'That PNW Bridge' Is No More

'That PNW Bridge' Is No More

#RIPVanceCreekBridge
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Vance Creek Viaduct is a well-known Pacific Northwest icon, despite the fact that it is owned by a private logging company and is forbidden to visit. As the second tallest railway arch and one of the tallest bridges built in the United States, “That PNW Bridge” is 347 feet high and over 800 feet in length and has been a photography hotspot for those who have dared to pass the neon orange “No Trespassing” signs and trudge across creeks, hills and cut down trees blocking the gravel trail to take in a view of the northwest so high into in the air.

Mason County is well known for its logging history as well as this railway bridge, which sits near Olympic National Park in the middle of logging property. Before its boom of popularity in 2012, due to Instagram posts giving away its location, the bridge was only known by the locals who mostly respected the property and kept it secret to the general public. The amount of annual visitors grew exponentially after “insta-famous” photographers posted pictures and revealed its location. Soon, people came from all over the world to capture the perfect photo, and along with that came more vandalism and destruction of the property.

The events which caused the bridge to close to the public involved vandalization, as well as a person who found themself stuck after climbing the substructures beneath the bridge. Hanging one’s feet off of the sides of the ties and on the edge of the bridge became a popular and dangerous activity as well. The private company decided to close the property by posting up signs and hiring guards to turn people around as a result. They hoped that this would draw people away from the viaduct.

It didn’t.

Still, years later, people have traveled from all over the country to find the hidden gem of the Pacific Northwest. They would risk having their cars towed and paying hefty fines to capture a moment before the bridge was gone for good.

At the end of this August, the private logging company decided to dismantle the railway ties due to people continuing to trespass and vandalize the property. Fires were started on the bridge by reckless people, graffiti litters the tresses, and garbage was left carelessly on the property.

I understand why the bridge was dismantled- the company wanted to avoid potential lawsuits. However, I cannot help but see this event as a greatly missed opportunity. Instead of destroying a piece of history, why not give the property to the national park that starts just a few miles away? The landmark would be a potential gold mine for tourism. Sure, it would cost money to preserve and make the bridge safe enough for the public, but as someone who has seen the place in person, I can’t help but be extremely disappointed.

Cover Image Credit: Helana Michelle

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Your Wait time At Theme Parks Is Not Unfair, You're Just Impatient

Your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself.

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Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios "unboxed" on June 30, 2018. My friend and I decided to brave the crowds on opening day. We got to the park around 7 AM only to find out that the park opened around 6 AM. Upon some more scrolling through multiple Disney Annual Passholder Facebook groups, we discovered that people were waiting outside the park as early as 1 AM.

We knew we'd be waiting in line for the bulk of the Toy Story Land unboxing day. There were four main lines in the new land: the line to enter the land; the line for Slinky Dog Dash, the new roller coaster; the line for Alien Spinning Saucers, the easier of the new rides in the land; Toy Story Mania, the (now old news) arcade-type ride; and the new quick-service restaurant, Woody's Lunchbox (complete with grilled cheese and "grown-up drinks").

Because we were so early, we did not have to wait in line to get into the land. We decided to ride Alien Spinning Saucers first. The posted wait time was 150 minutes, but my friend timed the line and we only waited for 50 minutes. Next, we tried to find the line for Slinky Dog Dash. After receiving conflicting answers, the runaround, and even an, "I don't know, good luck," from multiple Cast Members, we exited the land to find the beginning of the Slinky line. We were then told that there was only one line to enter the park that eventually broke off into the Slinky line. We were not about to wait to get back into the area we just left, so we got a Fastpass for Toy Story Mania that we didn't plan on using in order to be let into the land sooner. We still had to wait for our time, so we decided to get the exclusive Little Green Man alien popcorn bin—this took an entire hour. We then used our Fastpass to enter the land, found the Slinky line, and proceeded to wait for two and a half hours only for the ride to shut down due to rain. But we've come this far and rain was not about to stop us. We waited an hour, still in line and under a covered area, for the rain to stop. Then, we waited another hour and a half to get on the ride from there once it reopened (mainly because they prioritized people who missed their Fastpass time due to the rain). After that, we used the mobile order feature on the My Disney Experience app to skip part of the line at Woody's Lunchbox.

