Stasha’s third travel nurse assignment was a long ways from her second, which was near Los Angeles. In fact, it was on the complete opposite side of the country near Philadelphia, PA. The hospital was Riddle Memorial located in Media and our apartment was in West Chester, about 10-15 minutes away. Although we weren’t excited about the long drive to get there, we couldn’t wait to make a pit stop in Ohio to visit family and friends after being gone for nearly six months. We were so excited in fact that we drove straight through.
It’s not something that I would recommend and probably not anything I would ever do again but we really did drive straight through. It took us 37 hours and we only stopped for gas and food. No sightseeing or hotels or anything that wasn’t necessary. Part of the problem was the fact we had cargo bags on the top and back of our car full of our belongings. Stopping would have meant that we would have had to unload all of this every night and reload every morning, something we had done on the way to California and I did not want to have to do again. We missed out on a lot of beautiful scenery driving at night and we learned a valuable lesson. If we wanted to enjoy long trips like these, we would have to invest in a cargo trailer (which we eventually did).
Our bad traveling experience wasn’t the end of our problems for this assignment. We made it clear to Stasha’s recruiter and person in charge of her housing that we absolutely did NOT want to be stuck in an extended stay hotel. It’s just not practical with two dogs and those hotels are usually in bad locations. A day away from our arrival date we were told not only was this the only option but it was located near the Philadelphia airport in a very bad section of town. We ended up staying at a hotel for two nights while we found our own apartment. Not only was it hard to find an apartment on short notice, but since Stasha’s contract was only eight weeks, it was even harder to find an apartment that offered such a short lease.
We settled on Windsor at Windermere Place but it cost us. Rent was $1,800 a month for a two bedroom, which was all they had available. They required first month’s rent up front, $250 deposit, $450 non-refundable deposit for our two dogs and a $25 monthly fee per dog. After two days of getting no responses at all, someone trying to scam us on Craigslist, and turned down because either the apartment complex didn’t allow dogs are didn’t offer leases shorter than 3 or 4 months, we didn’t have much of a choice but to take this one. Here are a few pics of the apartment.
Now onto the good things about our assignment. I will say that the area was really nice. There were lots of parks in the area and one in particular is one of my favorites to this day- Riddle Creek State Park. It was only ten minutes from our apartment and had 2,600 acres of beautiful creeks, hills, trails, and historical buildings. We loved to go there during the weekdays when everyone was at work and let our dogs run free on one of the many trails that weaved through the park. Check out some of the pics below and you’ll see why we spent a lot of our free time walking through this beautiful park.
Another memorable excursion was a trip we made on the trolley and subway to Philadelphia. Our goal was to see the Liberty Bell and the Reading Terminal Market. We made it to the market and the reviews on Yelp didn’t disappoint. The historical building was full of neat little food vendors from Amish pretzel hot dogs to chocolate covered onions. We passed on the onions but sampled the pretzel dogs and of course had a Philadelphia cheese steak sub. Our trip to Liberty Bell didn’t go so well. It was only a few blocks from the market so we walked through downtown Philly wondering around the cobblestone streets. The line to see the bell was more than we anticipated and one of the workers told us to expect at least an hour wait. Not being the most patient of people, we walked around some more and hopped back on the subway and then trolley to our apartment.
Before our time was up we ventured out a little further to a bike trail in Lehigh Valley, Amish country in Lancaster County, and Atlantic City in New Jersey. The bike trail was a 25 mile ride along a railroad track and river that proved to be more of a challenge than we expected but we made it. We ate at Plain and Fancy, an Amish restaurant featured on Man vs Food in Lancaster County and got a taste for some not so diet friendly but delicious home cooking. And we walked the board walk in Atlantic City and spent a little time playing the slot machines at one of the casinos, hitting the famous Tony Luke’s Cheesesteaks on our way back.
If we had to choose between our favorites, we agree it would be the trolley ride to the market and Riddle Creek State Park. It’s hard for me to enjoy the scenery sometimes because I am the designated driver. It was really nice being able to take the trolley and just relax and enjoy the view. And living close to the park was a nice change after living so close to L.A. where everything was crowded and the parks were a little further away and not nearly as green and full of trees. West Chester felt like a tropical rain forest compared to Southern California and our dogs seemed to enjoy having more freedom to roam and explore on our walks. Aside from our housing woes, it was a short but sweet assignment that marked the beginning of new chapter in our lives- we found out that Stasha was pregnant. More on that in our next travel assignment recap.