Nearly There

We have been on the road for weeks now and our journey east is nearly finished. I have so much to share, so much to tell you and show you from this time on the road. But bear with me a bit longer as I savor the last of this unplugged time...when next I write, it will be from New Hampshire and I promise a few peeks from Montana and Wyoming and Idaho and South Dakota, from paradise in autumn.

In the meantime, a few final images from our last trip. Mount Rainier National Park is one of my favorite places on earth and we spent a few days simply being there, simply savoring it's enormous trees and grand beauty of a mountain...

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For The Trees

The trees. We were definitely in it for the trees.

It began with towering red firs and western white pines and mountain hemlocks in Lassen Volcanic. They greeted us along the winding two-lane highway as we approached the park and with every rustling wave of their limbs, we were welcomed, waved in with a ruckus as if returning weary from the wars. We breathed in their scent and lingered in their shadows and felt the first stirrings of release in our too tight shoulders.

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After taking that respite, on we searched, until the cool of coastal fog and deep shade heralded giant country. There we laid our cheeks against the redwood ancients and felt the fingers of time draw us closer for embrace. In the damp crumble of rotting timber, we witnessed new life spring forth from the death and were reminded of the inescapable nature of cycle and season.  In the perpetual gloaming cast by these great elders we found sanctuary and belonging and the whispers of home, wisdom sought and found.

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We traveled on, as travelers do, and we came to the places where fire turned us back. Heat and milky smoke blocked our path forward and we paused to grieve the fallen armies of douglas fir and white pine even as we acknowledged that some beauty, some life, can solely be forged, be born, of fire.

We veered back to the west, to the water, fleeing the flame and the smoke. Through Pacific mists we saw the great Sitka spruces and patient western hemlocks teeter on the cliff edges as the mountains rose out of the wild sea. Unable to resist the siren's call of forest floors carpeted in sword fern and narrow trails winding through soaring spires, we ran. Clumsy, heavy steps lightened as our own rhythms began to fall into sync with the endemic cadences enveloping us, and we felt leggy and fleet as the deer as we moved. 

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And north we continued until we came to rest among the silver firs and yellow cedars and white pines and mountain hemlocks growing in the shadow of the mighty volcano. Among the huckleberry and Sitka valerian and Seussian pasqueflower pods we laid down our burdens and leaned our backs against fat trunks. We found there, among Patriarchs and young friends both, a renewal of courage and faith and timeless devotion. And it was there, among sentinels standing guard against the fallacy of thinking ourselves important, that our shoulders and our humor and our creative spark fully shook loose. 

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We were definitely in it for trees. And like any travelers in search of Avalon, we met mystery and fire, solace and water, magic and healing along the way. For the trees are nothing if not arcane. And in their shadows, in their depths, our follies and triumphs fade allowing us to begin again and begin again. And still begin yet again.  

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A Wrench

Tomorrow marks the end of Justin’s 13 week travel nurse contract here in Reno. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been spending a lot of time looking at maps with eager anticipation  and Justin has applied to nearly every opening that’s come up in Washington in hopes that we could call the PNW home for the fall months.

However. There was a wrench thrown into our plans.

At the recommendation of some other travel nurses, we reached out to Travel Tax, a tax firm that specializes in taxes for travel nurses (well, actually for anyone who travels in their job, but they really know their way around travel nursing- if you are thinking of traveling, reach out to them asap- they are seriously awesome). We simply wanted to make sure that we were doing everything right with plenty of time to course correct if necessary. We’re really glad we did as it turns out that there are some steps we need to take before the year’s end to be all squared away. Without diving into the tax code with you, suffice it to say that the most notable of the steps we need to take is that we must establish New Hampshire as our “tax home” by having Justin take a full 13-week travel nurse assignment there while we live at our permanent address there (i.e. at his parents’ house).

So. New Hampshire it is.

As you might guess, we were initially quite disappointed by this news. Not because we have a problem with New Hampshire or Justin’s folks- on the contrary, we adore them both! But heading home for three months before we were even a full year into our road life wasn’t exactly how we’d planned things, you know? So we let the “womp womp” of the news settle in for a few minutes and then we regrouped and started looking at our options for how to go about things. And here’s our rough plan…

The hospital here in Reno offered Justin an extension, so we will be here through September 30, another six weeks. We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of all that we want to do here, so we thought we’d continue to enjoy this backyard access to the Sierras and Lake Tahoe for another few weeks. We also have a 10-day trip up to Washington planned so we can get at least a quick PNW fix! Once this contract finishes, we’ll winterize our sweet little camper and store it at a facility here in Nevada and begin to make our way east. While we haven’t decided on a route yet, we are thinking an epic month-long road trip is in order for the month of October! We’ve got our sights set on western Montana (maybe via Idaho?), Grand Teton, and Yellowstone just at first glance and I’ll be sure to update you as we firm up what plans we’re willing to commit to. So that leaves November-January in New Hampshire to fulfill our requirements and we are excited at the prospect of having plenty of time to catch up with our community of family and friends in New England and to get ourselves a little fix of winter before heading back west to grab our home on wheels and head to wherever will be next.

This is what adventure looks like sometimes. Plans that go awry and the necessity to adapt and be flexible and search out ways to create new and wonderful experiences that weren’t even on the radar until a wrench got thrown into what was planned. We didn’t exactly embark on this lifestyle looking for certainty or guarantees and we find ourselves once again confronted by the many reasons we have to be grateful, not the least of which is a welcoming place to call home (thanks, Ma & Pa Gio!) and a lifestyle that allows us the flexibility to course correct when necessary.

So friends in New England and along the route there, be ready- we are coming at you and we should warn you: we hug like we mean it!