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The Pacific Northwest: Marine Wildlife & Exploration

July 14, 2022

Although it’s only been a day since our trip started, I feel like it’s already been awhile. Yesterday, I arrived at the airport around 12:30, so I was able to get lunch with Eric and two other group members at a nearby Mexican restaurant. After meeting our other group members back at the airport a little later, we headed to West Seattle and stayed in cabins for the night, but not before traveling to a nearby beach and playing a lot of spikeball. We also enjoyed an introductory campfire at our accommodation that night. Today, we packed our bags and took the ferry from Anacortes to San Juan Island, where we’re currently staying in the San Juan Island Hostel. After we got here, we went to a beach and witnessed a presentation on the wildlife in this area from a woman who works at a local animal rehab center. For dinner tonight, we went out to dinner at a local seafood restaurant. (The fish and chips were very good.) Tomorrow, we’ll be kayaking out to another nearby island. We’re about to be camping for two nights, before heading back to our hostel here. Luckily, I have some camping experience, although I admit this will be a major test of my abilities in that area. Stay tuned for more updates from us.

By Toby S.

July 15, 2022
Today we woke up to a great breakfast of muffins, fruit, and yogurt so we could have some energy to start our kayak trip early. We went to a beach to pack up the stuff for our 3 day camping trip. We started off our trip by seeing a deer and a fox who were best friends that brought the mood up for our very tiring 5 mile kayak journey. Once we got half way we stopped on an island for some sandwiches. Then we started back up for the next 5 miles to the campsite, but right before we left we got to see ORCAS. According to the kayak guides it was very rare to actually see them but we saw them in the 1st half of our journey. After making it to Jones Island where we were camping, we started up Spikeball. This will be a common occurrence throughout this trip. That night, Ben and Sam (the kayak guides) made us all pasta with mushrooms, tomato sauce, zucchini, and some salmon that was donated to us by a fishing boat passing by. After dinner we set up our tents. To end off the day we went to watch the sunset and went to sleep.

By Seabass

July 16, 2022
Today we woke up a little later than usual, even though the crows were squawking very loudly. We started off with breakfast, we had some sweet potatoes, eggs, plant based sausage, and some hot chocolate to warm up from the cold morning. After breakfast we went on a little hike around the island and towards the end Eric suggested that we walk 15 seconds apart from each other so we could really take in the moment in nature. Once we got back, our kayak guides (Sam and Ben) instructed us in some yoga with a view of the ocean because we were all sore from kayaking yesterday. We started up Spikeball which ended up getting a little intense and competitive. Once we all calmed down we had some lunch, which was strawberry spinach wraps with goat cheese. After lunch we went on a short 1 hour kayaking trip around the island, once we got back we went right back to playing Spikeball, elimination version. After a while of playing we heard someone say “Where’s Jim?!” and then we continued playing, but asked all the other campground guests, “ Are you Jim?” and at first it was unsuccessful, but we found Jim’s two best buddies Chris and Sean, about 10 minutes later we found Jim and then we celebrated. After about 30 minutes of playing Spikeball another group of campers who was on the island asked if they could play. We said yes because we’re so nice. We stopped playing to write Chris, Sean, and Jim a letter. Bella (jokingly) apologized for hitting Chris with the Spikeball. We delivered it to them and they gave us a pretty warm welcome. They enjoyed our letter and showed us their crabs that they caught earlier. We took some pictures with the crabs and Jim said “want one?” and then killed it right there, which was shocking to watch. We walked back to camp proudly with our crab. We ate delicious taco bowls, and then ate some apple crisp dessert. Once it was dark enough, we took a short walk to a nearby cove and saw the bioluminescent plankton. We could see them by disturbing the water with our hands and that caused blue sparks to appear in the water. We played cards for a while by the fire and then went off to bed, concluding our last full day on Jones Island.

By Lily

July 17, 2022

Today we packed up camp on Jones Island and had quinoa, fruit and tea for breakfast. Then we packed up camp and paddled for 2 hours, then took a lunch break at Turn Island where we took a hike around the island and had more quinoa for lunch. This time in a Mediterranean wrap. YUM! Then we paddled back to San Juan Island at Pear Point and unloaded all of our things and went back to the hostel we stayed at before. We all showered after not being able to shower for 3 days. WE WERE STINKY! After getting clean we went to the store to buy snacks and drinks and when we got back to the hostel we had a pizza party!

