Thursday, October 29, 2009


I love where I work. This is the mass email sent out this morning, "Please be aware there is a Large Bull Moose Roaming around the Midtown Office. Last seen in front of unemployment Office Across the street from the office."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Snow in Anchorage

Anchorage's upper Hillside neighborhoods got their first significant snow of the season Tuesday morning. The National Weather Service is calling for scattered rain and snow showers this afternoon, with snow accumulations of 1 to 3 inches above 1200 feet. Highs in the 30s.
Of course, the week I leave is the week I could be busting out my snowshoes!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Deadliest Catch: Cuttermen Style

I have to admit I've been lucky in some of the people that have set foot on the ships that I've been stationed on. I've sailed with Secret Service, Congressmen, Senators, Former Presidents, and now... Deadliest Catch Videographers.

Unlike the other personnel I've had around, the Video guys follow us around and try to stage different things for us to do. They have realized that as Ops I'm a good person to follow, and man are they sneaky! I just want to do my job in peace, but since we are in Public service so long as I'm in uniform they can film it, and I can't convince XO to let me do my job in Gym Gear....

I'm happy that they are planning to tell the Cutter Side of the story, as the Pilots have had plenty of well-deserved press coverage. Now there is one thing that still surprises me about "visitors" on ships: they never take the seasick pills before they get on board. We have some great footage of our guys holding the camera and the professional chumming the waters of the Bering Sea. Like true college binge drinkers though they have managed to puke and rally. I'm hoping that the Red King Crab season onboard Cutter MUNRO doesn't end up on the cutting room floor.

Camera Aptitude

I need to preface this story by explaining why Christina has an awesome camera, and does such a great job maintaining the blog instead of having me do it. The theme for the patrol so far is "wow that's pretty / cool / awesome I should really take a picture of that". So on the transit to the Bering Sea we stopped for a little fishing at Albatross Bank. For this evolution I decided not to fish because we were only keeping "trophies" (50+ lbs), but that we would plan to stop on the way home for filling the freezers. One of the guys didn't want to fish, but decided to anyway when I said "if you catch a monster, I'll fillet it and keep the meat", well no later than 20minutes later he had a 72" approx 135lbs halibut on deck. Amazingly he couldn't pick it up off the ground and I was the only person on board who could get it to budge. All he wanted were the cheeks, so I got all four fillets. They filled up approximately 10 freezer bags and are now sitting pretty in the Capt's freezer to bring home when we return (looks like some tasty fish for Turkey Day!!).
So the next time I really wanted a picture was when I was fishing in Dutch and managed to land a 36inch silver (you've seen the pics of the fillets) and I at least had the camera on me, but... The batteries were dead, so I had to come back and have Jeff take pics of the fillets on the cutting board. Now in the deductive reasoning for fishing for silvers in Dutch, I thought to myself they would never be expecting a "Kodiak Custom" lure, and I was correct. When the weather was actually nice enough to fish, they couldn't get enough. I have pics of some cool stuff and or "pretty" stuff that Christina would make me stop of the drive cross country to take a picture of, but I do have the camera, but not the USB cable. I really suck in the maintenance of mementos and memories.
You are so much luckier that she handles all this stuff.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Spider Monkey

Last Friday night, I joined up with some of the friends that I had made at last week's party. They are all climbers and encouraged me to join the belay class. We met at the Rock Gym where I was fitted with the most uncomfortable rental harness ever with shoes funkier than bowling rentals. Nevertheless, I loved the class, worked on my technique, and then moved onto the walls to join my new friends. Some were climbing via harness, and others were bouldering. The climbing wall was super busy, so I joined the other group at bouldering, where I learned the levels, color coding, and cheered on some friends who were trying to overcome a difficult obstacle.

I immediately jumped onto a couple of the simple routes and had so much fun. At one point, they were all cheering me on as I attacked a new path. I found myself hanging upside down, not sure how to move onto the next grip. We all started to laugh as I asked for advice, hanging upside down. And of course, I start laughing at myself and with them; thus, throwing off my core balance and BOOM-- I lost my balance and fell onto the cushy mats below. Climbing is not a laughing matter--you'll fall if you chuckle too hard.

