Thursday, 4 April 2013

My California Adventure - Day One

Day 238
127 Days Remaining

I think that there can be nothing scarier than venturing out on your own and doing something that is completely outside of your comfort zone.  Yet there can be nothing more rewarding than pushing through and doing it anyway.

I am sitting in Starbucks in Ocean Beach, San Diego, California.  Yesterday was Day One of my California Adventure - the first time that I have ever traveled alone, and the first real vacation that I have had in many years.
Ocean Beach Pier, San Diego, California
I was really panicking on Tuesday evening - I was supposed to work that evening, but thankfully my scheduler called and asked if I would like the day off since in order to prepare for my trip.  What a gift!  I was so grateful for the opportunity to get things done, but I still found myself really pressed for time.  I had to research and write a paper for my Nursing 111 class, pack my suitcase, prepare everything, tell my roommates I am moving out (oh yes - I found a new home!!  But more on that later), and make meals for my day of travel.  I was so tired after I finished the paper (an hour and a half - record time - although I really have no idea what I wrote) that I couldn't focus on packing the suitcase.  My roommate Fig had to help me (although saying "I packed for China in an hour and it worked out fine" wasn't as helpful as he may have thought it would be) and I finally sank into bed, exhausted, around 11pm.  Thanks to a sleeping pill, I zonked out immediately until my alarm went off at 5am.

My day yesterday started with school - I had clinical practice, which essentially is a once-a-week rotation where I and my classmates go to a seniors' facility and work with the residents to help them with their activities of daily living (or ADLs, as we call them).  This is always rewarding for me, despite the fact that I have already been doing the job for several years.  It's a new perspective for me to look as though through the eyes of a nurse rather than just the eyes of a Care Aide, and although I knew yesterday was going to be a long day, I really enjoyed my morning with the residents.  I did a bunch of nursing assessments, such as checking blood pressure, listening to heart and lung sounds, and assessing sleep & rest patterns.  It was a good start to my day, despite getting up so early.

And then suddenly the practice was finished and I realized it was time to head to my dad's house with my suitcase.  I was strangely calm as my classmate drove me there and I unloaded my suitcase, although I had a moment of panic when Dad didn't immediately answer the intercom and let me in.  I thought he may have forgotten, and there I was standing outside his building with my suitcase, my carry-on, my purse and my stomach full of butterflies.  Finally, though, he answered, and when I got up to his apartment he had a lovely lunch of lasagna, salad and dessert waiting for me.  I felt very well taken care of...and it made me even more anxious about the notion of striking out on my own and not having anyone to look after me!

At the airport, Dad dropped me off at the Departures gate and hugged me goodbye. I suddenly clung to him as I recognized that once he left, I was going to be completely on my own. He drove off, I walked into the airport, and immediately had to put on my "I'm in charge" hat.

And it stayed on.  I went to my airline desk and checked in - paying $21 for my luggage! What is that?! - and then settled in to relax until it was time to board.  It was easy.  I had gotten through the first hurdle.  And as I waited I finished up a little bit of homework that is due the day after I get back, so now if I feel the urge, I can study for finals but not worry about finishing up assignments.  Just before I was about to board, I got a text from my pal Dent saying that he was in the terminal for work and would come say goodbye.  It was so nice to get a send off from one of my best friends.
Picture taken by Dent at the Departures gate

A quick flight to Seattle and I was again in Sea-Tac airport (my least favorite airport...not that I have a lot of experience with them) and had to go through customs and collect my baggage.  It all went so smoothly that I wondered why I had worried.  At the luggage carousel I struck up a conversation with a lovely girl from Victoria who was also travelling to San Diego, and we ended up spending the whole layover together.  She was a great conversationalist; she studies psychology and works in rehabilitation with people who have acquired brain injuries, so we never stopped talking.  With the two of us together, it was much easier to find our way through the big airport (really? we have to ride three trains to get from one set of gates to another?) and once we had located where our Seattle-San Diego flight was to depart from, we sat nearby in the airport restaurant and had a great dinner of sourdough bread and salmon poke (she had clam chowder, which looked amazing).  I talked her into trying my signature chocolate martini and we toasted our solo adventures and chatted for two hours.

Our departure time was 6:50, so at 6:25 we settled our bill and leisurely made our way back to Gate C11, where both our itinerary on the screen and our boarding passes had stated we were loading from.  As we started to get in line, I noticed that the Destination marker above the entrance said "Sacramento" and not "San Diego".  "Wait a second," I said; "we're not going to Sacramento." We double-checked our tickets and just as I started to get worried, my travel companion suggested we check the flight board again.  Upon checking, we discovered that our gate had been changed to Gate N3.  We had fifteen minutes until boarding at this time.  We looked at each other and then dashed to the train.

Three trains later we raced up to our gate to find that they were loading already.  We made it into the plane with just minutes to spare and congratulated ourselves for keeping cool heads.  We both were grateful that we had linked up - for some reason it makes everything easier to have someone sharing it with you.

The view from 30,000 feet in the air

Once we landed in San Diego at 9:35pm, my new friend and I found our way to the shuttle busses and said goodbye, but not before we promised to add each other to Facebook.  And with that, I was on my own again, but way less scared than I had been.  It was dark out, so it wasn't possible to see what San Diego looked like, but I could see the palm trees and it reminded me of my past vacations in Mexico and Florida.  I was instantly relaxed.

The complimentary shuttle took me straight to my hostel, a funny little place right near the beach where I settled into a six-bed room where one girl was already snoring away in her bunk.  I got washed up and undressed as quietly as possible, signed into my email to send my friends and family a quick promise that I was safe and everything was all right, and then fell straight to sleep, proud of myself, excited about what the next day would bring, and at peace.

To be continued!

1 comment:

  1. I hate going through customs at SeaTac, and I LIVE in Seattle! It's the worst. Always.