Friday, July 10, 2015

All Because of a Pair of Scrubs

It started out as a warm, lazy afternoon. Erin had to work that night and had no clean scrubs, so she decided to do a load of laundry. Unbeknownst to her, the apartment tenant who had done laundry before her had used bleach in the washing machine. As Erin took the laundry out of the dryer, she noticed for the first time that some of the clothes had bleach stains on them, including her only pair of black scrub pants. With Erin having to work that night, we had no choice but to go to Walmart to buy another pair of black scrub pants. By this time, it was already about 4:00pm in the afternoon, so we knew we had to rush to the store to make sure Erin could get to work on time.
As we left the apartment, we noticed that the sky was starting to darken with rain clouds, but we didn’t find that to be unusual because we had gotten a lot of rain over the last week. We made it to Walmart without incident and bought several pairs of black scrub pants to make laundry easier in the future.

We got back in the car and started heading home. Erin was driving and it started to rain. As we drove along, we noticed a few small pieces of hail hitting our car and landing on the road. We did not think much of it, because we had experienced several rain storms that included small amounts of hail since we got to Denver. Within minutes however, it began to downpour, and hail the size of marbles began pelting our van. It became so bad we had to pull off onto a side street because we couldn’t see more than 10 feet in front of the car. Other vehicles started lining the side roads as well because no one could see anything. After a few minutes of pulling off the road, the streets started flooding. The sound of hail on our car was deafening. We quickly turned on the radio and pulled out our phones. The radar showed we were right in the middle of a severe thunderstorm with the potential for golf ball sized hail. We sat huddled in our van, hoping the storm would abate quickly and that our van wouldn’t suffer any damage. The ground was covered in hail and the roads continued to flood. As we looked outside it almost seemed like there was a layer of snow on the ground because everything that wasn’t flooded was covered by a layer of hail at least an inch and a half deep. By this time, it was about 5:30 and we still had a little ways to go to get home. We decided it would be safer to try and drive away from the storm rather than stay where we were. So, Erin crawled into the back of the van and Doug slid over to the driver’s seat. Once Erin was settled back in the passenger seat, we slowly eased our way back onto the road.

To make things worse, our phones started buzzing with an alert about a tornado warning, telling people to find cover immediately. So, while Doug navigated through the flooding streets, Erin kept an eye out for funnel clouds. The flooding in the roads was incredible! Gave us a new appreciation for the concept of “flash floods!” Several intersection we came to had a stream of water flowing through them from one side to another. We came to one particular intersection where most the other vehicles parked on the sides of the road had water two inches above the bottoms of their doors.

Slowly but surely Doug drove us away from the heart of the storm and the rain and the hail slowed down. By the time we got to our apartment it was still raining, but no longer hailing. Thankfully we made it back home safely and suffered no damage to our van. It is definitely an experience we will never forget! All because of a bleached out pair of scrub pants…

You can see the rapid accumulation of hail makes it look like snow. This is only the beginning it got much deeper.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Our First Adventures in Denver

Well our first week and a half has been very exciting. We wanted to enjoy the first few days as much as possible since we had been going nearly nonstop for almost six months and this felt a lot like a vacation. Therefore in the first week and a half we were here we went to the Denver Downtown Aquarium, the Denver Zoo, and the Red Rock Amphitheater as well as trying a few local restaurants and browsing through a few fun stores.

One of our first stop when we arrived was to the Swedish Embassy (IKEA) to purchase some cheap portable furniture. As neither of us had ever been to IKEA we were thrilled to look at the fun stuff and thoroughly enjoyed the fact that they had a cafeteria in the store.

We had both wanted to go to Shedd Aquarium in Chicago but never had the chance while we were still in the Midwest so our first full day here after unpacking we visited the Denver Downtown Aquarium. We had a lot of fun seeing a wide variety of different animals that we hadn't known existed, as well as many we were familiar with. We even got a chance to feed some Stingrays.

Erin was thrilled about finding out that they had an exhibit with 12 Seahorses in it. She examined
it for nearly fifteen minutes watching the Seahorses with great excitement before Doug pointed out to
her the line forming behind her

Doug was predictably terrified by the Sharks

Our visit to the Zoo was fun not only because we had the chance to see many different animals but because the only zoo that we had been to in a very long time had been the John Ball Park Zoo and the Denver Zoo was home to a far wider variety of animals. Below are some of the many animals that we got the chance to see.

