Road Trip From Denver to Seattle

My college best friend, Ashley told me she was going to drive herself from Denver to Seattle by herself for her new adventure doing travel nursing. My first thoughts? How long is that drive? Are you breaking it up? Where are you stopping? She goes into telling me everyone doesn’t have the time off and she was just going to do it…alone. She proceeds to tell me its 21 hours in total, but she plans to stop in Yellowstone National Park to camp during the first night. Then, stop in Boise, Idaho the second night to finish in Seattle on the third day. Okay…I’m in.

I won’t dive into what to do in Denver since I barely spent time there on this trip, but if you are looking for things to do or places to eat find my Denver post here!

Day 1

Tip: my friend got the “America the Beautiful” annual park pass here. This pass paid for itself on this trip. For $80 a year you can get into a ton of National Parks and your guests too! We could use it at Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and the Lava River tube in Bend, Oregon (from our road trip).

Things to know about the pass:

  • Covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees at national forests and grasslands, and at lands and waters managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers.
  • Passes are punched at the time of sale and valid one full year from month of purchase (through the last day of the month).
  • Allows a pass owner and all passengers in a private vehicle, or the pass owner and 3 adults at sites where per-person fees are charged.
  • When using your pass, photo identification will be required to verify ownership.

We started driving from Denver to Yellowstone National Park. This took about 9 hours from Denver. We drove the whole park which took quite some time. We left around 6am and didn’t top exploring until 10pm. The good thing is there is so much daylight in the summer. The sun didn’t set until 9pm! We came from the south entrance and started west towards our first stop at Old Faithful. Then drove counter clock wise up to Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower Fall, then following the Yellowstone River to Yellowstone Lake.

Day 2

We woke up in Yellowstone then drove a short distance to the Grand Tetons National Park to Jackson hole. Jackson Town is known for the old western theme. We went to Persephone Bakery for a turmeric latte for some caffeine so finish the drive. Once we got to Idaho, I found the Shoshone Falls near Twin Falls, Idaho on Pinterest. It was $3 per car (cash) to get in. Apparently Shoshone is taller than Niagara Falls! It was super hot the day we went so we just snapped a couple pictures from the lookout points then headed on to Boise.

Places to Eat: The STIL (Sweetest Things In Life) was the cutest ice cream shop in downtown Boise. They also offered beer, wine and alcohol infused ice cream and floats. You must show your ID to try the infused flavors. STIL had a great modern atmosphere… I would highly recommend!

Day 3

On the third day, we started our morning in Boise to Bend, Oregon. This stop was a bit out of the way to Seattle, but I highly recommend. It reminded me of a mountain town in Colorado. About 20 minutes from bend is the Lava River Tube which is over a mile long underground.

Places to Eat: Spork in Bend, Oregon. We went to Spork around 5:30pm for dinner and the line was already superrrr long. The service is great and offer drinks while you are in line. We asked the server what was good and the story of Spork since they had a ton of reviews on Yelp for such a small town. It started as a food truck then expanded into an Asian and Mexican fusion. We ordered 4 small plates which was about perfect. They are known for their spicy fried chicken which I recommend.

We ended up being in Bend on the first Friday of July which had a ton of live music and art open until about 8pm. It seemed like everyone was out enjoying the food, breweries and shopping Bend has to offer.

Day 4

The final day was about a 5.5 hour drive from Bend to Seattle. There’s not much to stop at along the way other than Portland.

Below is a picture from our friends rooftop. Seattle is such a beautiful city with so much to offer. To see what I did on a previous trip check out my Seattle post here.

And that wraps up our PNW road trip. If you have 5 days to take this road trip is totally doable. You can book two one ways and rent a car to make it pretty affordable.

Travel Nursing

Travel nursing? Let me guess. You have a million questions because so did I. I decided to interview my friend Renee for this post because this is one option for working full time, but still seeing the world. She started her career at a hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Then, made the move to Phoenix, Arizona for her first stop of her adventure.

What inspired you to do travel nursing?

My first job was a good learning experience. I needed a positive change to help people. Travel nursing allowed me to do that and explore the USA.

How did you apply?

Research, research, research! There are a ton of travel nursing agencies. I honestly think this is the hardest part of the whole travel nurse experience. At first, I decided to go with a small local company in my hometown. I thought working with a local company would be nice so I could go into the office if needed. But, I found that the bigger companies had more options depending on what state you want to go to. Also going into the office really isn’t necessary.
– Just keep in mind that you may have to switch companies depending on what part of the country you are trying to go.
Also remember these companies are working for you so ask lots of questions.
Find a company that will reimburse you for your license, any certifications, scrubs, etc. Keep in mind they will not reimburse you until you get to that state to work.
Another thing to look for is to make sure companies offer health insurance.

How do you go about getting your license?

25 states are in the compact licenses which include licenses to all, but Ohio (which is where I got my original license) is not one of the compact states. So I have to apply to each state individually. I just went to each states board of nursing website and look for endorsement license. If you want more information to see if your state is in the compact license go here.

What states did you get and why?

Arizona: consisted of a two page paper with my contact information, I mailed it back to the board and then they mailed me a fingerprint card which I then took to a police station. Cost is about $10. They make you get a background check which cost $50. My Arizona license is good for three years and cost $240 total. It took me two months to get this license.

California: one page paper and they mailed you back a finger print Card. You have to get ahold of your college and get a transcript sent to the state. Keep in mind for all license if you miss any steps it delays you and with California the board is behind and averages 3-6   months to get your license. My California license is only good for one year and cost $179. It took me six months to get this license.

Colorado: this was the easiest and cheapest one. Everything was online, no finger printing needed. It was about 200 questions that you checked boxes and filled in your personal information. My license was emailed to me. My Colorado license is good for two years and cost about $90.

Texas: consisted of three pages of questions and an online test about their nursing law. I had to get finger printed and a background check. My Texas license is only good for one year and cost $216.

I had to go nursys.com and it will prove your license in your residential state. I paid $30 for each state that I chose. $30x 4 states= $120 (included in the costs above).

I chose Arizona first, because I wanted to go places based on weather and the time of the year. My next stop is Denver, because I didn’t want to be there in the winter. Then, my plan is to go to California and then Texas. The majority are 13 week contracts, but some places can do as short as 6 weeks. You can stay in one state for as long as a year before you claim residency.

How does housing work?

I would recommend finding it on your own. I looked into airbnb’s, VBRO, craigslist and even just googled furnished housing. For VRBO if you message the owners and explain you are doing travel nursing I have found they normally give you a discount. My agency sent me Extended Stay America and Hotel Engineer Apps.

How are your contracts broken down?

Think of it as a big pot of money that they break down into different sections. The agency will give you your hourly rate which will most likely be very low compared to what you’re used to, reimbursement for housing & meals, if you miss a shift how much you have to pay them, overtime hourly rate, holiday hourly rate, on-call hourly rate, and your call-back hourly rate. All of that is negotiable.

Join The Gypsy Nurse group on facebook. There is a lot of good information on there and it allows you to ask questions and get answers.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”- Mahatma Gandhi.