North America, South America ·
881 Days ·
263 Moments ·
5 June 2018
Back in Oregon Baby! This is a little 4-bed critical access hospital in Bandon, on the Southern Oregon Coast. I took a few shifts here, and had a pretty good time. It’s always fun to slow down for a few days after working a super busy ED like Maui. I got lucky on this one, and had three really great, mellow days here.
Good god it is cold here though! Fifty degrees all day. Even on the sunny days, it just never really warms up much.
27 May 2018
Pete the Sock Pig is all packed and ready to head back to Oregon. Me too. Working at Maui Memorial Medical Center has been a pleasure. They were just bought by Kaiser last year, so there is some (a lot of) political tension, but the place remains well-staffed, busy as hell, but some really great work is happening there. I worked with really great, talented, and hard working people. It is Hawaii, so the acuity is pretty high, and it’s the only hospital on an island of almost two hundred thousand people (probably a lot more if you count tourists), so we got it all. Lots of trauma, lots of sick, sick, sick. Strokes. Sepsis. Diabetes. Kidney failure. Trauma. It was a good 7 months. I just hope they solve the political issues, since so many of their very experienced staff are leaving. I would really recommend this place to anyone wanting to travel to Maui for work. Just don’t live in Happy Valley...
I also have to vent a little about the kiting here. Simply... it’s the least friendly kite community I have ever kited in. I have seen, over and over, cases where someone was in need of help - sometimes in really dangerous situations - where the “locals” would yell at others trying to help. I actually heard someone yell “Don’t go help them. They are a kook. Fucking tourists. They need to stay away”. In every case these are transplant haoles. The Hawaiians Don’t treat people this way, but there is a certain group of haoles that have lived on the island for a few years or more that feel entitled to treat people like crap, with some misguided sense of “localism”. I hate this... it’s a beautiful place, but such an unfriendly, unwelcoming vibe on the kite beaches there. I never once saw a Hawaiian - a real “local” - act this way towards kiters. Very disappointing, especially when you find this behavior throughout so many places on the island. It’s just arrogance and entitlement...
6 May 2018
I found a friend on the beach!
4 May 2018
I have no idea what the name of these trees is, but they are really beautiful, and these colors are completely natural. They grow all over the island, and they really are a great addition to downtown Wailuku.
27 April 2018
This one is a “Where’s Waldo” with Tam. Each one of these pictures has her peeking out of a different lava tube “window”. You will probably have to magnify these a bit.
Hiking with Tam in the forest above Makawao. There is just this beautiful contrast between the greens and browns up there. This was a super fun hike to a natural spring, where you can climb up to, and around in lava tubes that are all connected, and come out of a cliff like windows and balconies. Really fun day. Chilly and rainy day, though!
8 April 2018
I had to fly all the way from Maui to UC Irvine Medical Center for my TNCC, because Maui Memorial wouldn’t allow travel nurses to take the TNCC in their class.
After a red eye flight, a hotel fire, a lost license (so no rental car), fourteen hundred dollars of my own money, no sleep at all for forty hours, just four days later I flew back to Maui to work the next day.
When I got back, I found out that the Maui Memorial class was not even full. Shit.
31 March 2018
This was one of my favorite walks, about 3 hours long, from my house in the ghetto to the Iao valley (and, of course, back). I always love the contrast of ghetto/town to country/jungle. My walk today was about how weird modern items mix with nature, then baby birds, nests, pet goats, and flowers.
16 March 2018
Ahhhh... these Southwest Maui sunsets. The sun almost looks like it’s wearing... hehehe... sunglasses!
The perfect little natural infinity pool. West Maui.
Carson came to visit for a week or so. Great to see him here! These shots are from a drive around the West end of the island. We had a great drive and fun finding some crazy, sketchy little arches. Again, just so much natural beauty!
15 March 2018
Kanaha Blonde ale, on Kanaha Beach, and sushi train (yeah, it’s really delivered on miniature bullet trains). A couple more of my favorites.
20 February 2018
I hiked back from the hidden beaches on the King’s Road. This was all hand made a long, long time ago. Right through the middle of this lava flow. Long before any mechanical equipment. It always amazes me how vegetation can grow anywhere on the Hawaiian Islands. It’s almost shocking to find such vibrant green life in such a sun blasted, desolate landscape, but there it is.
These are the sea cliffs, hidden beaches, heart shaped pond, and stone furniture and sculpture pieces that can all be found if you hike along the cliffs past LaPerouse. Sketchy hiking on the lava flow, but worth the visuals! It’s so beautiful when these desolate black lava flows terminate into the perfect aquamarine waters.
Love the furniture and fire pit!
8 February 2018
My hair always looks fabulous after a day of kiting... but then I get to come home to my new favorite meal: I call it “mango in a papaya bowl”.
2 February 2018
A few more pictures from the Road to Hana. I just spent the day messing around with the coolest girl in the world...
Hiking Twin Falls on the road to Hana. These are some “where’s Waldo” type of shots. One of us is in each of these photos somewhere!
26 January 2018
Tam is visiting, so went for a hike out at LaPerouse. Really an amazing place where a recent lava flow meets the ocean. There are amazing combinations, with stark black and white contrast, of white coral mixed with black lava. What a fun day with Tam!
4 January 2018
Hiker’s feet! I love hiking muddy trails in Hawaii!
28 December 2017
I am sitting at the beach, I go all the way to the end, to be alone, sit on some rocks, with nobody around within a hundred feet (this is harder to do than you realize, on Christmas week, at sunset, in Kihei). I’m enjoying a beer, and my peace and privacy, when this touristy fucker walks up and sits down 10 feet from me and starts squeaking and honking on a conch shell horn. He has no idea what he is doing, obviously, because it sounds like someone slowly killing a cat with a curling iron. For, like, 10 straight minutes. Normally, a conch shell, blown by someone who knows what they are doing, is not equivalent to the songs of angels, but is not entirely impossible to listen to. This guy... shit. Some people have no courtesy.
Got some bummer news today, so went to the beach to kite. There was no wind, but I sat down with a great sunset. Hawaii does have great sunsets... even if you are sad.
24 December 2017
The view on my commute home, looking right up into the Iao Valley. My house is about a mile and a half up the hill from here.
19 December 2017
It’s been raining a lot on the island this winter. So, yeah, it’s not always sunny and hot here guys!
Look at the temp on the dash thermometer...
13 December 2017
This is the Iao Valley. It’s a really amazing historical spot here Maui (see the pics of the signs), and has a multiple-denominational park at the base, with great places to meditate under banyan trees and sit next to ponds. Further up the Valley is a couple of miles of hikes, up to the Iao Needle, and is my favorite place on the island to do my walking meditation and to sit. There are 134 stairs, through the jungle, and 10 trips up and down makes the perfect walking meditation. Quite often I also sit on a rock in the creek bed, facing straight up the creek towards the Iao Needle, and meditate or just take it all in. It really is beautiful up here.
I am so lucky to have this about three miles from my house. I need the quiet place.
6 December 2017
There is a lot of great hiking on the island. This one is a few miles from the house, easy to get to, and lots of beautiful views of the N. shore and the volcano.
3 December 2017
The fruits of my neighborhood... lilikoi and avocado from the hedges and trees in front of my house.
Also, a bunch of feral ghetto cats, and a couple of feral kids. The place is overrun with cats, fighting 24/7. There are always cats fighting, running all over the roof above your head, and kids running around screaming, while you are trying to sleep. Life in the ghetto!
30 November 2017
I had a pretty tough time when I got here. My house was a barely-furnished two bedroom in the ghetto... I was getting mad-dogged by my neighbors every time I came back home, and offered really good deals on meth every time I would leave. My slippahs were stolen off the front porch (and they were my good pair, too), and I was starting to feel a little insecure about living in this neighborhood, in this empty house.
A few trips to Ross for home furnishings, and walking across the street to help my neighbor set up a pop-up tent, and I feel a little better. As I get to know the neighbors I realize that they are mostly all good people, trying to make it on this expensive island.
I bought a scooter (and, yes, that sticker was on it when I bought it... makes me happy), found passion fruit hedges and avocado trees on my street, and found a Frangipani tree on the corner (they are the best smelling flowers anywhere), so things are looking up in the hood!
18 November 2017
I made it to Maui! I have a couple of days before I start work, so walking on the beach. I am modeling this years trends in seashells and sunglasses. All the weird shit you find on the beach (yes, that is a seashell in my eye)!
14 November 2017
Not much holding this thing up any more.
More arches at Arches! Just stunning landscapes everywhere you look. A lot of short hikes makes a long day, but I think we saw it all!
Tam found the smallest arch at Arches!
Scrambling around with Tam. Me, as usual, lost my shoes somewhere along the way...
Arches, arches, and arches!
These crows are famous here, mostly for their gregarious nature!
Shit. I have become a crooked-ass, bow legged old man!
It’s weird... I wouldn’t have guessed by the name, but there sure are a lot of arches here.
Cheesy selfies at Arches.
Aaaaaand... Arches National Park. There isn’t much to say about this place. I love it here. Just like Joshua Tree, there is a lot of energy in this place.
13 November 2017
Underground rivers... eight hundred feet below the surface.
And more of Carlsbad Caverns...
Eight hundred feet below the ground, and where in the hell do you think this goes?
Tam and I road tripped from Texas back up, and couldn’t go through New Mexico without stopping at Carlsbad Caverns. I can’t believe that neither of us have ever been here before... I have spent so much time bumming around in the American South West. How did I miss this?
Anyway, more therapy for my claustrophobia, but really great distractions we’re all around the entire time. This really is a magical place! Walking through the different sections of caverns, from small to gigantic, it’s really strange to think that these beautiful, ghostlike, and unlikely formations are the product of one drop at a time over millions of years. Each drop carries a few molecules of mineral, and deposits them somewhere below, until it forms the shapes you see here.
9 November 2017
The wind meter at the South Flats... yeah it was windy that day!
6 November 2017
I road-tripped down to South Padre Island, in SE Texas, for a couple of weeks. I love kiting this spot (no actual pictures of kiting on this one). It’s all shallow flat water, and the wind just blows like crazy all the time. It’s one of the few spots I’ve been that you can kite any wind direction from the same spot. It’s the best on the off-shore conditions because the water is just buttery flat goodness!
Tam flew down after a week or so, and we got a bunch more good kiting in... as always, she is my favorite person to kite with. She has this great sense of adventure, and was willing to go out with me in forty MPH winds and pouring sideways rain for a 3 hour session. Visibility was about a hundred feet. It was weird and post-apocalyptic out there that day, but she rocked it.
31 October 2017
We had to stop at the Weird But True Museum in Portland. This place was awesome! That is Tam sitting on Krampus’ lap, and then the obligatory reverse alien autopsy scene. There is all kinds of alien conspiracy, zombie apocalypse, and just plain creepy stuff in here. If you are ever in West Portland, you have to check this out... it is hilarious!
Oh, yeah... And you can watch the Stunt Chicken video!
29 October 2017
A few more pictures of the way back out.
There was this message, on a rock, at the very end of the cave! I don’t know why this made me so happy...
Caving with Tam... this cave is the 3rd longest lava tube in (I think) the US. It’s a few miles back in there anyway. It’s fun, though with my claustrophobia, the further I get back in there the more I start to feel a squeeze on my chest and my head. Oh, well... conditioning therapy, right? It did turn out to be tons of fun, with two different loop tubes that create a (probably half-mile long) figure-eight half way in, and most of the way is scrambling over piles of rocks from collapsed ceilings. There were a few places that the tubes were stacked on top of one another so you could walk either above or below, if you could climb up into them. By my altimeter, I figured we ended up about six hundred feet under ground (this fact did nothing to relieve my claustrophobia by the way).
28 October 2017
Something Tam and I have always done together... Hiking to waterfalls. I have forgotten the name of this one, but it’s between Mt. Hood and Hood River. It’s a short hike (just a couple of miles), but a really pretty place.
