government buildings.



The doors to the ground floor opened up to beautiful ornate halls and staircases as well as a welcoming statue that made you feel like you just might be in Europe.



This tour was focused on the purpose of the building, not the workmanship, art and materials that went into making it what it is today.  Built in the late 1800’s, it cost 4.3 million dollars to build, in comparison to the Missouri Capitol building built 50 years later, which cost nearly 1 million less to build. I do have to admit, there is no comparison visually when describing the inside of each.













The wall paper in the state Supreme Court is awesome!

The street view of the Capitol is less impressive, and we found the silver dome rather intriguing.  Who do you think would be the statue out in front of the Illinois state capital main entrance?  We are in the land of Lincoln, coined on each license plate.  Well Stephen Douglas of course!



We enjoyed the monument to the states firefighters and the one to the states police force.


We left the Capitol and made our way to the nearest Krekels, which had been recommended by our favorite Illinois couple Pastor Tim and Cindy.






As we are in corn country, so more ethanol is added to the gas, lowering the gas prices.



We found some fun signs that reminded us of our family back home.


We have made it to Wisconsin at last!!!

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B-Day in Transit. St. Luis Gateway Arch

Staying with friends last night made for a fun change in pace, although we were up early as usual.  Travis and Kim had appointments early, so we said our good byes and made it to Jefferson City and the Missouri Capitol building in time for the 9:00am tour.  The Capitol was built in Jefferson City when only a few families lived there.  It was chosen because it is towards the center of the state and right on the Missouri River which was the main source of transportation at the time. It is made up almost entirely with Missouri native limestone and is very dark inside at least on the first two stories. There are solid granite pillars in the House and Senate that were brought in from New Hampshire. The painted murals were interesting but also older and dark looking except on one room (and for the life of me I can’t remember the room.)












The white spine-looking thing is a coral fossil in the limestone.









They had a hall of famous Missourians, where the kids found several people they recognized.

Sacagawea (must have come back to and lived in Missouri after the expedition)

Laura Ingles Wilder


I know those are out of order and I did get a picture of Samuel Clemens on Chad’s phone there was also Bob Barker and a whole lot of others as well as Lewis and Clark.  It was fun to read about them.



Thomas Jefferson is such a huge and honored figure in Missouri, because of his purchase of the Louisiana territory, allowing the westward expansion past the Missouri River and the settling of the land now known as the state of Missouri.
That leads us to the next stop, a famous land mark in the city of St. Luis, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, also know as the gateway arch.  The gateway to the west.





With our pass we got a discounted rate for the tram to the top, which made it surreal to how high we had climbed. Something about having to take each step physically that make you appreciate the grandness and scale, but as that wasn’t exactly an option, the tram would have to do.  We enjoyed the view through the tiny little windows.  The views were incredible, however it was hot, stuffy and very crowded, so we didn’t stay at the top for very long.








We got one family picture by a highschooler in a group as I get a little older I find these highschooler groups some of the most interesting people to watch.  I can hardly remember being that age, even though it was not that long ago.


We also enjoyed the museum attached to the arch.  We are all getting a little tired of the car, so we decided to stop at the first La Quinta in Illinois and spend the rest of the day by the pool.

Swimming and pizza by the pool.

A load of laundry got done, giving us enough travel clothes to make it to Neenah… Life is good.  Other bonuses of the day were taking the back roads between Jefferson City and St. Luis and lunch in a little town called Owensville.



Thank you all for the birthday wishes!

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Denver to Topeka

Tour of Capitols.  We enjoyed getting to see the Colorado Capitol building.  We learned a few things too.  It is the only place in the world where you can see true natural red onix.  The walls are lined with it.  It was quarried in Colorado and was used in its entirety in the Capitol building.


You can sometimes see pictures in it.
Colorado is the centennial state.  It became a state in 1876 100 years after the birth of our nation.
The Capitol building is the original Capitol, and still uses the same gas lights, although they have been converted to electric and the building has no AC.  We definitely noticed that right away.  They used to be able to open doors in the basement and lift the roof, which allowed air circulation, but since 9/11 they are no longer allowed to do that.














From the Capitol we got onto I-70 and headed towards Kansas.


8 hrs of beautiful, mostly flat farmland, grain silos, cornfields, grazing cattle, and tree lined streams.




We are all tucked into our tents in Topeka, so far just loving Kansas!

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To Denver and Casa Bonita

The kids have been looking forward to two Colorado things the most, and they are the tunnel through the continental divide and Casa Bonita, and we hit both things today.  We didn’t intentionally get up early but we had already had breakfast and packed the car and were on the road by 8:30 am.




We stopped on the scenic overlook at Pagosa Hot Springs.  The kids spent a good half an hour playing on the rocks and in the hot and cold water pools which on the side of the river we were on were only ankle deep.








