Monday, June 22, 2009

Dutch Harbor: Land of Terradactyls

From Brad:

Ok so we moored up in Dutch Harbor during this past patrol. Now everyone who has watched Deadliest Catch is well aware that Dutch is basically the fishing capital of the Aleutian Islands. It is also the land where Bald Eagles rule the skies, and I don’t mean the cute little eagles that are underfed here in Kodiak. I mean savage monsters that rule the sky like the Terradactyls in the cage in Jurrassic Park 3. These bad boys are huge and they hunt in packs. By hunting of course I mean eating out of dumpsters and hanging out on top of crab pots picking the bait out of them from last trip. As you are driving around Dutch though you notice something, there is absolutely no small game on the island at all, no rodent problem, no foxes, and no dogs that are less than 35lbs. Dutch Harbor is where Eagles go once they have beaten all other challengers in their hometown, it is a “Mortal Combat” like proving ground to be conquered. They are absolutely everywhere, and they are just as awe inspiring as they are in Kodiak. We had the pleasure of having one buzz the tower as we were mooring up the first time, I guess our lookout all 5’2” and 115lbs looked like a snack from above.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Coast Guard Families

With Brad home, I was able to post an update on a blog to which I am a contributor:

As I scrolled down to see what my fellow bloggers (and friends) wrote recently, I saw the following article hyperlinked. The USCG is blogging, and its official blog is The Coast Guard Compass. This Friday, they saluted family members, like me, who, "put up with a lot...guard our hearts and are the light that guides us home."


On Fridays we are going to be featuring a Coast Guard hero, the “Guardian of the Week”. This will be someone who has done something that makes them stand out, saving a life, a great achievement in their field, doing something that made a mission a success, etc. At the top of the page you should see a submit button, please feel free to nominate your shipmates for Guardian of the Week. All you need to do is write their name, unit, a way to contact them and a real quick note on what they did and the rest will be done on this end.

Instead of just a single Guardian of the Week to start off our Friday feature it seemed fitting that the first hero the Compass would honor should not just be one person, but with Mother’s Day so recently passed and Father’s Day coming up in it seemed right to give a salute to the families of our service members.

The First Lady, Michelle Obama, has made it clear that military families are a priority for her, and she recognizes them for their dedication, courage and strength. In March when speaking at Ft. Bragg, Mrs. Obama said: “See, military families have done their duty, and we as a grateful nation must do ours. We must do everything in our power to honor them by supporting them; not just by word but by deed.”

The Army has a great article about Mrs. Obama and military families on their site.
Our family members are the ones that give us the love and support that makes it possible for us to do our jobs everyday. They put up with a lot, missed birthdays, sudden changes in plans, being the ones who have to wait and worry if we are coming home safe, there really is a lot that goes into loving a Coast Guardsman. Beyond that they are our biggest cheerleaders, our stoutest friends, and our most loyal crews when the seas get rough.

You want to see people who do something outstanding? It is those who keep the home front running when we are deployed, who deal with the car that always breaks down the day after the ship goes to sea. The ones who write us letters or call us to remind us that no matter how rough it gets we are loved. They are the ones who are there with pride when we get promoted and who are there at the pier to welcome us when we come home.

Mind you being the child of a sailor’s wife, and the granddaughter of another sailor’s wife, I am probably a little biased on the choice of Guardian of the Week this week. Those women were pretty amazing role models to have when I was growing up. I have been lucky enough to see first hand the strength (and well sometimes plain out stubbornness) it takes for spouses to be Semper Paratus right along with those of us in uniform. There is a blog on our blogroll written by some spouses, called Waiting for ships to come in, and it is a good read for a little insite into the Coast Guard life from the eyes of the families.

When you think about it there are 40,150 men and women on active duty and that number (not to mention the reservists and Auxiliarists) makes for a lot of Coast Guard family providing love and support for our service members.

So here is to you Coast Guard Family, Guardians of the Week…because while we are out there in surf, sea and storm…you are guarding our hearts and are the light that guides us home!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wedding Two: Pungoteague

I arrived a day late to the Alvord nuptials, but the after party continued. Hosted on her god mother’s plantation-like property, this Irish wedding’s remnants were leftover when I arrived Sunday afternoon. I drove past the small cottage (where Bride and Groom stayed) and along the tree-lined gravel road to the main house. I found close friends and family on the back, screened-in porch, and was welcomed via giant bear hug from our friend, John. After a quick round of introductions, I suddenly had a glass of pinot grigio and a sandwich in my hands. In between bites, I asked about the wedding and reception, admired the leftover flowers from the centerpieces, and laughed as I heard about guests’ antics. Two warm hugs greeted me as I met the happy couple. I was ordered to change and was led out to the bay, where I stepped over the remnants of the bonfire and took out kayaks and canoes.

Leaving the adults alone in the big house, us young ‘uns headed over to the cottage. While Eric whipped up his famous chimmi churri, we turned on Jimmy Buffet, lit the tiki torches, and took the paddle boat for a spin around the abutting pond. Covered in insect repellent, catching the glimmer of fireflies, and feasting on steak with chimmi churri, surrounded by friends was a great way to watch the sun set. We closed the evening with smores and enormous bonfire on the beach. It made for a helluva long day, but the time was well-spent.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Wedding One: Michigan

For all those who are planning their wedding, let me give you some advice: start with a Bar Crawl. The drinking was fun, don’t get me wrong; but, when you have invited so many people from various aspects of your life, we need a level playing field to get to know each other. What better way to do so but to get us bright yellow tshirts with our bar crawl venues outlined on the back (in case we get lost…) and force us to socialize among the bars. Childhood friends, family, distant cousins, undergrad, graduate friends, and colleagues have no choice but to take the dare to slam some car bombs and wish the happy couple a long and lovely life…hiccups included.

The Wedding and Reception:

Baby Jack and his mom, Regan, joined us on Friday evening. I adored watching him with the soon-to-be parents, Mia and JT (congrats!). Auntie Kristi seemed a natural, too, as Jack danced with her a few times at the reception that followed the abbreviated Catholic service. My time with the happy couple and Coastie entourage was cut short. I headed out early Sunday morning to Wedding Two.