This past week, a group of 23 USC students and an advisor headed on an Alternative Spring Break to Orcas Island, Washington. We stayed in a couple cabins in the Environmental Learning Center in Moran State Park located on Orcas Island, part of the San Juan Islands just south of the Canadian border. Every day, we'd head out to the hiking trails with Park Ranger Al to clean up the pathways. The winter rains and snow had uprooted a lot of trees, and the trails had become obstructed by barks, branches and rocks. We walked a total of 75, 000 steps in rain, shine and extremely cold winds during our five days in the forests. 

In our time off, we canoed, played a lot of Bananagrams, and hiked some more. To better understand island culture and lifestyle, we spent a couple mornings meeting with the middle and high school students of the town of Orcas.  Life on an island in the Pacific Northwest is vastly different from our collegiate lives in sunny Los Angeles, so it was quite interesting being able to learn about  a different lifestyle.

Overall, Orcas was magical. Rain or shine, the trees and greens never ceased to amaze us. No internet, no cell service, just pure nature. 

On our 6th day, we left the island and headed to Seattle. Never having been there myself, I can easily say now after less than 48 hours that I'm completely in love with the city. It has a San Francisco feel, the coffee is fantastic,  the people are genuinely friendly, and you don't need a car to get around. We spent a lot of time eating, exploring, and of course taking lots of photos. 

I can't begin to express how amazing this trip was. I met great people who, only after a week, I can now call my friends. I knew a few other students before leaving, but the trip let me become even closer to them on a more meaningful level. I have come to a point in my life where I'm realizing the importance of building, keeping and caring about my relationships with others. The relationships that I made and strengthened this week are forever, because we'll always have our Orcas and Seattle adventures to remember.