Sunday, September 27, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
I am sooooo glad I brought my snowshoes to Anchorage.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Coast Guard makes high wind cliff rescue on Unalaska Island
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter and crew aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Munro rescued a 39-year-old Dutch Harbor man while fighting more than 45 mph winds from a cliff face on Unalaska Island 22-miles southwest of Dutch Harbor at 5:40 p.m. Wednesday. Dan Young reportedly fell down a cliff face injuring both legs. He then activated the emergency feature on his personal locating device alerting Coast Guard and local authorities of his exact location. Munro, conducting maritime safety and security patrols in the Bering Sea, immediately launched the Dolphin and the crew successfully hoisted Young and his dog.
“The winds were what made this rescue difficult. We weren’t sure if we were going to be able to get in and rescue him,” said Lt. Jason Smith, HH-65 aircraft commander from Kodiak. “As we came in for the hoist everything just seemed to line up and the rescue went great.” Young was transferred to awaiting emergency personnel at Dutch Harbor Airport at 6:40 p.m. The Cutter Munro is a 378-foot High Endurance Cutter homeported in Kodiak, Alaska.
In Kodiak, we experience hurricane-like storms that would have actual, assigned names from the National Weather Systems. Instead, we tough Kodiakians call them rain storms. Wind rages from 30-70 mph as huge gusts cut between mountain ranges and over to our nook of houses nestled on the northeast corner of the isle.
A week after I left, as if on cue that summer was over, the day after Labor Day, a helluva storm stranded Kodiakians for three days. Winds of 50 mph and over an inch of rain accumulated each day. Whereas no flights arrived or left the island, business progressed as usual: children went to school, parents went to work, and Coasties deployed to save lives.
"A williwaw is a sudden blast of wind descending from a mountainous coast to the sea. The williwaw results from the descent of cold, dense air from the snow and ice fields of coastal mountains in high latitudes, accelerated by the force of gravity."
Source: Good ol' wikipedia
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Being in Anchorage enabled me to head north to Willow, AK, and participate in another weekend of Rotary's Youth Exchange program. As the Youth Exchange Officer (YEO) for my club, I attend to receive additional training and to support our community's newest edition: Sagar.
As I pulled into the camp on Saturday morning, the energy was palpable. Greeted by warm hugs from fellow YEOs and waves from familiar students' faces as they devoured breakfast, I felt welcomed back into the fold. Sporting my Vermont Law School tshirt and birks, I took my notebook and curled into a chair to listen in on the sessions scheduled for the day.
During a break, a guest approached me. His name tag read "Ram ___ Guest." Introductions were made, and he asked if I had gone to VLS. Yes, class of '02 I replied. "Cool. I just graduated this summer." Small world. It turns out that Ram will be clerking for a judge assigned to Barrow, AK (the judge is a fellow Rotarian). Born in Mumbai, raised in Atlanta, he attended undergrad at Furman (go Knights) and then VLS. He looked amazed that not only did I know Furman but that my roots in SC and the south were strong, too. He had lots of questions about his upcoming trip and the community, and I tried to impart my limited knowledge unto him. He soaked up everything. When I found out that I had Tok with me, he insisted upon meeting our "Alaskan" dog. We exchanged contact information so that we could keep in touch. Small world, huh?
Monday, September 14, 2009
Turn on your speakers. This is a riot.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Shocked, I remained.
And now, here I am, desperately catching up on blogs while on an airplane on 1 September (editor's note: and yet not being able to post them all until 13 September). The glorious summer was completely opposite of the Kodiak rainy season in which we arrived last summer. Warm days, plenty of berry picking, and wildflowers galore provided this tree hugger with some awe-inspiring hikes. Fishing with my best friend was not so bad either. Armed with my Ugly Stick (Brand name, not the nickname I bestowed upon it) and my $4 Salvation Army Special Waders, I snagged a lot of rocks and seaweed.
The highlight of our trip was seeing the bear who has been entertaining a lot of residents and visitors alike down at the Russian and Sargent Rivers. This male has seen some action, as evident by the missing sections of his hind quarters. Not hindered by the missing flesh, he ambles about, catching salmon in the streams, stocking up for the winter.
