Saturday, September 29, 2007

Good Samaritan Hospital

I have now had two shifts at work, both as orientation. They have gone well, and it seems like a good fit for a job. In fact, the patients have had the same diagnoses as my patients in Fergus would, except that ortho patients are on a different floor. I have had mostly peds patients so far, with a few adult abdominal surgeries mixed in. They do their charting a little different, but I've already caught on and should feel used to it soon. I've had the chance to meet quite a few other travelers, so it's been fun to have that connection with them and to hear different stories/tips/etc. Doing 12-hour shifts hasn't been bad so far, but on the days I work, I can see that's the only thing I'll do. There just isn't time to plan anything else! I have been exploring just a little around Puyallup, but am anxious to get out and see other things. This week has mostly been about getting set-up at home, and then needing to work.

Speaking of exploring, I think the end of this coming week I'm going to take off for western Washington. I'll actually have about 6 days off in a row, so I've been trying to think of what to do. Anyone have any good tips of things to see? At this point, I'm just going to get in my car and drive, and stay where ever I am when it's nighttime, and do whatever I want during the day.

I was thinking about heading west towards the coast, and maybe driving north to the NW point on the peninsula, around Olympic National Park, back towards Port Angeles. Maybe Victoria? Maybe take some ferries back towards the San Juan Islands? Or maybe coming back along the east side of the peninsula along Puget Sound?

I work the night of the 4th so have to sleep some on the 5th. I could leave late afternoon and then need to be back to work on the 11th (with a nap before my shift!).

Any suggestions of things to see or places to stay? I didn't bring a tent and it's also a little cold for me to think about camping, so CHEAP hotels is what I'm thinking. Anyone want to join me? It was hard to think about doing this kind of fun stuff alone, but I also am not going to let that stop me. I'll still head out alone, but if there's someone out there that wants to join me or even meet up somewhere, that sure would be great!!

Best Dessert Ever!

Last night, I had a fun treat! My dad had a business trip to Bellingham, WA which is farther north, but he flew into Sea-Tac Airport. He was able to make his flight early enough so that I could pick him up, we had dinner together, he got to see my apartment, and I still got him back in time to meet up with his co-worker.

We decided to eat at Black Angus Steakhouse, which was a first for me. We had a GREAT meal, and ended with probably my new favorite restaurant dessert. To say it was really good is an understatement... It's called the Big Mountain Chocolate Fudge Cake, and I highly recommend it! In fact, the whole meal was delicious, and I've found a new favorite restaurant! Check it out sometime!

After dinner, I got to show my dad my apartment and the main road in Puyallup that I live just one block from. It was good for me to get to the airport as well, to realize it's relatively close, and easy to get to. Come on out anytime, and I'd love to pick you up!

Here are the last of my pictures from my apartment. I took this one of my bedroom from the doorway.

This is from the window. The door is right next to the dresser. Notice how much space there is between me and the bed, it's a large room!

Then, this is taken from the sofa/front door area.

My dining room table and chair set that my company rented for me.

This is so you can see how the dining room is attached to the kitchen (see previous post).

Here's my little deck. There's also a storage room just to the right side of it, where I can put my empty boxes. I thought a nice yellow mum would help the deck look cheery.

And the view from my deck. You can see the pool, and there's also a hot tub. That building on the left side is the office and that's where the fitness room is as well. It's turned out to be a good fitness room!

While my dad was here, he helped me learn the lost art of adjusting the TV antenna for a better picture. I'm happy to report I can now get 4 channels pretty clear, and another three are pretty blurry. Thanks, Dad!! I had put up the antenna and moved it a little, but I learned you can really move it around, or do things like put in on top of a chair three feet away and get a better picture. So much for channel surfing anymore.... I keep reminding myself of all the money I'm saving by not getting cable, and all the time I'll have for exploring!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Puyallup Apartment

Here are a few pictures of my apartment. The apartment is about three years old, and in good condition. They had obviously done a great job cleaning, and the carpets had just been steam-cleaned. The only thing I wish was different is the fact that there isn't good sound-proofing. I can hear my neighbors, not just a little, but actually quite a bit. I'm sure as the days go on I'll get used to it, and I think I'll keep the bathroom fan running while I sleep, which will offer some good white noise.