After we ate pizza we went to South Beach and took a bunch of pictures, tried to skip rocks and pretty much ran around. We really lived in the moment and watched the sunset. Then we had a fire-pit on the sand and made s’mores but instead of chocolate, we put mini brownies and it was delicious. The marshmallows were super sticky and it was all over my face 🙂 We all sat on the logs and had a moment of reflection on how much fun and relaxing this trip was so far and how much we will appreciate this trip. We packed up and went back to the hostel. Right when we got back we all watched Mean Girls together and ate our snacks. It was super funny and after Mean Girls we watched one episode of iCarly because why not. Then we went to bed and prepared ourselves for the fun day ahead.

by Bella B.

July 18, 2022
Today we got to sleep in until 9am at the hostel, then we had breakfast. I had a bagel and fruit, but there was a variety of options everyone got to choose from: Eggo waffles, cereal, bananas, yogurt, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. After eating, Alex, Sadie, and I worked on starting everyone’s laundry. We then came back to the hostel and packed up our stuff and got ready to part ways with San Juan. Before leaving on the ferry we got a chance to shop for souvenirs. I got an orca plushie and a sticker.

After getting everything I wanted, Alex, Anthony, Toby, and I went to The Bean Café where we all compiled a playlist for the car ride to our next destination. Then, we met up with the rest of the group to go to lunch. We went to a Hawaiian restaurant, and I got a spam musubi bowl. After everyone was done eating we went to a park for a bit to wait for the ferry. While waiting, we also got ice cream! I got a lemon drop sorbet in a cup, and it was very good.

On the ferry, we played a  card game called Scum and I didn’t do very well. Finally, we arrived at Anacortes and got off the ferry. We drove to Walmart so people could buy anything they might need, grabbed some Chipotle for dinner. I got a kids meal, which was the perfect size. We ate in the car on the way to the state park we were going to stay at. We got there at 9:30 and we’re all very tired. We slept in yurts and could see the stars through a dome window in the top, which was really cool. I went to bed excited for the service work we would be doing the next day.

By Zero

July 19, 2022

This morning we woke up from our first night in the cozy yurts at Kanasket-Palmer State Park. Then we headed out to breakfast at Panera. After everyone finished their delicious bagels, smoothies, and assorted pastries we left Panera and drove about an hour to The Heron’s Nest. Which is a reclaimed piece of land that was once inhabited by the Duwamish tribe. We arrived and were kindly greeted by Levi and Lee who were our service leaders for the day. Then we took a steep trail down to the Duwamish Longhouse. Here we met Jolene the detector of the Longhouse and the great great great grandson of Chief Seattle. We walked around the Longhouse where there was a museum and cultural center. This taught us all a lot about how the Duwamish people are native to Seattle. Eventually we made our way down to the Duwamish river where we split up into two groups. First we went onto the river and kayaked along it where Lee taught us all about the birds, the environmental impact that the industrialization had on the area and the ships that traveled through this river to get to the ports of Seattle. Then we stopped half way through for a lunch break from Marination, a taco place from Alki beach. After we ate our yummy tacos we switched groups and went on a trail cutting invasive plants. Then we hit the road and came back to Alki beach and hung out until dinner.  For dinner we ate at a burger restaurant on beach. Once we finished our tasty burgers we headed back to the yurts and finished off the day with a campfire.

By Sadie

July 20, 2022

Today was a very eventful day. To start off our Wednesday morning we woke up at 7:30 AM. We gathered around yurt 20 for breakfast where we discussed our plan for the rest of the day. Our first major event of the day was cutting invasive blackberry out of the NorthShore Park. Here, we assisted Cresent, volunteer coordinator with King County Parks and Rec. For 3 heavy hours we battled invasive plant life overgrowth. We exposed the native blackberry so it could flourish once again. Once we finished our service work we headed to Greek Pita for lunch. I ordered chicken shawarma with a side of falafel. Everyone enjoyed their meal and drink of choice. After we finished lunch we started our second activity of the day, river rafting. Everyone was looking forward to this after the long day of service in the hot sun. We drove to the inner tube float starting station. The drive there was very scenic and calming, but not even this would prepare us for what was next.

