Again so soon? It must be blasphemy.
It’s true, another blog post.
So today (I started writing this post yesterday, Friday) was the new incoming ND class’s first day in the gross lab. You may recall the first year NDs start classes a week before the rest of the school to get their groundings and orientation and such. A day or two ago a classmate reminded my class on our facebook group page that this would be happening and called for volunteers to sit outside the lab on their first day for moral and emotional support. Several people in my class had a really hard time dealing with gross lab the first several weeks and although some sought the help of the actual school counseling services, many suffered in silence because talking about the challenges somehow became taboo. Upper class students would talk about how awesome gross lab was and how rewarding, without actually touching on how students may struggle emotionally in integrating to the cadaver environment. Thus, this little project was born.
Although I didn’t personally struggle with dealing with our cadaver environment (some of you might recall me saying the biggest issue for me was not that these subjects were dead, but that they were larger naked older people, which honestly not many people are used to seeing!), but I could relate and am certainly sympathetic and desperately want to help the first years in any way that I can, despite feeling like I have limited knowledge (I’d at least be able to find them an answer somewhere if I didn’t know it myself).
So I got up at 6am on my last Friday of summer break to be outside the gross lab by 7:45am to offer tidbits of advice to anyone who needed it. There are sections of gross lab at 8am, 10am, and noon, each lasting two hours. The students and teachers were all very grateful for us being there, even if not all of the students needed to ask us anything. There were a couple we were able to give some personal advice to. We plan on being there the next couple weeks as much as we can because the students only met their cadavers today and won’t start actually dissecting until next week.
Anyway the point of this actually is I ended up staying for all three sections because the last section I ended up chatting away with our replacements about our summers. There were a lot of opportunities for my classmates over the summer. Some like me took the massage intensive. Others took different electives on campus. Some took the Bot Med Lab early. And others were able to go on a variety of fascinating trips. One of my classmates for the last section attended the Hydrotherapy German Spa Town Tour, where they learned about the roots of hydrotherapy, saw how hydrotherapy is very integrated into the lives of local Germans, and then this classmate had the opportunity to also visit France and Ireland. My other classmate took a field course to Appalachia and learned all about the local herbs and plants there. Other classmates’ trips I’ve tracked via facebook also included a botanical study trip to Italy with time on Elba, and two medical mission trips to Sri Lanka and Nicaragua. Other students went home or hiked around the area. Plenty to do.
But the real point is I had cool adventures this summer too, that I forgot to post about last time because I was so busy catching up on everything else. When I was telling my classmates about my adventures I wound up reminding myself not all of my pictures were even on facebook yet and oh yeah wouldn’t everyone on the blog like a little story.
So our summer adventures, featuring clans Hankins and Fry:
My mom and dad landed in town on Friday evening June 20th. June in the area is actually a very intermediate month. May is finally getting nice, but June gets weirdly rainy/foggy again before it breaks out into full summer mode in July and stays that way until the middle-end of September. So my parents’ adventures were still mired in a lot of typical moist weather, but we had a whirlwind of a trip.
In the six full days they were here we went on three different adventures.
All the pictures and videos I took are on my facebook, and you can see them with this link.
The morning after they landed, we got up SUPER bright and early to drive downtown to meet our cruise to take us up to the San Juan Islands to go whale watching on the Victoria Clipper. Special thanks to my dad for planning this whole trip by the way because they arrived the evening of the same day of my last final of spring quarter, and I missed the first three days of massage intensive (which started the week immediately following finals) for the other adventures that followed. I had zero energy or willpower to make any of my usual planning happen so it was a real relief for someone else to be in control after the most draining quarter of my life.
Dad booked us for the Whale Watching and Sea Life Search Day Trip, but what the description of the title or caption on the website doesn’t tell you is that half of your money’s worth on this trip is the cruise up to the islands. It was unbelievable. Word of advice, bring so many warm clothes, including hoods and gloves, if you are above the water, out early in the morning, flying through the sound with the chilly wind whipping your face. We got a little wind-burned and sun-burned staying on the top deck the whole way up there but JEEZ what a ride and what a view. I don’t think my pictures really did it justice. The aqua water of the sound whipping up in the motor, the icy mountains in the distance, the rugged shoreline, the little harbor towns…. it was basically on par with actually seeing the orcas …which is partly due to the fact due to conservation regulations you have to stay REALLY far back from the orcas which makes it not quite as thrilling to see as you might imagine. But still, finally seeing orcas in real life, breaking the surface of the water, traveling in their pods, bein’ all black and white…. especially against the gorgeous backdrop I first fell in love with back at good old Shedd Aquarium in Chicago (do you family members recall the show featured porpoises, not the typical bottle-nose dolphin, in what they described as a Pacific Northwest ampitheater? Little did we all know back then…)
There was a little bit of drama with the resident pod vs a transient pod that was passing through the same area. The tour guides were very knowledgeable and seemed to be able to tell apart one from the other and gave good commentary.
