Lufkin is 120 miles northeast of Houston, and is considered to be the county seat of Angelina County. It is at the crossroads of East Texas at the intersections of Highways 59 (leading to Houston and Rio Grande Valley) and 69 (leading to Port Arthur and Beaumont).
Yesterday after work, Luis and I went to Suddenlink to pay for our internet application and installation. Going there, we passed by a park that is located at the corner near our hospital. Nope. We didn’t notice that before! It’s only five minutes from our workplace! I think that’s the advantage of going to a small city. You get to see lots of cool stuff in a 5-mile radius.
There’s nobody there. We owned the place, literally. Or maybe because it’s Monday, and everybody’s at work. There’s no car, no entrance fee whatsoever. It’s just there, beautifully existing, free, and open to strangers who want to enter the place. Like most of my pretty friends. Just kidding, you guys. 😂
There’s not a lot of parking space. I think it’s only good for ten cars tops. The place is quiet and intimate as it is. We feel like we can shoot a movie here, us throwing romantic pick-up lines and cheesy comebacks, but *spoilers 🚨 * we’re just like those ordinary couples who love to annoy each other. 🙈
This is Luis making sure he locked Gavin… and isn’t the backdrop so captivating? Sometimes I wish Luis can take photos of me like this. You know, all natural with hypnotizing background and is balanced in all angles. But he’s not really into photography, much more into selfies, or taking photos in general. He’s a private person who doesn’t enjoy these kinds of stuff. He loved the place though. He didn’t really say it, but I can feel it from his comments about the park.
This caught our attention because what if this place isn’t open to the public? Lol. My imagination sometimes runs wild, and I think of murder cases and bloody plot twists. I can blame Netflix for that or Patterson’s knack for suspense. Near this sign is a house(?) or a gathering place (?) which has a tarpaulin on it saying, “Narcotics anonymous.”
I looked at Luis and jokingly said, “Love, this is getting scary.” lol You know those horror scenes where the main characters find a creepy spot out of nowhere and the skies suddenly turn dark? Well, it didn’t happen. Too bad. There’s nobody in there though, and if there were we can just say hi to people and leave. We’re nurses, and part of our job is to maintain the integrity of our patients. Most people in those kinds of help groups are there because they want to change their lives, or at least have a support group that understands what they’re going through.
*No photo of the facility for private reasons.*
But here are other cool photos from our new favorite spot:
We’re on our scrubs (straight from work) but that didn’t stop me from asking Luis to take a photo.
Oh I almost forgot. Here’s my takeaway gem from this place:
Filipinos love basketball like how Americans love their football. Anywhere you go, may it be in rural or urban areas, you can always find a basketball ring like this. Our culture teaches us to be physically active and socially engaged. I don’t know about you but this is one thing social media ruined for us. Yes, it helps us connect to friends from miles away, but you can’t deny the reality that it disconnects you from people close to you. Maybe it’s time for Google to adopt a culturally engaging task search. Would it hurt of they add local words like “Basketbolan nearby.” Or “tambayan near me.” It must be so convenient to create friendly circles again. That’s just me daydreaming.
We found this near our parking spot, just around the mini bridge (which of course is under the big maple tree):
So thank God there’s Google.
And surprisingly, here’s what I found:
A webpage for Baha’is, a faith-centered group of people who believe in modern teachings of God.
“Let your vision be world embracing…” — Bahá’u’lláh
Throughout history, God has sent to humanity a series of divine Educators—known as Manifestations of God—whose teachings have provided the basis for the advancement of civilization. These Manifestations have included Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad. Bahá’u’lláh, the latest of these Messengers, explained that the religions of the world come from the same Source and are in essence successive chapters of one religion from God.
Bahá’ís believe the crucial need facing humanity is to find a unifying vision of the future of society and of the nature and purpose of life. Such a vision unfolds in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh.
My curiosity was satisfied. I looked up and as I watched those leaves dancing with the wind, I couldn’t help but to appreciate God’s creation and purpose in our lives.
I’m a Christian who believes in Jesus’ way of life. But that doesn’t hinder me from acknowledging and embracing others’ beliefs and faith.
Thirty four years after it was planted, this big maple tree right here is standing tall, looking like a masterpiece of its own.
Faith is when you plant the seed of hope, not knowing how or when you’ll see the fruit, or if it will have a fruit, it’s putting your energy in something, just knowing that something great will happen. Just think about it, if you’re the one who planted this tree thirty four years ago, would you really think that something so small will grow THIS BIG? And BEAUTIFUL?
It’s just amazing, isn’t it?
We hope to find more places like this here in Lufkin. ❤️️ This place really continues to surprise us!
You guys, I’ll continue to write for y’all! ❤️
After contemplating on whether to pursue the life on the road, weighing the pros and cons, and foreseeing judgments that will come along our way, we ended up accepting the travel offer.
We did it! We actually did it!
Applications done. Interviews over.
After eight long hours of drive, we’re finally at Lufkin, TX.
Here is a pair of my tennis shoes on our second day at work:
This photo was taken during our break time. I made Jalapeño bologna sandwiches and sweet iced tea for lunch. Since the weather is great and I’m still amazed by our parking lot view, I was able to convince Luis to do mini picnic with me. (So corny of me, right?) We only have 30 minutes to spend for break so I made sure to time ourselves. We opened the trunk of the car and arranged our food. My Caddy is spacious for the two of us so we didn’t really have a hard time setting it up. We had an amazing view, cool atmosphere, and hearty food. I was reminded of our very first 4th of July together. We also gazed at the fireworks display while sitting inside the trunk of my car. *Oh memories*
I love the location of our new workplace because it’s only ten minutes away from our temporary home. The view is terrific! All these autumn trees are enough for me to feel the vacation vibe.
