Headed Out West: S’13 and the Pacific Northwest Field Seminar


Time between trips here at Mystic seems short, maybe because of all of the exciting activities and classes our days are filled with, and maybe because time between trips is, in fact, short! A few quick weeks after finally touching land after our 10 days aboard the Cramer, we were off again—this time to absorb the beauty of another coast altogether in the Pacific Northwest.

Our Pacific Coast Field Seminar began on Saturday, March 2nd in Seattle’s SEATAC Airport, where we began the first of our many hours in the five rental vans that became our pseudo homes for the duration of the trip. We loaded our bags into the trunks, buckled up and began our trip down the West Coast. We headed first for the heart of Seattle, where we ascended the Space Needle for a birds-eye view of the unique and vibrant skyline, the port of Elliott Bay, and the Seattle-Tacoma shipping ports. Our stay in Seattle was focused on containerization and the evolution of the cargo shipping industry, illustrated quite vividly for us by a trip on a Crowley Marine tugboat.

Before leaving Seattle, we poked around Pike Place Market, visited the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Visitor Center, and saw the largest commercial fishing port in the country, known as Fisherman’s Terminal. After spending our final night in the historic College Inn, the only remaining building from the Alaksa-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, we left for Oregon, stopping at Powell’s Books (the largest new and used bookstore in the world!) and Multnomah Falls for a quick hike.

The next few days felt like a blur, arriving in Astoria, OR where we got to spend the night at the Columbia River Maritime Museum and stroll along Cannon Beach. Our days were filled with observing tidal creatures along Haystack Rock, one of the most photographed views of the Oregon coast, bonding with sea lions in the largest sea cave in the world, and tumbling down the largest dunes any of us had ever seen on the Oregon Dunes National Seashore.

We finished up our trip with even more adventure, clambering around marshland and estuaries at the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve and interacting closely with marine biota in Cape Arago tide pools.

With all of the incredible sight-seeing and touring we did in these eight short days, it seems we would’ve come back home with nothing but memories of the beautiful sights we saw and the incredible history and biology we learned. Instead, we stepped off the plane laughing about the times we shared with professors in vans, the incredible food we ate, and the extraordinary people we met along the way.

Time and time again, Williams-Mystic proves that there is room in a day for more than any of us ever thought possible, and still somehow leaves us wanting more. Lucky for us, our next trip is right around the corner: Louisiana is a few short days away, and none of us can wait to see what adventures are in store!

Fair winds,


Author: williamsmystic

A one semester interdisciplinary ocean and coastal studies program integrating marine science, maritime history, environmental policy, and literature of the sea.

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