There was plenty to see on the long cruise ride up there. I don’t have a map with the exact route to post to you, but on google maps you can visually trace our route: We left from Port of Seattle Pier 69, made our way up through Puget Sound, passing Bainbridge Island, Whidbey Island (to our left)… then I think we must have gone up the Sarasota Passage because we sailed under Deception Pass, which has an impressive bridge, before we came out into more open water and must have sailed between San Juan Island and Lopez Island to get to Friday Harbor. It’s hard to believe but I think our 2.5 hour whale watching tour took us all the way around San Juan Island because I think we made a big circle.
After the whale watching part we stopped into Friday Harbor and got to eat lunch and walk around town for a short while before it was time to get back on the clipper and hit a few more rock islands for our “sea life search” part, where we saw some seals, and tons of different types of birds. Being really exhausted, we spent the ride back below deck with some refreshments and just dozed and talked with each other.
So we came home and had Sunday to recover and I went to the first day of massage class (to get important announcements and clearance for the next few days, even though I emailed plenty of the administrators ahead of time and got clearance).
Tuesday we geared up for the second planned adventure, an overnight trip to Cannon Beach in Oregon, of many-a-film fame, namely including The Goonies and Twilight. We drove out of Seattle south on I-5 and headed west to Aberdeen before turning south again on 101 and took the bridge across the mouth of the Columbia River to pass by Astoria (where the Goonies is set and the Goonie house still stands, but we didn’t go see it) to continue down 101 past Seaside to Cannon Beach.
We got our stuff settled into our hotel room at the Hallmark Resort, which is the hotel that is closest to Haystack Rock. Dad booked us an ocean-front suite (why not splurge if it’s just for the one night we all agreed), so we had a balcony that had a magnificent view of Haystack Rock right outside our window. See the picture. After we dropped off our stuff in the room, we decided to go exploring on the beach, just a little, just to walk around and get out to Haystack at low tide so we could see the tide pools. Long story short we accidentally ended up walking about 6 miles because distances are deceiving on the beach. We were just walking and we saw these other set of rocks in the distance and told ourselves “ah we’ll just go out to these and then we’ll come back”. Turns out it was really far. Luckily we brought our cameras so we got tons of great beach and tide pool pictures, but we were pretty sore after.
We had dinner at a restaurant in town which was ok but sadly nothing to brag about for the price, but we had a good time there anyway. We rented the movie “9” from the front desk at the hotel because my parents hadn’t seen it (James and I love it), and we got cozy in our room as darkness fell and fires and porchlights sparked up all across the beach. With the sound of the relentless surf in the background (we had to almost totally close the porch door to hear the movie better), it was a comfy evening.
The next morning we had a nice breakfast at one of the town restaurants (despite the waiter spilling coffee all over my jacket sleeve), and spent the afternoon walking around the main street looking at all the shops. We bought various interesting flavors of saltwater taffy from a candy shop, daddy bought us some postcards to remember the trip, I was heavily tempted by some commemorative Christmas ornaments and lighthouse stuff I resisted buying, and other fun stuff before we headed back to the car.
It was decided as we piled in that since we’re here we really do have enough time to pop up to Ecola State Park (just a couple miles north) and walk around a little longer, since that’s actually where a lot of the movie stuff was filmed, especially Indian Beach.
Here are some websites that do comparison shots of the filming locations. See if you can spot them in my pictures on Facebook.
It was here at Indian Beach that James really got into exploring, so at low tide he was hopping rocks out to the water and climbing all over everything. After great hesitation and with much urging from him, and because there’s a little Gryffindor in me somewhere, I let him lead me out. Eventually he wanted to climb this rock face/steep hill at the south end of the beach, and I followed after watching he could do it successfully. At the top of this hill is the best view of the beach, hands down. I took a ton of pictures up there and one panoramic video. I’ve uploaded that video to Facebook as well.