The mountains were beautiful, and we enjoyed taking them in as we waited for the tunnel to come up.






The Eisenhower Tunnel is the name of the tunnel for the Northbound traffic.  It seemed less tunnel-ish than we expected because it is so well lit.
After the tunnel, the traffic came to a standstill and we spent the next several hours in stop and go traffic.  What should have been a 5 hr driving day became an 8hr driving day.

We were glad to pull into Denver.
Casa Bonita (a Mexican restaurant with a waterfall, shows, and divers performing for the crowds) was our first stop. Chad had been there before when he had been in Denver with friends several years before we got married, and has been talking to the kids about it for a while.




20140727-205532-75332070.jpg the cheese enchiladas tasted like macaroni and cheese, Caleb says that is what he likes about it. The waterfall and divers were cool and the music and atmosphere felt very tropical and vacationy.




We are settled into our hotel here in Denver looking forward to a nice sleep tonight. Goodnight!

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NM to WI day 1

Being a day late with this post, leaving Farmington already feels like a long time ago.  We packed, walked the dog, vacuumed/cleaned and then headed out around 10:30am.  We wanted to tour the Capitol building in Denver, so we needed to get there on a week day so we didn’t have to put in too many miles.  We drove up through Ignacio where they were having some kind of multi cultural fiesta.


It took all of about 15 minutes to walk through it but I think it was still fun to see. Next we headed towards Chimney Rock National Monument and we lucked out there too.  They were also having a summer festival having no connection to the Fiesta in Ignacio.  The kids dug for bones.


Made mini woven rugs.








Had petroglyphs painted on their faces.



Caleb’s is the migration symbol which he felt was quite appropriate for us.
Then the kids made clay pots, and smashed soaked yucca leaves until only the fibers remained.



Chad and Caleb also practiced launching a spear with an atlatle. We also took turns looking at the sun through a filtered telescope and learning about sun spots and magnetic fields.

20140727-201711-73031743.jpg What a jackpot!  The kids left Chimney Rock declaring that it was most definitely their favorite National Monument/Park. From there we headed up to Lake Vallecito to camp for the night.  We slowly drove around the lake and checked each of the four or five campgrounds for available spots to no avail.  We found a day use area and piled out of the car to eat dinner lakeside.




We changed our plan to heading towards Denver, checking out campgrounds as we went.  We didn’t have to wait too long before pulling into the Ute Campground, which was primitive and nearly empty, with quite a few available sites. Perfect!






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Mileage Contest

When we left Salem on April 21st the mileage on the 4Runner was 198408.
We had several guesses and I was pretty surprised by how high the numbers were.
And one that I’m sure was a joke (Suzanne :0) )

Auto warranties generally assume 10-12,000 miles will be put on a car per year average.

Insurance companies base their quotes using the figure of 12,000 miles per year.

It is 24,901 miles around the Earth at the Equator.

So how many miles did we drive in three months? ………(drum roll)

Congratulations Vicky Garvin all of your calculations paid off.  I probably carpooled enough shifts to make up a fair amount of the difference.

That puts us at this starting point for the next guesses.

Goodbye New Mexico, Goodbye Farmington!!!


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My First Last Day

There are firsts for everything and today, actually last night and this morning, was my very first last day on an assignment.  Northern Navajo Medical Center sees so many travelers it is a wonder that they allow themselves to like or get attached to anyone coming through.  With that in mind, I feel privileged to have had the chance to get to know and be encouraged by so many of the staff who work in Labor and Delivery.  The shift started off on a busy note, as I had a fresh delivery and a triage pt.  It was plenty to keep the minute hand on the clock moving at a pretty good clip, which I appreciated very much, as I was a tad on the tired side and find it much easier to be busy than to fight sleepiness all night.  We snuck in a group photo for my “trip” memory book.  I don’t think the ladies at work will mind if I share it.

A multip walked in shortly after I finished getting caught up from the first part of the shift, even though she wasn’t mine, it provided an opportunity to be helpful and do something to keep the tired eyes at bay.  This night had both come too soon and not quickly enough, and it was going by too fast and dragging along.  I found myself both ready for the next adventure and knowing that the new friendships that I valued here won’t be able to come with me to the next place, making me want to drag my feet and take in each moment for at least two or three.  Barb surprised me with a beautiful necklace which will always remind me of my time at Shiprock, NNMC, and the Navajo people.  I wore it all night.


