A Month in the Mountains and a Day in the Desert

It’s been longer since my last post than I like to let pass between blogs. I hope it’s a fluke and not a developing pattern.

Settling [back] into Aspen has been great. Familiar friends, familiar hang-outs, and a familiar job. It’s a lot like coming home, but home usually has more snow… When there’s no snow in Aspen, usually summer, lots of locals check out Moab, Utah. Since the ski conditions stink and we’ve never been to Moab, Kate and I made the drive out to Utah this past week and had a good time in the desert.

Night time temperatures were originally predicted to be around 30 degrees on Thursday night. Based on Friday’s reports and the layer of iced formed on the inside of the tent in the morning, I estimate a low more like 5. I feel like the extra money to get the zero degree sleeping bag 4 years ago was finally worth it. I knew I would need it at some point!

After waking Friday morning, we chipped as much ice off the tent as we could and headed to Arches National Park. The trip was very cool and the land was beautiful, I’ve included some pictures you can click on below. We bought our annual pass for the National Parks while at Arches, so hopefully I’ll have lots more (at least 80 bucks worth) to share with you from the National Parks System over the next year. I definitely want to hit either Yellowstone or Yosemite. I’ve never been to either and would like to go to both.

Meanwhile, back in Colorado…

We got in total close to a foot on the mountains this week. In addition to the snow, I’m all revved up this week to watch the Broncos take on my New England Patriots. It will be an emotional and hopefully happy Saturday night. I’ve found that even the real Coloradans find Tebow a bit of a joke, so I hope we can put the Kabbash on this 2011 passing fad. Tebowing!? Seriously… GO PATS!

That is all, I’ll try to write more frequently! Enjoy my pictures below, I think I got some good ones.

James

 

Roadtrip Reflection

Starting off in Portland, Maine. Day 1 of the road trip.

We have really evolved in the way we road trip. We have our two small carry-on sized suitcases packed with most of what we’ll actually need on the trip. This way, when we pull into a hotel at night, we can swing open one car door grab all the bags that we need without unpacking half the car. We were also lucky enough to have an extra case of wine from our wedding with us. Bonus! As the end of each driving day approached, we’d check our Best Western app, make a reservation, grab our two road trip bags, uncork a bottle of wine, and relax.

Lincoln’s Tomb in Springfield, IL. Worth a stop if you happen to be swinging through SW Illinois.

Improving our organization on road trips is one example of the logistical improvements we’ve made past 5 years of road tripping, but we’ve changed our whole approach by allowing more time to travel.

When we left Maine last Wednesday, we really didn’t know where we were going between Maine and Colorado (the sunshine state). All we knew was we had 10 days to get to work. We did pretty well chipping away small amounts of mileage each day and were lucky enough to stumble into a bonus weekend with friends in Chicago. I think previously we would have planned each stop ahead of time to decrease stress of the trip, but have actually found less stress through not planning. By having a vague idea of what our trip looks like, but nothing set in stone, we are able to better roll with the punches of hitting traffic, finding an area of hotels too expensive or sold out, or just feeling tired and not wanting to drive any further for the evening.

As we come out of the plains of Eastern Colorado, we start to see the Rockies.

As we got towards the final few states of the trip, we were arriving just a day or two later than if we had rushed the trip, but felt more relaxed, better fed, and generally just more energized. Of course some of the miles through the flatter states got long and urged us to keep pushing on, but it was a nice trip.

Visits to friends and wineries kept us relaxed, sane, and safe. Now we’ve gotten settled quickly in Aspen, have one ski day under our belts already, and are looking forward to starting work next week.

Thanks for reading!

Tulum – A Travel Photo Journal

Tulum, Mexico was a very cool trip. We showed up in the pitch dark of 6:30 PM in what seemed like the middle of the jungle. It was pitch black, and the 6 of us walked through the dense palm trees on sandy paths with headlamps

to the check-in desk.