James couldn’t get any more time off work, so the last adventure was taken without him, just me and my parents on a bus tour around Mt. Rainier. Early in the morning on that Thursday, the morning after we got back from Cannon Beach, we drove down to a hotel in Tukwila where we’d meet the bus for our tour. I was still tired and dehydrated from the day before, and I wasn’t able to eat much by way of breakfast, so there was a lot of real fear in the morning that I’d be in for a doozy of a day being sick. Mom brought her trusty motion-sickness patches for all of us, which helped, and I guess I felt better later in the day after I woke up some more, but it was a rough start for a while.
After a lot of confusion and some shuffling around (they decided to change busses), and after driving to a couple other hotels in the area to pick up the rest of the passengers, we were off.
I don’t remember the exact route but referencing Google Maps I can see we headed south. We stopped at a Safeway (grocery store) (I think it was in Puyallup) to stock up on snacks for the day (the bus driver stocked a cooler of water bottles for all of us) before heading further south through probably Graham and Eatonville or La Grande. We made a stop at a viewing point for Alder Dam and passed by Alder Lake (very pretty) as we wound ourselves into Mt. Rainier National Park. It was an intermittently rainy day which never really cleared up so I’ll tell you now we never got to see the peak of Mt. Rainier, but it was excellently moody all day. If only there could have been a safe fire in the bus and cushy armchairs and warm drinks… but at least we brought warm jackets/raincoats.
We drove along National Park Highway to make a stop at the entrance to the park and our tour guide explained how the architecture of the buildings there became the classic structure we think about in national parks like Yosemite, but I can’t remember the exact phrase he used for its type.
We made a picture stop of very pretty Christine Falls. If you visit the Hankins house you’ll see a framed photo mom took of it. I took a bunch of pictures and a video there too.
The top point of our day’s ride was lunch at the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center. We were up past the snow line so even though it was the end of June we found ourselves in a bit of a winter wonderland. We only had so much time to pal around at the top, so we didn’t end up crossing the enormous parking lot to go to the Paradise Inn, which was supposed to boast very ornate interiors, but we ate some surprisingly good pizza (and a hefty portion despite the high price) and chili dog and looked around the museum and gift shop. I learned that living in Bothell we are far outside the danger zone if Mt. Rainier (a “dormant” but technically geologically active volcano) ever decided to erupt.
Before I move on I’d like to take a second for all of you to find Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center on google maps and zoom out slightly. Until just now I’d been too far zoomed in tracking our route to realize just how close to the summit we were at that point. Unfortunately, despite a brief hope that an uptick in the wind would blow all the fog away, the fog actually blew in with a vengeance by the time we were back on the bus. I can only imagine the view we would have gotten had the day been clear. *le sigh*
After piling back in the bus, we began our descent along Stevens Canyon Road, which began the scarier part of the day’s journey. We stopped a short way down the mountain (I can’t find exactly where on the map) for another photo-op along a cliff down into a deep valley. The tour guide told us it was here if the day was clear we’d have a truly excellent view of the peak, but the clouds never blew out of the way enough, so we continued on.
It was this part of the journey that makes me hesitant to repeat this trip because I was so terrified. We drove right along the cliff edge that dropped into steep ravines and valleys for what seemed like an eternity and although there were some trees blocking the way in parts to make it not so stark, it was still hard for me to look out the window (and I had the window seat on the cliff-edge side, so it felt like I was practically already dangling off the cliff). I have promised James we’d repeat this trip so he could see all this stuff, but I’ll really have to call on that Gryffindor to make it happen.
It must have been Box Canyon where we stopped for another photo-op and walk-around. I have two videos of Williwakas Creek passing under the bridge on the Wonderland Trail inside Box Canyon, probably a hundred feet below. I was terrified I’d drop my phone so I tried not to lean too far over. The mist was really heavy in this area and while it was very nice to walk around, I began to wish we could get warmer. We’d also been up and active for many hours at this point.
Luckily our trip was almost over and as our tour guide had been building us up to all day, we were almost to the place where we’d be rewarded with huckleberry ice cream, the best he claimed could be found anywhere. We basically napped from Box Canyon until we got to Wapiti Woolies for the ice cream, because I know we were all tired but I tracked it on the map and we went a really long way. We must have connected with Highway 123 where Stevens Canyon Road ended north of the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center and taken 123 (which is apparently closed in the winters) north around the east side of the mountain until we hooked up with Highway 410 and continued north.