As morning drew closer my carpooling buddy, Valerie, asked if she could take me to breakfast, which sounded like a great idea to me.  The mommy delivered, we rushed around being all efficient and focused, and every once in a while the midwife that was on would note, when I set out to find the answer to a question she would ask, you probably don’t really need to know for your last three hours of working here.  What a thought.  This is over just as abruptly as it started.  The shift drew to a close, and I gave report for the last time.  Can I really be not coming back tomorrow?  Next week?  The manager had filled out a performance evaluation for me and noted that I was welcome to extend and that they would love to rehire me back anytime.  Chad and I have talked about that possibility, but since we are travel nursing to travel with the kids as part of their education, we really feel like we need to move on at least for a few more assignments, but possibly returning in a year or so.  Report was over, Valerie turned to me and asked if I was ready for breakfast.  I most definitely was after having a busy night to work up an appetite.  I followed her into the break room to grab my lunch bag out of the fridge and….surprise!
The unit had planned a surprise goodbye party/breakfast for the end of my last shift.  Really?  For me?  I couldn’t believe it, Valerie that little trickster was totally in on it.  I was all the sudden glad I didn’t ask her why she brought 1 1/2 dozen eggs to work.


(Kelly hiding behind the lid to the hash browns)
Thank you Shiprock (NNMC) L&D for everything!
It was fun to eat and joke in the break room for the next hour with the mostly day shift and providers who were there to party with us, and I left feeling thankful, loved, and sad all at the same time.  The drive home was uneventful, besides the constant reminder that I should have heeded my bodies warning and gone to the bathroom before leaving the hospital, so when we got to Valerie’s house she offered her restroom and I totally took her up on it.  When I came out of the bathroom she was burning some cedar and gave me a Navajo blessing with the smoke as well has a pot/vase as a goodbye gift.


20140726-051723-19043603.jpgWe hugged goodbye a couple times as we talked and encouraged each other in life and in striding towards our goals. I got in my car and turned towards home and it dawned on me that I did not pray a blessing over Val. Lord bless Val and keep her, make your face to shine upon her.  Thank you for bringing her into my life.  The two or three blocks to my apartment were quick.  I was glad to see my family and tell them about my day.
Chad was already knee deep in packing.

We talked for a few minutes, and then I headed to bed for a short nap so I also could make myself a little more useful around the house.

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I Got My Babies Back!!!

This much awaited day has come.  It started with a phone call from Chad saying his flight from Denver to Farmington was canceled and that he would be on standby for a later flight.  I had a good night at work and was in a much better frame of mind than the previous day, so it wasn’t as upsetting of news as it might have been.  Roll with the punches, go with the flow, is the name of the game here and isn’t so bad if we recognize it as an exercise in flexibility rather than an inconvenience or mini crises.  It did however mean that I would not get to see Chad before work as I would have loved.  Sleep was good to me despite my poor decision to drink a caffeinated beverage before bed.  Jill and I had planned ahead in case of a flight delay and so we were prepared.  We left a little early for work and I followed her to the airport where we dropped off the car for Chad.  We then continued on to Shiprock and work.  Shortly after the shift started I got a message that my parents and kids were 17 miles out from the hospital and were going to stop and say hi on the way by.





It was a quick hello, but all those little hugs felt so great and did this mamas heart good.  Chad texted me that he had made it home, and a beautiful delivery soon followed.  It is well with my soul.  Now the count down is on until morning….I don’t plan on getting any sleep tomorrow.  It will be a family day for sure.

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Please Just Hit Me While I’m Down

After a slow moving morning in preparation for a work all nighter, I looked up the closest veterinarian.  Myra has been acting like her ears were sore for the last couple of days and now she shakes her head and let’s out a yelp of pain.  There did look like some black sediment was building up in there and some redness was notable so I figured we were dealing with an ear infection.
We didn’t do the best job negotiating this contract and we knew ahead of time that our savings was going to take a hit, but it was the area we wanted and it was our first contract so we were chalking it up to a learning experience, steep curve expected.  That with a spendy transportation hiccup…when the vet recommended anesthetizing Myra to clean her ears I could hear the ching ching sound almost audibly. I found myself asking what the other options were and saying, “yeah, we’re not going to do that.” This isn’t my first rodeo. Oscar had ear infections frequently it wasn’t $250 a pop, so I didn’t see it coming at all. I left feeling like a bad doggy mommy having refused plan A of the vets recommended treatment. As we walked the mile back home I stewed with stress, feelings of inadequacy, and those feelings of being judged as a selfish, un sacrificing pet owner.  I facetimed Chad to show him the breakdown of the bill and totally slipped on the carpeted stairs completely unhurt and embarrassed the tears started to fall.  Chad assured me that it was fine.  He would help me clean Myra’s ears and the meds they put her on should work.  All the other things I was stressing about were fine too.
Oh that man, he has a way of making me feel better.  Getting those tears out helped too.  My three weeks without him have been too long and I feel relieved that this adventure, the flying solo one, will be over tomorrow.



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