EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking near Virginia Beach, Virginia
Distance - 727 miles
Time - 12 hours
*I'm so glad that I drafted these entries last month, otherwise I think I would have forgotten a lot of the details!*
While Uncle Bruce was up and off to work at some crazy hour before dawn, it took me a little longer to get going. But eventually I was on the road only a little later than anticipated and managed to miss what little rush hour traffic VA Beach might have. When I left it was in the 50s, but soon the temperature was dropping fast and I was in a dramatic snowstorm - the first "snow built up on the road, everyone's going 40 on the highway with flashing lights because of no visibility" experience that I've had in at least a few years. It was a little scary at points, but thankfully we all came out safely on the other side of the storm where it was blessedly sunny.
The snow part of the drive was over but the temperature was now parked somewhere around 10 degrees (10 degrees!) and my poor desert dwelling car was no match for such a meteorological insult. The washer fluid sprayers were completely frozen and I started stopping every few exits to wash my windscreen from the cloudy build up of salty road spray. In an odd twist of serendipity, I had bought washer fluid in New Orleans and still had about 1/3 of the gallon in the bottle in my backseat - invaluable! The washer fluid at all of the gas stations was also frozen solid but I could splash some of mine on the window and use their squeegee to wipe it off, although a friend did later suggest a spray bottle and using the windshield wipers, which I think would be a great idea.
I finally made it to Nashville and only got a little lost trying to find my AirBnB host Karyn, but after giving her a call she got me to the right house and I was greeted by her dog Coda and their foster dog Rocko. Karyn and her husband Paulo were very friendly and welcoming, but I did get the feeling that they were planning a family movie with their daughter so I happily went and settled into my room for the evening.
Then there was Tuesday. Some days start with the best laid plans. And then you don't wake up until the "Time to Leave!" alarm goes off on your phone, inevitably the day you actually have to be somewhere important, like a tour and interview at the graduate program you've applied to. *sigh* I have a habit of being late to things, so now I build in so many buffers that I often end up being early (when I'm not, you know, running late) and on days like today, it means that I show up on time. I looked at my phone and jumped out of bed, washed my hair (just my hair, drying the rest of me would have taken too long), got dressed and even put on makeup, grabbed a cup of coffee, scraped off my car, and made it on the road heading towards campus in 12 minutes. Not bad for someone that usually takes at least an hour to get ready. There was an accident right in front of the parking garage where I was told to park, but I managed to get in, find a spot, and as I was leaving I found a nursing student who saved me valuable time by directing me to the correct building and floor to get to the admissions office. In the end, I was still a minute early and feeling pretty pleased with myself. Win!
Cheryl in the admissions office had arranged a whole morning of activities for me! First it was off to HEHI, a 3 hour class with all 150 of the pre-specialty students. Despite such a big class size, since they take everything together it was still obvious that I was an outsider. But I learned new things and even confirmed that I already know things! (It helped that the topic of the day was birth/post-partum). Happy feelings. Cheryl met me at the end of class to take a quick tour of the nursing school - quick because it's just three interconnected buildings. They no longer do BSN classes besides this pre-specialty year, so their MSN and DNP/PhD programs are the only focus. The simulation lab was the coolest part! There's a whole room set up to look like a hospital ward, complete with those robotic patients that can be programmed with symptoms and a variety of breathing/heart rates, etc. There's even one that is pregnant and has pregnancy complications! I was grateful that I was the only student touring around so that I could be all geeky over the neat technology and the potential that I might get to use it.
Other things that I learned while visiting : Remote proctors for exams are a little amusing (the name) and a little creepy (the idea that a 360 degree camera is watching you take your exams when you're not in Nashville). No matter how long I looked at the school's website, there are still so many things I thought I knew that I was very mistaken on. Like the clinical years - I thought they would assign us to a location if we didn't have a preference for either staying in Nashville or going back to our hometowns. Instead of getting randomly assigned to some new town, it's up to each student to contact a potential clinical site for the years that we're doing the specialty part of the program. That lead to a whole new set of questions : Where do I want to live and work? I love Tucson but I had mentally prepared to leave for at least 3 years. What would it mean to stay there? To be settled in a place?
It made me realize that I've always had a foreseeable end date to most every place that I've ever lived - Denver for elementary and high school - 12 years. South Hadley for college - 4 years. Burkina Faso/Kossouka for Peace Corps - 2 years. Tucson applying to grad school - 9 months. My car while traveling - 4.5 months. Back to Tucson before grad school - 6-7 months. I always though that this would be followed by grad school for 3 years, giving me ample time in which to contemplate that next step, where to move and actually live for an extended period. Now I'm contemplating the reality of being in Nashville for only a year and then...where? The idea with this program is that you do your specialty years in the city you plan on moving to, since by then you'll have started establishing your professional network and have job potentials. How do people chose where to live when everywhere is an available option? I love Tucson and I do think I'd actually like to live and work there. But I've also been smitten with Salt Lake City and Asheville and Ft. Collins, among other places I've traveled to on this trip. Votes? Opinions? I kind of feel like part of me expected to move somewhere new after grad school, a fresh slate if you will, but I also like that I've started to build a community in Tucson and want to finally stick with a place for a while.
So there's all that.
I had a lunch interview with the head of the Women's Health program and with the acting head of the Adult-Gerontology program, which was a fantastic chance to ask questions and get to know exactly what it meant that I had applied to the duel degree instead of just one or the other. I expected the option of a duel specialty to be really popular with students, but they said that each department usually has about 30-40 students but only 6 current students are enrolled in both, partially because you have to be accepted independently to each specialty and most students really are focused on one or another.
After lunch I was introduced to some students who were in their first specialty year of Adult-Gerontology (having completed the pre-specialty year) and it was such a great opportunity to ask a bunch of questions and find out that a good number of the students come from a huge range of backgrounds (I met a stay at home mom, a commercial airline pilot, and a social worker, for example). They really reassured me about the distance learning, as well as letting me know that the crazy traffic I experienced on my drive over was not at all uncommon - the take away lesson being live as close to campus as financially possible.
After a final meeting with the financial aid office, I drove around Nashville for a while, found some food for dinner and the next day, then went back to the house and had a great time playing with the dogs while chatting with Karyn and Paulo. I wish I had more time and energy to see more of Nashville, but overall I'm feeling really excited about the potential for this to become my home next year. I never expected to move to Tennessee, but I also never expected to move to Arizona and I've loved Tucson. I get the sense that Nashville might be similar in that regard, I hope I get accepted and get to find out if I'm right! (And if I'm wrong, I guess I'll be in class all the time anyway so it won't really matter if I don't like the city :p)
Cloudy start to the day
Then the sun came out for a little bit and it was beautiful!
Until I ran into the beginnings of the snowstorm. I think snow is beautiful, but prefer to be the passenger rather than the driver when I encounter it in a car. I didn't take any photos during the "skidding around the buried road" part, for obvious reasons
Freezing but pretty sunset driving through Tennessee
I feel like I have so much to say about this photo! But I'll just leave it here for now.
Rocko the foster pit bull who was simply a sweetheart (with a head that almost seemed too big for his body)
Rocko and Coda
Coda helping me blog