Q&A: Science teacher heads west to Washington


rachel_thecat, Wikimedia Commons

Science teacher Melissa Spigutz is excited to hike through Olympic National Park with her husband and daughter.

Manu Dhillon, Guest Writer

In an exclusive interview, The Paw Print’s Manu Dhillon sat down with science teacher Ms. Melissa Spigutz to discuss her upcoming family trip.

Manu: So I’ve heard that you’re going to Washington state over the summer. Who are you going to Washington state with?

Spigutz: I’m going with my husband and my baby, Marley.

Manu: Are you guys flying or driving there?

Spigutz: We are flying which is kind of like “should we do this or not?” But yeah, we’re flying. We had a lot of flight vouchers because we had to cancel many trips last year.

Manu: I agree because it’s a more efficient and easier way to get there.

Spigutz: True and we’re both vaccinated. I’m sure that my baby’s getting antibodies from me because I’m nursing so I feel a little more confident with COVID still being out there.

Manu: That’s good. Gotta make sure the baby’s safe. How long is the flight to Washington state?

Spigutz: There’s no direct flights to Seattle so we had to do one connecting flight and we tried to minimize the flight time so I think it’s around seven hours to travel. It’s a good adventure though because we’ve never flown with our baby. We did a couple of mini-road trips where it was like two to three hours but that’s not really long, so that component’s going to be different for sure.

Manu: How’d that go?

Spigutz: The road trip was fine, but we’ll see about flying.

Manu: How will this be a new experience to go on a trip with your baby?

Spigutz: Everything will be a new experience. We’re outdoors and adventurous, and I’ve been doing a lot of research about hiking with babies and what I’m seeing is that she’s kind of at a sweet spot for her age since she can’t walk or crawl but she’s manageable to carry. I’ve been doing a lot of hikes and walks with her in my carrier on the front. So, I’m getting used to her size and being able to hike for a couple of hours with her. So that’ll be different because we can’t do a lot of crazy stuff like we usually do. We usually do a lot of camping or adventuring in our van but we’re just gonna take baby steps and introduce her to new adventuring stuff.

Manu: That’s great and sounds like a lot of fun but you’re also ensuring your child’s safety. Is this your first time going to Washington state?

Spigutz: No, I’ve been to Washington state before, Seattle specifically, and it’s really pretty. Have you ever been to Washington before?

Manu: I have not.

Spigutz: It’s cool and there’s a lot going on there. We’re going for a wedding, but we decided to go a little bit earlier so we could take advantage of the [Olympic] National Park. There’s a mountain range in there and so we’ve also gone down part of the pacific crest trail which is a cool trail system. We’ve also done part of the park system which is more in the eastern-middle part of the state. I’m also excited for Olympic [National Park] because it’s on the coast. I was a marine science major in college and so we got to see all the tide pools. I really want to see an Orca but I’m not sure if they’re going to be around this time of the year. I’m excited for that component of seeing a national park instead of climbing a mountain, so it’s going to be cool to see a lot of greenery and old-growth trees.

Manu: So is the [Olympic] National Park more on the Pacific side?

Spigutz: Yeah, this one specifically is. We’ve done the Cascades and that’s the one that’s kind of like in the middle of the state by the mountains.

Manu: That’s great and it sounds like a very fun trip. If I was you, I couldn’t wait to go.

Spigutz: Yeah we’re excited.

Manu: What is your favorite thing to do at a park?

Spigutz: I like to hike a lot. I also like to trail run but I think trail running is gonna be on pause for a little bit because of the baby. With hiking, it’s kind of nice to slow down and not be running and take everything in what’s around you. I always look forward to my summers where we get to adventure around. Usually, we stay in the United States and just check out all the different parks because they’re all different. So, hiking allows you to slow down a little bit but it’s not easy. People think it’s easy sometimes and it’s not. So it’s just an interesting way to be able to see everything and to kind of press the “reset button” and get out where there’s no cell service but just nature which is what’s really cool.

Manu: I really wanted to hike but as you mentioned before that people think it’s easy but it’s not. I’m one of those people that fell for that trip. I didn’t really hike, but I was adventuring through the Metroparks and the woods around and it didn’t go as planned because it was a lot harder than I thought it would be.

Spigutz: Yeah it really is. You want to be prepared. You have to carry different layers and make sure you have a first aid kit on you. Overall, there’s a lot more different layers to it than it just being a simple thing.

Manu: That seems very difficult. Also, you said that you’re attending a wedding in Washington. How are you related to the groom or bride?

Spigutz: My husband’s really good friend from college who was his roommate is getting married. They live in Seattle but the wedding’s going to be three hours west in Winthrope, which is a little bit more secluded. We’re good friends with them and they just actually had a baby also. They were supposed to get married last summer and then they just had a little baby girl a month ago. Marley’s gonna have a cool best friend that lives in Washington state.

Manu: That’s wonderful!

Spigutz: He’s a cool adventure friend. We always link up with him and do ski trips. He’s probably the reason why we got into hiking. Our first big camping trip which was seven nights out was with him. It’s cool doing stuff with him.

Manu: Seven nights? I personally can’t even imagine camping out 7 nights. Maybe not even a night or two.

Spigutz: The hardest part is carrying all your stuff. I hate carrying all of my stuff which is why we started doing really long day hikes instead, and I love doing those because you can go super far and not carry a lot of gear. Then you just come back and pass out at your camping spot.

Manu: That’s awesome! I like how you mentioned “adventure friend” because I also have an adventure buddy like that which is one of my cousins in Philadelphia. We don’t really hike or camp, but we like to go exploring. We’ve explored a few abandoned houses before because sometimes, we have a lot of time on our hands so we just like to go out and see what we can do with that time.

Spigutz: Yeah, you want to make sure that you have someone on board with you who isn’t gonna freak out, like you don’t want to invite someone to one of those things where they’re gonna be miserable the whole time. You want to introduce people to stuff at the same time and make sure they don’t get mad so you gotta have the right friend for it.

Manu: That’s true and I agree. Well Mrs. Spigutz, thank you so much for your time and I hope you have a great time in Washington state.

Mrs. Spigutz: Thank you so much!