After taking the transit van up the road we were all on our own. Our strong group of 16 public service inner tubers timidly drifted away from shore and into the white water current. We were not prepared for the ice cold water that pierced our skin on contact. As our group went into rapid water we eventually became separated. Of the group Ava, Bella, and Marissa became the notorious castaways. Ava attempted to bring the group back to safety but she fell in the water. As she was gasping for air, her inner tube drifted away. Eric, bring the hero of this tragic story, paddled his way to save Ava and bring her back to the group. Once Ava was saved, we experienced more extreme rapids, only if we had the courage had earlier in the day. After 3 somewhat relaxing hours of sitting in the sun on rubbery tubes and cold water, everyone came out with a decent sunburn. Then we headed to Maple Valley Thai Cuisine. Once again everyone ordered what appealed to them as we talked about the plan for the next day. We headed back to the yurts where we made friendship bracelets and wrapped up the busy day. We gathered around the campfire and enjoyed the rest of the night.

By Brody

July 21, 2022
Today we woke up in the yurts and ate breakfast at 8:30 in the morning. Then, we got in the car and drove 3 hours with 3 stops. First stop was at REI where we purchased dehydrated meals for our 3 day backpacking trip, such as, Mac & cheese, oatmeal, and chicken pesto pasta. Our next stop was at Target, where we got basic necessities that we needed for our trip, and of course a stop at Starbucks. We then hopped back in the car for an hour drive to Jimmy Johns sandwiches. I got a BLT. Once we finished eating we drove about 10 minutes to meet our hiking guides and pack our backpacks for our trip ahead. We packed sleeping bags, tents, sleeping pads, bear cans for our food, and all our clothes. It was SOOOOOO heavy. Then we got BACK in the car and drove to the trail head. We split into two groups, because the National Park had group size regulations. Group 1 started around 5:00 and group 2 started at 5:30 to avoid running into each other. The first hike was REALLY hard and REALLY uphill. Quoted by members of group 2, ”The views were gorgeous but the hike was traitorous”. We felt like we might fall off the mountain like a million times, but we made it. It took us around 4 hours to finish the first hike and get to camp around 9. When we arrived we had set up camp, and made dinner in the dark. Then we learned how to make a cat hole for toothpaste and to use the bathroom. We hid our bear cans in the woods in case the bears came- we wanted them to stay out of our camp! Then, we went to bed.

By Ava

July 22, 2022
We woke up early at Lake Angeles after a hard earned sleep. Everyone in group 2 went for a morning swim in the lake. It really woke us up! We packed our backpacks again and began the 6 mile hike to our next campground. We hiked up the mountain for about an hour before emerging onto the ridge. The view of the Olympic Mountain Range was stunning and definitely made up for the hike. We continued walking for a few more hours before stopping in the shade of a large boulder for lunch.

During the hike we saw a rabbit and a grouse along with many butterflies and birds. After lunch, we hiked to the tallest point of the trail and then up a hill full of very steep switchbacks. Once we made it to the top of the switchbacks we saw an even more beautiful view of the mountain range. It felt like we were on top of the world, until we had to hike back down to another set of steep switchbacks. Parts of the trail were very slippery and slightly treacherous. When we finally reached the campsite we were greeted by group one. We set up our tents and rehydrated our meals. After hanging out with group one for a bit we separated again into our two groups and went to bed.

By Abby

July 23, 2022
Today we had another early morning to finish off our backpacking adventure through Olympic National Park. We had our last dehydrated breakfast, packed up camp, and hiked down the shaded trail from our campsite to the trail head. The trail was all downhill, which was a nice break from the trek uphill the past 2 days. We saw lots of different plants, flowers, and a few different animals including birds and a big slug. After about 4 miles, we made it back to the trail head, reflected on our adventure, and had some snacks and gatorade before heading back to return our gear. We unpacked all of our backpacks, then headed to lunch for a delicious celebration meal at The Rail Burgers. Once we finished our burgers, we hopped back in the vans and drove about 2 hours to the Hampton Inn just outside of Seattle. We checked in, had much needed showers, and got dressed up for dinner for a little change. Then, we gathered in the lobby and walked down the street to Red Robin. We had some tasty lemonades and shared pizzas and appetizers. We are now finishing off the night playing cards in the hotel lobby and getting ready to head into a nice, warm, comfortable bed to get a good night’s sleep to prepare for exploring the city tomorrow.