Did you know that there is actually a psychological science to waiting? In the hospitality industry, this science is the difference between "perceived wait" and "actual wait." A perceived wait is how long you feel like you are waiting, while the actual wait is, of course, the real and factual time you wait. There are eight things that affect the perceived wait time: unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time, pre-process waits feel longer than in-process waits, anxiety makes waits feel longer, uncertain waits are longer than certain waits, unexplained waits are longer than explained waits, unfair waits are longer than equitable waits, people will wait longer for more valuable service and solo waiting feels longer than group waiting.

Our perceived wait time for Alien Spinning Saucers was short because we expected it to be longer. Our wait for the popcorn seemed longer because it was unoccupied and unexplained. Our wait for the rain to stop so the ride could reopen seemed shorter because it was explained. Our wait between the ride reopening and getting on the coaster seemed longer because it felt unfair for Disney to let so many Fastpass holders through while more people waited through the rain. Our entire wait for Slinky Dog Dash seemed longer because we were not told the wait time in the beginning. Our wait for our food after placing a mobile order seemed shorter because it was an in-process wait. We also didn't mind wait long wait times for any of these experiences because they were new and we placed more value on them than other rides or restaurants at Disney. The people who arrived at 1 AM just added five hours to their perceived wait

Some non-theme park examples of this science of waiting in the hospitality industry would be waiting at a restaurant, movie theater, hotel, performance or even grocery store. When I went to see "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," the power went out in the theater right as we arrived. Not only did we have to wait for it to come back and for them to reset the projectors, I had to wait in a bit of anxiety because the power outage spooked me. It was only a 30-minute wait but felt so much longer. At the quick-service restaurant where I work, we track the time from when the guest places their order to the time they receive their food. Guests in the drive-thru will complain about 10 or more minute waits, when our screens tell us they have only been waiting four or five minutes. Their actual wait was the four or five minutes that we track because this is when they first request our service, but their perceived wait begins the moment they pull into the parking lot and join the line because this is when they begin interacting with our business. While in line, they are experiencing pre-process wait times; after placing the order, they experience in-process wait times.

Establishments in the hospitality industry do what they can to cut down on guests' wait times. For example, theme parks offer services like Disney's Fastpass or Universal's Express pass in order to cut down the time waiting in lines so guests have more time to buy food and merchandise. Stores like Target or Wal-Mart offer self-checkout to give guests that in-process wait time. Movie theaters allow you to check in and get tickets on a mobile app and some quick-service restaurants let you place mobile or online orders. So why do people still get so bent out of shape about being forced to wait?

On Toy Story Land unboxing day, I witnessed a woman make a small scene about being forced to wait to exit the new land. Cast Members were regulating the flow of traffic in and out of the land due to the large crowd and the line that was in place to enter the land. Those exiting the land needed to wait while those entering moved forward from the line. Looking from the outside of the situation as I was, this all makes sense. However, the woman I saw may have felt that her wait was unfair or unexplained. She switched between her hands on her hips and her arms crossed, communicated with her body language that she was not happy. Her face was in a nasty scowl at those entering the land and the Cast Members in the area. She kept shaking her head at those in her group and when allowed to proceed out of the land, I could tell she was making snide comments about the wait.

At work, we sometimes run a double drive-thru in which team members with iPads will take orders outside and a sequencer will direct cars so that they stay in the correct order moving toward the window. In my experience as the sequencer, I will inform the drivers which car to follow, they will acknowledge me and then still proceed to dart in front of other cars just so they make it to the window maybe a whole minute sooner. Not only is this rude, but it puts this car and the cars around them at risk of receiving the wrong food because they are now out of order. We catch these instances more often than not, but it still adds stress and makes the other guests upset. Perhaps these guests feel like their wait is also unfair or unexplained, but if they look at the situation from the outside or from the restaurant's perspective, they would understand why they need to follow the blue Toyota.