This poor Leopard had only gotten out of surgery the day before and was sedated trying to ignore the world. Yet, he had to contend with the tour group of over 100 preschoolers that came to the zoo that day..

In the background you can see our favorite animal of the entire zoo... Zebras!

This is for our sister Kristin. They had tons of giraffes there and they we pretty fun to watch!

This goose made a nest directly next to the walking path and laid a pair of eggs. She then
 proceeded to lunge at and bite anyone who came within a few feet of her nest.

This elephant was rescued from the wild after being injured by poachers and having his tusk cut for the sale of the ivory.

This Rhinoceros also was saved from the wild after having poachers steal his tusk for the sale of the ivory.


This was clearly the "Alpha Male" because when he came into the indoor portion of the gorilla exhibit
 all the other gorillas moved away and looked terrified... as did most of the preschoolers as well.

We got to go into the wild birds exhibit and walk up close to a number of exotic birds, including the numerous peacocks they had. We had the chance to watch this one go from having its feathers low on its back to having them raised in a defensive posture and then back down again. Doug thought it was so funny he started walking up to each of them one after another just to get them to do it again.

We were able to take a photo of this guy in mid yawn.

The last really cool thing we have had the opportunity to do since coming to Denver was to visit the Red Rock Amphitheater. It is a large music venue that is located at 6,450 ft. elevation, up in the mountains, and has a seating capacity of just under 10,000. The majority of it is carved into the rock face of the mountain and this venue has played host to a number of extremely popular artists over the years. Also a couple of times a month they play movies on massive projection screens under the stars. There are also a number of hiking trails and a great view of the valley below and of Denver.

In the background you can see the valley full of homes and off to the left is Denver.

This one also has a good view of Denver off to the left.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Arriving in Denver...

We have finally arrived...

After six months of planning and preparation,
Several long hours packing the van,
48 Hours on the road,
1,227 miles of driving,
157 miles of construction,
7 Pit stops,
3 Gas tank fill ups,
2 Kitty bathroom emergencies,
1 Flea bag motel in the middle of Illinois,

We have finally arrived... in Denver Colorado.

Having given it great consideration, and prayer we have decided that we are going to embark on a journey that will take us across the country. We have left our home in Grand Rapids, MI and are going to be working traveling jobs for the next year. Erin will be working as a travel nurse for various hospitals across the country while Doug works as an online transcriptionist.

We are so excited to have the chance to see the country, visit new cities, try new foods, see new things, and meet new people. Knowing that life quickly becomes busy as you settle down, buy a house, have children and raise a family we felt this was the only time (before our retirement) that we would have the chance to do this.

In the months leading up to our leaving we were very busy, so we both apologize to anyone who we didn't have a chance to say good bye to. We spent several weeks working on our home getting it ready for the new people who will be calling it home while we are gone. This involved gutting the kitchen to the studs and rebuilding it, adding two new closets, redoing plumbing and electrical, and of course, lots of painting. In addition we had to struggle through saying goodbye to our friends and family and everything we have known for so long in order to leave to a new city where we had never been, and jobs where we didn't know anybody, but we were very excited.

Our current plan is to travel for the next year or two. Erin's job determines how long we will be staying in any given city. For the most part we will be in cities for three months at a time, but we may take posts as short as one month. As a result we are not sure when we will be back in Grand Rapids. We hope to be able to stop by and visit if we are passing through the Midwest, but we do not know where we will be going for each of Erin's post until the last few weeks of our current post.

Currently we are living on the second floor of a high rise apartment complex, in a 400 square foot studio apartment. While it is small it fits perfectly as we have very little we are traveling with. Also, the apartment is only a few blocks from where Erin is going to be working. Thankfully Sahara (our cat) has been adjusting rather well, and seems to be enjoying herself. She has even laid claim to an entire closet for herself.

As we travel we welcome all of your to keep tabs on what we are doing through this blog. We will try to update it regularly with photos, videos and stories of what we do and where we go. If you have any suggestions, or input for fun activities in the cities we go to or the surrounding areas please feel free to give us some recommendations.