Here you can see my front door, and as you walk in the door and turn right, there's the living room. Yes, those are rabbit ears on my TV (loaned from my dad). I'm trying to save money by not getting cable. I have 7 stations, only three that you can make out the blurry picture, so we'll see how long that lasts.
The couch and chair, coffee table, TV stand, and end tables and lamps were all rented for me by my company. There is also a dining room table and chairs, and a bed, dresser, nightstand and lamp for the bedroom.
The kitchen wall that has the sink on it is the wall that is directly behind the TV. I'm standing at the fireplace to take the picture of the kitchen wall with the stove on it.

The bathroom is really rather large. I'm standing at the doorway, and just this side of the shower is where the sink area is.

My bedroom isn't quite ready for a picture yet, but I'll do that soon!

The apartment complex also has a pool and hottub (both outdoors, but the hottub is covered by a shelter) and a good fitness room. I used the fitness room today and was alone there, so I hope to make good use of that during my stay here.

Let me know when you want to come visit!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I'm in Washington!

I made it! I am sitting in my new apartment right now! I want to thank all of you who were praying for me during this trip, and who have checked in on me -wondering how everything went/is going.

The trip went so well, even better than I could have hoped for! As you can see from my previous post, I was able to keep occupied with the License Plate Game, and I'm happy to report that I saw 46 different states! I had decided that I would end the game when I pulled into my apartment complex, and when I did, I was happy to see #46, Georgia! The states I didn't see were Hawaii, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Mississippi. Maybe those will be my first four on the next trip...

During my drive, I took time to see the "famous" Mitchell, SD Corn Palace. As you can guess, it's a palace made out of corn. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you can see the individual ears of corn that make up the walls.

While in Wyoming, I got to see Devil's Tower, which was our nation's first National Monument. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but it was actually pretty amazing.

In the last picture, you might be able to see that there's a whole flock of vultures that were circling the top of the tower. There were also two guys who were climbing up one of the crevices. Pretty amazing!

In crossing the mountain passes of Idaho, it actually got pretty dark for me in the middle of the afternoon, with a huge cloud covering. It was raining on and off, pretty light, but the clouds were very dark. Well, just as I came down off the last pass, the clouds opened up and God gave me an INCREDIBLE view! The clouds opened up a little, and the sun was directly behind them in its sunset. The sky turned a bright gold color and I immediately thought "this must be what the streets of heaven look like!" It was that spectacular! As the sunset progressed, I saw every shade of gold, orange, pink, and purple imaginable. The picture can't even begin to do it justice!

I had a great time in Wyoming, Spokane, and also Everett. Thanks to all my friends and family that hosted me during this trip!

I moved into my apartment yesterday morning, and it only took about 30-45 minutes to get everything unloaded from my car. I had hoped to be able to take pictures of my apartment to show you, but I don't have everything quite ready yet. Don't worry, they'll come soon!

When I moved in, I realized that there was a hill and many trees in the way of me getting to see Mount Rainier from my place. But, I knew a great view couldn't be far away. The sky was clear, so I figured I was in luck, but when I drove around and got to a good spot, this is what I saw. The clouds were hanging right over the mountain, but if you look real close you can see it hiding underneath.

Well, today, I went out exploring a little (finding the hospital, etc) and it was real cloudy. I went into Target, and an hour later walked out (I can spend a LOT of time in Target!). I was busy fumbling with my keys, but then looked up and the sight took my breath away! Mount Rainier really IS close, and it's incredible! I drove back to the good viewing spot I found, and there were three other cars there with people taking pictures! Now I can see that in this picture, it doesn't actually look as majestic as it did in person. Maybe because of the hills in the way, or the fact that I was trying to get the moon in the shot so the mountain looks smaller, but it really is pretty breathtaking! I imagine you'll get to see LOTS more pictures during my three months here!

I'm off to bed. I have to be at Human Resources at 8am for hospital orientation. I think that's also when I should find out my schedule, so I'm excited to start making plans during my days off!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

License Plate Game

I love road trips! I have been on MANY, MANY road trips in my life. I've gotten to see 43 states, and I've driven to each of those. I've also flown a lot, but I don't think there's a state that I've ONLY flown to, not driven to.

All that to say, I've played the License Plate Game a lot. I've gotten really good at picking out license plates from far away, knowing the design, not needing to wait to see the words.

In all those different road trips, I've realized that there are many different ways of playing the game. You can work as a team, or have a friendly competition. You can compete with someone to see who sees a different plate first. You can compete to see who sees the most. You can start with a geography lesson and first think of all the states and write them down, then cross out the ones you see. Or, you can just write them down as you see them. If you're really ambitious, you can name the state capitals as well! It all depends on how long the trip is, and who's in the car with you! I've learned that everyone plays a little differently. I'd love to hear comments on how YOU play the game -or any other car games for that matter!

