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Moving forward with appreciation during early lockdown

This post is difficult to make, and I've put it off for months. But I feel that it is necessary for me to have memories and reflections on this period in my life. Four months after the world went into a COVID-necessitated lockdown, I moved from my first postdoc position at WSU in Pullman, WA to my second postdoc position at UC Davis in Davis, CA. This transition would have been difficult even in normal circumstances. It was made even more difficult by COVID - not being able to say goodbye in "normal" ways, the job market process being heavily drawn out by stalled searches and online interviews, and having to unceremoniously leave my office three months before my position ended. That was also the last time I saw my postdoc advisor in person - the first week of March.

Neither position is/was perfect, and I was deeply sad to leave behind relationships I had formed in Pullman, despite the fact that I've always given the location itself a hard time (no ocean! why so much football?? no Target?!). I was surprised to find myself so sad to leave. Especially surprised to still be mourning [months later] a loss of what I had always expected would be an inconsequential place in my life. Perhaps this is because I never really got to say a proper goodbye; it felt like I was vanishing into the night as I started my drive down to the Bay Area in late June.

Early on in the lockdown, I knew I was in a uniquely rural place that allowed me to enjoy the solitude of the outdoors even during a shelter in place. So I set out with my favorite person to fully explore the area around Pullman, a rich diversity of habitats and to be frank, places I would never seek out to visit unless I lived close by. I would likely never have this opportunity again, as Pullman just isn't the ideal place for a job for me. We decided to make a "flower petal" type pattern, where our path back into Pullman became the path out of Pullman for the next weekend, in a counter-clockwise pattern. The places we visited weren't nationally recognized, they were true local treasures. And I was amazed by what we saw.

I can't even begin to describe how many wonderful sights I saw, how many memories I made on these trips that took almost 3 months to complete. There were of course many local trips to the Snake River and Moscow Mountain not represented in this map. I also didn't take photos of every drive we took, and this was unusual for me - I really do think I learned to appreciate the time in a different way than I previously have. Being more present with the experience. I am so grateful for the time and opportunity that this lockdown provided for me. I likely wouldn't have set out with this task if not for the lockdown-inspired reflection that prompted a concerted effort to enjoy my surroundings. I will treasure these memories for the rest of my life, and I am so lucky to have ended my time in Pullman with this experience. Thank you especially to the person I shared these experiences with. Here are some of my favorite parts.

The largest cedars in the area. Elk River, WA

Palouse Falls, WA.

His favorite way to find a campsite was to plan nothing. Drove me crazy, but worked well. Clearwater River, ID (near the Montana border, Lolo Pass).

An abandoned town 30 minutes from Pullman, where railroads used to pick up fruits and other crops. Creepy and cool buildings here. Nearest town was Palouse, WA.

Group photos are always difficult with double trouble puppies. Dworshak Reservoir near Orofino, ID.

When we realized that National Wildlife Refuges were still open. Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, WA.

Koa checking out where his dinner is chilling. Surprise camping with snow in May! Colville National Forest, WA.

Completely deserted, really bizarre. I hadn't visited this since high school. Grand Coulee Dam, WA.

Usually-busy reservoirs were deserted since campgrounds were closed. Porcupine Bay, WA.

Another view at the Dworshak Dam near Orofino, ID.

Playing fetch in the waters of Harrison Slough near Couer d'Alene - visited the other, less-traveled side of the lake. Eddyville, ID.

A usual weekday sight at the Wawawai Landing, where we regularly escaped for a chilly bbq and swim. Wawawai, WA.

Even in April, there was ample snow on the ground. This was from the first "petal" we did; we didn't see a single person in our whole day trip. Saint Joe National Forest, ID.

Koa was too scared to cross this old railroad bridge, and can I say - same. Started near Belmont, WA.

Felt like an alpine lake, but was still in the upper reaches of the Dworshak Reservoir. A really nice hike at the end of a winding drive, stumbled upon it! Somewhere south of Dent, ID.

Views from a meandering drive where we accidentally visited Washington, Idaho, and Oregon on a day trip. Somewhere near Grouse, OR but we started with a destination of Anatone, WA.

Another view along the Grande Ronde from our meandering three-state drive. WA/OR border.

A regular swim break where Pepper went after balls and Koa waited for the pounce. Lyon's Ferry State Park, WA.

Our hiking happy team. Never far behind each other. Dent, WA.

One of the most epic trips we managed, views-wise. Walton Lakes, ID deep into the Clearwater National Forest with the Selway-Bitterroot Mountains in the background.

The largest suspension bridge in the surrounding area. Dent, WA.

Another view of the Dent Bridge.

Assistant to the branch manager. Colville National Forest, WA.

These photos reduce those three months to a smaller experience than it actually felt like. For those months, I truly appreciated the outdoors more than I ever had before, and treasured the people and pups I had the pleasure of sharing it with. I'm grateful that I had such a positive, yet bittersweet experience at the end of my time in Pullman. Thank you to the Palouse, Paul, and Pepper for being part of my life during this incredibly difficult time.

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