He wasn’t lying about the ice cream. I’d never had huckleberry ice cream before, but I’ve tried to buy it once from the store after we got home and the one at the store was not even in the ballpark of being as good. This stuff was great. It was all purple and the ice cream was totally smooth and creamy. I should have taken a picture of it, dang.
I guess we took 410 back into Puyallup and made our way back to our hotels from there, then dad drove us in the rental car all the way back to our house.
Mom and dad’s flight left in the afternoon of the very next day and although we were all very tired, I still can’t believe the trip felt so short. Maybe next time we can just hang out more and take it a little easier now that we’ve done some of the major sight-seeing.
The second part of our summer adventures were more low-key with Holly and Dan’s visit at the beginning of September. We watched a movie every night, and our outings were more geared for sprucing up the house. They bought us a set of Mexican Train Dominoes so we would have something around the house to play as a group when company came. Even James, who hates table games, enjoyed it so yay another thing we can do together. Thank you Holly and Dan.
I didn’t write down what we did day by day, but it included:
A day out to the Seattle Aquarium. James and I had been putting off going until we had some kind of company, so now we finally got to go. Although I wonder if anything will ever beat Shedd Aquarium in my eyes, the Seattle Aquarium had plenty to look at. I have posted those pictures to Facebook as well. The aquarium uses water from the sound in all of their exhibits, so in some areas, like the domed/underwater viewing area, kelp forests can grow entirely on their own in some years without the worker intentionally planting them there. I also learned in this trip that halibut are huge fish. They also swim sideways, big and flat.
There’s an extensive tide pool exhibit and many individual aquariums of different types of fish further back in the building. They also have fur seals and river otters. The seals have a little training show area outside on the dock where you can see them do a couple tricks.
I don’t recall ever having seen an octopus in an aquarium before, and there were two here. They were pretty cool. Because the only hard part about them is their beak, they would technically be capable of squeezing themselves through a 3-inch hole.
Another day we went to Pike Place and walked around half the day. The way we wound around following Holly and Dan they led us to several hallways that were further deep and up than James and I had previously explored, so it was fun seeing new shops we hadn’t caught before. I have plans to go back and buy a steampunk watch/locket necklace we saw that was totally cool. There was also an ocarina seller who would include a pamphlet of how to play the various songs from Zelda on these little ocarinas, but at $60 I passed for now.
At one of the vendors Holly convinced me to get a device that helps you make perfect sock buns. On my hair it’s much harder than the vendor made it look, but I’m practicing. I made it work perfectly once so far, but I was only using half my hair. It works a little better if I already have my hair secured in a ponytail then use the thing (really similar to something that was available in the 90s by the way). I see it being used on lazy days in the school year to keep my long hair off my neck and out of the way.
We stopped back into my favorite spice and tea shop and I finally purchased some black peach tea. Everyone insists on peach tea being herbal and I haven’t been able to find black anywhere else. Holly and Dan bought me a new tea container for it, which makes me very happy because I have an unnatural love for canisters. Maybe I was an apothecary in an alternate universe.
Much of the rest of the trip involved random shopping. Holly and Dan took us to Costco, since we don’t have our own membership, but I couldn’t find a cushy kitchen mat that I wanted, but we did find a giant canister of a favorite powdered cappucino, a big bag of bacon bits, and some new runner rugs for the entry hall and coming into the house from the garage. In a stop at Home Depot James got an early birthday present of an electric hedge trimmer so we can tame the blackberries in the backyard. I showed Holly I finally have a good Goodwill in my life (she was appalled by the one in Edwardsville and wondered why I never wanted to go there for stuff) and we bought a nice tablecloth for the kitchen table with its own matching runner for the counter, and a nice placemat for the entry table. We also went to Bed Bath and Beyond where I got an early birthday present of a smaller crockpot than the one we currently have, perfect for a meal just for two people. It’s also one of those that can hook up to others so in the future I can entertain with lots of food at once with crock pots of different sizes.
A big thank you to my parents for taking us on adventures James and I just couldn’t make ourselves go on, on our own, and a big thank you to Holly and Dan for helping us outfit the house with more accouterments of comfy living. An excellent time was had on both counts.
And now my next adventure begins. The closer we get to school, and the more I see my classmates freaking out about their courseload and already trying to get ahead on assignments, the more grateful I am that I’ve switched to the five-year track. Zero regrets.