Mountains and Palm Trees

I was staring out a window today at some nearby mountains, mindlessly focused on nothing in particular when I realized I was looking past at least five different palm trees without even registering them. They were a novelty when we first arrived. Palm trees were something we’d see at most, once a year on a vacation to somewhere warmer. Now they’ve become commonplace. The mountains too, have become part of the background noise; something which we’ll eventually drive over en route to somewhere else; something which I almost find myself chastising for blocking the sunset.

It’s funny how quickly you adjust.

In three weeks from now, we’ll be on the road back home for at least three months. Jen got a travel assignment back at the unit she left prior to moving out west, in a strange but fortunate turn of events. It leaves open the possibility of travel nursing in the near future without having her commit to another job.

To be honest, we’re thinking we probably won’t take another travel job in the future. This trip has been amazing and I don’t think we could have picked a better location. There’s just so much to do within a few hours drive of our area. The problem is, we can’t think of another travel nurse destination which would offer so much. The only ones that look somewhat appealing are in Alaska, which is too far to drive, or another which occasionally pops up in Missoula, Montana. We’re firmly in agreement that anywhere we may go, we’ll be taking our dog with us. It’s been harder than I would have thought to leave behind Piper, a fact which dog lovers can attest to, but one which took my own firsthand experience to ring true.

Apartment and city living can be a bit of a strain at times, and we’re both looking forward to moving back to our house in a quiet neighborhood. I can’t just go out the door for a run or a bike ride, without stopping at an insane amount of lights which take half a lifetime to turn green. I rode twenty-five miles through San Jose on my bike a few days ago, a trip I don’t intend to repeat.

Of course, we knew and expected all this when we moved here. Pleasantries be damned. We had a whole new coast to explore, and we’ve made great use of our time. The first half of this trip was an unending maelstrom of short trips all over the area, to the point of exhaustion. We’ve got all the major West Coast attractions in. I adore Big Sur and am in love with Yosemite. Muir Woods and Tamalpais State Park will live with us forever, having been the place I proposed to Jen. Napa Valley is always new and exciting, and despite our frugality, it has managed to make a significant dent in our wallet every time we go. San Francisco is a different world, a vast city in which there is no shortage of surprises or things to explore. Lake Tahoe is breath-taking and deserves weeks of exploration, not just a quick weekend drive around the lake. Even the little trails I’ve gone running on, up Mission Peak, down Los Gatos Creek Trail, and up and down St. Joseph’s Hill have left a permanent impression with me. I can only describe it as surreal.

We’ve got two weeks until Scott and Betsy visit us, and we’ll be in whirlwind tourism mode for a few days. Later that week, we’ll have to find a way to pack everything back in the Jeep for a few more days on the road before returning home. And just like that, our western tour will be over.

We’re planning on getting back home as soon as possible, driving straight through and stopping only a night or two. Jen won’t sleep after her shift that Friday night. I’ll pick her up from work in the morning and after a few last minute details, we’ll be hitting Highway 80 straight back home. I’ve taken off a week and a half. We’re going to try to squeeze the trip back home into as short a timespan as possible. We’ll spend a day back home, and then we’re heading up north to the UP to unwind. My family has a cottage on Lake Superior up in Agate Harbor where we can lie low, undisturbed, and recoup. We’ll finally have Piper again, who was previously at the cottage when she was about ten weeks old; a trip well documented in photographs.

As I write this, the sun has now set. I can only make out the silhouette of one of those palm trees. I’m back in the city, congested with cars and people in an asphalt valley. I’ll miss this place tremendously, but it will be good to go home.

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