It’s funny how, even though we are having all this trouble as a couple, we always manage to hang out together and have a great time. I guess it’s just because she is my favorite person in the whole world, and I always consider myself lucky to be around her, to share time and space with such an amazing human being.
And, yes, another cold, misty day in Oregon. Brrrrr!
26 October 2017
What do you do when you wake up to another cold, rainy central Oregon morning? Go soak in the Turkish baths! Then go boulder at the local climbing gym for a bit, and make plans to meet for a bro-date with one of your favorite "whiskey and conversation" friends.
Cold days are hell.
25 October 2017
I went to the movies with this crazy girl last night. The movie was awful, but we seemed pretty entertained just laughing at how silly we looked in our 3-D glasses. Of course Tam rocked hers and looked all cute, but I somehow managed to look like some kind of weird, old, creepy cartoon stalker.
It was nice to hang out and laugh together... Even if that's all we get right now? I'll take it.
22 October 2017
Fall is in full swing here...
I have officially signed my contract for a November twenty-first start date on Maui. While I am excited about the prospect of warm, windy beaches, surf, kiteboarding, and being warm again, I am terrified this time that this might be taking me away from working on things with the one person that is really important to me at this time. I can justify it in two ways, but I remain uncertain who I am trying to convince... myself? Or the most tenuous of my demons? First, I do have a lot more work to do in my own head. There are still demons lurking in the dark corners of my psyche that need a serious talking to (it always seems easier to this in warm, meditative places), and second, it really is a small world. With modern high-speed jet travel we can be pretty much anywhere on this planet in a day... how far are we ever from the people that we love and care about?
Another contract, across another ocean. But this time I am scared. And alone.
8 October 2017
Pete and I both share a dislike for cold frosty mornings. Especially when it's 24 degrees, inside and out, of my little 14 foot pop-up trailer. We need warmth! Need a beach, with 80 degree water.
I need a contract!
And a few more pictures of my walk, to share the beauty of these Northern temperate climates.
Now... back to whining about the cold!
I have recently started climbing again, after about five or six years of not climbing at all. Ouch... that's about all I can say about that.
I walked up to one of my favorite old bouldering spots the other day. It served as a powerful reminder that, with how focused I get on my travels abroad to warmer climates, it is so easy to overlook the beauty of a place you have known your whole life. These are a few pictures of my walk, up the river to go bouldering. It really is a beautiful place.
3 October 2017
Pete is as pissed about this as I am. I really can't wait to get the call for that next contract... somewhere warm.
1 October 2017
I will say though, it has been strange to work in the St. Charles system here in Central Oregon. This is the system that I worked in as an ED tech (in Redmond) while I was in nursing school, but their policy is to not hire new-grad nurses to critical care (like the ED, unfortunately). This is what prompted the move to LA four years ago, which is history beyond the creation of this blog, so... no worries. But, working in Madras and Prineville has been fun. I feel like it lacks the acuity I have become accustomed to, though, and that my skills may become rusty if I don't get to work somewhere else soon. I work with great people, though, and that really makes all the difference on a day to day basis.
My absolute favorite place, though... North Lincoln Hospital in Lincoln City. What a great little place! Six ED beds, and an amazing staff to work with. It's critical access, so we get it all, and we deal with it all. In good style!
I have been talking about kiting, road tripping, being sad, and whatever else, but I have really neglected the "work" part of this blog. Here goes:
I have been working per diem for Favorite Healthcare Staffing in Oregon for about 4 months now. I have been at six different hospitals for them, and the great thing about the pet diem shifts: I get to chose where and when. I have worked almost full-time until August, then worked twenty-three shifts through August. Whew! Too much! That's what prompted my road trip for the first half of September... burned out.
After the road trip I submitted to Guam, then just last week to Maui. Now comes the waiting game. This is my least favorite part of the whole travel nursing thing: Waiting for a call on your submittals. I have my fingers crossed (and my toes) that a call will come in before I have to scrape ice off my windshield. The day that happens... that is the day I head to Mexico to wait for the call. Thirty-five degrees last week! Ugh.
21 September 2017
These are a few shots from Floras Lake. I love kiting here, but it is COLD. The coldest winters I have ever been through are the summers I have spent on the Oregon Coast. In spite of the cold, the kiting is some of the best you can find. It is uncrowded (on week days), the water is some of the butteriest flat water anywhere, its waist deep, and the wind blows like crazy. But it's COLD!
Oh, well... can't have it all, otherwise I would be kiting in The Western Caribbean!
In spite of it all, I made a couple of long weekends down there earlier this summer, and it really cranked up my learning curve. Between there and the "secret spot" in Hood River, I feel like I have really progressed this summer. And... I did have shit tons of fun, and got to kite with some amazing friends and their families. This is another thing that Floras Lake is renowned for: Really good people!
(Thank you, Monique, for the pictures)!
16 September 2017
Here I am today, in Bandon, Oregon, sitting at a sweet little cafe drinking coffee and writing in my blog. I tried a few more campgrounds after Brookings and found one near Port Orford at ten o'clock last night. Anyway, another perfect night's sleep in my little wanna-be RV, feeling rested, refreshed by a nice cold shower, and ready for my last day on the road.
There are so many thoughts in my head, so many ideas processed, and so much to say, but not right now. Today is mine... lost in thought somewhere on the Oregon Coast.
15 September 2017
And... day three camping follies:
First, yes, I am taking my time, stopping wherever I want to, hiking a little, sitting on beaches a lot, but when it's time to sleep, I want to sleep!
I left Santa Cruz into not-too-bad midday traffic through San Francisco, then right after Marin I hit a section of highway 101 on which I actually made it twenty-one miles in three hours. Twenty-one miles! Three hours! Seven miles an hour! Fuck!
I got some thinking done.
Then I drove through the redwoods, thinking I would camp there somewhere and it started all over again... full, full, closed, way too expensive, etc... then, I pull into this great looking little Campground in Brookings at ten o'clock at night (yeah, I ended up all the way in Oregon while looking for camping), and the guy won't let me camp in my car there. He said I could sleep in a tent( which I didn't have) or I could sleep in an RV (which I obviously didn't have), but I could not sleep in my Honda Element. Arrrgh!
14 September 2017
When tripping down the East side of California, there are a million remote, primitive, campgrounds, that are cheap: fifteen bucks a night usually.
Coming up the West side of the state is a different story. I stayed at Jalama beach the first night out of LA. Then day two went to shit. I drove all day, then around 6:00 started looking for campgrounds. The closer I got to Carmel and Santa Cruz the worse things got. I must have stopped at ten places, and covered fifty miles of little bumpy dark side roads looking for mystery campgrounds and driving back to Highway 101. They either did not exist, were perfectly camouflaged and hidden, or they were full. One place was so ludicrous, charging seventy-five bucks to park two feet from some generator-dependent TV watching campers. On blacktop! Hell no!
I ended up driving around until I found this awesome little place, just South of Santa Cruz, at Sunset Beach. It was a good night's sleep.
In the end, everything works itself out.
Dinner in the parking lot after hiking and caving in Pinnacles National Park...
I seem to have been really lucky at getting to these beautiful places just in time to hike in for the sunset. This is Pinnacles National Park in Northern California. It really is gorgeous. The trail winds through these narrow canyons, through oak and some kind of weird, fuzzy, slightly see-through pine trees, along a (nearly dry) creek bed, and makes its way under huge chockstone boulders and into and through a cave that spirals downward among the boulders about a hundred feet down. The cave is super creepy, tight in spots, and hollowed out of the soil around the boulders by the creek. Anybody who knows my problem with claustrophobia would be proud of me... I went in there, all by myself, even a second time to get back, with nothing but a nearly-dead cell phone for light. It was worth it. The trail beyond (and below) the cave was a beautiful continuation of the trail above the cave.
I picked up this sand dollar on the beach at Morrow Bay. He had a little hitchhiker attached to him that was still alive. I felt kind of bad for the little barnacle though, he was destined to surf this little sand dollar up onto the sand and get beached over and over, no matter how many times the tide took him back out it or I threw him back out. Then it struck me... lucky little bugger, surfing clean little rippable waves, over and over, with no need to paddle out. It's all in the perspective.
Flowery bears on SUP boards. She looks happy though...
Since this trip is about taking whatever direction feels right at the time, with no real planning other than to be home by the 17th, I took a left here to the South end of Morrow Bay. I found this really quiet little spot, faintly (strangely) reminiscent of some places I have visited in the Caribbean. But colder. I stopped for what turned out to be an amazing breakfast burrito, and had a conversation with the girl behind the counter (she initiated the conversation based on the small stone I wear around my neck) about lost loved ones and the totems we carry for them. Her husband had a similar loss to my own, and wore a stone similar to mine, found on a beach in a similar way to mine.
I guess we create the interactions we need, when we need them...
13 September 2017
I'm not sure why, but I love these shifty little fuckers. They are always watching... always. There is something cute about their grumpy-looking, frowny beaks. They are the ultimate opportunivores. They will eat anything, anywhere. After the zombie apocalypse has come and gone, these guys will rule the air just like the cockroaches will the ground. I guess I gotta respect that.
Heading North out of LA... I stopped at my favorite old surf spot to find full flood-tide, and all the waves washed out. I still haven't taken my surfboard out of the bag on this trip. I have, however, gotten in a bunch of kiting. September is pretty late in the year for wind here, but I lucked out and had wind every day in Belmont.
It's been a long time since I have been here. I have been to a long list of amazing places, with better wind, flatter water, better waves, but I always love kiting here. It's choppy, the wind can be variable and light, it gets crowded with foilers and beginners, but these are some of the friendliest kiters in the world. Really. The ego quotient is very low. Everyone I have ever met is stoked, and up for good kite sessions and good conversations and beer after. I will miss hanging in Belmont again, but at some time we just have to move on... to 80 degree, flat, tropical water.
12 September 2017
Well... that sounds heavy doesn't it? Yeah, it's there, but there is more than all that. I have been able to meditate again (a practice that I had lost over the last few years), I am more spiritually awake than I have been in a while, feeling able to see into myself in ways I have not in a long time. So, yes, there are monsters, there is my own personal pit of despair, and yes, there is sadness, but there is also self-awareness and growth. Lots of growth.
I have identified with my own version of Westley the farm boy, and I see clearly that this is the time in my life to really be the Dread Pirate Roberts. Somewhere, at the other end of the Cliffs of Insanity, the Fire Swamp, and the Pit of Despair, is a place where the two come together, where the innocence and the confidence meet to form the whole person. My feet are on this path, I am moving forward, and I am growing every day towards that whole person.
Yeah, some of this sounded dark and hopeless...
I'll be okay.
...I have always thought I have been the type of person that faces up to all of my monsters (demons), and on the surface, looking at everything on a day to day basis, I thought that was true in all the aspects of my life. I can't think of a time that I didn't deal with my proverbial "shit" as soon as it came along, as gracefully as possible, but now it begins to come clear that this has not been the case. At least not as I believed. With all of this self-induced introspection recently, when you factor in that I have been forcing myself to be honest and aware with myself again, comes the realization that there are things in my life (monsters) that I have been completely ineffectual in dealing with. In this realization, again, there be monsters. Monsters lurking in the corners and under the bed of my psyche. Monsters that are not happy, feeling threatened and insecure about being dragged out into the light, fighting to pull me back under the bed, with its fluffy comforter of denial.
I have a moment for reflection here... I am sitting in Long Beach, CA, in the middle of my road trip of no destination. Somehow I got lucky enough to have a couple of hours of wind to kite every day I have been here (no surf though).
Seeing old friends has been great, but has also brought into focus - over and over - that I am not traveling with Tam, and the implications of that. Often, while talking story with friends, I find myself teetering on the brink of this dark and scary drop into despair. It can be dizzying, feeling happy to see someone for the first time in years and realizing at the same time that they are a reminder of everything that has changed in my life... and of my guilt for these changes.
I keep feeling the pull of the desert, and the openness and Solitude that it has to offer, to get away from the crush of humanity here in Southern CA, but I realize full well that out there in the desert there be monsters. Those monsters that hold me accountable...