In the zona hotelera of Tulum, there are no power lines. Everything is quite literally off the grid. All phones and credit card swipers are cellular, and computers are connected by… I don’t really know how. The resorts are mostly bungalow/palapa-style housing run on solar power for all electricity. Our bungalow had the luxury of having a door in order to keep the outdoors out, but had no outlets and only two lights hard-wired into the “solar-system.” Don’t let me confuse you, I am not complaining. I absolutely LOVED it. I felt very relaxed and will maintain that I slept in every day, because there were no clocks to contradict me. When I did get up, I would go for a nice run on the beach then enjoy some of the best coffee I’ve ever had from the restaurant across the street from our hotel.

Tulum is a special place. There are scenic Mayan ruins right on the ocean, a secluded setting, a relaxed mood, and great restaurants. I do fear all these great things will soon be the downfall of this place as larger resorts replace the small ones and phone wires are inevitably hung; but, for now, Tulum is a special place.

I’ll let the pictures fill in the details, click on the thumbnails to see the full picture.

Patients! They’re everywhere, AHHHHH!

The first story that has to be told from my recent trip to Tulum, Mexico is about the nice lady (a.k.a. crazy wacko) I sat next to on the plane.

As therapists, you see people who could use your services everywhere: the kid walking down the street using his crutch on the wrong side, the old man whose family is struggling to get him into the car, or just Aunt Ida chatting away at Thanksgiving dinner about her bunions. Aunt Ida aside, I try not to let my desire to get involved in these people’s lives take over. Aside from all the practical reasons not to get involved, there’s an ethical line that gets crossed when an off-duty healthworker starts injecting his/her opinions into a person’s private life.

Be careful, patients are everywhere and they want your PT brain.

While I frequently have to restrain getting involved, this past week’s experience was different… I wanted to run away. As I settled in for the 4-hour flight into Cancun, the lady next to me started telling me how she would be getting up frequently because of her debilitating back pain. I immediately recoiled into defense mode. How could I keep her from finding out I’m a PT? How would I read JOSPT without giving away my secret identity? I am not treating this  lady for the next 4 hours, this is my VACATION!!! ….and this patient was clearly CRAZY! Keep it to yourself, lady!

What went on for the next 4 hours was a delicate dance: She would ask me to get her carry-on down from the over-head. I would stash my PT magazines behind safety manuals in the seatback pocket. She would pace in the isles. Other passengers would uneasily wonder why. She would intermittently display her gabapentin bottle on the tray table. I would try to disguise JOSPT while reading by sliding as far to the opposite side of the seat as possible. She would talk on-and-on about her back pain, and I would nod politely.

When it came close to time to land, I thought I had made it through without revealing my secret, but there was one more test. My single serving friend had one more piece of information to make my blood boil. She was looking forward to her quick trip through customs and baggage claim. “You know, if you ask for a wheelchair, the airlines have to give you one.”

So, back in the terminal, as I stood in the hour-long customs line, I looked to the side and saw her cruising by in the wheel chair. She had won again, the crazy bird gets the worm.

Be careful on your travels this Thanksgiving weekend, patients are everywhere. Don’t trust Aunt Ida, I think she’s hiding something.

Transitions

Snow fell last week all across New England, and the throngs of facebook updaters shouted the end of the world in full CAPSLOCK. Not me. Not I. Not us. I ran outside at 1 in the morning in suburban Boston wearing my full Beetlejuice Halloween garb and started pelting my friends in their heads with snowballs.

It’s go time. Time to move again. Time to pack up and get myself to a ski town. Snow is falling and time’s-a-wastin’.

I love/despise moving all at the same time (Is that lespise? Sounds French). Road tripping half way across the country and catching some sights along the way is spectacular. Weeding out the old clothes for the thrift-store pile and trying to jam everything in the back of my Accord is not spectacular. Do we move every several months because we get excited about our next destination or is it because we get tired of where we are? I don’t know, but I know I like it. We are getting better at moving. I now own a home brew set-up in Maine and I have one in a storage area in Colorado. Not having to lug all that along really lightens the load.

Next week Kate and I move back to Aspen where we’ve spent three of the last four winters. It’s kind of like going home now, and I’m fired up. We also get to take some pretty cool trips along the way. We’ll shoot to Mexico for a week, fly on over to Florida for Thanksgiving, and then return to Maine for the long drive. Looks like we’ll have a few extra days to make the drive, so hopefully we’ll get a chance to try out our new L.L. Bean ultra-light tent in a National Park somewhere. Bottom line: I should have some fun stuff to write about soon.

