10 awesome activities you should do in Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs, CO was my very first travel assignment and holds a special place in my heart. I made sure I fit in as many activities as I could in the half a year a lived there. Here’s my list of 10 things you should do while you’re in the Springs.

1. Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak is the highest summit of the Rockies’ southern Front Range. It was my first “fourteener” to explore. I didn’t actually summit it, but many people do! I drove around the winding curves with no guardrails in my 4Runner to reach the top. It was such an experience! From that high up you can actually see the curve of the earth. And Bonus: the shop at the top makes a very special kind of donut. It’s has to be made special because in the altitude it usually wouldn’t work!


2. Manitou Incline

The Manitou Incline is also known as “death by stairs.” It’s an “extreme trail” that gains nearly 2000 feet of elevation as you climb it. And when I say climb I mean you’re taking a never ending stairway straight up the side of a mountain. The views are great and the rewarding feeling you get at the summit very nearly drowns out the pain you feel in your legs and hiney. Warning: there is a false summit. It’s such a little devil.


3. Cave of the Winds

Cave of the Winds is a collection of caves just outside Colorado Springs near Manitou Springs. The complex cave system hosts amazing underground views. With several options for tours daily (including a super cool lantern tour) there’s something fun for everyone. Not only that, but for all those claustrophobics out there, the stunning views from the pavilion could captivate any audience for hours on end. And if anyone out there needs a bit of an adrenaline rush, Cave of the Winds has you covered with a Cliff-side obstacle course, and two separate rides that will throw you over the cliff if you’re willing!


4. Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods is one of Colorado’s natural splendors. It’s a beautiful sandstone rock formation that can be found right in Colorado Springs. There’s all kinds of activities you can enjoy: jeep tours, 5K’s, rock climbing, biking, horseback riding. If that’s too fast-paced for you, there is a slow winding road that runs through the natural landmark so you can enjoy the rock formations at an easy pace.

Colorado Springs, Jan 2015
My first day in Colorado on my first travel assignment. Hank was such a pup!

5. Horseback Riding at Broadmoor Stables

Old Stage Riding Stables was located a little ways up Cheyenne Mountain and offered horseback rides through the mountains. They have rides for any ages and any experience level. I would highly recommend booking a tour…it was such an amazing, different perspective of the mountains that I hadn’t seen yet.


6. Cocktails at the Broadmoor

The Broadmoor is a luxury resort in Colorado Springs. It has so many cool amenities to enjoy while you’re staying there. From a spa to golfing to pet-friendly rooms, it’s got it all. Complete with the best library to pretend you’re Belle from Beauty and the Beast in. Even if you’re not staying at The Broadmoor, you can enjoy dining and drinks from one of its many dining options. For us it was great for having some spiked hot chocolate to warm up with after our mountain horseback ride.


7. St. Mary’s Falls

Guys, there are so many hikes you can do in Colorado Springs (that not even counting the whole state of Colorado.) But this one stood out to me because it was so hot, but there was still ice and snow on the ground. Typical Colorado…it doesn’t know what weather it wants to put on any day. The hike to the falls was a moderate hike with great views all the way to the top. I took Hank with me and he had a blast kicking up snow and trying to eat it. At the tippy-top we had a packed picnic for lunch. No better lunch view than the side of a mountain!


8. The Royal Gorge

The Royal Gorge is amazing. It’s such a cool destination. You don’t really understand how cool it’s going to be until you get there. For sure walk across The Royal Gorge Bridge and take a picture with your state’s flag (all 50 are proudly flown across the bridge). That won’t be the only picture-taking opportunity. The Gorge has all the views. So insta-worthy. And, again, for the adrenaline junkies, The Skycoaster is available. If you’ve ever wanted to experience the sensation of being thrown off a cliff, that’s your ride! There are some milder rides available for those who don’t care to know that feeling.


9. Zip Lining in Canon City

About an hour southeast of COS is Canon City. There you can find the Royal Gorge and all the fun adventures it hosts. One thing I would recommend is doing the zip lining tour it offers. It was super fun and can actually be combined with a rafting tour too. Just remember to wear closed-toe shoes! (I didn’t. I had to wear borrowed swim shoes. Such a Hannah move)

10. Snowmobiling

Snowmobiling ended up being my sport in Colorado! I don’t boast much athleticism, and skiing didn’t suit me, but I could sure snowmobile. It was so fun! Me and my travel friends cruised through the snowy forest mountains and I personally pretended I was a spy in a movie chasing a spy villain. You don’t have to do that though. But you should. Definitely look up a tour while you’re there if you have the time. We found a great on on Groupon!