6 September 2017
This little guy kept wandering around while I was hiking. He would stop and pose for pictures for me. I was also privileged to see bighorn sheep on the rocks tonight. Late evening they come out here and sit on top of ancient domes, facing the sunset, and survey their land. They don't seem terribly different from me, but, just like I can't explain their behavior, I cannot answer the question in my own mind of why I am drawn to such places. Drawn instinctively to the edges and to the high places, where one has gone as far as possible... where there is not another step to be taken. What is there? What is in these places that we are taught to perceive as reckless or dangerous, but are, in fact, places of great security and calm? Whatever may be there for me, I am grateful for these places on this planet. My being feels calm here. My demons at rest for the time being...
I have always loved Joshua Tree National Monument. Generally, when asked, I describe it as one of a few places on earth where you can actually feel the flow of energy blasting into the earth. It is a magical, mystical place and, yet, a place of great former hardship, determination, and survival. There are stories, histories really, of cattle rustlers, ranchers, unsolved murders, and families trying to survive in a harsh, impractical place. Whenever here I am drawn to the questions of why they would try so hard to scratch out a living from nothing and not just throw in the towel and move to more fertile, friendlier ground. But there is magic here... As anyone who has seen the J-Tree sunset, hiked here under the full moon, or seen the diversity of life in this place can attest, there is "something" here. Something fundamental. Something that calls to the scrappier side of the nature of those that carry their inner frontiersman or outlaw a little closer to the surface.
So... there I am cruising down 395 at about 75 MPH, and this weird sculpture about 30 yards off the road catches my attention. What do I do? I find the next place to catch a U-turn and go back, because that's what this trip is about. I'm not making plans, and I'm not hurrying to anywhere. If I feel like it I am going to stop, or go the other way, or I am not going anywhere I don't feel like.
Anyway, these sculptures were amazing! No high quality construction can be found on any of them, but they are so insightful. I highly recommend magnifying them if possible, and look closely for the fine details... they are there. You just have to find them.
I was blown away by the fact that I found these, didn't miss them on the way by (it would have been easy to miss them), and that they are really, really spookily appropriate for the current state of affairs in my life. It's really just another reminder of how interconnected all of this is. All of it. All of us. All of everything.
I had entertained the idea of a long hike up towards the summit of Mt. Whitney, but when I got up there, there wasn't a single parking space available, so I drove right back on down. Luckily, the drive up and back was gorgeous. Seeing all of the huge walls up there just reminded me how much I love those seas of vertical granite. They are such magical places, where I cannot imagine another place that, while you are engaged in the act of climbing, could possibly make you feel more puny and inconsequential.
Maybe it's just me, but I love that feeling. I love to be "put in my place" by this universe... particularly when I am involved in activities that demand a lot of focus from me. There is some beautiful zen in that space between risk, focus, and nature.
The Alabama Hills, on the way up to Mt. Whitney. I got to do some really fun scrambling/bouldering/free soloing in my flip flops up here. I always love finding these great piles of ancient granite boulders: It brings out the kid in me!
I'm pretty sure Kody would have loved this graffiti monster thing on the big boulder facing the road, so that picture is in his memory. Miss you buddy.
These places you can only find on the back roads of America, with their kitsch and their frighteningly obsessive tribute to old American culture displayed unflinchingly for all to see.
The eggs were really good though!
Oh, and I got to pee in the restroom with a life-sized Elizabeth Taylor...
Summer road trips and bug juice on the windshield seem to go together like, well... bugs and windshields I guess! I am not, however, sure what the hell kind of bug this one is... kind of creepy!
Today was a weird day. I got a good three hours of kiting in (with a kitemare and a really long packdown and swim) but re-rigged on the beach and saved the last hour of the session. The wind just kept dropping all afternoon, and it was looking sad for a sunset session so I moved on.
I decided at the last minute to drive over Tioga pass, through my old stomping grounds of Yosemite and Tuolumne. And it was an amazing drive in the dark, through the dense smoke, with a strange apocalyptic full moon showing through occasionally.
When I got to the East side, I spent a few hours driving around in the vastness that is the Eastern Californian high desert, looking for a hot spring I had been to a few years ago... Didn't find it!
I decided to drive South, and woke up in this cute little campground, with a creek and all, in Lone Pine, California. I slept like a rock, and woke up to the camp host sticking a nasty note on my windshield, informing that I had not paid on arrival. Hmmm.
16 August 2017
Sitting at another coffee shop, this time in downtown Bend. I am moving the trailer to Madras today because the projections are for hundreds of thousands of people inundating Central Oregon for the next week or so for the opportunity to view the eclipse, and I don't think I will be able to move it after today. There is this really fun apocalyptic mindset permeating all these nearby communities: people in grocery stores fighting over the last bottled water and Cheetos, fighting over lines for gas, when in fact a large number of gas stations have run out of gas anyway (at least gas stations are already pulled over on the roadside when they run out), and, overall, people just behaving terribly.
I work the next seven of nine days, so I get to be right there for all the fun. I always find that, in the end, the projections are inevitably fairly underwhelming in reality, so... best case: the ER is wildly overstaffed, and we all get some chill time, or... worst case: zombie apocalypse!
30 June 2017
Hangin in Hood River with Pete... coffee and chilling with the (almost) sunrise, loving summer in Oregon. It's always great to cross the mountains, to the warm side of the state again, after being on the coast for 5 days. I have lived in Oregon for a million years, but I will never get used to how cold summer on the coast is.
Whew... warming up!
25 June 2017
The life of a travel nurse without a contract... I am back in Oregon, working per diem shifts at a couple of hospitals on the coast. The strange thing is, with all of the driving, I feel like I am never in one place for more than a couple of days. I am trading 2 day blocks of time in Hood River or Bend, and then 4 day sections driving to, and working on, the coast. I'm only working 2 days a week, but making the same amount of takehome pay I was in my last contract. Seeing as how I live in my tiny little trailer in Bend or I am placed in hotels when I am on the coast, I actually have less money going out right now, so It seems to be working for the summer. Still hoping to get to Texas sometime in September.
24 June 2017
Oh, and... please don't take it as cold and dismissive if I write in here about good travels and fun times, or even just about me and what I am doing. I really am trying to separate these parts of my life right now. It's not that my soul isn't tattered, in rags, that my metaphysical world isn't shattered, that I am not beating myself to a pulp every moment of every day... it's just that I am not doing that here. If you want a different view of my inner demons, then look for the link.
I want this one to remain similar to what it has been. Adventure. Travel. Kiting. Surf. Life.
About Wind, Water, Work, Wander...
Anyway, sorry that I haven't been in here for a while. There is a reason, and I hate to even have to write this here: Tam and I are going to be walking separate paths from here on out. I will not be going into a bunch of details here, because that's not what this blog is about. This blog is about being a travel nurse, about adventure, life on the road, and about kiteboarding.
I am sorry to anyone who is reading this now, that hasn't found out from us yet... what a shit way to find out. Again, I am not going to write much about that in here, but I will say, here and now, that I have been feeling lost for some time before all of this started, and that I will be writing more about the metaphysical and spiritual/human path that I have started on now. Just not in here. As soon as I figure out what blog platform I want to use, I will include a link in here so you can follow if you want (it won't be for everyone, I'm pretty sure), but, if you are interested, it will be there. Not here
It's been a while... I finished another contract in Hawaii. This time I worked at Pali Momi Medical Center, and I will say it would be the hospital of choice for any time I go back again. I got to work with amazing people, in a really well run facility. They actually have policy for the important things and not just a bunch of policy for the sake of saying they have a lot of policy. I really felt like I fit in there, made friends, and did some really good work. It's a busy place, but when you have great people around you, it always feels safe.
17 February 2017
These are a few pictures of the beautiful old hotel we stayed at in Bogota. Beautiful architecture! There is this great rooftop restaurant for free breakfast. I got to share breakfast with Tam up there, then go walk around in the slummy part of Bogota for a half a day.
16 February 2017
Jumping off of stuff is fun!
Our new friend, and temporary landlord, Dianne! She is one of the sweetest and most motivated people I have ever met... she and her husband are building these amazing little cottages on their own dime, and using all local workers. Dianne runs all of the rental business, decorates the units, and takes on all of the general contractor duties on the new construction. She is a native Raizal, and I am pretty sure that every other Raizal person on this island knows her, and seems to love her.
He places were so great. We had a two bedroom with full kitchen and dining/living area, wifi, TV's (that only play Spanish language TV), AC, and everything else except for hot water, and we only had to pay $16.00/night!
12 February 2017
We met Job at his farm on the West side of the island. Tam was trying to satiate this desperate need for raw sugar cane, and I, being the awesome husband that I am, tried to find her some. Job has this little farm on which he grows fruit and vegetables, coconuts, and, of course, sugar cane. This picture is in front of his cane press. His Jugo de cana con limon (sugar cane juice with lime) is super refreshing, but Tam goes straight for the raw cane. She attacks this sugar cane with a particular passion I have only ever seen when we give Pete, our dog, a rawhide chew toy. I tend to stand back a bit because there is juice and pulp flying everywhere, and I am a bit scared of the growling sounds and the definite risk of having an arm taken off if I appear to be reaching for the cane.
Job just laughs now whenever we pull up on our scooter... we have been there almost every other day.
Oh, and, he plays in a really great reggae band here in the Caribbean. They are super fun!
A little more about Job, and the islanders in general...
The native people here are the Raizal people, a combination of Afro-Caribbean and British descent. They speak some crazy version of Creole that is completely foreign to me (compared to the US Virgin Islands), and takes some real practice to understand.
Let me just say: The Raizals are super sweet people. They are relaxed, helpful, have this great sense of humor, and a real appreciation for their lifestyle (which is pretty rare, it seems). They also love their music, and love to dance.
They are also, definitively, not Colombian. As I have already said in earlier posts, I love the Colombian people, so no disrespect there at all. The separation is that the Raizals feel like their island has been taken away from them, and, in many ways, it has (see: Hawaiians, Native Americans, and any number of hundreds of other peoples). The problem is that they are fighting an uphill battle with the Colombians...
...continued. The Raizals don't have the numbers or the money to be heard in the government of their own islands. There are a few movements (some peaceful, some less so) to attempt to enact change, but they are fighting very Rich Colombian politicians and developers, as well as some very,very rich Turkish developers and business owners. Strangely enough, I wasn't able to find any ill will from the Raizals directed at the Turkish.
It really is unfortunate how the native people have been forced out of certain areas of the island, out of business ownership, and out of so much of the political decision making process for the future of their own land (and there really isn't much land. It's a small island). They don't have a say in the rampant overpopulation of the island, and, with a population of 170,000 people, it truly is an important issue.
10 February 2017
Shipwrecks! Not to mention the many, many shipwrecks underwater, that are not visible unless snorkeling or diving, there are at least another twenty or twenty-five laying around sticking out of the water all over the lagoons and the reefs. There are a couple that are the combined remains of three wrecks spanning a period of about thirty-five years. It makes for great exploring, since some you can kayak to, walk to, kite to, and two you can snorkel to in only seventy feet of water. The best part is that the locals all seem to know the story of each individual wreck, and love to talk about them.
9 February 2017
This spot really is amazing... we have had really great wind, and beautiful, warm, flat water to play in. This is a 3 picture series in the middle of one of my favorite tricks, called a "hand drag backroll". Its one of those nice flow tricks where you spin in the same direction as the kite is looping, so feels really, really smooth when you get it clean. Perfect water!
These are just a few more pictures of today's session. They are screenshots from video that Tam shot (yes, she stood in chest deep water for an hour and shot video for me... Wife of the year!), so the resolution isn't perfect, but the body positions you end up in in the middle of some of these tricks are really fun and interesting.
There will be more to come of Tam kiteboarding soon.
