Imagine the need to get away from it all. The need to see other places and explore other cultures. Imagine the need to get away from The Big Island, the island of Hawaii.
After fourteen years of nursing in the same hospital, Yvonne Wong admitted she was growing tired of going to work, coming home, paying bills, and waking up the next day and doing it all over again. The routine grows old, even in Hawaii.
"I wanted to broaden my horizons. Life is too short to wait for the perfect time. My husband, who is twenty-two years older than me, retired and that's when we decided to go," Wong said. "We just decided the same-old was not for us."
While still a nurse in Hawaii, Wong began to notice that there was a shortage of nurses on the islands, as well as the rest of the United States. She came in contact with "traveling nurses" from the 48 continuous states, and they begin to tell her about how to see the world for free. It didn't take long for Wong to begin to dream of seeing the world and making a living.
"I started to get all the info together and found out that there was a company that would pay regular nurses pay and would also pay for your apartment, travel expenses, utilities, furnishings, and your car for transportation wherever you were staying," she said.
Wong applied and was hired by Med Staff. The requirements for a traveling nurse was to be able to go where the market needs you, and be able to stay for three months. Her first assignment was located in Seattle, Washington.
"I requested Seattle, because I had a brother living there, and since I figured this job was too good to be true, I thought that if this whole dream fell apart that at least I could fall back on my brother until I could get back home to Hawaii," Wong said.
The dream wasn't too good to be true and it didn't fall apart. Wong stayed in Seattle for three months and then went to San Diego. Her assignments have taken her to such places as Louisiana, Maryland, Vermont, Delaware and Las Vegas. The main idea of her travels is to seek out nearby destinations and learn customs related to the area.
"Some of the things we have really come to love are the local foods. We had crawfish in Baton Rouge, clam chowder in Boston and fried onion burgers in El Reno," Wong said.
Now that brings up an interesting topic. Why Wong choose Oklahoma?
"We have been traveling to the east, west, and all through the southern United States, but we had never been in the central portion of the country. I told my boss that I am game for wherever she thought would be good," said Wong. "I also wanted to see a tornado. There would never be an opportunity to see such an amazing event in Hawaii."
Wong had great things to say about Oklahomans. "The people here are outstanding. They go out of their way to help you. One lady did not know how to give me directions so she called two other people on her cell phone, just to help me out. You would have a hard time finding people anywhere else in the country that are more kind then the people of Oklahoma." she said.
She also stated that hamburgers, chicken fried steak, and meatloaf have become some of her favorite foods. Her husband, Edmund Wong, travels along side and naturally enjoys the time spent traveling. However, he will tell you that he has seen both the good and the bad sides of life.
"I served in the Korean War and know and understand the hardships of life. Sometimes I am reminded that I have one of the best lives, but I haven't forgot," said Edmund Wong.
The next destination for the couple will either be Alaska or South Dakota. "I have heard so much about the Grand Teton and Yellowstone and how pretty Wyoming and South Dakota are. If we get the opportunity, I think that we will be traveling north to the Dakotas," Wong said.
The two will spend March through November traveling, and then return home for the holidays in Hawaii. Wouldn't it be nice to get away from it all, only to return home for Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas) on The Big Island? Yvonne Wong thinks so.