Noticing that we burned off a lot of calories on the wall and in laughing (ahem, with) me, we decided to fuel up-- on beer and pizza. We finished by heading to Mooses Tooth where a dozen of us dined on humus, salads, and Oktoberfest pizza.

Floral Competition

Brad's flowers have competition. My client sent me flowers today, as a small token of their appreciation for my work (and loooong hours) on this project. The gorgeous arrangement that Brad sent last week is still blooming. The roses have since past their prime, but the lillies are opening among the sunflowers, creating sunset hues near my laptop's screen.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Return of the Solo Cup

In working on an extended team of professionals here in Anchorage, I befriended a cool chick named Sue. Meeting new friends in a professional environment is a lot like have to get to know each other, crack a couple of jokes over coffee and in between meetings, and eprhaps compliment each other's shoes...all to see if you click. Feeling pretty confident, I asked Sue out on a date, "Wanna get a drink sometime?"

Her response floored me, "Well, my husband and I are throwing a kegger on Saturday night. The crowd will be mostly climbers, but you are welcome to come hang."

A few hours later, she passes along the evite with notes about her abode, "We have a koi pond and a rooftop garden...can't miss it."

Around 8 PM last Saturday, I pull up to a humble abode with a koi pond that stretches from the backyard to the front yard, taking up most of the landscaping. Seriously, it could have been in front of the Grand Hyatt in Oahu; it was breathtaking. I opened the front door to the sound of 30-40 climbers chatting away, with Mooses Tooth pale ale and amber chilling on the back deck. For the next five hours, I worked the room, enjoyed the conversation that did not center around my current project, and accepted an invitation to go indoor rock climbing next week.

For the first time in five weeks here in Anchorage, I felt at ease. Yes, I have enjoyed an occassional night out with some friends, but to be so welcomed by- in a sense- complete strangers was exactly what I needed with my current stress level. My hostess handed me a red solo cup, a sharpie, and pointed me toward the beer and food. I wrote, "Hi. My name is Christina." Oh, sooooooloooooooo, how I have missed you.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dutch Harbor Musing: from the Viewpoint of a CGC Munro Crewmember

Onto the USCG District 17 website, a young, new crewmember from Florida blogged about his recent experience in Dutch Harbor. I share with you because I could not imagine how life-changing it must be to be so young, fresh out of bootcamp-- from Florida, no less -- and find yourself in Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

"I get asked by a lot of my buddies why I joined the Coast Guard. To be honest, I didn't ever see it in my future either. However, once I began to look closer at what I wanted to achieve in life I realized there were many reasons and advantages for joining the Coast Guard. One of these aspects was the adventure and chance to travel to new and fascinating locales. Originally being from Florida, this reasoning weighed heavy on my decision to not do like everyone else and litter my "dream sheet" with billets close to home.

It is well known that the Bering Sea and Dutch Harbor is Munro's primary area of operation. For many shipmates arriving in Dutch Harbor for a port call is a less than desirable way to relax and recover from the hustle and bustle of being underway. I'm a pretty simple person and I've never had a problem making my own fun so I set out on my way to discover everything Dutch has to offer. One of the first things I noticed as I was wandering about was there was no trees anywhere on the island. I found this to be a little peculiar, having been raised running through the woods back home as a kid. Taking in the treeless scenery I pressed on.

My first stop would be The Alaska Ship Supply where I paid forty-five dollars for a sweatshirt emblazoned with their logo. Who knew it could cost that much to advertise for some one? I guess I did it because the ASS as it affectionately called is a Dutch Harbor landmark, and coming home without one is like going to the movies and not buying popcorn. My next stop was to Safeway, where I loaded my backpack with all kinds of "fat snacks" and energy drinks for those late night watches. After a trek through the Dutch Harbor mud I returned to the boat to discover chow had once again been secured.