31 January 2017
Our friend Carson from Tacoma came to visit! He came down for 2 weeks of kiteboarding and fun, and ended up getting (hopefully) his full share. We kited a lot, and he learned to do a backroll (I saw him land his first one), and we met some Brazilian friends who insisted we all go to dinner and dancing at the Cocoloco club. Whew. The Cocoloco was a blur of Latino dance music, crowded dance floors full of really amazing dancers (not me), and alcohol. I forced Carson to share a traditional tray of Aguardiente, a Colombian liquer that is really the traditional celebratory and party-time drink of Colombia. It is generally supplied in a full bottle, on a tray with limes and water, and consumed in continuous shots while hanging out at the club. Then... Everyone dances. We finished off that night with multiple Caipirinhas, the official cocktail of Brazil; ridiculously delicious!
I failed miserably the next morning to drag Tam and Carson out of bed to get in an early kite session.
24 January 2017
These are a few more pictures from our Geeky scooter trip around the island. These are from the "Morgan's Cave" "museum". It is absolutely hilarious... nothing historical at all in this place (except the anchor), but for the historical fact that the very successful pirate Captain Morgan did stop here. The legend is that he dropped a bunch of treasure into this cave here, but this is doubtful because pirates would never part with treasure, and, quite often would choose to fight to their own death before relinquishing their bounty. Somehow, though, they thought that there was a lot of topless pirate wenches running around onboard the pirate ships at that time (there weren't... women weren't allowed on board).
These are the last (i promise) pictures of our geeky scooter trip around the island. These three are from a "historical Raizal house" "museum". The tour guide was hilarious... he made us dance to some reggae music while he taught us how to dance properly. It was kind of like being taught the Macarena (but worse) by your very effeminate cousin. We did have a really fun day though!
23 January 2017
Oh my god! Colombian dogs are adorable!
21 January 2017
Sunset scooter ride around the island with Poops...
20 January 2017
A little more island fun! Standing in a five hundred year old tree, that was planted from a seed by the English who first settled the island. The tree has stood through attacks of termites, several major hurricanes, and was brought down by the last one, about 10 years ago. The next year, a new branch appeared on the left, and is now nearly a hundred feet tall. This thing is just not giving up!
The other pictures are just fun stuff, like Tam modeling her new "jungle earring".
There are approximately one hundred of these feral crocodiles living in a pond on the hill in the middle of San Andres. They were taken off of a plane that was hijacked and brought to the island on its way to drop off its questionable cargo of crocodiles in Costa Rica. They have multiplied since, and the islanders, the Caribbean ones, have adopted them as "locals", and have kept them alive and well over all the years. They tell stories of an epic nine hour battle between a large female croc and a white crane, in which the croc lost a right eye and the crane bled to death the next day from a missing leg.
They offer bread for you to throw into the water, the idea being to attract fish to the bread, encouraging the crocodiles to then eat the fish. We only saw this work only once. All the rest of the time the crocs just ate the bread.
They also put the occasional white tourist girl on a tire swing and swing her over the crocs. This is how they really feed them, I suspect...
A bicycle ride around the island with my favorite person! Just some sights from the main road around. You can ride around in about two hours, unless you stop a lot... for pictures... and crocodiles... coming soon.
I find myself missing Petey. I haven't seen him since the end of September, but there are a lot of adorable little dogs around here to hang out with until I get to see my mutt again.
Strangely enough, all of the dogs are well cared for here, seem pretty healthy, and are all super friendly. They will all run right up to you for a scratch or a snack, and we haven't found an aggressive one yet!
They are also really good in traffic. I haven't seen a single dead dog on the road, and they all know to look both ways before crossing. The Colombians are also pretty careful around them, so that helps too.
If I wasn't a travel nurse, and moving one dog around the planet wasn't enough trouble, Petey would have this adorable little white pup as a girlfriend. Look at that sad "take me home and love me" look!
17 January 2017
Walking from Acuario Cay to Heinz Cay.
14 January 2017
Kiteboarding! Aside from a tight little launch/land spot, this is a pretty amazing place to kite! Once your kite is launched (and there is always someone around teaching or working on catamaran tours out of "Chamey's Nautica" to launch you) you can walk for about a mile upwind if you are a beginner, or ride over beautiful lagoons upwind to the flat water lagoon surrounded by mangroves and sand. If you get bored of flat water you can venture out to the reef edge about 2 miles away, passing two more pristine coral atolls along the way (more flat water!), and ride waves or explore any of about 50 or more shipwrecks scattered over the reefs and lagoons. There is also about 15 kilometers of downwinders available inside the reef, with waves and, yes, you guessed it, more flat water...
So far we have managed to kite one or two sessions every day for the first 6 days of our stay here. There has been some squalls, but you can always grab a couple hours between them!
11 January 2017
I made it to San Andres! I remember now how much I love Colombia. The street art is always fun and colorful, the architecture is this weird mix of European and Caribbean, and both are always amazing. It seems like every surface is painted in some bright color or historical scene.
My first hostel here was in the basement, directly under the altar, of this beautiful old church named "La Catredal" (fitting, simple name?)
It was a little creepy at night, though, as I was the only one around there, and I would get to wondering about the history of this church and all...
10 January 2017
Yes, another airport, in another town, leaving another island, heading to another island, in another country, in another warm sea, with aquamarine water.
Man, this life sucks! But, in retrospect, I do feel like I really earned it this time, with this contract.
More to the point, I am leaving St. Thomas and heading to Colombia! Off to Isla San Andres for 5 weeks of kiting and surf, good food and relaxation. And Carnival!
Yes. Even a travel nurse needs a vacation sometimes...
Come visit if you feel like getting away from all the snow!
Well, the last 2 days have been a whirlwind of activity: packing, trying to find a new place to stay after my initial place canceled my reservation for no reason, getting onward flights (ending in LA) (for now) for the end of February, and working my last day at the Roy Schneider Medical Center
Yes... i finally got to say it... My contract on St. Thomas is done! I won't go into all the gory details - you've read them all already - but, suffice it to say, it's done. I was trying to set up a contract for the clinic on St. John, which would have kept us on the island from February 20th until around the end of May, but the hospital is not paying their bills again, so, until they do, my agency will not be able to put me in another contract with this hospital. We will just have to see if they pay the bill or not (it's not a small amount unfortunately).
Good news, though... I did submit for an ER position in Maui last Friday, so the island life continues!
5 January 2017
I got the last two days off. Lazy mornings have been followed by 2 hour snorkeling/spear fishing, then an evening kiteboarding session. The wind has been light, but the water is still 80 degrees, so who am I to complain?
The fish is called a Blue Runner. The locals love them, and the non-local guys that own and captain all the fishing boats here say they are "trash fish". As you can see, I kind of broiled mine in a foil pan on the barbecue, with butter, lemon, black and red pepper, and a bit of olive oil and it was freaking delicious!
I have been chasing these around for a while now, and just today figured out how to spear them... they are hard to get close to, as they are an open water fish (some variety of tuna) that feeds on the outer edges of the reef system. Now that its figured out, I passed up a few more today. My target now is the "old wife", a variety of trigger fish that is reported to be delicious. I saw several today, but just couldn't get close enough for a shot.
4 January 2017
...Strange thing about this job: what a sense of satisfaction! After a day like this, it feels so surreal to sit in the corner of a bar having a drink, and it's like you have this little secret, like nobody there has any idea what you just did today, and how that is your thing, and it makes you feel good to know the things you did, and how some of them worked and some did not, and you saved lives, and changed lives, and lost lives. I love to have this moment after a particularly wicked shift. Maybe it is wrong, but I love to be around healthy, intact human beings, to know that I have just done something so extraordinary; That I have done things that they could never really imagine, and I did these things with confidence and competence, and that I was terrified the entire time, and that, as I sit here and let the sounds of being human wash over me, I know that I have this little secret that is mine, that I lost lives today, and, more importantly, that I saved lives today.
Yep. Sometimes you have to drink after work... This was definitely one of those days today.
Yeah, I live in paradise right now, but, strangely enough, I work in hell. This ER is, as I discussed earlier in this blog, disorganized, understaffed, and underequipped, but there is no lack of serious ER acuity here. 17 beds, 3 nurses, 2 providers, 2 major fatal codes (one that ran for 2 hours), fatal GSW to head (worked for 1/2 hour), auto VS pedestrian with huge subdural bleed/shift, MI on nitro and heparin drips, 52 patients through that same ER in a 12 hour shift, and not enough alcohol on this fucking island. Whew...
1 January 2017
Well, the Christmas winds arrived, right on time (about two weeks before Christmas, normally). I am happy to report that I have kited pretty much every day I have been off work in the last three weeks. Not all of them perfect, with light, light winds some days, but several days on my 9m kite. It's strange, but this is just not a great progression spot for kiting... The launches and landings are sketchy as shit, the beaches are crowded shoulder to shoulder with clueless cruise ship tourists, and the winds are on shore all the time. It's just a really bad place to drop a kite, or to have to do a pack down. Tam has been super sketched the whole time.
Riding in the bay in front of our place is choppy water, and I find myself longing for the flat water of The San Blas islands or Los Roques. I did find a great surf wave the other day, have been out there a couple of times, but it is about a three mile open water crossing on the kite (not too great if the wind shuts down).
17 December 2016
A trip with our friends to The BVI (British Virgin Islands) to go to the Baths (the awesome place you see with all the giant granite boulders), hang out on a pirate ship restaurant, and hang out for the day. Our friend Spencer was the boat Captain, and we had a great crew to hang out with. I had just come off of a couple night shifts, hadn't slept yet this day, so was trying to catch a nap on the back of the boat... Ha! Not much chance of that!
Me and Poops on the floating Pirate ship/restaurant/bar in the BVI... life is great!
Just a few more pictures of The Baths.
Yup, can't sleep when my beautiful wife is on the boat getting her pirate on! She has learned to party like a rock star pirate while we have been here in the Virgin Islands (think Keith Richards in the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie)
(But way better looking!)
30 November 2016
Just another quick trip to the tire swing tree at Oppenheimer beach on St. John. Talia joined us this time. A little rock scrambling and swimming... good times!
Sometimes you just gotta hang from a palm tree and kiss your girl...
16 November 2016
Waiting for the ferry, Tortola, BVI's.
And, well... shit. I guess all good surprise birthday trips must come to an end. Tam in front of the ferry back to our lives on St. Thomas.
Somehow a fitting name on the ferry for my amazing wife (and kite charger)... (And she is the bomb!)
15 November 2016
Kenny! He runs the motorbike rental place on the island. We had a chance to talk to him for an hour or so, and he was a really great source for info on Anegada: Population: 250 people. Everyone has a role, whether it's fishing, farming, raising cattle (which roam freely about the island, on the beaches, in all the resorts, right up to our front porch), or shoveling dirt to build a new road on the North end of the island. A couple hundred years ago the "British Crown" enacted policy that any born resident of Anegada was entitled to one-half acre of land, free, for their residence, and up to six acres for which to run a business on. This is then legally their land. This decree also accounts for the next three generations, so, as Kenny explained, he and all three of his children are entitled to land based on his Parents having been born on island.
The greatest part of this whole system? Everyone on the island agrees, and helps each other develop land as needed. They all get along!
Anegada, British Virgin Islands. Population 250 people, highest point above sea level around 10 feet, and adventure to spare! We kited, rode motorbikes all over the island, did some of the best snorkeling we have seen anywhere on the planet, and searched for the elusive, nearly extinct Anegada flamingos. We snorkeled with the biggest barracuda (six feet long) I have ever seen, nurse sharks galore, a beautiful black tip reef shark, huge tarpon, lobsters, and a million others in the cast of characters. So much life, and the greatest caves and swim-throughs I have ever snorkelled in. Just wow!
14 November 2016
Oh... and did I mention? Full moon over the beautiful Caribbean water and beach? I put in a special request for this full moon so that Tam and I could have romantic night-time walks on the beach without her stepping her dainty feet on any prickly critters. And we did have some beautiful walks. Miles down these deserted beaches, all alone at the edge of the Caribbean, looking out over the Atlantic. Nothing out there but Europe somewhere in the distance. So beautiful!