On our first week, we stayed at Quality Inn. All amenities are great except that I need to pay an extra $10 per day for Pumpkin, and there’s no kitchenette available. They only had microwave, fridge, and coffee maker. I bought a portable burner at Walmart for only $25 so we can cook pasta. I brought my rice cooker with me (proud Asian here! lol) so that helped, too. I told Luis we can actually pull it off in that hotel. But I computed all our expenses together with the hotel fee, and there’s just no way we can stay there without compromising our travel fee. It would cost us $2000 per month and that doesn’t include my apartment in McAllen (yes I’m paying for two apartments right now).
We had “the talk” and I told him that getting an apartment is the way to go if we wanted to maximize our travel fee. We agreed to travel in the first place because of the higher pay. Travel is a big plusss though, but money plays a big part as well.
We googled for places, apartments, extended stays, even airbnb, and some rent-a-room in Craigslist. I made calls to different facilities, and I realized it’s harder to find pet friendly communities than finding places that accommodate short leases. We eventually found one, Fox Run Apartments leased the unit as unfurnished but move-in ready.
The next day, we drove to look into it and we’re surprised that it’s like a curve away from the hospital. We talked to the manager, Ashley, and she immediately catered to our needs. We toured the place and we’re sold right there and then. It’s a 500 sqft place, has built-in gas burner, fridge, and dishwasher. It’s cable-ready and pet friendly as well. The deposit for pet, first month pay, and application fee costs us $1200. Monthly rent is $650 which is not bad compared to supposedly 2k Quality inn has to offer. Here’s our unit on the second floor:
That, however, excludes water, electricity, and Wifi. For water, Ashley informed us that it’s in the $35-40 range. For electricity, I’m estimating it to be lower than $100. And for Wifi, I applied at Suddenlink for 100/month. (Luis just can’t spend the day without streaming channels and playing videogames). Our monthly allowance for housing would reach 1k all in all. Food is another story, but I allotted $100 per week for that, including our eat outs.
We moved the weekend the room was ready. We got everything we needed and brought with us some sample-sized toiletries that we weren’t able to use. I’m just being practical, guys. And I don’t know why but Luis actually loved their conditioner. Lol.
Workwise, we find it easier compared to where we previously worked. The software that the company uses is called MedHost and the learning curve isn’t that sharp at all. It’s very user-friendly to us. Workplace atmosphere is also great. The people are friendly and cool, the overall ambience is highly recommended for first timers. We work three days per week and we’re paid $1,400 every Friday. Not bad, right? We’re guaranteed 36 hours of work per week. If we do overtime, the rate is higher. It’s additional $70/hour. We are not that motivated to do OT because we value our health and quality life. Work-life balance is hard to achieve, and we’re fortunate to have it by doing travel nursing, so we just want to keep it that way.
Woodland Heights is located at the medical heart of Lufkin. It’s near Walmart, CVS pharmacy, most convenient stores, restaurants, hotels and apartments.
I also admire the diversity here. I was used to seeing Hispanics at McAllen. I learned that Deep East Texas’ racial makeup was 59.92% White, 26.58% African American, 0.26% Native American, 1.37% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 10.31% from other races, and 1.54% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 17.59% of the population. (Wikipedia)
What I learned so far:
1. Patients are the same. It doesn’t really matter wherever you are, as long as you can establish rapport with your patients, and you know the ins and outs of patient care, the procedures needed, skills to have, you can actually pull it off.
2. Being in a different place keeps you on your toes. It stimulates critical thinking and your ability to cope up with adversity. It’s not easy starting all over again, but it sure would add something to your life moments.
3. Workplace would make or break your hospital stay. I’m smiling because my coworkers are great! And if they happen to be the opposite of what I dreamt of having, I’m still going to smile because I know I won’t stay in that place for long.
4. Luis doesn’t like Pumpkin as much as Pumpkin doesn’t like him, but the other day, I saw Pumpkin sleeping near Luis’ spot, so I guess it’s safe to assume that they’re adapting pretty good.
5. Travel nursing is the way to go if you like to learn new things and explore places. I get bored easily with routine stuff so this one is a big revelation to me. I realized that I can’t stay in one place if I want to up my game. After all, I left my home country for the very same reason.
6. I cook more because I find it therapeutic and we save a lot!
7. Compromise is a must if you’re going to travel with your kitty companion. The pet deposits these days are on the roof! But it’s worth it; I really enjoy Pumpkin’s company. And she’s getting fatter day by day! 😂
8. You get to know someone by asking about their interest. I find it surprising when my coworkers ask what we usually do on our days off. In return, we get to ask them. And it’s fun because somehow, they share with you a piece of their life.
9. There are Pinoys everywhere. In our unit, I already met four, and counting. There was a doctor who’s Pinoy and he immediately invited me to a party! I wasn’t able to make it though because it was raining…but the comfort of knowing that there are kababayans near you? I felt relieved. It never fails to hit home.
10. God brings you to a place because He wants to reveal something to you. He lets you wander because He wants you to see the beauty that you’re taking for granted. He introduces you to people because He’s introducing Himself to you all over again. Jesus is Jesus, the name above all names, and I am reminded once again that His victory over my sins is a promise of a lifetime. God fulfills His promises at the right time. I’m really grateful for this opportunity.
More of Lufkin here:
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See you around!