I get asked all the time where my favorite place to work has been. The other question I get asked most is if I like my job. Of course I do, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t. I have had a couple of places that I really enjoyed. I will preface that by saying that I have found something at every assignment that I have liked. Have I had any rough jobs? Certainly-none of us can escape that, but I do have the ability to see the good that is also there. I doubt I would be able to appreciate the small things if I had no bad ones to compare it to.
But, back to my favorite place. I would have to say that it is a tie between Oregon and Cleveland. I have worked in Oregon twice, about 2 years apart, and have come to find that Oregon is very much like my home state of Maine. Nothing can replace Maine, but Oregon does have much of the charm that my home state does. Maine and Oregon even share the name of a major city. A coin toss decided the fate for Oregon and I was able to see the very coin.
During my first assignment in Oregon, I was located in the Eastern side of the state, in a small town called Baker City. The nearest airport is Boise, Idaho and it is roughly a 2 hour drive northwest to Baker. One of the best things about BC is that is chock full of history, which is something I am very interested in. Growing up, I spent hours playing “The Oregon Trail” on our Apple IIe computer. I was fascinated by the trail and the lore associated with it. So, one of the first things I did after I got settled in BC was to go to the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. The landscape was beautiful and when I discovered that I could actually STAND on the ruts that so many wagons passed over, I was ecstatic. My biggest connection to history is being able to see or touch something that someone in the past has influenced. It makes it far more real to me.
Also as part of my Oregon Trail experience, I drove the 5 hours up to Portland along the Columbia River Gorge. I combined old history and new by seeing The Dalles, but also driving along the historic highway where the largest concentration of waterfalls in the U.S. is located. Multnomah Falls is one of the biggest and most famous. I have seen it in several movies and commercials. My affinity is for water, and I admit, I prefer it to be the ocean, but waterfalls are definitely second on that list.
Back in Baker City, there is a hotel called the Geiser Grand Hotel. It is the oldest in the city; opening in 1889 and certainly has its’ fair share of history and ghost stories. It has gone through many transformations over the years. Some of its’ most notable features are a stained glass ceiling that you can look at from the dining room and it had the third elevator that was built west of the Mississippi. It is a beautiful hotel and I spent many Fridays having dinner in their bar. I decided to even spend a night there, despite having an apartment about a mile and a half away. I chose the room with the “most activity.” It’s a gorgeous room that is part of the distinctive clock tower section. The view is beyond words of the Elkhorn Mountain Range. I can’t say that I had any experiences other than a comfortable night of rest in a nest of down, but I still enjoyed the experience.
My adventures begin in Tuba City, AZ. It’s a very small town on a Navajo (Dine) reservation about an hour east of Flagstaff and about an hour west of Page. It’s fairly remote and there isn’t much in the way of housing and other comforts, but it has a surplus of beautiful scenery and unimaginable colors. One of the first things that I noticed when I arrived in Flagstaff was how different from Phoenix it was and how close it resembled my home state of Maine. I wasn’t expecting that. As I headed out of “Flag” and started on my journey on Historic Route 66 to Tuba City, the landscape became more and more of what I expected Arizona to look like. Where Flagstaff had the mountains and trees, Tuba City had the grand expanse of desert and sandstone. It was so flat that you could see for miles and miles with no real perception of how far you were actually looking. It amazed me and quite honestly almost made me drive off the road a couple of times while I played the swivel neck tourist. I come from a place where we are very used to the tourists doing that….the “cone eating, swivel neck strap hangers” as my family has called them for years. I may not have had an ice cream in my hand, but it wasn’t far from the truth for me that day. I even found that the longer I spent in that gorgeous place, I still marveled at the ever-changing landscape. Four years later, I can still be truly amazed by looking at all the fantastic pictures I was fortunate enough to take. TC was a mix of many emotions for me. It was difficult for many reasons, some of them personal, some of them pertaining to the job that was a challenge in many ways. None of those reasons can take away the wonderful things that happened during my time there. I met some wonderful people, some of whom I still keep in touch with on a regular basis. It paved more of a path on my quest to visit all 50 states and it even brought me to a humbling point as I stood beside the massive Grand Canyon for the first time. One friend once called it “a big hole in the ground.” While that may be true, I would never stoop to shun it like that. That moment of first breath-taking beauty was an incredibly emotional experience. It overwhelmed my mind and took in all my senses as I tried to comprehend what had only just been a thought in my mind prior to that. The expanse was indescribable, the colors had no names that seemed to fit and the feeling of being involved in something so personal, yet public was beyond words. To this day, trying to describe for someone else what the Grand Canyon is like is an impossible task for me. I had the good fortune not only to experience the South Rim on more than one occasion, including a sunrise and sunset; but I was able to see the North Rim where a lot of people don’t tend to go. It’s at least a 4.5 hour drive from the South Rim and the elevation is almost double. The other downside is that it is closed to the public during the winter months, while the South Rim stays available year round.
I caught the travel bug early in life and it has been my lifelong quest to see as many places as possible. I am fortunate that my day job as a traveling lab tech allows me to follow this dream of mine. I have had my travel position for 4 years and my current quest is to see all 50 states and 30 Major League Baseball ballparks. The only states I have yet to see are Alaska, Arkansas and North Dakota. There are 14 ballparks still left for me to see. Fenway Park will always be my favorite, but I very much enjoyed Camden Yards, Wrigley Field and Busch Stadium. I can’t escape feeling like a little kid every time I go to any ballpark though.
As I go through my journey, I enjoy sharing and I hope that you enjoy coming along on some of my adventures with me. I will eventually make my way back to my beloved home state of Maine, but until then, as long as I have a camera I’m happy.