13 November 2016
And, yep! We got to kite right in front of our place... walk a few steps down the dune, rig up, and head out. We got a few sessions in, a little light in the wind , but good for a few hours on the 15.5m kites. I ended day one with a gorgeous Caribbean sunset on one side and an even gorgeouser full moon rise in the other. I spent half of that session twisted around riding backwards so I could watch the moon rise. All in all, a great few days of kiting with Tam for her birthday!
We are really roughing it here, camping, on Anegada in the BVI's. our "tent" is a beautiful 5-star tent with screened in front wall, about five feet above the water. All night long, with the full moon out over the reef, you can listen to, and watch the waves on the outer reef with these cool sea breezes over you as you sleep. If you are ever in the area (or if you are just looking to get away from wherever) you have to check out the Anegada Beach Club. Really amazing rooms, great food, and the friendliest, most helpful staff.
12 November 2016
I surprised Tam with a trip to go "camping" on the British Virgin Islands for her birthday. This involved ferries from St. Thomas to Tortola, an overnight at Fort Burt hotel, then another ferry from Tortola to Anegada (our final destination for three days and nights). I love that all the names of these islands ring straight out of all of the history books I have read about this area. It makes me feel like an adventuring pirate! Should be a great mini-cation from our difficult life on St. Thomas. At least no work for the next five days!
29 October 2016
I got dinner! Yumm! I love spearing my own food...
25 October 2016
... Add to that acuity the steep, winding, poorly paved mountain roads on the island, add in the local's love to fight with machetes and firearms, and add in the fact that we drive on the left side of the road in left-drive cars, and you add to that recipe a ton of trauma. Then there are the cruise ship passengers... don't even get me started there!
All in all? Check back in a month or so. We will reexamine whether or not the pirate's life is enough fun to balance out the uggghhh of going to work in this ER the other half of the time (yeah, we do 7 day pay periods, so no 3-on/4-off joy here).
...And, to continue the rant below...
Having said all that, I do have to say that I like the people I work with. Mostly, it is other travel nurses and doctors, like myself, and I think we all recognize that we are on the very edge of ER medicine here. The result is that we all try to work together as well as possible, and, for the most part, we really do. The local patients are amazing people: Polite without fail, generous with a smile, and mostly understanding of their long (2 - 4 hours on average) wait to actually see the doctor, and the long (many times 6 - 8 hours) time to discharge or admission. I am coming to really love the islanders, with their relaxed grace and "no worries" attitude towards time. It's just weird to apply this way of thinking to my job as an ER nurse.
We do get a lot of high-acuity patients. The islanders are healthy for the most part (more so than in Hawaii, certainly), but they do have their inherent issues. Continued...
All right. I've been posting lots of fun stuff on here. Indulge me for a moment because the word "work" is in the title of this blog.
Work here is tough. I have never worked in 6:1 patient to nurse ratios before. In itself, its not that big a thing, but when you have a couple of intubated ICU patients that turn into holds (almost every shift, because there are never enough ICU beds), those other four patients start to take a toll. And, no, they do not drop the ratio when you have ICU patients. You just work a lot harder. The staff is good. I like the people I work with, but there is just complete disorganization here. Nothing where you need it... lack of equipment, supplies, etc... most times it's hard to get your patient on a monitor. There are no "door to" times. Our CT has been down for two weeks now (waiting on repairs), and the back-up CT overheated the other day, for about 24 hours, because the air conditioning just doesn't keep it cool enough.
21 October 2016
Hiked out to the very tip of the peninsula at Petersborg. Amazing rock formations, tide pools, sunset, and company for the afternoon. We found an awesome blowhole kind of thing that sounded like an emphysematic giant breathing (kind of creepy, actually), and found a great waterfall that was formed by the waves on one side coming through a hole, then down the other side of the peninsula... pretty cool, but only got video of that one, and I can't post video here. All the rest are just pictures of crappy old Caribbean sunsets and scrambling around on amazing limestone formations. Oh, and some great pictures of Tam... on a cliff, by a cactus, etc...
9 October 2016
The island life! Just a few shots from St. John... snorkeling on sunken airplanes, playing at the beach, hanging from trees. These are a few of my favorite things. Especially when I get to do them with my favorite girl!
8 October 2016
We took a ferry over to St John's today to celebrate 5 days in a row of my orientation being over. It's about a 20 minute ride from the East End, where we live, over this ridiculously pretty water. We have met a bunch of people here already. Some are fellow nurses (who, obviously, are all crazy) and a few bar tenders and charter boat crew members and captains. The one common denominator is that everyone here DRINKS! A lot! Every night is dinner and drinks and boat trips and drinks, and beach and drinks. Holy shit! I can't keep up... I am becoming an alcoholic, and, as anyone who knows me can attest: I am a super lightweight, total wimp when it comes to drinking. I am doing my best to keep up, but I feel like I am failing terribly. I may just have to put my foot down eventually and not drink one night. We will see...
1 October 2016
We got in our little condo here. Mixed emotions... first, we have had to leave Pete behind with dog sitters for the entire contract. There is absolutely nothing for rent here that accepts pets. Nothing. I will definitely miss the little mutt! It's crazy how anti-dog it is here, you only see a few around, and those are usually the pets of the folks living on boats.
On a brighter note, though, this picture was taken from our patio, and the bright blue bay you see out there is where we kiteboard! Pretty convenient... we can just walk about three minutes and we are there! Can check the wind from the porch!
29 September 2016
Here is the beautiful Tam modeling our less-than-beautiful "island Jeep" that we rented for the rest of our stay here (until the 1st of January). Not much works on it, a few parts and pieces missing, but seems like it is fairly mechanically sound. As a bonus, the brakes work, which seems pretty important because every road here is either on the side of a cliff, going up a cliff, or going down a cliff.
Driving on the left side of the road is interesting... I have driven in plenty of left-side countries, but this one is really weird because you are driving in standard left-drive, US cars. When you drive in the right side of a car, driving on the left side of the road seems pretty intuitive, but when you jump in on the left side, like normal, it's really easy to forget to stay on the left. This earns you a lot of honking, yelling, and dirty looks!
26 September 2016
It turns out that looking for a house here is a bit of a challenge. There is an "Absolutely no pets" mentality here. We cannot find a place that will accept Pete. It is a little comical the reactions I get... Almost like I am asking to set up a child pornography movie set in their house or something. I get these long lectures from people on the phone about how their house/condo/apt will never be the same, and how it needs extreme cleaning after we leave so that the next tenants will not know that there was a dog in there. It's Pete, for shit's sake, nor a fucking leper colony! Anyway, today we walked from our temporary digs to the beach, and had to run the 'iguantlet' through a whole field of iguanas to get there. In numbers like this they can be a little intimidating! The other little guy was on our patio this morning so we shared our breakfast of local fruits with him. Zoom in on him in the picture a bit-he is totally adorable!
25 September 2016
We just got to St. Thomas! In the first hour we rented our car, and, on the advice of the wonderful and ridiculously friendly rental car agent (who talked to us for an hour about what fruit grew on the island), we drove to the once-monthly farmers market on the very Western tip of the island. There we met the friendliest local farmer who proceeded to explain the medicinal value of every item and every individual fruit at his tent. We talked to him for at least an hour, in which we learned his entire life history (born here, raised in Connecticut, returned here after Nam, airplane mechanic, worked too many hours, became a farmer, studied honey and medicinals etc. etc. etc.).
Now I know what "island time" really means! Everyone here is so friendly, they just talk and talk and everyone ends up late...
Oregon you are beautiful and I love you but you are turning cold in this relationship. I will be back when you warm up again in the summertime. Till then, thanks for all the good times and the lovely people I adore that live there.
Now we are off for a date in the Virgin Islands and it ended up on our 15 year anniversary! How perfect. We are on the plane with almost everything we own but have no house picked out yet for when we get there. Should be interesting...hope for a nice place on the beach.
Off we go again... We are headed out to St. Thomas, in the US Virgin Islands, for another 13 week contract. I realize I have been really bad about blogging recently, but I will be catching up here soon. I will even go all retro and try to fill in the missing last few months. For now, though, it is Tam and I off on another grand adventure! Off to the Caribbean, to the land of pirates and rum, and palm trees and beaches, and, most importantly, poorly funded/understaffed hospitals and tons of trauma. Hope I can keep it all together for this one!
25 August 2016
21 May 2016
Oh, and... Damn the ER is busy here. Always. All night. All day. Whew.
I have finished my first two weeks in the ER at Queen's West. I believe that the first two weeks of any contract or new job is the worst thing you can do as an ER nurse. Learning where everything is, learning the facility policies and practices, getting to know your fellow staff members, and figuring out which rooms are where, are all challenges that eat up all of your brain processing power and leave very little time for actual nursing. My last shift everything started falling together. Whew... Just in time!
Nursing here is a lot different than I am used to. The Hawaiians have really gotten the short end when it comes to health. Almost ALL of them have diabetes, heart failure, kidney failure, they are on dialysis (if they actually go), and obesity runs rampant. I attribute a lot of this to us bringing our mainland/European lifestyles here in the 1700's and 1800's, but they seem completely accepting of the fact that they have such shortened life expectancy. It is sad, really.
16 May 2016
I had a day off! Tam and I went hiking with another travel nurse we met, and had yet another fun adventure. We hiked the Pali Puka trail up this crazy ridge. The trail runs along the edge of a rather precipitous drop from a nearly vertical, two thousand foot cliff. In many places there are cliffs on both sides of a one foot-wide trail. It is really a beautiful place. The "Puka" is the hole in the cliff that we are sitting in. The pictures don't do it justice, but the exposure is breathtaking. This hike is officially illegal, most likely due to the howling wind that is trying to tear you off the trail all the time. Fun! Fun! Fun! And great views. We stopped on the point of the triangular peak you see above me in the pictures. The trail goes on from there, but that will be another day. I will need to wear shoes for the rest of it. Tam was also geocaching, and we found one way up top of the peak (which is the paper that I am holding up).
7 May 2016
Whew. Queen's Medical Center really does a comprehensive orientation. Just finished 4 days of facility orientation and EMR training this week, have one more day of orientation to their West Campus (where I will be working for the next few months), then start in the department. At this point I just can't wait to get back to being an ED nurse. Too much paperwork. Having said all that, though, it really is a great facility. They take a lot of pride in their organization, and everyone is very friendly and helpful.
More to come... I think I will go kiting this afternoon.
27 April 2016
Well, I just rented our house for the next three and a half months. It is up on the hill above the Foodland in Pupukea, on Oahu. We have an amazing view of the North Shore beaches around Waimea and Sunset... Right from our bedroom window. Not to mention the view of our back yard, about two or three acres of grass and beautiful landscaping. Can't wait to move in on Saturday!
26 April 2016
San Fran airport. I have a moment to reflect here, a moment to think about the last month, and all of the paperwork and uncertainty that went into getting this contract. I am now signed up with 5 different agencies, mostly because each one serves different hospitals in different areas and, well, Tam and I are pretty picky about where we want to work. Each time you apply to a new agency it means gathering together all of your paperwork, immunizations, certifications, licenses, and whatever else they may need (and I think I have had a dozen PPD's).This usually takes a while. This contract on Oahu was almost too late... We had made the decision to pull our submittals about an hour before they called.
I guess the point here is this: this lifestyle may not be for everyone, but I feel like I am starting to embrace the sense of adventure here, the not quite certainty of which contract is next, and the joy of being able to pack up in an afternoon and head out to wherever may call.
14 April 2016
Update! It's snowing outside on April 14th. Cold as hell today. All day. But, it made my latest work decision that much easier to finalize. Hawaii called. Looks like I am taking the contract on Oahu! Tam and I will be over there from May 1st until August 15th. I will be working at Queens West Hospital, a reputedly great facility, only about 3 years old, on the Far North end of Honolulu (just 30 minutes South of the North Shore)! We will also be back in time to have the best part of the summer in Bend.
Now, I am off to work at 2 new hospitals in Corvallis and Lebanon next week. This should be fun... 3 new hospitals in the next three weeks.