Well, when I left Burnsville yesterday, I headed south on I-35. About 75 miles later I turned west on I-90 and realized I was already bored! And, I realized that would be my interstate all the way to Seattle. Looked like a long trip ahead of me! I hadn't planned on playing the License Plate Game, because, well... let's admit it... being alone in the car meant I already knew who would win. But, boredom got the best of me and I decided to play. Wow! Was I sure in for a surprise! I drove through the rest of Minnesota, and then hit South Dakota, and by the time I left South Dakota last night, I already had 39 states!! I think that must be a record!

When my parents and I spent two weeks on a road trip to Montana this summer, it took us the whole trip and we finally saw 49 plates total (Rhode Island still eludes us!). Last summer a friend and I went on a National Park trip, and we ended up walking up and down the parking lot in Yellowstone to see the final few. I know, it's probably cheating, but there aren't really rules anyway...

So, to only get through the first two of six states on my trip and already see 39 different state's plates, I was pretty pumped! Also, that was really the only excitement of the day (luckily!) and I really take a lot of pleasure in the little things in life!

I'm not sure when I'll get to post again (I didn't think it would be until WA) but check back for updates and see how the rest of the trip goes! Thanks to those of you who called yesterday. I'm back in for a long drive tomorrow, so feel free to give a call!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ready To Go

Well, I'm all packed up and ready to go! I just need to clean up my room a bit so I can feel good about leaving it for three months, and then hit the sack for my early morning departure. I'll be going just over 700 miles tomorrow and stay for two nights with a friend in Wyoming. Then, on Thursday morning I'll leave her and drive just under 800 miles to stay with a friend in Spokane. Then, on Friday I'll only need to drive about 300 miles to stay with family in Everett, WA. On Saturday morning I'll drive south about an hour and move into my apartment and get all settled in! I'll be sure to post pictures of what my apartment looks like.

If you're looking for something to do on either Tuesday or Thursday, give me a call! I'll be driving along and probably a little bored... you know, except for the whole driving part! And Uncle Gary, I got a bluetooth headset so I won't need to hold onto my phone while I'm driving -should be much safer!

Here's my car, packed to the brim!

We just ate dinner as a family, and finally remembered to take a picture of all of us. Since this is the one and only full family picture we've even taken since David was born, I can imagine you might see it show up on Christmas letters, etc. With tears streaming down my face, I said goodbye to David and his parents. I can't believe I don't get to see him again until Christmas!!!! My mom and David and Julie have promised to update their blogs for me, so we'll have to watch for those updates together and see how he's growing!

I'll talk with you later, from Washington!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Swimming Lesson

Today was going to be a packing day for me. I needed to figure out just what clothes to bring along for three months in Puyallup, which turned out to be harder than I thought. I don't really know all of what I'd like to do outside of work to know what kinds of clothes to bring along, and it looks like it's warmer now and winter when I leave so a variety of temperatures. If any of you Washington friends have any suggestions, I'd be glad to hear them!

Well, I took breaks from packing all throughout the day because David was here, and I was in charge at different times. Once Julie got off work, I decided to go with her because it was David's first swimming lesson! Julie signed him up for lessons on Wednesday nights for the next 12 weeks. He wasn't able to tell us anything (no words just yet!), but it looked like he was enjoying himself! I decided to go for a few minutes to see what it was all about, and snap a few pictures. Enjoy!

Looking good in his swim trunks and warm-up jacket!

I know he's not smiling in this picture, but he did have some good smiles while swimming along! He also loved being around some other little buddies. Some of the parents knew each other from their birthing class.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

David at 6 months

David turned 6 months old today. Hard to believe how fast this time has gone! It seems like just yesterday that I was typing entries from Julie's hospital room when he was born. I can't imagine how fast the next months and years will fly by!

On Wednesday my mom and I took him to get pictures taken at JC Penny's. They don't come back until next week sometime, but here he is at the end of the long day!
He was such a trooper, and did really well for the photographer! In fact, the hardest part was limiting ourselves to which pictures we wanted, since they all turned out so well!

Yesterday his parents took him to Chuck E. Cheese (which might have been more for their enjoyment than his!) and my mom and dad and I met up with them there. David and I decided to get our picture taken at a sketch machine. I think it turned out pretty well! I know it's a little fuzzy, but that's because it was scanned in. The original is great, and will be taped to my mirror in Washington!

He also had a fun time hanging out with Grandpa, just relaxing!