In summary, go to Colorado. Just do it. This list doesn’t even begin to cover the awesomeness of that state.

And so it begins again…

Spotify: From Eden EP – Hozier

“Jobs fill your pockets, but adventures fill your soul”

I recently decided to travel nurse again after a 6 month stent as a core staff RN at a hospital in Dallas, TX. I came to the hospital as a traveler, but decided to sign on to stay permanently. I signed a lease, bought furniture, signed up for cable and internet…all the things that I hadn’t been able to do as a traveler. I was prepared to feel so at home. I just knew I was going to enjoy having all my things in one place and having a place to call my own. I envisioned myself as Joanna Gaines…my overpriced apartment was going to be so farmhouse chic. I had artwork on the walls and succulents (they were fake, of course. RIP to all plants I’ve ever touched). I knew I was going to be so very happy finally being in one solitary place.

The problem was my solitary place turned more into solitary confinement. I felt smothered, claustrophobic, constricted. I couldn’t take a deep breath. I was completely alone and standing still for the first time in years and my knees buckled with the weight. I succumbed to my depression. Other than going to work, I was in bed. The curtains that Jo-Hannah Gaines had picked out were drawn completely shut. The couches that Jo-Hannah Gaines had excitedly picked out were unused. The flowers that Jo-Hannah Gaines picked out to add that perfect touch to the finished rooms were falling apart and rotting. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t eat. I cried. I slept. Sleeping was my only escape from the world around me.

I am grateful for my Mom. I can’t imagine how helpless she felt being states away and knowing I was in such a state. Multiple times she tried to come visit me and help me, but I denied her telling her I was fine and tomorrow was going to be the day I got up (it wasn’t). She was the one person who kept me somewhat level in my spinning, spiraling world.

Eventually, I got better. I made baby steps. A co-worker (who is now one of my best friends) recommended an NP to see and I was prescribed meds. Another co-worker invited me to supper with her and her sister and wouldn’t accept any of my lame excuses for not going. It was such a small, everyday gesture, but it meant so much to me in that time. I don’t even thinks she knows what she did for me, but feeling a part of something— feeling like someone cared—that made such a difference. Looking back, I really feel like it was my turning point.

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago: A co-worker told me how proud they were of the change they saw in me. Obviously I hid my demons at work, but I guess it still showed through the fake smiles and jokes. This co-worker described a change in me that I hadn’t even noticed. How when I first started at the facility I was so negative and sarcastic. I was quick to dismiss anything that caused me any extra work. I had such a negative attitude I don’t know how anyone put up with me. But she described a woman who had grown to face challenges head-on and with a positive attitude—a woman who found it important to uplift others as well as herself. She described me as someone I never thought I would ever be again: myself.

I stopped for a second to notice my life had leveled out. I was managing my depression. It was still there, but I could choose to not let it win. I kept my apartment clean. I was cooking for myself and exercising. I noticed myself complimenting others just to make their day. I noticed how my self-worth had returned, and how I expected more of myself and more from the people I chose to let in my life. I was proud to say that I was becoming Hannah again.

Something was missing though. I had my friends, my apartment, my dog, my growing career…but I wasn’t exactly happy with it.

So I signed a travel contract.

On the drive to Virginia I felt it. I felt my soul. At first it was just a flicker here and there, but on my detour to Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park I actually felt it. I had all the windows down and the cool air smelled like forest and rain. Hank had his head hanging out of the window, and I had my family’s amazing collaboration playlist playing on Spotify. For the first time in a while I thought “I’m happy”. Then I pulled off the road onto one of the gaps the park offered. The view took my breath away. Literally the breath caught in my chest. All I could do was stand on the barrier and gawk at the mountains, and the trees, and the river in such astonishment at the world we get to live in. I felt it then. It was like my chest wanted to burst and my heart ached from the beauty I was taking in. I took a deep breath. It was my first true deep breath in months—you know the kind that stretches all the way down to the bottom of your rib cage and causes your belly to poke out. That kind. I’ve never felt more guided in that moment or sure of a decision I had made in my life as I did on the side of that mountain.