12 April 2016
This is how I feel lately. I have been doing paperwork, did a training for Epic electronic medical records in Corvallis, and spending countless calls on the phone to my recruiter for Oregon Per diem shifts. This will be my bread and butter this summer while we are in Oregon. It will be nice to just take per diem shifts and not worry about long contracts. We will be able to work all over the coast this summer... Cold as hell, but really pretty place to hang out, kite, camp, crab, and hike. The rest of the time in Bend and Hood River... Two of the best summer seasons anywhere!
9 April 2016
Just a few more pictures of us hiking around in Oregon. The first of these were at Drift Creek Falls outside of Lincoln City on the coast. It has this really cool 240 foot long suspension bridge about 200 feet over the river that was dedicated to a trail builder, Scott Paul, who died in a rigging accident while building the bridge.
The rest of them were taken at Green Peak Falls on the Alsea Falls trail, just South of Corvallis/Philomath Oregon. This is the double wide fall, approximately 60 feet in height.
Both waterfalls (in two completely different places in Oregon) are about 3 (really easy) mile hikes, out and back, with amazing mossy wooded scenery the entire distance. Great day walking in the woods with my favorite girl!
8 April 2016
Just took a relaxing day hiking around in the woods on the Oregon coast. Yes, it is cold. Yes, it is foggy and wet. No, it is not tropical. Strangely enough... I really have missed certain parts of being in Oregon. Just not enough to be here in the winter... April is cold and wet enough for me!
7 April 2016
The new house on the coast... Tam and Pete fit in there great. Hope I can fit too!
4 April 2016
We bought ourselves a new house to travel nurse out of while here in the States... 91 square feet, tows behind the element, and it even has a bathroom and shower! So, now that we are picking up per-diem shifts, and kind of waiting around Oregon for other contracts or summer to happen (whichever comes first), we have the perfect little portable home!
It does look a lot like a toaster towing a breadbox, eh?
30 March 2016
Just for the record... Travel nursing contracts are not difficult to get. We are just being really picky about where we want to go. When you see us post that we are going to work on a contract in Nebraska... Well, then you know the money ran out and we needed to take whatever was available.
Let's hope it doesn't come to that!
This is what we have been up to for the last two and a half weeks. The house we are staying in does not have WiFi, so we have logged an unreasonable amount of coffee shop time. I have applied to two more agencies, submitted to 5 hospitals, and now we wait... I don't know if it's all the coffee, all the indecision, or all the stress of trying to remember which decisions are affected by which previous decisions, but I have been struggling with some crazy anxiety. I just need to get to it!
I have submitted to Guam (no contracts currently), US Virgin Islands (they haven't payed their bills in a few months, so no agencies putting nurses in there right now), Oahu, Maui, and Molokai (just waiting to hear back on those). So, while we wait, I have applied to another agency to work some one day per diems around the state for a week or two. Whew!
If nothing happens with Hawaii in the next couple of weeks we will pack it up and head to South Padre Island and kite for a bit.
16 March 2016
Well... Here we sit in Bend, still, waiting for word on work in the US Virgin Islands. We had a few changes to our plans while we were in Colombia, so set our plans back a little bit. Now, as a result, we are stuck in freezing-ass land waiting for the hospital in the USVI's to pay their bills to the agency so we can start a contract. If they do...
So now the decision is to wait (already doing that one), try to pick up some per-diem shifts around Oregon through the summer (we kind of wanted to be up here in July and August... just not this spring), or, the best sounding option, to go rent a house in Puerto Rico for a month and go kite some more. Obviously, the last one sounds the best because we are waiting anyway... And, well... There is still some money in the bank... And it's a pretty cool place to wait for a contract... Hmmm. We shall see.
8 March 2016
What a change 24 hours can make! Here we are in our favorite breakfast place in Bend, OR. planning the next phase of our lives. I just came back in from walking Pete in a March snowstorm (you can see it in the picture if you zoom it in a little), in my flip flops, freezing, because all of our winter clothes are all stored.
More info to follow as to the course of our lives for the next three to six months...
Oh, and I added the picture of the mug because my two hundred pound male waiter brought my coffee in it for breakfast... We both had a little chuckle about the innuendo.
6 March 2016
The aircraft control tower on Gran Roque! On a scissor lift! I guess it could be handy in a hurricane... Just lower it down and drive it behind another building somewhere. Pretty smart.
One last photo from the little single-engine Caravan on the way out... We will miss this place. Heading back to the land of freezing-ass-cold for a couple of weeks to regroup and get loaded for our next adventure... The one where we actually start working again!
And, as a side note, as pathetic as this sounds: I am really missing that little black dog of ours. Can't wait to see Petey!
And, of course, Brittany too... We get to see her when we land (Yes, I am writing this on the plane). It's been a couple of months so catch-up time is in order!
Well there is this car...the town water truck. There was also a gain traffic jam on the way to the airport of foot dollies carrying luggage from the posadas. I will try to do a late post of the Venezuela part of the trip after I finish my taxes in the default world. Until then I will be back in Oregon doing that. I will probably start our next blog soon on the next travel destination. This was a kite travel one and next will be our travel nursing one, of course we are only travel nursing where there is wind.
The archipelago of Los Roques.
As I have mentioned before, there is a fair selection of posadas one can stay with on Gran Roque. I peeked in a few and they all seem fairly similar, at least in appearance, and, since we only stayed in the Posada Movida, I can only tell you what we experienced. At first, the price of (roughly) $120.00 a night seemed incredibly expensive, but it starts to sound better when you consider what that includes: a very clean, comfortable room with private bath and AC, all meals (usually 4 a day), all beverages including beer and wine, and boat service to all the outer islands from 8:00 to 6:00 every day for kiting/snorkeling/beaching. The boats stay out with us all day in case we need a kite rescue or choose to do a downwinder. The service is unbelievable, topped only by the food (we may have gained weight on this portion of the trip), and the friendliness of the staff! Yes... I did say it includes beer and wine!
Alexis, a native Venezuelan from Caracas, has been living on Gran Roque for ten years, and starting this season is managing the Posada Movida. He seems to have found his true calling in life. Last year he was an assistant to a boat captain, and this year he is the hard-working manager of the whole show. The owner is an Italian named Mario, who we did not meet as he was back home in Italy, and he should feel completely comfortable with his choice in managers. Alex is the first up, and the last to bed every day. He keeps amazing fresh food on the table, gas in the boats, and happy guests in his rooms. Somehow he does this all in a country that, at this time, doesn't even have toilet paper or breakfast cereal to go around. When I asked him how he does it, all he would say was "well, I'm on the phone all day". He has this innate passion for his job, and it shows in everything he does for his guests. This was a great experience, highly recommended by the two of us feeling spoiled rotten.
4 March 2016
My favorite island to kite on here so far... Cresk Ky! Offshore wind and the smoothest, glassiest water ever!
Girls in bikinis, too!
3 March 2016
A couple of awesome pictures of Tam on Gran Roque... Need I say more?
The little town on Gran Roque. Very cute, Caribbean style architecture and paint, with the bright colors and awesome plants that grow in this climate. My particular favorite is the one with all of the painted bricks... Yep. They are painted on, the wall being completely flat, plastered smooth underneath!
1,200 Venezuelans are incredibly happy to call this little place home. I am blown away by the quality of life the people here have, and by the blatant, total appreciation they all express for being allowed to live here. There are little guesthouses here in town, called posadas, with the expected service employees, a school, a huge amount of fisherman providing food only to locals and guests on the island. The whole area is a protected reserve, so there is no commercial fishing. As a result, the reefs are healthy, teeming with a multitude of life, and the fish are friendly and willing to interact freely.
Oh, and not a car on the island!
2 March 2016
Gnomio, oh Gnomio, wherefore art thou, Gnomio?
On Dos Castillos Ky, in Los Roques, Venezuela!
Gnomio living it up on the beach in paradise... Haven't seen him in a while. He was resting after too much fun traveling in Panama.
1 March 2016
Because I really do think Tam is the coolest, most beautiful girl in the world...
I am the luckiest guy in the world!
29 February 2016
The island of Francis Ky! The Venezuelan spelling of the traditional Bahamanian (I believe) word "Cay" (coral atoll island), is spelled "Ky". So, all of the names end in Ky.
Such great kiting!
28 February 2016
Every day the great people that run the Posada Movida, the guesthouse we are staying at, bring us and all of our gear out to a different sand bar/island, where they set up a shade area with beach umbrellas. Under the umbrellas are coolers with water, beer, a huge lunch, snacks, and sodas. This is all included in the price of the posada. They stay out there with us all day, and provide boat support for us to do downwinders, and for the occasional rescue if needed.
27 February 2016
...We are kiting...
Final approach into Gran Roque. The only island in the archipelago that has posadas (little hotel/guesthouse type places) where you can stay.
We made it! Even with all the gear in the plane.
Off to kiting!
In the air... Flying into the Los Roques National Reserve. These are all pictures of the archipelago as we flew in. Quite a beautiful place. Everyone in the little Super Otter transport plane was jumping out of their seats in anticipation at this point!
Off to Los Roques with a huge pile of gear, and with a huger pile of friends! Waiting in the auxiliary airport in Caracas for our little prop plane to the island. Any bets on whether or not this little plane can leave the ground with all of this in it?
26 February 2016
This is the great place we stayed in Santa Veronica (see the post from a week or so ago), that we kited Salinas bay out of. Just wanted to include the information for both of these guys. Both are great business owners and hosts. They take a ton of pride in what they have built, and do all they can to assure that their guests have the best experience possible.
I just wanted to include the business cards and the hat, because I can highly recommend this place to anyone coming down for a kite trip.
Besides... Between mid-December and the end of April the wind cranks here... Every day, all day.
We have been staying in an AB&B in El Laguito, which is on the Southern tip of Boca Grande, a peninsula about 4 km from the historic old city (El Centro) in Cartagena. No waves in the picture today, but we have surfed head high waves here for a couple of days. The waves drain out into this glassy little slick (left side of photo), which, despite the offshore winds, is an awesome place for freestyle kiting. There is a local who spends all day, every day, on the beach with his jet ski ready to rescue anyone stuck downwind for approx. five dollars. It is possible to take your gear, by taxi, up to La Boquilla for nice long 12 km. down winders that take you right past the corner of the old city wall with its rusty old cannons staring you down as you pass. Fun waves to surf on the downwinder! All in all, this was another awesome spot to kite, but less remote, in the city, with fun night life surrounding you if you are so inclined.
23 February 2016
We have been in Cartagena for the last four days, have kited every day, and gone out into the old city every evening for dinner. We haven't really done much sightseeing or tourist stuff, but we did find this statue to take inappropriate photos with.
22 February 2016
This is our Air B&B place in Cartagena... Right on the beach, kiting out our back door. A couple of these pictures are out the bedrooms and off the patio, looking down at the beach where we just kited. Super sweet 3 bedroom, 3 bath, for $80.00 a night!
Kite post-Was looking on air bnb and picked this place in Cartagena due to this first pic. Can you see it? In the window we saw a faint possible outline of a kiter in the ocean out the window. We wanted to be able to walk to the kite area. There isn't many kiting resources in Colombia yet and it is difficult to find places or info to stay near kiting sometimes. This one paid off for the guess. We are right in the flat water and it has a point break kite spot also and right in town. Went out with two other kiters on our 9s when we got here and kited till sunset. Then watched the moonrise. Got an awesome place right on the beach. Sleeps 7 and we split between us 4 for about 20$ a night 😃 today we will probably do a downwinder from Bouquilla back to our place where the downwinder would end. Then maybe kite over to an island tomorrow.
Back in Cartagena with Jason and Carson! I do love this city. It seems like great energy, and we had fun here when we came through a few weeks ago. Once again, kited right into the sunset, but this time we had lots of flat water for freestyley funness! Now we are off to dinner in the old town...
