Monday, August 30, 2010

First Impressions

And I thought I wasn't going to have anything Coast Guard-related to write about. Silly Girl.

Like a good new grad student, I went to the Orientation dinner last Wednesday (the "business casual" dress code almost threw me for a loop...I've only got biker chick clothes with me until my house hold goods get here. But luckily, there's a really good thrift store close by: for $10 I went from biker chick to business chic). I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was lots of people standing around, socializing, networking. I didn't know *anybody* and I hate just walking up to someone, "Hi, my name's Charlotte." Anyway, I made it through until people sat down at their respective tables, and the Dean started to speak.

Dean Kettl is Dean of the School of Public Policy, and he started out his welcome by telling us all how great we were, how this was the largest class they've ever had, but how it was also the most competitive class for entry. We, apparently, are the cream of the crop.

But then he asked if any of us knew who Tony Hayward is. A few hands raised here and there, and I knew I had heard the name, but just couldn't place it. Well, Tony Hayward is the former BP CEO who said, at the height of the Gulf oil spill crisis and in concert with his departure from BP, "I just want my life back."

That statement still sounds ridiculous.

But Dean Kettl quickly contrasted Mr Hayward with the individual who is in charge of the federal government's response to the oil spill...you got it, ADM Thad Allen, USCG (retired). Dean Kettl briefly discussed how things started happening after President Obama and ADM Allen sat down with BP execs to get the response effort moving along. He also mentioned some of ADM Allen's background, specifically his assumption of the federal government's response to the recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

His main point was that ADM Allen's brilliant leadership was the key to his success; he was able to motivate people, break down overwhelming problems into manageable bits, and generally approach any crisis with an attitude of effectiveness. In Dean Kettl's words, "You throw any problem at [ADM Allen] and he'll solve it."

How cool is *THAT*?!

I mean, in the Coast Guard, we all know ADM Allen is The OG Rock Star, but it was so amazing to hear the same thing from such an unexpected and completely unrelated source. I will selfishly bask in the glow, the associated cache, the credibility and coolness offered by being a part of the same organization as ADM Allen...and, of course, the thousands and thousands of other Coasties that made his Rock Star-ness possible.

The rest of the orientation events proceeded without any other CG-related fanfare. There were plenty of opportunities to meet the other first year Policy students, and some good sessions helpful to getting started with classes. Unfortunately, the one thing they didn't cover is the one thing I wish they would have. I haven't been in a higher education classroom since 1997. A *lot* has changed technologically in the last 13 years. There's this new thing called "Blackboard" which many of the professors use to post syllabi, reading assignments, discussion boards, etc. I fumbled my way through it, but definitely feel like I'm at a disadvantage being somewhat tech-unsavvy. I figured out my smartphone, though, so hopefully I'll be ok.

I'm halfway through the first reading assignment for my first class that starts tomorrow. Interestingly, one of the discussion points is about accountability and how public policy is really a compromise between politics and bureaucracy (crap, I really need to learn how to spell that word without looking it up every time). Bureaucracy is built on the need for accountability. We've got a couple of writing assignments in this class, and I'll probably try to find a way to write about the accountability issue.

One of those other questions I want to explore during school is the relationship between responsibility and accountability. As a CO, I heard and talked lots and lots about responsibility, for my ship, my crew, my mission, and accountability, and initially I thought the concepts were relatively interchangeable. Further consideration leads me to believe however, that accountability is the enforcement side of responsibility. Need to think about it more to be more coherent about it.

So, first impressions are that I'm glad I chose UMD. It's gonna be a great deal of work, but most everyone seems enthusiastic and engaged.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Notes From The Road: Finale

I made it...4651.3 miles, 14 states, 16 days. It was an amazing trip that I'm so glad I was able to make. I could have done more with it, but I decided somewhere along about day 5 that I was just going to survive it. I wasn't going to try to talk to X-number of people or meet any goals or have any purpose. Except to get there.

Though I would have liked to take pictures of the beautiful places I saw American flags; that would have been kinda cool. Maybe next time.

And I also thought, as I crossed into Indiana, a place I had been before (back in 1993ish, maybe, for a Metallica, Faith No More and Guns-n-Roses concert), that I was glad to be able to ease back into the East coast, rather than being spit out of an airplane, fait accompli. I saw roadside wildflowers that I remembered from 27 summers here; I drove over the hills and into the valleys of the Appalachians; I had amazing biscuits and gravy at a little roadside dinner called Granny's Kitchen somewhere in Indiana.

DC traffic, though...yikes! Send me out to plow through 60 knot winds and big seas, send me out to chase drug runners in the EPAC, even send me out to dance with the dhows, cowboys and dust storms in the NAG, but don't make me ride my motorcycle through DC traffic again for four hours while I try to pick up the house keys and get home. It was the last 50 miles that was by far the scariest of them all.

So now I'm settling into the new house, waiting (impatiently) for my household goods to arrive. And my car. The Old Man is still great transport, just not very practical for trips to the store to get those household essential items or groceries.