My depression is still here. I feel like it always will be. But I needed Dallas. I needed to stop and see just how broken I had become. I needed my depression—my demons—to show their ugly heads and burn who I had become to the ground because the person I was then wasn’t who I am. It’s a slow process, but like Fawkes the phoenix (I told you I was a Harry Potter nerd) I’m rising from my ashes and growing into a better person.

I’ve chosen a job that can fill my pockets, but most importantly it has the ability to fill my soul. I think that’s all we really can hope for in this life. That and our acceptance letters to Hogwarts.


My Koala-fications…

Why the heck should you be reading my blog?

I’d be asking the same thing…like who is this girl telling me I need to travel/travel nurse and what are her Koala-fications??

Well…Previously I said that I’m a travel nurse, but I wanted to expand upon that topic.

I’m a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) RN. I’ve worked in NICU, PedCVICU, Ped Trauma ICU, and PACU. I started my nursing career in 2011, and in those seven years I’ve worked in Mississippi (my home state), Alabama, Colorado, California, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Texas, and currently Virginia. I’ve driven to every single place I’ve worked, so I’ve seen a good bit of the country on the way to my assignments. Not only have I had some great road trips, but I’ve mastered the ultimate Tetris game of fitting one large dog and 13 weeks’ worth of essentials for the both of us into one SUV (hellooo SpaceSaver bags).

At this point I’ve made packing up, moving, and unpacking into an art form and can successfully do so with only a few bumps and bruises (okay it’s me…we’ll say a moderate amount of bruising and one asthma attack).

Not only that, but I have worked and am working with multiple agencies to get where I wanna go. Arguably that’s the hardest part of travel nursing—who the heck do you trust to govern your life for the next 13 weeks?? (more on agencies, recruiters, and contracts later)

I do travel with my large, fantastic, shedding, clunky, big, yellow dog named Hank. He’s been with me from the very beginning—from the beaches in CA to the Potomac River in DC (note to self: Hank does not kayak well). He’s registered to me as an Emotional Support Animal to help with my depression, but even with that registration, it’s not easy traveling with animals. We’ve learned how to make it work and now he looks forward to the words “load up”.

With all that being said, not only am I an experienced Travel RN, but I’ve also become an experienced traveler as well. An assignment is only ever going to be as good as you allow it to be. You have to be a good traveler in order for all that to happen. I have all the tips for long car rides, traveling with pets, detours, housing, making new friends, and adventures. And Bonus! If you’re ever where I am and wanna hangout I’m totally down. Let’s do fun things in our new city.

So now that you know a little bit about me and Hank I hope you’ll continue reading for tips, tricks, and general life lessons in the travel nurse world. Honestly, I learn something new with every assignment, but that’s what makes it so fun. Adventures should never become second nature—otherwise, what’s the point?

Until next time…here’s a picture of my car loaded up for my first travel assignment (Hank included). It definitely doesn’t look like that anymore.

First Travel Assignment

Welcome to The Travel Hanbook

Hey ya’ll! Welcome to The Travel HanBook!

I’m Hannah and I’m happy to finally have started a blog and I appreciate each and every one of ya’ll who decide to read it!

Long story short: I’m a Travel Nurse! After being in this career for roughly 3 years and having so many folks ask me about my stories, adventures, travel tips, agencies etc. I decided it’s time to put all my experiences in a place that all could have access to—a Hanbook so to speak (get it? Because my name is Hannah…I liked it.)

Additionally, I wanted this to be a free space for me to share some of myself with you. I’ve not been very open about it, but I suffer from depression and anxiety. I’ve been in heated battles with the disease for years (once I finally acknowledged I needed to battle depression and not succumb to it). I’ve found that traveling has helped feed my soul and pacify my demons, but I’ve also found that without medication I can’t even get out of bed to make a trip to the grocery store. So, not only am I going to be discussing travel nursing, I’m also planning on addressing my mental health and steps that I’ve taken to make it better in hopes that I can help others (and maybe ya’ll can help me, too).

So I want to keep it short and sweet for my first post. In future posts I hope ya’ll can get to know me better and I can get to know you! As a rule of thumb (according to my best friend, Ansley) Hannahs are passionate about 4 things: Dinosaurs, Harry Potter, Halloween, and Christmas. Keep that in mind as you read forward because this little nerd over here behind the keyboard in her Slytherin sweatshirt will more than likely reference them more than is appropriate for a 28-year old woman.

So sit down, buckle up, and keep your hands, feet, arms, legs, and tentacles in the blogging vehicle at all times because we’re all in for a ride!

Six Flags Over Texas