Stasha’s fourth assignment was a short two-hour drive from West Chester, PA (near Philly) to Carlisle, PA – a small town just outside of Harrisburg. The drive was short enough we decided to take a day to drive up and do some exploring a week before her start date. The agency was having a hard time finding an apartment so we took matters into our own hands and tried to find a house or apartment to rent near the mountains. We didn’t find exactly what we wanted but the apartment we ended up in was nice and had a walking path along the creek that the dogs and I enjoyed almost every day.
I mentioned in my recap of our previous assignment that we learned Stasha was pregnant. After the shock of this news wore off, we decided we needed to figure out if traveling was still a viable option for us. After working it out in our minds, we decided we would continue down the path we started and had learned to love so much. Here are the details on how we arrived at this decision.
Our original plan was to move back home to be closer to family for the birth. Unfortunately we have found Ohio to be a black hole for travel nursing jobs. On the upside, the contract in Pennsylvania was for six months so it worked out perfect for Stasha. Her assignment would end with two weeks to spare until her due date. We were also able to work it out with the agency that we could stay in the apartment for an extra month after her due date to give her time to recover. The problem was we would have to pay for it and it wasn’t cheap. We decided for this reason and with the costs of having a baby, it would be a good idea if I found a job for our six-month stay.
I decided the quickest way would be to apply at a temp agency and see what they had- after all, they specialize in temporary jobs. I applied for a job at Amazon Warehouse and was hired on the spot! I wrote about my experience at Amazon awhile back and included how I almost cost us over $400 a month had I taken a permanent position offered to me.
At first I rotated between riding my bike to work and taking the car on Stasha’s days off. But with winter coming we ended up buying a used car for me to get back and forth to work with. It was a HUGE pain because our residency is in Florida so we had to pay Florida fees (which are insane) and have everything mailed to us. On the bright side, we were able to bypass Pennsylvania’s vehicle inspections since we were out-of-staters. Just a little advice, we were able to save over $150 because I still had my old license plates from a truck I had bought and sold in Flordia. Turns out transferring plates is much cheaper than having new ones issued.
We really enjoyed being near the mountains., but we had to drive about 30 minutes to get out of the valley and into the state parks. Once you got there though, the drive was well worth it. We were a little disappointed with the fall foliage but it was still beautiful. We enjoyed many walks in the parks and loved being able to let the dogs off the leash and run free. They seem to really come alive when we get them in the wild and without restrictions.
One park in particular was a favorite of ours, Pine Grove Furnace State Park. One side of the park has a paved bike trail and the Appalachian Trail museum, which is located at the halfway point of the Appalachian Trail. There is a nice little pond and beach area in the middle and an open field and lots of walking trails on the other end. I’m sure the park fills up during the summer but we pretty much had it all to ourselves and loved every minute of it!
We didn’t have too many excursions during this assignment. The fact that I was working, it was winter, and Stasha was pregnant had a lot to do with that. We took a lot of road trips and enjoyed driving up into the mountains and taking in the fall color and scenery. One of those trips took us down some pretty remote backcountry game trails. Most of these are gravel roads hunters use and one in particular ran along the crest of the mountain and offered some amazing views.
I wouldn’t trade a single one of our road trips for any amount of amusement park trips. To each his own but driving around and allowing yourself to get lost in a strange place usually creates some of the best memories. It’s great for our marriage too, giving us a relaxing environment to talk and enjoy each other’s company. I’ll let you know how those work out now that we have a baby.
Speaking of baby, that brings us to the grand finale of our assignment in Carlisle – the birth of our son, Carter James Crawford. We were fortunate to have our parents and a few siblings make the 8-hour drive to the hospital to share the big day. Stasha did a wonderful job and I walked away with a newfound respect for her and all women who go through child birth. Carter was born and remains healthy and I can’t say enough how grateful we are for that.
So that wraps up Carlisle, PA. Our next assignment was at our home in Tampa, FL. We were excited to get out of the cold, wet winter of the Northeast and into some sunshine and warmer weather. I’ll let you know how that didn’t exactly work out as expected and how our timing couldn’t have been worse. I’ll also fill you in on my near death experience in the Gulf of Mexico in my next travel assignment recap.