Just wanted to offer a preview of coming attractions, express my excitement for the coming ski season, and share my discontent for living out of a sedan. I think I’ve accomplished these goals, so I’ll sign off now and get back to packing.

Next time I write, I should be on the open road. Hey! Put down that chalupa and drive safe.

James

Let’s Break Some Stuff

 

Last week I went to Pumpkinfest up the street from where I living. I went with my wife, her young niece, and her mother. I expected a quaint family-fun-filled afternoon with little to keep me entertained. What I encountered was a high-fueled world of motorized legumes and high speed orange destruction that left me begging a 3-year-old to let me watch just one more pumpkin get fired through the side of a demolished pick-up.

I’ll keep it brief and let the pictures and captions do the story telling, but a little history first. Pumpkinfest (and Regatta) started within the decade and has grown steadily year-by-year. The pictures are from the second Sunday of the 10 day festival. While Sunday is the climax of the event, it does not include the “Pumpkin Parade” where dozens of 300+ lbs pumpkins are carted through town before the big events, and it most certainly does not include the last day’s “Pumpkin Drop” where giant pumpkins are smashed by dropping them from a height onto a car. Sounds cool,I would have liked to have seen it… but someone has to work in this town.

Enjoy the pictures.

-James

P.S. Click on the thumbnails to see the full pictures.

I Am Spent.

It’s been a crazy few weeks. Wedding, after wedding, after bachelor party, after wedding… I should be clear, I’ve had a freakin’ blast.

Did they know we were coming? - Oceanview Inn, Gloucester, MA

Each weekend has been so much fun. Friends that I sometimes see once in a year, I’ve seen 5 times this summer.  It has been so cool going to weddings on boats, to weddings at summer camps, and to parties in foreign countries, but come on. I’m tired.

I’m headed into the first weekend I’ll actually spend at the apartment I’ve been living in for 6 weeks. I am so excited for all the sleeping in I’ll do and the French Toast on the horizon. There’s an autumn festival up the street and a couple craft beer festivals going on around the state if we get restless around the studio apartment.

Anyways, Hobohealth has suffered from my social indulgence. Spammers, or more accurately spam bots (computer programs that register for websites and create general electronic-anarchy), have over-run the discussion boards and this blog has gone untended for far too long.

I’ve started working on a new forum for discussion, hopefully it’ll be up in the next couple weeks. While Hobohealth has headed in the direction of a blog, I’ve always thought the strength of it was natural, uninfluenced discussion between travelers and wanna-be-travelers. So, hang with us while we fix up our discussion board and continue to slowly, but steadily grow.

Other than Eric Gosselin, perpetual Traveler of the Month, there are few people I would drive with to Montreal for a 3-day bachelor party.

As we move forward, think of what you want to ask other travelers on our new forum, think of your best experiences as a traveler you’d like to share, be our Traveler of the Month, or even consider being a guest writer on this blog. Also, if you like to have input, the blog comments are up and running for your pleasure.

Well, gang, happy autumn. “They” say our foliage here will peak in 2-3 weeks. I’ll try to share some photos at that time and keep you entertained with witticisms until that point.

 

James

 

Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Local Fare

Yup, this is why I choose to travel over picking a steady home with 2 labrador retrievers, a fenced in back yard, and 1.5 little rug rats. I’ve traded a steady job for 2 storage areas full of my stuff in 2 states that I don’t currently live or work in and a 300 sq ft apartment without a dresser.

Why? Permanent vacation and enjoying everything a new place has to offer.

While writing this blog I drank a Lobster Ale by Belfast Bay Brewing Co of Belfast, ME. It was delicious. Incidentally, I drank it out of a "Surf's Up - Hawaii" koozie, a nick knack from last summer's assignment.

I’m going to put myself through a 30 second drill. In the next thirty seconds I will type as many things as I can think of that I enjoy in each place I move to that are unique to each location: READY. SET. Let’s GO!