Today I decided that I just wanted to spend time with him, doing well.... really anything! I can't believe I have to leave him in a week, and want as much time with him as possible. I had some errands to do, so I picked him up so we could hang out together. Now I know it could look like he was bored on my errands, but I like to think he was just so content that it was easy to drift off! He looked SO cozy that I couldn't resist the picture!

Before I leave for WA, I wanted to be sure and get to one of my favorite restaurants ever, Cossetta's in St. Paul. It's this GREAT pizza place on West 7th that is very authentic Italian, and has an Italian Market as well as great food. My parents decided to meet up with David and I and we all headed to Cossetta's. Mmmm.... I'm not sure if he had ever been there before, but after his long nap and a bottle, he was ready to have fun and smile at everyone that walked by. They all loved him! It was a great end to a great day with my little buddy!

Friday, September 7, 2007

The All-American Pastime

This post is mostly for my old roommate, Christine; Carrie and Henrik; and my little buddy, E. The rest of you are welcome to read it, though, since I decided to post it here! I watched a lot of baseball with them in the past, and... well.... read on!

As you know, in the past, I haven't really loved baseball. Now, I've never hated it, and I've enjoyed going to games, but it hasn't been my favorite sport to watch on TV. I'd never choose to stop and watch a game as I flip through the channels. Just about any football game is great with me, and high school or college hoops are pretty great (especially in person), but baseball I could take or leave.

Early this spring, as the baseball season started, I decided to take a look at my feelings on baseball. Why didn't I enjoy it as much as other sports? Why is it that so many other people do? Why can I LOVE baseball movies like The Rookie, Fever Pitch, A League of Their Own, The Natural, and of course Field of Dreams "Is this heaven? No, it's Iowa!", but not really love the sport itself? Well, I figured a few things out.

First of all, I realized my bottom-line issue. I love team sports. I love everything about working on teams: pulling together in adversity, having unity, and giving up one's self for the betterment of the team. I started to watch a few baseball games to figure out why I felt like I did, and in the very first game I realized that I viewed baseball as a one-man sport. Now I know there is a whole team in the outfield working together, but they are all working against one person, the hitter. It didn't seem fair to me! All the other guys on HIS team were just sitting on the bench, not even always watching to see how he did! He looked pretty alone out there, and there was a lot of pressure for him to do well -by himself!

Secondly, I realized quickly that I don't know a lot of the ins and outs of the game. I enjoy football and basketball better because I understand what's going on and what some of the strategies are. I don't know many baseball rules, or why teams choose to do certain things.

Well, realizing my two issues, I decided I needed to make a change! I decided to CHOOSE to like baseball! I started watching more and more Twins games, and it quickly became a great thing to have on TV while I was trying to pack.
I also decided that I needed to learn more about specific players, since I really love the personal side of sports. I caught a late-night show on ESPN about Joe Mauer, and this was even before I knew he was E's favorite player! It helped to learn more about this guy who grew up in St. Paul, played three sports for one of our local schools, and came from a baseball family. It was great for me to put a face to baseball!

On August 17th, as I was driving back from visiting the Nilsen's in Iowa, my dad told me that he and my mom were going to the Twins game that night. With my new-found enjoyment of the game, I asked if I could go with! I figured we'd have nosebleed seats somewhere in general admission (where I usually sit at the Dome!), but it turns out that one of her doctors bought everyone tickets, there was an extra ticket for me, and they were GREAT seats! We were in the 17th row along the third-base line!

When I went with Carrie and her boys to the zoo, I showed E these pictures then, but I promised to get them posted sometime so he can see them whenever he wants. Here you go, E!! Here are some of the players before the game. See how close we are?!(click on pictures to make them bigger)

Here is Joe Mauer after warming up.

And Casilla, Cuddyer, and Punto before the game.

In the 7th inning, Nick Punto struck out with the bases loaded. We were sure hoping for a grand slam!

He redeemed himself with the last play, though. We were tied up with the Rangers and had gone into the 10th inning. Punto hit a single but the Rangers made an error and he made it all the way to second base (if I'm remembering this right!). Here you see that Mauer came up to bat, but when the pitch bounced off the catcher towards the backstop, Punto ran to third and then Mauer waved him home!

You would've thought we just won the playoffs by how much excitement there was! The fans went wild, Mauer lifted Punto off the ground, and the rest of the team ran into a huge huddle! It was a fun game to be at!