The truth of the matter is that your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself. We all want instant gratification, I get it. But in reality, we have to wait for some things. It takes time to prepare a meal. It takes time to experience a ride at a theme park that everyone else wants to go on. It takes time to ring up groceries. It takes patience to live in this world.

So next time you find yourself waiting, take a minute to remember the difference between perceived and actual wait times. Think about the eight aspects of waiting that affect your perceived wait. Do what you can to realize why you are waiting or keep yourself occupied in this wait. Don't be impatient. That's no way to live your life.

Cover Image Credit:

Aranxa Esteve

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A Wanderlust's Guide To Coping When You've Left Your Heart At Your Travel Destination

Post-travel depression is a serious concern for many travelers.

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Post-travel depression hits everyone at some point, no matter how much you try to push it out of your mind. Despite being incredibly stressful, traveling is an amazing experience that expands your horizons.

Going back to your little corner of the world can be immensely disappointing by comparison.

It's been two weeks since I got back from New Zealand, and I already wish I was on the road again. I've experienced this before when coming back from Disney World and even places as local as the nearest state park.

It's an awful feeling that can reverse the positive effects of the trip.

Because of this, I try to plan for post-travel depression as much as possible. Here's what I've learned:

1. Scrapbook, scrapbook, scrapbook!

Shark wall in Wellington, NZ

Sarah Bauer

Or any related creative image-compiling craft, physical or digital. I prefer physical copies of things because they feel more real and tangible, but I also make video scrapbooks with any clips I might have.

I've been making scrapbooks of trips since I was little, and looking back on them helps me remember the trip in a fun way. Scrapbooking itself can also be an adventure. It's messy, creative, and fun, like any good adventure is, and you don't have to spend thousands of dollars on a plane ticket!

2. Talk about the trip with anyone who will listen.

Looking for cockels in Tauranaga, NZ

Sarah Bauer

Reliving the experience with others will help keep the trip fresh in your mind and allow you to adjust more gradually to coming home. Friends both IRL and online, family members, teachers, etc. They might be interested to hear your stories as well.

3. You can’t revisit the destination right now, but some experiences can be recreated.

I am definitely going to experiment with mac and cheese in the near future! (Rotorua, NZ)

Sarah Bauer

After a camping trip, I will sometimes make foil packet dinners just because I crave them after spending so much time eating campfire food. I developed a taste for kiwi fruit in New Zealand and I hope to incorporate the fruit in more of my recipes.

4. Think about why the trip meant so much to you, and bring that into your daily life.

Te Puia, Rotorua, NZ

Sarah Bauer

After New Zealand, I made it my mission to learn as much about indigenous culture as possible because it was something that really resonated with me on the trip. Seeing how the Maori are a part of New Zealand's present and future was inspiring and I want to know how I can support Native Americans.

After Disney World, I tried to rethink my idea of magic and tried to add magic to small moments, such as watching Netflix in a blanket fort or putting up Christmas lights in June just because they're pretty.

5. It’s okay to let yourself feel sad.

Especially on a dreary day. (Mount Victoria, Wellington, NZ)

Sarah Bauer

You had an amazing trip, but all good things come to an end. When that happens, there can be a bit of a grieving process, even if you knew it wasn't going to last forever. Pushing that aside and telling yourself you're being pathetic will only cause you to feel miserable. Sometimes you need to have a good cry. Tears are weakness leaving the body, after all.

6. Recognize when it’s time for another adventure.

A ship at harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are built for. (Bay of Plenty, NZ)

Sarah Bauer

Sometimes travel changes you so much that you no longer fit into the life you had before. In that case, maybe it's time to get a different job or move out or make some other major life change. Only you can know the answer to that, and I'm not advising you to rush into things. Meditate on it, talk to people you trust. The world is too big to keep your horizon small.

Cover Image Credit:

Sarah Bauer

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