Wednesday, September 21, 2011

One Year Ago

Sunrise on our way down Schweitzer

My life has been a bit of a whirlwind lately, in a good way. The last couple years have gone by so quickly, and it's funny for my husband and I to think back to where we were one, two, or three years ago. And just a forewarning for everyone brave enough to read may be a long post. :)

Last week we were reminiscing about our time in North Idaho (which we do often by the way), which started about this time last year. You know sometimes when you first meet someone or go somewhere and think that they or it is the greatest thing ever and you just want to keep things like that forever? I think that was Idaho for us during traveling, sort of of like our travel honeymoon. :) It was the first travel job we did together. I had done one job by myself in MN prior to that, and one day Andy brought up doing it together. He had a great job doing sales, but was also in an ok place with them and himself to leave and pursue new adventures. I was covering a maternity leave, and didn't have a for sure promise of permanent employment after that. I was excited to break out and see what the world had in store for us. I interviewed a few places over the phone, but out of all of them knew Sandpoint was where I wanted to be. Andy and I had once taken the train to WA to visit family, and I remember waking up at one of the stops around sunrise. It was seriously breathtaking. The tracks were going over a huge lake that was surrounded by mountains all around. Huge trees, a beautiful sunrise, cute houses on the lake. Google 'Sandpoint' or 'Schweitzer Mountain' and check out the images. You'll see what I'm talking about. I had an interview there for a sub-acute facility and it sounded great. I wasn't disappointed.

Waterfalls near Sandpoint

We sold one of our cars, put most of our items in storage, and made plans to venture west. We bought a minivan, removed the seats, and packed it to the top. Said a sad goodbye to our family, friends, and church. It was hard to leave, and we had no clue what to expect. The trip there was a lot of fun. We filled it with stops at parks, visits with friends and family, and lots of great music to jam to. Andy and I always try to make road trips fun.

The place we found to rent was listed on Craigslist as well as another local site. Your travel company will find housing for you, but if you are willing to find your own, you may save a lot of extra money. We did that, and found a steal of a place. It's used by the owners only during the winter, was totally furnished, and Mapquest said it'd be a 10 minute drive to my work. When we pulled in to town, after a few days of travels, we met the owner at a local store. The first thing he said was, "Welcome to Sandpoint! Down here is where you'll be working (as he's pointing around the city), and up there is where you will be living, (as his finger continues to raise as he points toward the peak of one of the mountains), on Schweitzer Mountain." We seriously had no clue we'd be living on a mountain. I should have known by the conversations I had with them prior, but I guess it just didn't click. We got back into our van and he led us up the mountain with his truck. One winding curve after another, and more like a 35 minute drive than 10. There was a bit of unbelief for part of the drive up the mountain, but after we got to a lookout point near the top, we knew everything would be fine. There was a gorgeous view of the city below, part of the lake, and all of the surrounding mountain range. This would be our home for the next three months.

Winter on the Mountain

I started working in town soon after. We only had one vehicle there, so Andy brought me into town for work every day, and was there waiting when I got off. It was a big change, but so great to have that time with him just to prepare for the day and be together. The first week of a travel job is always interesting. There are already interesting dynamics within a company that are important to learn and observe, and when you throw a new girl in there who looks like a teenager and says she's the new OT for 3 months it mixes things up even more. You are given tours (hopefully), meeting tons of new faces, learning different policies and procedures, and of course, trying to learn their documentation system. It's a bit overwhelming, but you have to try to soak up as much as possible and continually remind yourself that it will get better as the weeks go on. The team I worked with was from all over the US, so that was a lot of fun. One of the craziest parts was that there was another traveler there, and he happened to be from ND. Ironic or what? And if you know anyone from ND, you know that there are always connections to be found with others. That's what happens when you grow up in a state with less than a million people. I had gone to elementary school with one of his cousins and had known their family pretty well when I was younger. That definitely helped me feel more 'at home'.

