Tuesday, May 31, 2011

CatchCon 2011: Part One- Sailing, Sailing!


Well, I'm finally posting about Seattle where another round of Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch convention, CatchCon took place. Like the previous CatchCons, it was full overrun with fans and fishermen alike! Of course, my experience is usually a bit deviated from the norm at these events, and this year was no exception.

The flight into Seattle was the standard cross country adventure, nothing to write home about... or blog about for that matter. The ride home however was a terror-filled, white-knuckled panic fest, but I'm getting ahead of myself. After landing, I met up with my fabulous friend, the wonderful Cindi, since she was landing only a half-hour after I did. Together, we grabbed our bags, headed outside and met up with our friend Lynn and two of his friends Brianna and Danielle, who were good enough to come pick us up from the airport. Lynn and Cindi are pretty much bff, and he's just a great guy all around.

 Me, Brianna, Cindi, Keith, Danielle, and Lynn at The Market Arms... good times!

We ended up in Ballard at a little establishment called the Market Arms, just outside of PacFish, where we met up with Keith, Monte, Lenny, Gary, and a few of other people. It was a fun night of swapping stories, playing a few darts, and  making new friends and catching up with old ones. However, it was getting late, heading towards the 2 A.M. mark, and we all had an early morning coming at us hard, so we turned it in for the night. The morning would bring us back to PacFish for our annual visit to the F/V Wizard!

Once the lines were untied, we started off pretty quickly. Unfortunately, Monte and the new greenhorn Danny were still standing on the deck of the Pinnacle! However, Keith maneuvered the boat close enough for them to hop aboard, no man left behind on the Wizard!

 Lynn! He's becoming a seasoned vet of the CatchCon shindiggery now.

 Craig Terrill was kind enough to pose for a pic with Jackie and me.
We had a huge crowd on the Wizard this year for the morning crossing. Craig Terrill from the Seattle Seahawks, several people from Discovery Channel, friends and family of the crew, Peter Moran from Rezin Marketing, who does a great job for the Wizard, and then there was us! It was a gorgeous morning for a boat ride.


 Of course, the F/V Northwestern was gearing up for the ride over as well... 

...Complete with camera crew!

Captain Sig Hansen. Sig wasn't on the boat by the time we arrived at the Locks. I'm not sure if he hopped aboard or drove over to the pier actually. All I know is that he showed up at some point after the boats docked.

We make this same face and take this same picture at every single event we attend together. We're awesome. 

 Here's a shot of a lot of the folks with us for the day on the bow of the boat. Discovery, business partners, deckhands, and a Seahawk or two are all enjoying the ride. Still, I think Jax and I had the best seats in the house.

Riding high! Jackie and I get a great view from the top of the F/V Wizard's Wheelhouse.

We had a stowaway or two make their way to the deck as well! It seemed a few ravens wanted to take the ride from the terminal to the pier! 


I thought this was a nice shot of Gary Soper. Soper's a cool guy, quiet, but with a great sense of humor. It's always nice to get to see him when I'm around for one of the functions. You'll probably recognize him from the cover of Season 6's DVD box! 

I always love sailing in and seeing the city appear in the distance. The grey, cloud-filled sky just screams "Seattle!"

And, what ride into Seattle would be complete without a picture of the Space Needle?

As we were sailing in, a Coast Guard chopper seemed to appear out of nowhere and fly directly over the boat! I've only seen them two other times, once at a previous CatchCon during a rescue demonstration, and again in Panama City, FL after a very tragic double red flag day when they were out searching for several bodies. The memories are chilling, one for what could happen, the other, for what did.

Thank you, US Coast Guard, for all you do!

 There it is, The Bell Harbor Conference Center, and the pier I've come to know so well. The next day will be a long one...

And, as always, I'm loving every minute of it! Next up, docking the boat, "hey, look, it's Edgar," and other shenanigans.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Alabama Tornado Outbreak April 2011

1.5 mile wide wedge Tuscaloosa-Birmingham tornado in downtown Tuscaloosa, AL.

On April 27th, my home state, Alabama, along with several other Southeastern states, was hit by a devastating outbreak of severe weather. It has now been estimated that roughly 362 tornadoes touched down over a three day span, the 25th-27th, 312 of which occurred on the 27th. The destruction and loss of life was staggering.  We had excellent warning, days of notice that severe weather was coming, and for many, up to half an hour of tracking coverage before an actual strike... still, the absolute power of the storms was too much, and despite the fact that these storms were taken very seriously by the majority of the populace, they were simply to strong, too big, too deadly, and many were killed in spite of their safety measures. So far, over 350 deaths have been recorded, and over 300 people are still unaccounted for.

 Statistics courtesy of NOAA

 The clean up and relief efforts have started, but this isn't something that can be fixed in a week or even a month. The people affected by this storm will need long term support. The areas hit were highly populated, both urban and suburban. Communities I have known my whole life are gone, and people are left with nothing. These are my neighbors... these are your neighbors. Please offer whatever support you can, time, money, goods, blood, prayer... all of it is needed. Remember them when the next sensational story overshadows the coverage of their suffering. Below are some links where you can donate or sign up to volunteer your time. 

 Local churches are also organizing aid distribution and drop off sites, so check in your community to help at these aid stations. Also, contact your city hall for more information.

If you have been affected by the storms, please contact FEMA to apply for federal aid. 

This site has many pictures of the devastation and puts a human face on much of it, such as this photo of a grandmother comforting her granddaughter... this tragedy happened to real people. (Fair warning, some of the reader comments are atrociously ignorant.)

myfoxal(courtesy Beth Shelburn's fb page)
Cullman County's tornado, destroyed much of downtown Cullman, including homes and businesses.

The damage path of the Tuscaloosa-Birmingham tornado as seen from 41,000 feet.

A few, pictures from own community:

 These apartments have been condemned.

 Metal siding was ripped off like paper.

 Completely destroyed.

Total loss, owner has decided against rebuilding.
 The damage shown here is along the main stretch of highway and in no way shows the complete picture of what was affected. Other homes and businesses suffered greater damage. It is surreal, the extent of the destruction state wide, regionally wide. I have debris in my yard from 60 miles away, people's mail, parts of their homes...

Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Cullman, Pleasant Grove, Pratt City, Hackleburg, Cordova, Concord, Athens, Fultondale, Smithfield, Rosedale, and many, many other communities need our help.

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me'." Matthew 25:40