-Food
-Drink
-Runs
-Micro-brews
-Hikes
-Accents
-Customs
-History
-Scenic Views
-Nick Knacks

OK, so I started to run out of time when I came up with scenic views. That may be stretching it, but each part of the country does has it’s own look about it that is uniquely beautiful. After “scenic views” I looked out my window and saw a souvenir store full of nick knacks, I apologize. I would like to also acknowledge “micro-brews” is a subcategory of “drinks.” This does not bother me, and I stand by what I wrote on a 30 second clock.

In all seriousness, I love the variety. Talking with the locals, enjoying the local specialties, and absorbing a little bit of each location into who I am. This is what I think it’s all about.

Off Topic Travel

A quick update on my current life: The new assignment has been started, a 500 sq. ft. apartment has been found, and I’m absolutely loving the views of Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

I started writing this blog entry in Augusta, Maine on generator power in the wake of Irene. I was surrounded by candles watching the movie “2012,” where (spoiler alert) the world ends… somehow fitting. I’ve moved on from that, out to the coast, where unlike landlocked Vermont, little effects were felt. But, Maine and the beautiful resort/retirement town of Boothbay Harbor are far away from what I’d like to write about tonight.

3 weeks ago, I honeymooned in the Dominican Republic. Punta Cana was a town I knew little about before booking our trip. What we found there was nice, comfortable resorts plopped on the far East tip of a 3rd world country. Tourism, the Dominican Republic’s top grossing industry, is well respected by the locals and frequently offers the best and highest paying jobs. Compared to U.S. standards, pay is quite low and hours are very long, but the added benefit of decent housing and health insurance draws a large pool of applicants.

We enjoyed our time in Punta Cana, but had a wider variety of experiences  during our time outside the resort gates and city limits. I’ve placed a few pictures here that I think will tell a better story than I could write. Click on the thumbnails for fullsize images. Enjoy, I know we did.

What a Difference a Day Makes

Kate (my wife, also a traveling PT) and I planned to write daily on our search for traveling jobs over the next several days or at most a couple of weeks. That plan has been blown. Between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM today, our recruiter called and said there was a potential job, set up a phone interview, got 2 jobs lined up, and emailed the contract paperwork. WHAT!?!? Yesterday I was chewing my nails nervously about the difficulty of finding a job, and today I’m happily employed. Such is the life of a traveler.

Since I can no longer tell tales of traveler misfortune, I’ll stick with giving you some of the details of our current arrangement. I stick by my motto that I learn something new with each job search, and I hope this story can be educational for a new or experienced traveler;

-We found ourselves, last Tuesday (8/16/11), without any decent leads on a projected 8/22 start in Maine. We had been searching through our two “go-to” recruiters. We went into a more urgent mode and called up several of our past recruiters and started the process of reinstating our Massachusetts licences. The strategy was to expand the pool of jobs that were available to us. This did uncover a couple more opportunities that fell apart before we could even interview for the potential jobs.

-As the weekend passed, we knew we weren’t going to make our intended start date, but continued with daily check-ins to each of our recruiters. We interviewed with a couple jobs that weren’t in our ideal location, but would serve the purpose if we continued with poor availability of jobs.

-Today, we got lucky. One of our original recruiters reached a hospital in beautiful, scenic Boothbay Harbor, Maine right after the hospital’s current traveler gave his 2 week notice. We were notified of the position and scheduled with an afternoon phone interview. What we ended up with was two different positions with the same facility through our recruiter. One is your typical hospital-based travel position, one is a more crafty arrangement as a prn that is able to be cancelled should a full travel position arise in the area. A second travel position is more desirable due to the higher pay, tax breaks, and guaranteed 40 hours, but given our DESPERATE situation… we love it.

It’s interesting how this one has panned out. Not your typical travel assignment, but perfect timing for us. Sometimes it is all about timing – in this particular case, 0 jobs turned into 2 jobs in a 4 hour span – sometimes, that’s the way it goes. Fun sidenote, Kate and I both grew up visiting Booth Bay Harbor. As kids we each made annual visits to the same condo complex – wierd, right?

We’ll keep you updated over the next week as we search for housing, attempt to upgrade to a second full-time position, and get ready for a short 10.5 wk assignment.

Cheers and Merry Travels,

James