One Contract Down…

And just like that, my first travel contract has ended and I am now enjoying a little break on the East Coast before diving in to contract number two. So let’s chat.

I didn’t know what I was getting myself in to.. starting something so brand new and foreign to me was terrifying. It was something that I knew needed to happen – I was just in a place in my life where I felt stuck; I was in a rut and needed a change. But all of that didn’t make it less terrifying. Picking up and leaving behind everything that you know: your routine, your best friends, your family, your work, your comfort… That was the hardest thing. Leaving everything behind. But I knew that if I didn’t do it, I would always wonder, what am I missing out on?

So I told my self: Self. It’s only three months. You can do anything for three months. If you hate it, home will always be there. So I went. And I am so happy that I did.

Fortunately, I was blessed with a great first contract. My coworkers were great, I got an actual orientation (that I actually asked if I could get less and get on the floors), the nurses were more than welcoming and became great friends, and I really just enjoyed my time there. The hospital was smaller which made for easier orientation, given that I was used to hospitals twice it’s size. It definitely had it’s challenges, as any new job does. Figuring out each doctor’s protocols and what papers each post-op patient needs and how to decipher the orders in the computer system and getting to know the nurses so that they know me and know when to ask for me. All of that became easier over time but it took some adjusting – and even my last week I was learning things that I didn’t know I was supposed to be doing the entire time…. whoops.

Having a good place to work definitely made my adjustment to the travel life a bit easier. Another thing that helped was making two great friends from the start of my contract.

These two made the last three months so much better. I was terrified of not making friends and not finding anyone that I wanted to hang out with, and was so blessed to find these two via social media.

Whether we were exploring somewhere with just two of us, or all three of us were able to get together, we were always having a great time.

Making this move across country was one of the best things I’ve ever done. It’s been hard – it’s never easy to see your friends thousands of miles away doing things together or only seeing your brand new nephew via social media cause you haven’t had the chance to meet him yet. But, mentally, I’m in a really good place right now. I’m learning more about myself than I ever knew. I’m putting myself in uncomfortable situations and surviving. I’m exploring new-to-me places and getting to experience adventure that I never would have been able to experience. I’m making life-long friends in places I never thought I would ever be.

I’m living my best life, the best way I know how – exploring, adventuring, taking risks, letting loose.

Never stop exploring.

So my adventure continues now… After spending some time here on the East coast, visiting friends and family, I’ll be flying back to Oregon, grabbing my car that’s packed with my entire life – and driving down the coast to my next adventure: Fresno, California.

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Oh, Hey!

And just like that, it’s been over a month since I last posted. Looks like we have a lot of catching up to do…

I’m now more than halfway finished with my contract. Whoa. Time has certainly flown by and it’s making me anxious and excited for where I’m heading next. I don’t know where I’ll be, but I know it’ll be an awesome adventure. So what have I been up since we last chatted? Hiking, duh. And working. And meeting friends. And falling deeper in love with the PNW.

I’ve seen a lot of waterfalls… like, a lot.

I ran the Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park, which featured, obviously, ten waterfalls.

South Falls – I started here at the South parking lot
North Falls – One of my favorites of the 10!
Upper North Falls – photo cred to the couple I kept creeping up behind

I went up to the Columbia River Gorge area and saw Multnomah Falls, the tallest in Oregon.

And checked out Horsetail Falls…

And even hiked through waist deep water to get to Oneonta Falls! (Disclaimer: the hike to get to Oneonta was pretty epic, through a canyon and along (in) the creek – BUT, it was so, freaking, crowded. Like, families bringing small children and dogs over these huge log-jams which meant more waiting time for others (I went around the line and climbed up a different way). It definitely took away from the experience a bit)

While in the Gorge, we checked out Punchbowl Falls as well…

More recently I checked out Silver and Golden Falls, outside of Coos Bay…

Silver Falls
Golden Falls

And last weekend, I went and explored Salt Creek Falls, extending my hike to see Diamond Creek Falls!

Who knew Oregon had so many dang waterfalls?! 238, to be exact… I just Googled it. 

I got to experience Crater Lake National Park in all of it’s incredible, epic beauty.

A butterfly actually landed on my finger…
Mount Scott

And my personal favorite picture, unedited…

I went to a Portland Timbers game! And they won!

I went to the coast and hiked, then watched the sunset at Cannon Beach…

Hug Point
Cape Lookout – it was like a rainforest, and there was no look out due to fog 😦
Cape Falcon

And I climbed a little mountain…

Those layers though…

 

I only have FOUR weekends left in Oregon, unless I decide to extend my contract, which I would only do if I can’t find anything that I want. But that just means I have to make the most of these next four weekends!

Unfortunately, the forest fires have been pretty bad out here and are ruining a lot of my plans – including a 12-mile summit hike we were planning on doing in 3 weeks… which as of right now, the trail is closed due to fires. Ugh. But we have a plan B, which is to head up to Mount Rainier, so either way it will be a great weekend!

I’ll try to be better about posting – at least once a week so I can really tell y’all about my weekends, rather than just photo dumping things on ya!

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Mt. Hood and McKenzie River Trail

This past weekend I got the chance to explore see some waterfalls and some mountains – the perfect weekend if you ask me!

Sunday

Sunday morning started bright and early as I made my way to Albany to meet up with Kristen. From her house, we grabbed her co-worker and then made our way to Mount Hood National Park where we planned to attack the Tom, Dick and Harry Trail by Mirror Lake!