One of the best parts of the game, though, was just before it started, when the 1987 Twins were on hand to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of winning that World Series. It was great to see them together again! I will never, ever, forget the crisp fall day when my mom took Julie and I out of school and brought us downtown for the ticker-tape parade after they won. I will never know what I missed in school that day, but I will ALWAYS remember being around all the excitement of celebrating with the whole city! There were people leaning out of windows, rolls of TP floating down from the tops of skyscrapers, and masses of people watching as the Twins rode by on the street.
The players on this team were the ones I felt like I knew personally. People like Kirby Puckett (my favorite), Kent Hrbek (who I met at the State Fair!), Gary Gaetti, Bert Blyleven, Jeff Reardon, Frank Viola, Greg Gagne, and Dan Gladden. Obviously there were others, but those are names to me that will always symbolize baseball.

At the game, I tried to really pay attention and learn a few more rules or strategies so I'd understand it better, but mostly it was just fun to be there. And one of the great things was to realize that I was REALLY HAVING FUN! At the beginning of the summer I wasn't sure how my determination to like baseball would go, but now that it's been a few months, I've really had a change of heart! There's still a lot more to learn, but now I have to say I'm looking forward to getting the chance to learn it all!

Baseball: What a GREAT All-American Pastime!

Monday, September 3, 2007

State Fair

Yeah for the Great Minnesota Get Together!!! As many of you know, I LOVE the State Fair. My favorite day of the summer is the day I get to go there, and this year, well... it couldn't be beat! I got to go FIVE days! WOW!! Living in Fergus, it just wasn't possible to get there more often, but being here in the Cities changed all that! My parents and I were able to spend the day there a week ago, and we hit all sorts of great spots. I really enjoy the Creative Arts building with all the quilts, woodworking projects, and other homemade stuff; the Education Building with all the amazing projects that kids of all ages have submitted; and the animal barns with all the hard work that goes into caring for each individual animal.

Then there's the food! The Minnesota State Fair is known for having everything on a stick. Well, Pork-Chops-on-a-Stick has always been a favorite of mine, but this year I decided to branch out a little more. I've been watching WCCO news down here, and each night they've highlighted different foods they found that day. I'm happy to report that the Belgian Waffle-on-a-Stick is just as good as they said. I tried the Spaghetti-and-Meatballs-on-a-Stick, and while it was interesting and tasted okay, I'm not sure I'll have it again. Then it was great to hit the old standards like Sweet Martha's Chocolate Chip cookies, along with All-You-Can-Drink-Milk from the milk stand. And don't forget about Cheese Curds. Mmmmm...... !! Washing all that down with Fresh Squeezed Lemonade is a great idea!

Here's a picture from a week ago, on Saturday, when it was REALLY busy. If you click on the picture so it gets bigger, you can see how packed it is! I know this isn't everyone's cup of tea, but for one day in the summer, I think it's super fun! I feel bonded with all other Minnesotans on days like this!

Then, Monday a week ago, my cousin Krista was in town from Montana and I got to go to the Fair again to meet up with her and her husband. We had a great time together! She sent me this picture of the two of us (it was a windy day!):

In the picture, you can see me trying my new favorite fair food, Salted-Nut-Roll-on-a-Stick, dipped in chocolate! A WCCO newscaster talked SO much about that particular item (he had 8-9 a day!!) that I decided I wanted to try it. Well, the one I had was excellent, and it'll be on my must-have list every year!

Krista also sent this picture of when I got to meet Kent Hrbek! He was on the 1987 World Series team for the Minnesota Twins! He was signing autographs on a teddy bear you could buy with the proceeds going to cancer research. I decided that David needed one, and I also really also wanted to meet Kent Hrbek!

When I brought the bear home to David, and remembered how ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING is going directly into his mouth these days, we decided that this can sit on his shelf for a while until he gets older and I can tell him about the '87 Twins. It'll mean more to him later on, right?

Then, this last weekend I had a new fair experience. I got to work there! I know the people that own the huge stand on Judson Ave by the horse barn and cattle barn, and got to work for them on Saturday, Sunday, and today. My parents stopped by on Saturday and got this picture of me selling hotdogs/corndogs.

After I had worked concessions for an entire summer when I was 18, I wasn't sure I would do it again! But, many of my friends have worked the State Fair and I've always wanted to do it sometime. It's never been possible until now, and this was actually the perfect year! I really had a lot of fun! I know if I had been selling hotdogs all summer long I might not say that, but hanging out with friends for three days at the MN State Fair really can't be beat! So not only did I get to attend the Fair more than any other year, I saw a different side to it as well! Only 351 days until next year's fair! See you there!