Now these two visitors did have uniquely different experiences on Brad’s Halibut Charters…. Big Mama remains the top halibut catcher (not processor) by helping put about 20-25lbs of high quality and “organic” meat in the deep freezer, but she did have some notable challengers... Melissa was the ultimate trooper and assassin, but the jet lag proved too much and Kawika and Brad decided it would be more fun to limit out on Pinks in Women’s Bay. John was the seasoned sea going warrior, but not quite the master fisherman. He started slow (he did manage to catch a starfish), but finished with 8lbs of halibut and 4 legitimate non-snagged pink salmon.
Four days into our trip, the happy couple arrived. A few hours after landing, they met us at the StripHouse at Planet Hollywood. Over a bottle of wine and fabulous cuisine, we caught up on summer events and plans for the Hindi wedding in India in April 2010. From there, we treated the couple to a night out at Ka, the Cirque du Soleil show about warfare. This amazing show featured live music, a monstrous and portable set, and remarkable, breathtaking acrobatics from the whole cast.
The following day, we met up with extended family to tour the other end of the strip: Stratosphere, Circus Circus, and the Venetian. After a long day in the sun, we retired early so that I could wake up and collect Dad at the airport on Saturday morning. With my father in tow, Brad and I set off to the Chapel of Flowers, where we witnessed an intimate, personal vow exchange between Jennifer and Suketu. Friends and family celebrated that evening at the Paris’ Eiffel Tower Restaurant. With the sun setting behind the Nevada mountains and the Bellagio Fountain entertaining our tables, their reception featured creative dishes for both the vegetarians and omnivores in the crowd. To see the happy couple as the center of attention was exactly what we traveled 22 hours to behold. To have formal pictures taken with my parents was icing on the cake.
The wedding party and guests at the Chapel of Flowers
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
So I have now completed my first full year assigned and have been away from home for 211 days. In those 211 days I have seen Busan South Korea, Yokosuka Japan, Adak AK, Dutch Harbor AK, Pearl Harbor HI, Honolulu HI, and Kodiak AK. Now some of my best memories about being afloat on the East Coast are walking off the pier and immediately finding Dunkin Donuts, the ultimate beacon of my coffee "problem". Our first trip in South Korea, I was fooled, it looked like a Dunkin, it smelled like a Dunkin but..... IT DIDN’T SELL COFFEE!!!!! How is this possible I have no idea, but I got a Coolata instead.
In Yokosuka co-located with the Navy Exchange I found true happiness a full service Dunkin. In our 12days there I had 20 cups of coffee. Ahhh the taste of home.
Now we get to our second patrol..... Dutch harbor doesn’t have a single coffee place, so I can’t expect a Dunkin. Honolulu has all Kona and Lion Coffee for local stuff, and I was surrounded by the evil empire Starbucks. I’m working on this whole staying awake thing, but without the good stuff how can I promise not to fall asleep at the wheel. Ship coffee has gotten better though; I complained enough that they are now stocking an AK blend from Ravens Brew called Deadman’s Reach. It is strong, smooth, but still not Dunkin. It’s a good thing we keep having it shipped to our home.
What does it take to be Commanding Officer of a Coast Guard Cutter?
STEP ONE: File a packet to screen for Command (Done!!!)
STEP TWO: Submit “Dreamsheet” in October
STEP THREE: Bite fingernails while the Board meets and determine the screening list in November
STEP FOUR: Wait for a call from the detailer time… TBD (hopefully in January or February 2010)
STEP FIVE: Well, that’s a whole bunch of steps that include Brad going to schools, going underway with CGC Munro during Spring 2010, selling our home (wanna buy a great home in Kodiak?), and move from one remote area in Alaska to another.
But the icing on the cake was when our friend (and my colleague), Jim, visited us in July. Jim is a former Coastie who also earned his cutterman’s pin. He belongs to a group of retired Coasties in Washington, DC, who meet every now and then, mentor young Coasties, and talk a lot of shop. Nevertheless, they have shirts embroidered with the Cutterman’s Pin insignia. He brought his own shirt and gave it to Brad. Note: He did not have one made FOR Brad. He gave HIS to Brad, and wished him a lot of luck as he continues his career at sea.
The exchange took place in front of me, and I have to admit my wet eyes and shocked grin kept me standing there, somewhat stupefied by tenderness of the moment. Jim has been a friend and mentor to us both, and his personal gift is a testament to the faith he holds in Brad and in us. We were humbled…and very thankful for the love and support.