By Marissa

July 24, 2022
Today I woke up at 7:30, off to an early start. For breakfast I treated myself to not one, but two waffles, one of which was a chocolate chip waffle (I didn’t even eat the plain waffle). After finishing breakfast and getting ready for the day, Zero and I gathered our bags and headed to the lobby. I called my parents for around 20 minutes and then patiently waited for our laundry. Once everyone’s laundry was sorted, we ventured out to the Burke Natural History and Science Museum and gained new knowledge. For lunch we walked down to a delicious teriyaki restaurant (I give it a 10/10, but I can’t speak for everyone). After lunch, we went to the University of Washington bookstore – sadly I did not purchase anything. After everyone was satisfied at the bookstore, we went to the UW Arboretum and I went into full dad mode with my baseball hat over my face while I soaked in the sun. Others, however, played many rounds of intense spike ball, attempted gymnastics, and paddle tennis.   We desperately needed something to cool us off from being in the sun for so long -something like ice cream- and before we knew it Eric and Aleiya were telling us we could get some. I got one scoop of espresso chip and it was ok. Then, we headed to where we would be staying for the next few days, the American Hotel, located in China Town (this is key information). After staying in the hotel/hostel for about an hour, there was a lively parade. In the parade, there were cultural dances, a dragon dance, cheerleaders, marching bands, pirate floats, and plenty of politicians getting their votes. We watched the parade below from the hostel windows. A particular parking lot couple stood out to each and everyone of us – Mark & Chelsea. They took pictures of us, waved to us, and danced with us. They were goals. Straight out of a movie. We ate tacos for dinner and for dessert we had Trader Joe’s cookies. In the evening we spent some time hanging out in the lounge and then headed to bed. It was then that I realized how ridiculously overheated I was. I was “radiating heat”. Zero lent me an ice pack and Abby and I wandered into the packed kitchen for ice. I realized right then and there that I would have trouble getting ice into the ice pack. I ended up using my hands to scoop ice into the ice pack and embarrassed myself in front of others. But if you ask me if I’d do it again? Gladly.


July 25, 2022
This morning, we were able to sleep in a little longer than usual, which was pretty nice. We then headed to breakfast at a small bakery, where we had sugar donuts and a variety of other pastries. After, we got in the vans to drive to Golden Gardens Park, where we cleaned up some trash. Next, we headed to an area of the river bed, where we picked up more trash. The most interesting find was a lightsaber discovered by Aleiya. After we finished our trash pick up, we went to Subway for some lunch and then headed to Gasworks Park, where we ate and played on the playground for a little bit. After lunch, we headed back to the hostel to relax before heading into the city.

By Allie

After relaxing for a while we got in the vans and headed to the city to see the Museum of Pop Culture. We spent the next two hours touring the museum seeing memorabilia of our favorite artists and movies, my favorites were the sci-fi film and punk rock exhibits. After the museum, we headed to the Space Needle. The elevator ride to the top was really cool, we learned some facts, like that the Space Needle is a combination of the Eiffel Tower, a flying saucer, and a rocket. Once at the top we walked around looking down on the city and taking pictures. Once we got back to the hostel Eric made us pasta for dinner and we all gathered in the common room to watch a movie.
By Taya

July 26, 2022
Today we woke up and had breakfast around 9:00. Breakfast was prepared by our lovely guides and was pancakes with assorted toppings. After breakfast, we went to Pike Place Market and walked around for 3 hours.

After Pike Place, we went to the Chihuly Garden where we looked at glass art. It was very cool glass. The gift store was overpriced ($4 for a single pen is too much, I don’t care how cool the pen is) so I didn’t buy anything. Then, we got frozen yogurt which was very good. After we got frozen yogurt, we went to a salmon ladder at the Ballard Locks. We then had a couple hours of free time before our celebratory dinner at a local Mexican restaurant and a closing group reflection back at the hostel. Thus concludes our Pacific Northwest trip.
By Anthony