The road between hikes is paved with adventure...
Driving to work is not high on most people’s list of exciting adventures. But when the route includes a hike through the Grand Canyon, the neon lights of the Vegas strip and breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe, it’s not your average commute. There is nothing Aya travel nurse Rachel loves more than these journeys down the highway, her dog Spencer along for the ride.
Rachel will be packing up and heading east soon, this time with fiancé Adal in tow. They first met twelve and a half years ago on Rachel’s mission trip to Honduras, where Adal was her student host. Over the years Rachel occasionally returned to Central America, several times to Adal’s native El Salvador, with mission groups from college. When Rachel decided to hit the road with Aya because, as she says, she was “spending too much money traveling anyway,” fate brought them back together. At the time Rachel thought Adal was living in California, but it turned out he wasn’t far from where she landed in southern Oregon.
The Pacific Northwest was the perfect place for this outdoorsy duo to fall in love (trio if you count Spencer, and you have to count Spencer!). Rachel couldn’t have been happier with her apartment on the Willamette River, the waters of which she, Spencer and Adal often explored. “We don’t like going to the same place over and over again,” asserts Rachel. “So we hit one place and then the next, checking things off our list.” In the last year alone, Rachel has been to 15 national parks, and she’s not stopping there. Before heading to St. Louis for her next assignment, she and Adal will hit one more perfect spot. Rachel excitedly explains, “In North Cascades National Park they have this place called Diablo Lake. It’s this beautiful blue color. We are going to drive six hours to do that hike!” As usual, they’ll make the most of the long drive, passing through Seattle to grab some delicious seafood before they hit the trail.
Epic road trips aren’t the only thing Rachel loves about her career. She’s passionate about surgical care and has learned to appreciate the little things, like the fact that she only had one patient on her last assignment that required restraints. Compared to previous experiences, she says “That was pretty good!” Travel nursing has helped teach the already-laid-back Rachel to go with the flow. Last year, when she, Adal and Spencer drove through Arizona, they had to see Horseshoe Bend. With heavy rain pouring down on the red dirt, Rachel was hesitant to let the fair-furred Spencer out of the car. The prospect of driving the remaining days to Tennessee with a mud-caked mutt wasn’t appealing, but they were not going to miss the chance to see the famous site. So problem-solving travel pro that she is, Rachel simply “carried him under an umbrella like a king.” Rachel’s prescription for reaching this level of Zen? “You just need a little travel nursing in your life.”