The front guard of the hostel. This dog is awesome. He fell in the pool last year, was unable to get out, and nearly drowned by the time they found him. As a result, any time you are swimming, the dog paces the sides of the pool with this expression of concern not imagined possible on his doggy face. He is really sweet. There is another, bigger, dumber, sweeter version of him here too, but all he does is sit around and beg for food... Typical dog.
I'm not normally one to overly promote a place, but this place continues to amaze me. For a kiteboarding hostel, this is a must stay!
Check it out!
I have been talking a lot about the quality of the kiting here in Santa Veronica. Yesterday was equally as good, if not better, than the session the day before, with a repeat of sunset/moonrise, great waves, but with hand drag kiteloop backrolls onto waves, and the occasional darkslides thrown in.
There is another great experience here... The Hostal Agua de Vela here in Santa Veronica. The owners, a French couple, Roman and Sayida, run their place like it is their passion. From our experience, this makes for a very pleasant stay, comfortable, clean, and an amazing breakfast every day.
Each day, Roman loads everyone in the Hostel up in his car (usually about 10 of us) and drives 10 minutes to Salinas to deliver everyone to the kiting area. He also makes several trips in the evening to bring us all back before dinner. Really great service here.
20 February 2016
Wow! That worked out great! Kited for about six hours today, and had what is probably the best day of kiting ever. Perfectly lit on my 9m kite all day, surfing great shoulder-high waves, double back rolls over waves, big jumps, one-handed dead mans, and fun boosty transitions and backroll transitions all day! Caught the longest right I have ever been on on my kite, with tons of turns and maneuvering all over it. I am finally starting to be able to crank turns on the face and off the lip with some sort of consistency, so I feel like I am starting to really appreciate surfing under a kite!
The last hour of my session was just me and one other person out, with this amazing glassy water, nuking wind, and perfect glassy-faced waves. Just to make it even better, I had this perfect tropical, glowing sunset on one side, and a nearly-full moon rise on the other side. If I have had any doubts before today, I have completely, totally fallen in love, again, with kiteboarding...
Sitting here in our super-comfy hostel, looking out at waves and wind, feeling really lazy, planning our downwinder and second session in the bay for today. The wind just blows, and blows, and blows here. There is an awesome little point break at the end of the bay with great rights, that then fade into a little flat water inside section with occasional perfect thigh-high kickers coming through. It is such a joy to ride smooth flat water with kickers in it! Rode it yesterday, had a great session out on my 6.5m Solo, fully lit, watching Tam surfing waves and dial in a bunch of perfect backrolls. She is just killing it lately!
Viva la Colombia!
19 February 2016
Tam wanted to find a donkey to ride out into the desert and search for anteaters. She was so excited when she found one. She was going to find the owner to discuss rentals, but, as she grew progressively closer, she began to realize that she would probably need to pick this little guy up and carry him. He's not quite big enough to ride Tam! These pictures show Tam demonstrating her skills as a donkey whisperer. He was a sweet little guy!
This is my attempt at donkey whispering... He seems less than amused. Hmmm?
An amazing meal with friends after kiteboarding all day in macking winds... Seafood chowder in coconut shells that are placed directly in the fire and delivered to the table still crackling. So tasty. We sat here in Santa Veronica, at La Red Restaurant, and enjoyed the lee side, out of the wind, and watched the sun go down. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh...
14 February 2016
There is a bunch of information in the blog about the San Blas Islands. As far as kiting goes: expect approximately 50/50 consistency for wind days, with light winds (15-20 mph range) and big kites. Also, expect some of the most beautiful, remote, kiting in the world! Panama Kitesurfing Cruise puts on a great trip, with kiting different sites each day, some adventurous downwinders, and, thankfully, activities for no wind days.
If you go into this with the mind-set that it is not just a kite trip you will be safe. There was some phenomenal snorkeling, with lots of big sting rays and sharks to be seen. The reefs here are very healthy, so don't beat them up kiting!
The guys are great, and they run a great trip... Amazing food (and so much of it I actually gained weight on this trip), on an amazing sailboat... It's hard to beat. It's a little pricey for our budget (check the prices online), but, in the end, worth every penny!
More Punta Chame: Staying here is the crux... There are two places for $35.00 and $40.00, respectively. Casa Amarilla, the cheaper, is beautiful, very comfortable, run by a super friendly French couple, with the best food in Panama (quite expensive at $16.00 for lunch and dinner). This one is not on the beach, but a ten minute drive (kind of need a rental car out here). The Punta Chame Kiteboarding Guest House is another option, $40.00 - $45.00 for bungalow, a little less for dorm room. It's on the beach, with beach to launch on only at low tide. Otherwise, fun guys running the place (we didn't eat here). They were having problems with water, and we were informed that they had just had a room robbed the night before, but since there were no locks on the doors of the bungalows we should keep our valuables locked in the car (another argument in favor of a rental car). This one is all about location...
There are two other places out there, both over $125.00/night. Not for us!
Kiting Punta Chame, Pacific side Panama: We enjoyed it here. The wind is steady, pretty consistent (we got eight out of nine days), and blew from 15mph to 27mph for us. This translates to 15m and 12m kites for us. After I tore my 12m I was able to take my 9m out for a couple of sessions with no problem, and one day we should have been on 9m kites, but just stayed out on 12's (fun... powered up).
There is a gigantic beach for launching and landing, it is really safe, with quartering onshore to onshore winds. It is all short-fetch chop, with sometimes shoulder-high rollers. There are three small, flat water lagoons that can be kited to and back when wind is more onshore for more freestyley fun. All in all... Really safe, but watch out for stingrays! Lots!
About kiting (it is, after all, a blog partially about wind and water): I have a lot of people looking for information about the places we have been kiting on this trip, so I will try to put down some observations of where we have been so far. Some of these spots have been addressed in the blog already, with pictures and whatnot, so feel free to look back for those.
Most importantly: these are my observations. Please don't be mad at me if your experience differs...we are all individuals, with different expectations!
13 February 2016
This is a fair description of the flat-water kiting in the bay at Nautica Velero... The gustiest place I have ever kited. Yes, even gustier than the worst Hood river days I've had the pleasure of! Wind range from 10-40 mph, changing every few seconds, with micro eddies and crazy down-drafts, is the norm here. On the outside of the peninsula the wind is steadier, still crazy strong, with HUGE open ocean rollers breaking all over the place. It's a very wild feeling place, probably not for the faint of heart, but still really fun kiting. There are not many outs on this beach (it is covered in driftwood everywhere but a 1/2 of a football field launch area), so upwinding is an essential skill. Tam and I did do some fun downwinder/upwinder runs down the waves outside of the peninsula, then beat our way back up the inside in the gusty flats. These took about 3 hours total, but you could stay longer and play in waves if you wanted... All in all: tricky spot, but you can walk out from the hut!
We are staying where there are anteaters and characters. The guy we rent the hut from is hilarious and always saying "I don't give a f*%^ about ______ , bro." The same way honey badger don't give a sh*%. Not in a bad way, just as a statement. We are pretty hardcore camping at his palapa on the beach. They are doing construction on the road so we haven't had running water now for three days and were in the salty windy, windy, really windy desert, so I am pretty proud of myself for not being a princess. We did however rent a motorbike so we could get back to town without being stranded on the kite beach with no water and eating fried fish everyday. It is pretty deserted here at night just us and Jose the guard. We move in with the swedes Tuesday and they have a pool, And running water, Yay showers! We are turning into salty pirates here. Kiting big rolling waves and some of the gustiest flat water ever. But no doubt there will be lots of wind everyday...all day long for kiting.
Nautica Velero. A little thatched hut on a sandy peninsula just South of quaint, fairly European, Puerto Colombia. It sounds idyllic, and it did have the incentive of kiting right out the front door, but all is not always as it seems... Three days without any running water or electricity, dinner was a fluid concept of "no food tonight, posible manyana", with no way to get a taxi into town, and all this for the not-too-awesome price of $35.00 a night. The owner, Carlos, has a motto, that he uses multiple times daily in any number of different situations, of "I don't give a fuck, bro, we just gotta relax and go kite". He seems to feel that this applies to this particular situation as well, so we might be able to take a shower sometime...
10 February 2016
Back in... Well... Okay, so we just drove through, dropped the girls off at the airport, and now we are back in Puerto Colombia. Gotta get some rest tonight, then back at it kiting tomorrow! Haven't kited in a week, so I am going crazy. Can't wait to get back to it! Next (in three days) will be Jason and Carson coming in for 12 days of more fun and kiting, so this next bit it will be Tam who is outnumbered by boys this time... Poor girl!
8 February 2016
An attempt to catch all of the breathtaking views all at once... My best attempts at panoramic photos. They seem to go better with less coffee!
We hiked into Tayrona National Park, located just North of the town of Santa Marta. Beautiful! We walked In, for about 2-1/2 hours, with a little bit of food, about 30 pounds of water, and unfortunately (for me) only one pair of shorts... We rented tents there and stayed one night before hiking back out the next night. Tam, Talia, and Rebecca all chose to ride horses out, while the cool kids, Shai and yours truly, toughed it out and hiked back (45 minutes when you are not stopping to take 3,432 selfies, like on the way in)... A very beautiful place, set aside as a natural area by the government and incredibly well protected and maintained. Buenos trabajo Colombia!
While I was hiking in the jungle I kept noticing this little band of monkeys following me... Had an absolutely awesome time hanging out with all of these girls for the last week (a bit exhausted, though, from trying to keep up the whole time). We all danced, ate, hiked, swam, sweated, and got crammed into overloaded buses together... Great time!
Hiked in to camp at Tyrona beach in the jungle, swam and snorkeled in the blue water. It was lovely. Got lazy and found horses to gallop back thru the jungle instead of hiking out, also amazing!
7 February 2016
Whew. Long day and night of following Tam, Rebecca, Talia, and Shai all around Barranquilla. I did not take a single picture, but instead just absorbed it all: The biggest parade ever... The most extravagant costumes and floats imaginable. The crowds... Frantic, and, as usual, pressing to get through lines to get to the front, but incredibly cheerful and festive at the same time. Then, la noche.... Rebecca on a mission to find the perfect place to shake her booty all night long. I think we may have walked across Barranquilla four times, but in the end found a street party in front of a licores mercado with a million super happy, festive locals. Very loud, very fun. Got back late. Now breakfast to refuel before heading back out do it all over again today! I will try to get a picture.
Carnival! Danced all night! Also picked up Shai to join the crazy festivities, Yay!
6 February 2016
Pretty fancy hotel that provides you with gratis shoe shine kits. Don't know if they realize exactly the quality of guest they have staying in room 412... Not sure what to do with this!
We will be wandering off into this landscape in a few minutes, to experience first-hand the wonders of the second-largest Carnaval in the world, in a Latin American city of 3 million people. If you haven't heard back from us in a week, send out the infantry...
In Barranquilla for CARNAVAL! Woohoo! This is the view from the rooftop pool and restaurant in our high-rise, downtown hotel. Not normally my style, certainly, but the only thing available during Carnaval... Oh, man, the struggle is real!
5 February 2016
Love the knockers here.
So almost everyone worried we would get stopped in the jungle by some Colombian drug lords, kidnapped, or end up in jail etc etc... We got pulled out of the car on the way to the beach at a random place in the desert by a bunch of guys with guns. Everyone was pretty serious and our bus was nervous. Seemed like it may go bad but Instead of jail etc we ended up making some new friends. By the time we left, everyone on the bus was laughing at the situation. Don't worry peeps we got this. We are well protected now. Although later on the beach we did get attacked and massage raped by old ladies, scariest part of the trip so far and cost us a fortune. They wouldn't take no for an answer and just keep massaging and then demanding lots of money. If this is the worst thing that happens on our trip I'll be happy.
4 February 2016
The old city of Cartagena, surrounded by this fortress-like wall with cannons in all directions, a lot of this was built by each wave of conquering Europeans as they came through, starting as early as the 1400's. There is an interesting mix of architectures from each different period and each different cultural influence. It always seems strange, though, to stand on a wall that was built 500 years ago, while looking at a modern, vaguely Miami-esque skyline across the bay.