FN Hart ask if I wanted to go to the gym with him and a few others to release any pent up aggression, but I decided to head off to Amelia's Restaurant instead. I'm not quite sure who Amelia is, but her restaurant makes some of the best milkshakes I've ever had. As I sat enjoying my first ever avocado milkshake the gears in my head were turning as to do next. I had the option of walking to the airport and paying twelve dollars to use really slow internet or walking to The Grand Aleutian Hotel and mooching off of their extremely slow internet. I chose to do the latter.

While surfing the web I did a Google search, and found out that Dutch Harbor was covered with the remains of WWII bunkers, pill boxes, and storage facilities. This bit of information began to stoke the fires of my inquisitiveness, and I decided I had to check it out. As I waited for the Liberty Van to give me a ride back to the boat I began conversation with a disgruntled shipmate who was complaining about having nothing to do. I spoke up and offered my recent findings, and invited them to come with me tomorrow to discover what else lay out to be discovered. By the time liberty was granted the next day it was too late and the weather too nasty to attempt climbing a hill in search of the bunkers.

I instead settled on kicking back at the airport lounge listening to music and sea stories of Munro's more senior crew. I was having a blast relaxing and winding down, when out of the corner of my eye I spotted a familiar face. I've never been a real big fan of TV, but you would have to be living under a rock to be on a cutter in the Bering Sea and to have never heard of Sig Hansen. Hansen is the Captain of the F/V Northwestern prominently featured on The Discovery Channel's show The Deadliest Catch. I politely excused myself from the group and grabbed my camera and mustered up the courage to approach him and ask if I could take a picture with him and his crew. He looked at me and responded "No I'm working...What do I look like a tourist attraction or something?" Then he grinned and agreed to do it as long as I made it quick so that all his fishing buddies didn't see it. My guess is that they probably give him a hard time about incidents like this. I returned to the group to brandish my trophy when in walked another Captain whom I recognized, but couldn't remember his name.

Now, that might not do it for some people, but it was a pretty cool experience for me. In conclusion although there is not any trees in Dutch if you keep your mind open and can be easily amused there is plenty attractions for the tourist to find."


My beloved sent me fall-themed arrangement to adorn my hovel of a desk.
I married up, didn't I?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Snow in Power Line Pass

Tok and I enjoyed a climb into Power Line Pass, where our growing puppy found chunks of snow to chew on, and I took in the views of the snow capped mountains.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sounds of Fall

In my evening strolls with Tok, we take a path around Baxter Bog. This trail is maintained by the Municipality of Anchorage and it is frequented by runners, bikers, and dog walkers alike. A month ago, Tok and I ran into moose almost each eve. I loved the views of the nearby mountains and the oranges and yellows as leaves changed. A week ago, winds picked up, and now that trail is covered in those leaves. As I walk, I cannot help but kick my feet every so often; thus, shuffling leaves around and making that unmistakable sound of fall: swish, swish, swish…now if it would only snow so I can make that other seasonal sound: crunch, crunch, crunch.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Yellow Brick Road

From the little work desk at the office on a rainy Saturday afternoon, I logged onto my facebook account to update my status. From the status feeds I see that my friend - and now Student Activities Director at Lees-McRae College -posted new photos from the Homecoming parade in Banner Elk, NC. This morning, friends and loved ones marched on a gloriously sunshine-y day to the theme of "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" theme for this year's homecoming.
I swear, I live in hands down, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places on this planet. And yet, when I see those smiles faces and those hillsides of the Appalachians, I feel so homesick.

Natural Disasters

Earlier this week, in shock, I watched nature's wrath in the Phillipines and American Samoa. In the back of my head, I thought, "Hmmm, that gives us about two weeks until the plate movement catches up."

Four days later, the Cleveland volcano erupts out on the Aluetian chain. I am in Anchorage and have a volcano kit with me, and the house in Kodiak is volcano-prepped. Earthquakes, avalanches, and volcanoes...I love the last Frontier. You never know what may occur.