My boss was pretty intimidating at first. She's an Italian from Philadelphia who really doesn't take crap from anyone. :) I remember when she critiqued my first eval I did there. I didn't have everything in the right places, and wasn't as thorough as I should've been. She asked, "So this says they needed minimal assist. Minimal assist why?" as well as other questions like that. I would say it was because of balance or for initiation. She then said, "Then say that. I have no idea otherwise. I only want to say these things once. And I'm doing it because I care about you and care about you keeping your license if you're documentation gets reviewed or audited." My documentation has been much better ever since. :) She and her co-manager were probably the best managers I've had up to this point. They didn't let anything get overlooked, were caring and understanding with their team (us), put the patients first, always were seeking to better themselves and the team, and were always trying to promote the business. It was great. I met a couple friends where I work that I still stay in touch with and hope to be able to spend more time with in the future.

Andy found himself a job doing inside sales in the first couple weeks. It wasn't anything huge, but it gave him more of a purpose and he really enjoyed his co-workers and boss. I'm sure he'll maintain some of those relationships down the road from here.

Round Lake State Park

We forced ourselves to be active and get out there to explore as often as possible. Our typical day there was so out of the norm for us and we fell in love with it. There was always something to do. State parks, mountains, waterfalls, the beach, incredible Farmer's Markets, and live music everywhere we turned. We were able to be there for their summer to turn into fall, which is so incredibly beautiful. In fact, a year ago tomorrow we were hiking around Round Lake to enjoy our anniversary. We hiked a lot and were able to kayak once. Of course, being there from September to December also allowed us a glimpse of their incredible winters. Life slowed down there when winter fell. We are used to harsh winters, but this was a lot more dreamlike. There were downfalls to this as well. We lived on a mountain and owned a junker minivan. We had to buy new tires at the first snowfall because we couldn't get back up the mountain after the snow fell, as well as chains for our tires that we still don't know how to put on right. We would get a foot of snow on the mountain but only an inch or so in town. I loved sitting in the Monarch Mountain coffee shop or the Coldwater Creek wine bar in town and just watch the snow fall. It always fell slow and straight, in big sticky flakes. On the mountain we lived right next to the ski resort, and were able to enjoy it during Thanksgiving weekend with Andy's brother. We had our first experiences with fearing moose and bears and purchased our first can of Bear Spray.

We also found a great church that we really miss called Grace Sandpoint. We met a lot of great people there and really loved the messages and mission of the church. The city was hit hard by the recession, and the church was doing a great job of reaching out to help with their needs. They fed us all every week and then had a table full of food for anyone to take that would need it throughout their week. In the basement, they had a room designated for clothing, appliances, etc. that people had in their homes and weren't using or just wanted to give. It was open to anyone who needed anything, no questions asked. Check out their website to listen to messages or find out more.

City Beach in the Fall

It's funny, we talk about Sandpoint often with our family and each other. I think they're afraid we'll move there someday, but who knows. There are no plans to head that way at this time. We love going back to that place in our minds and think of all of the great times, but also remind ourselves about the fact that it really was our travel honeymoon, and not the greatest glimpse of what reality would be if we were really there. It also makes us excited to see what our future holds with our relationship, our jobs, and everything else included.

We have other 'honeymoon' experiences from the other travel locations that we've been, but I just wanted to share about this one today, hence the blog title. Maybe I'll share more about the other places another time.

We are now living in MN in the cities working and being busy. We have already been swept up in the hustle and bustle of work being our main focus and looking back has been a great reminder to us of what we need to shoot for from here on out. We are currently living in a great area full of fun and adventurous opportunities. There are trees and lakes everywhere and I am looking forward to an incredible fall. This weekend we plan to get our butts out of our apartment and explore what this area has to offer. State parks and apple orchards here we come! Hope the weather will agree with our plan. :)

Our first snowfall in ID


Anonymous said...

So I'm pretty sure we're clones :). I really enjoyed this post!

Tre said...

Kara, found your blog by chance and really enjoy your writings! Please post more often!

A fellow OT and travel OT blogger, Tre