Just some shots (yes, selfies too) of us being ourselves around this amazing city of Cartagena. I really like it here! Best. Coffee. Ever. !!!
I have my own building here. The Tam building, it's a theater!
This is only funny if you know our little dog Pete...
The girls... Discussing Pegasus statue wieners... I wandered off at this point.
In Cartagena today! Beautiful city, with wonderfully warm, open, and helpful people. There is a lot of national pride here, pride in their history and heritage. It shows. These are just a few of the photos of the nice contrasts between the old and new here... So far the travel is easy, and the experiences very positive with the Colombians, as long as you are not standing in lines... They will resort to shoving, kicking, and throwing elbows to get to the front of the line. It turns out I am a really shitty line-stander. I am a bit too polite, all like "oops, sorry, perdon, perdon, con permisso, con permisso", and by then the line is long over. Oh well.
First day in Puerto Colombia with these three amazing, crazy, powerful women! Of course... Food first.
3 February 2016
Look who I found! I love that since we took to living on the road I am managing to still get to hang out with a lot of our friends. ❤I have some of the most awesome friends, I am truly blessed to be so lucky. ️Thanks for coming to visit us. I say I have no friends where we are going since we are always moving someplace new to us, but this is a perfect dilemma solver. Also finally have more girl to guy ratio. Poor Mike is stuck with us all week. Tomorrow to Cartagena! Ole!
31 January 2016
Ok so posting late to catch up. Where did I leave off. Oh yea... So just left all our friends in Panama City. Had a great last night in the French quarter at a rooftop bar overlooking the old and new city skyline with great DJs playing super chill dance music. We will be missing our kite friends until we meet up next month in Venezuela. Tomorrow we head to Colombia to kite and meet up with the girls.
28 January 2016
The view from our room...
27 January 2016
This is what a bunch of knuckleheads do when the wind drops. We hiked in to this great little waterfall and jumped off the rocks like monkeys, of course. The rest is just a couple of lazy days on one perfect island after another. Sometimes even two or three different ones in one day. The Kuna are awesome people, love to sell their wares (mostly beaded bracelets, beer, or a coconut with the top chopped off), and very friendly.
They are hard working people, but do have a tough existence out here. Their islands are disappearing more every day (current estimates are that nearly all of the Kuna will be permanently displaced in the next 15 years or so), and the reefs, while incredibly healthy, do not produce the fish they once used to. There is no fertile land for growing crops, so they are increasingly dependent on income from other sources (mostly tourism, now).
Kiting San Blas! Video to come later...so many pretty islands, beautiful water, and reefs. We kited from one pretty gem to the next and they seemed to go on forever in blue and turquoise water so full of life.
Just an example of the food we have been eating... Fresh lobster, fresh fish, coconut rice... Every day. Breakfast, second breakfast, then a platter of fruit, followed by lunch, then dinner in the evening. I may have gained 10 pounds on this trip so far!
Jungle and waterfalls.
This is the 75 foot sailboat, the "Sovereign Grace", and it's very busy captain, John. He is refitting the entire boat from stern forward, and every day, while we are off playing in the wind, he and his crew of two are busy sanding and painting.
John is a Kiwi that has been living in Australia for most of his life, but has called the San Blas Islands his home for the last ten years. He is great with the Kuna Indians out here... Really watches out for their well being, and always willingly throws his lot in to help improve their lives. This guy has some great life experiences, and he is an awesome storyteller for it all.
26 January 2016
Doesn't get much better than kiting all day our own island and then getting lobster for dinner with great company to share with. Yum!
25 January 2016
The Kuna are the indigenous island people who live on the San Blas islands. They don't allow scuba diving or much commercialization which I find great in protecting their beautiful jungle and islands. They let us visit their homes. Some islands were whole hut city's and some were just one hut but most were deserted. They were always happy to have us for a bonfire, drinks, enjoy their beach, sell their beadwork, embroidery, or fresh caught seafood with us. They use a whole tree and dig out a canoe then two sticks and any fabric for a sail to get around the islands. Some have a little bigger dugout and a motor but most had tiny tippy canoes that I have no idea how three of them and a sail don't fall over all the time from while they are out at sea getting dinner.
23 January 2016
So this is the crew of knuckleheads that we are spending 9 days on a boat in the San Blas Islands with. Great, very diverse, group of friends... Some I don't know that well, and some a bit better, but, in all cases, really looking forward to getting to know them better!
Also looking forward to exploring the islands. There are hundreds of little coral atolls with anywhere from one to lots of palm trees on them, with beautiful coral reefs surrounding all of them.
More on this all later... Got a boat to catch.
Meeting up with our friends and we're off to the San Blas on the boat to go kite. This is our home now for a while. Yay!
22 January 2016
We are in Panama City, having just left Punta Chame yesterday in the afternoon. It's odd... This is primarily a kiteboarding trip, but we haven't really mentioned the kiteboarding! So, a quick kiteboarding update: we have been kiting! Every day (except the day that we went up to El Valle). It has been great, the wind has blown all day every day (with tide variations), and we have had a blast. I attempted to kite in these three amazing lagoons with Tam and a pretty cool kid we met named Brendon. I got to the first lagoon, missed a looped hand-drag back roll, inverted my kite, and in sorting out the resulting mess... Got stung by a stupid stingray. Anyway, missed the rest of the lagoons since I had to kite all the way back upwind to get my foot in some hot water...
Tam assures me that the other two lagoons were far more beautiful, with even more perfectly glassy flat water.
Otherwise we have had a ball. Tam has been kiting really well... Jumping like a crazy woman!
21 January 2016
Some of the more intact, older architecture in Panama City. Fun place to walk around and be touristy. The narrow streets, cafes, stores, and restaurants tucked away at every turn lead one to believe that this must be what our uninitiated, romantic assumptions of walking around Southern Europe would be like. Always amazes me how old some of these buildings are, and how they manage to survive in this corrosive salt-air environment. I guess they just don't build 'em like they used to!
19 January 2016
Goodby Punta Chame. We're off to Panama City to meet up with a group of good friends to go kite on the sailboat with.
Yep. Tam went from "Midwestern preacher white", to "raccoon", then to "raccoon with some sort of strange bumpy rash", to "lobster with some sort of strange bumpy rash", and appears to have awoken this morning as a slightly grumpy, sunburned girl with a bunch of mosquito bites. She is still so cute, though!
Due to her crispy condition, any incidental contact in bed was strictly forbidden, with threat of death (or at least serious bodily harm) for any violation. The beds in Panama aren't huge, so I spent most of my night huddled in fear on my tiny little corner of mattress, with nobody but a few nosy mosquitos for company. Going to encourage sunblock today!
18 January 2016
I have a new sunburn spot each day. Even living in Cali I guess I have not gotten out enough the last few months to keep any kind of a tan or in any kind of shape this winter. I am so excited to see the sun and warmth here I forget how white I really am. First day I burnt my face and fingers and thumb from kiting and not reapplying sunscreen. Then my calves got burned bike riding in the volcano. After that sprinkle on a few mosquito bites from the jungle and I thought I was good to go. Well today my bootie reminded me that it had not yet seen the sun, tonight it is now a bright red color after only a few minutes rolling my kite up. My New Years resolution weight loss plan kicks in full gear now since sitting isn't a great option for a bit. Kiting, walking, and swimming is about all for a few days...I was just recovering from biking up and down the giant volcano hills. On the bright side I am way ahead of my resolution plan. I will post some of my fav pics from the last few days.
We found 6$.
We took a nice 2 hour walk around the point of the Punta Chame peninsula before dinner. This black-sand beach was perfectly flat, manicured even, but, strangely, tipped up at about 22 degrees. It went on like this for miles without change. Very odd. I did find six dollars on the beach, but Tam said they weren't worth anything... They were fairly abundant (found another 10 bucks the next night), and I was thinking we could at least buy a beer or something...
Either way... So beautiful here!
16 January 2016
These buses... It's like a competition. They are all privately owned and operated, and I think that the more outlandish they appear, the more people are loyal to riding on each particular bus. The artwork is really amazing. This one captured Tam's attention because of the unicorn on the side. I liked the Hulk Hogan on the fender! They do come with appropriately annoying Latin American, polka-esque thumping-base music, played at maximum volume to drown out the roar of the diesels through the unmuffled stacks in the back. And, boy, are the owners proud of them. They are spotless!
I'm not very knowledgeable on plants (as a matter of fact I can kill most any houseplant just by putting it in my living room), but I can appreciate it when nature creates some amazing things... These were just some random flowers you see growing around the jungles here. The birds here are equally as beautiful, but, damnit, the little buggers won't hold still for close ups like the flowers do! My not being a botanist means I can't tell you the names of these, but you are welcome to look them up yourself... I am too busy kiteboarding to do it!
As you know, we have been traveling with our gnome, Lucky. He is starting to get pretty beat-up looking, and we may need to find some paint for him soon. Don't worry, though, he is still enjoying his travels. A few pictures here of his adventures crossing suspension bridges and hiking to waterfalls.
Looking for the sacred square trees. Found everything else instead. The last one is the square one but wasn't as impressive as the rest of shapes we saw while we were looking for it.
Biking old volcanos. It was hard getting uphill on a beach cruiser single gear. The best part is downhill of course. I hope this stays true for my age in life. You are tired and stinky and exhausted and it can get miserable going up but you just don't really care once you start coasting down the other side. You can only smile and take in the scenery.
Tam may think she looks like a patchy raccoon with burned fingers (yeah, she sunburned her fingers too), but she is still the most beautiful thing around. Lucky to get to travel with her... Every day I put this down in the "happy" column in my long list of things I am grateful for.
15 January 2016
We finally got to kite, ALL day! The water was warm and it was such a great sunny day out. There are so many birds here it is crazy. My favorites are actually the vultures. They skip sideways down the beach. Plus they were kind enough to keep a poor pelican company quietly with his broken wing. Mike said I'm crazy but I think it's all in perspective. They sat around him calmly like a friend circle all day, in what was probably a bad day for him. I imagined the pelican told them when it got to the end and was bad to take him quickly so he may return to the sky. Perspective.
We have to leave the area for a night since our room isn't available. We will head up to El Valle, a volcano, and check it out with a guy we met here for a couple days. It will give me time to nurse my sunburn I got from getting so excited about kiting I wouldn't come back in to reapply sunscreen. Now I look like a patchy tomato raccoon. Kiting also doesn't give you a nice even tan, just certain parts.
Yesterday was a long jet lag day. When we got in from a 20+ hour flight we were so tired and found out our pick up to get to the coast had to cancel because the car broke down. Soooo we rented a car. It went fine and we got to see the city, Panama Canal, a pigeon that looked like a hawk, and lots of beautiful sights. But when we got to the room we reserved the toilet and shower had quit working, the pool was murky, someone had just had their stuff stolen from a bungalow and none of the locks worked, the room wasn't cleaned and there was debris all strewn about like homeless squatters may have taken over so we decided to find another option. Normally we would not be deterred but it was still expensive, we were tired and we found a beautiful place for the same amount to finally get some much needed sleep. Yay sleep!
Our cabana. Super pretty here with the best food I may have ever tasted.
Just one of the locals...
14 January 2016
Buenos Dias from Panama! Weather here is perfectly perfect... That kind of warm humid air that envelopes and comforts you and makes your skin feel so healthy. Some pictures from our drive from the airport, through Panama City, to the sleepy remote Punta Chame peninsula.
I handed Tam my phone because I was busy negotiating the foreign roads, and she got pictures from the passenger seat. We got the cool Jenga Building (that was my name for it) and some other interesting architecture. Not pictured was this really cool, sail-shaped building that was described as the "Trump Building" (that jackass does have a pretty keen eye for architecture, if nothing else). We also got a picture of the "Bridge of the Americas" as we drove over the Panama Canal. I don't know why, but I found this strangely exciting, probably because of the amazing history of the canal itself, but I was so excited Tam looked at me a bit funny.
Also got a quick shot of a local traffic jam... They moved on quickly!