The parking lot was full by the time we got there a little after 9am, so we had to park about a mile up the road before walking to the trail head. Get there early on the weekends to avoid this, but it wasn’t terrible and there was a path to follow along the road.

After about a mile of a lot of dirt switchbacks, we reached Mirror Lake! Our goal was to get to the top of Tom, Dick and Harry Mountain, so we didn’t stay too long at the lake and opted to do the loop on the way back. Up, up, up we went until…

Breathtaking.

Snow caps of Mt. St Helens, Mt Ranier and Mt Adams

The trail was easy to navigate since it’s pretty heavily traveled. The last bit to get to the summit was a lot of rocks, but nothing too strenuous. The views were all 100% worth it. We hung out at the time for awhile and all agreed that we could have stayed there forever. But eventually we started to make our way back down.

We went around Mirror Lake the opposite way to see the classic Mirror Lake view with Mt. Hood in the background.

Then we made our way back to the car for a total of 7.2 miles (per my GPS watch). After the hike we headed up to the Timberline Lodge which sits right on Mt. Hood and has ski lifts to take skiiers/snowboarders up towards the top. There were actually people skiing – in July! The lodge was really cool to walk through and check out, so I would definitely recommend a pit stop there if you’re in the area. We ended our day with some lunch at Mt. Hood Brewing Company, then made the trek home!

Monday

I stayed a bit more local and explored the Willamette National Forest area – Shahalie Falls, Koosah Falls, and the Blue Pool were on my list to see!

First up: Shahalie Falls!

The trailhead to the Waterfall Trail actually starts at Sahalie Falls. I got there around 8:45 and there were only 1-2 other cars in the lot.

After stopping to check out Sahalie Falls at the trailhead, I started down the path to Koosah Falls. It was down stream, so downhill and flat which made it perfect to get a little jog in. I ended up speed walking/jogging until I hit Koosah, stopping every now and then to look at my surroundings.

I kept going down to the Carmen Reservoir and debating continuing on to the Blue Pool which I knew was 3 miles down, but I didn’t have service and didn’t have a map.. So I decided to go back up to the car. Once I ran back, I realized that because I didn’t have service, I couldn’t look up how to drive to the Blue Pool either…

Then I remembered that I took a screenshot of the directions the night before when I was researching – WIN! I never would have found it otherwise; there were zero signs leading me to the trailhead, but once I found it I knew I had arrived by the line of cars along the side. To get there, you want to turn at to the Trailbridge Campground sign, take a right once you go over the bridge, continue up the gravel road about a third of a mile and you will see the trail sign on the left.

According to my watch, it took me about 2 miles to get to the pool. The trail is pretty rocky in some parts but follows the river and is fairly flat overall considering some of the other trails I’ve been doing. But before I knew it, I was there…

There is zero filter on this. Zero. The water is THAT blue. It was incredible.

I didn’t make the trip down to the water, but watched a lot of others climb down. One crazy lady even jumped in – I’ve heard the water temps aren’t higher than 40 degrees, no thank you. I could have sat there and stared at the water forever, it was just unreal.

I met a very nice older couple who actually are originally from PA, right outside of Maryland! It’s such a small world and is so fun to meet all of these people. We chatted for a few minutes and they offered to snap some pictures for me, which I was thankful for because my selfie game is only so strong…

After saying bye to my new friends, I hit the trail and headed back to the car. It was about 4 miles total once I got back to my car.

And that wrapped up another solid weekend exploring the PNW. It’s getting harder and harder to justify going back east…

First Few Weekends

As mentioned before, I reached out on Facebook before getting in to Eugene in hopes to find fellow travelers in the are to make friends. Luckily, two girls reached out and I’ve had such a great time getting out and exploring with them these first few weekends! Friends?!

I don’t know if you all have ever been in a place where you know zero people, but it’s hard to find people to be your friend. And when you finally do make plans, oh my gosh, I felt like I was going on a first date. What if she doesn’t like me? What do I wear? What if I don’t like her and want to make an escape? Will she think I’m cool?! Will she even want to be my friend?! Am I trying too hard?! All of these thoughts and a million others run through my brain. But you just have to be confident, go in there, and make a friend. Yay friends!

First Weekend

I met up with a fellow traveler down in Roseburg for an Arts festival – which really meant we skipped the art and went straight to the beer tents. She’s also from the east coast so we had a great time chatting and I got to pick her brain with all of my traveler related questions.

The next day I met up with a friend who actually worked with one of my best friends from PT school – naturally I knew she would be the perfect friend to explore with! We ended up heading down to the coast to Florence where we grabbed lunch before heading for a few hikes!

We went to Thor’s Well, Heceta Head Lighthouse, and trail along the Oregon Coast.

Second Weekend

Weekend two was filled with more hikes and a relaxing day by some epic pools. Explained best by pictures, here’s a photo dump.

First up, Devon and I headed to Lincoln City to check out a few hikes; God’s Thumb:

Next: Cascade Head Trail, a 4.2 mile, 1,200 foot elevation gain hike.

And last, Drift Creek Falls – my first waterfall hike!

On Monday, I headed about 2 hours north to the Opal Creek Wilderness to Three Pools, and omg

 

I could not believe how clear the water was! It was such a great day and I even worked up the courage to jump off one of the smaller “cliffs”. Yolo?

I now understand why travelers always say that it’s like they’re on vacation every weekend – I can’t wait to keep exploring this beautiful land!