'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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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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My Future Is Unpredictable And That's Totally Alright

As I prepare for study abroad in Ecuador, I'm going in with no expectations.

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For six months, I had plans to study abroad in the Dominican Republic during the fall semester of junior year. Filling out what seemed like endless applications and paperwork, searching for travel ideas on Pinterest, and writing a class research paper on the DR's relationship with its neighboring island, Haiti, I was prepared to live and learn about Dominican culture hands-on.

Then on the Thursday before Finals Week last spring, I read my email. My study abroad program in the DR had gotten canceled. In the span of 30 seconds, my future had taken a new course. Less than a week later, I was submitting papers to study abroad in a new country where another adventure awaited: Ecuador.

If there's anything I've learned in the past year, it's that life is unpredictable and we can't control it. The future is unknown. But-

Who wants to know exactly what's going to happen in the next few years? I mean, I believe it's good to have a direction, but you don't have to have the entire journey pinpointed straight to the core. You meet people, you get inspired, you see things, you have experiences. And you go from there. (Though, I totally respect people who have clear ambitions and stick with them their entire lives.)

Where I was a year ago was a completely different path than where I find myself today. Last summer, I worked four different internships/jobs in the span of three months. A year ago, I would never have guessed my following summer unfolding with an immersion trip to India, a solo adventure to Taiwan & Hong Kong, and becoming a certified yoga instructor. A year ago, I hadn't met half of my best friends. A year ago, I hadn't seen poverty in a third-world country. A year ago, I wasn't even sure I wanted to major in Environmental Studies.

Just because I don't know what the future holds doesn't mean I can't set goals. I have a destination, an idea of where I'm headed and where I want to go. While abroad in Ecuador, I want to learn about sustainable development and coffee production as well as enhance my Spanish skills.

As I prepare for study abroad in Ecuador, I'm going in with no expectations. I know the format of the program. I'll be taking classes and living with a host family and then doing an internship at a farm. Otherwise, I have no idea what's going to happen. And that's what I'm looking forward to the most. The spontaneity. The unexpected. As one of my good friends would say whenever he doesn't have formal weekend plans, "I'm improvising." And you know the one rule of improv: Always say yes.

¡Hasta pronto, Ecuador!

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