Orientation at school starts on Wednesday, and my first class is Tuesday. Every day is a new adventure.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Notes From The Road, Part II

Aloha from Sleepy Eye, MN...though I apologize for the mixing of regional, umm...dialects. I stopped in Sleepy Eye to use a library computer because I liked the name; sounds cooler than Rochester where I'll be later today. Happened to roll up to the library just as it opened...providence.

It's Day 11 of the trip, I've driven 3269 miles through seven states on too many roads to count. I've managed to stay off Interstates for the most part, though I do have about 175 miles on various I-routes. Because the bike is so loud, and the batteries on my phone really aren't designed for prolonged music-listening without constant recharging, I haven't been listening to music along the way. Just me and my thoughts. I'm not bored with myself yet, but I have found my solitary riding has made me more gregarious when I do stop. I'm more likely to chat with people.

Highlights follow:

--I stopped in Meridian, ID at the Sierra Trading Post outlet. One of my (many) failings as a traveler is a distinct and decided reluctance to go backwards. I *hate* turning around. But I turned around for the STP outlet. I've been shopping from their catalog and online stores for nearly 20 years now, and have always dreamed about being able to visit one of their stores. So when I saw the store from I-84, I went down to the next exit, and flipped a U-ey. It was a cool store, and the only reason I didn't spend nearly $1000 there was that I cannot carry anything more than I already have on the bike. But the real point of this story is that, while I was in the parking lot, I happened to take a close look at my rear tire, and found a nail in it. I have no idea where I picked it up. And I've been pretty diligent with daily safety checks (oil, tire pressure, etc) before I start out for the day, but I consider myself very lucky that I saw that nail at all. And one of the places I passed on my u-turn was the local Harley dealership, High Desert Harley Davidson. It was about 5:05 pm by now, so I was worried that they might not still be open. They were, though they were wrapping it up for the day. Thankfully, the technician agreed to stay a little late, after he heard my sob story about being on the road cross-country, and replace the tire. AND...the warranty that came with the bike covered tire repairs, so the whole thing cost me the $40 I gave the two guys who stayed late. High Desert HD ROCKS! And going backwards might not always be so bad.

--Yellowstone National Park was incredible. And that doesn't really do it justice. I want to go back when I have more than a day to explore; maybe more like a week or a month, maybe a whole year. I saw elk, deer, and bison, including one that was rolling around in the dirt on a hillside dusting himself. The views were gorgeous. I felt like if I saw one more amazing vista, my eyes just might pop out of my head. One day was not enough. However, the one fly in the ointment was my bike. It's loud. Normally, that doesn't bother me at all. It helps keep me safer in traffic, 'cause other drivers hear me coming; it annoys the high-brow people in posh neighborhoods that take themselves *way* too seriously. But in the Park, I regretted all the noise it made. It was like a belch in church...one long 150-mile belch. It seemed sacrilegious to disturb the peace in that wilderness sanctuary. Funny how I don't mind annoying people, but I don't want to bother the wildlife.

--The people I've met have all been incredibly nice, interested and interesting. I met Mr and Mrs Rankin at Aro Restaurant in Sundance, WY. Mr Rankin was wearing a Coast Guard sweatshirt, and not having seen much CG propaganda, I stopped by their table and asked about his relation to the CG. Their son, SN Daniel Rankin is on USCGC KANKAKEE in Memphis, TN, and they are so proud of him. He wants to be an AST. I met Smiley at the Thelma & Louise Restaurant & Bar in Tracy, MN last night...he bought dinner for me. When the waitress told me my tab had been picked up, I almost told her that I'd pay for his dinner in reciprocation, kinda like buying the next round, but then realized that Smiley might not have understood, and possibly have been offended at that new women's lib thing. So I just said thank you instead. And I met a dairy farmer who retired after 47 years milking this morning. He told me about getting kicked so hard by one of his fractious cows that his leg took 10 days before it even bruised up. Everyone has wished me a safe trip...which usually brings to my mind the Helen Keller quote at the top of the blog.

--Peripherally related to meeting nice people, I've been getting random Facebook friend requests; people I have no idea who they are, asking to be my friend. Is this normal? Is it blog-related? I gotta say, I usually "Ignore" them, 'cause otherwise it's a little weird, being friends with someone who is a complete stranger to me. I'm not famous; I don't have fans. If you have submitted a friend request to me on FB, or are gonna, just add a little note to it, saying you read my blog. I guess I need context.

--Bugs...after seeing how many bugs have been splattered on my full-face helmet, I don't know why anyone would ever ride without a helmet. I've taken some hits that knock my head back, even with the helmet on. And my nice, beautiful leather jacket has so much bug guts on it, it squeaks now, and is a little sticky in some places. Guess I should wipe it down.

--And the cosmic comedy for the trip: last post I mentioned stopping by my friend Rickey's place in Big Sur, CA. He lives in a rustic camper about 500 yds from the closest restroom. So the easiest thing to do is to pee in the bushes, which I did that evening. But I forgot that poison oak is rather common in that area, and squatted without looking first. Well, let's just say that I understand how I got a few splotches of poison oak in the obvious spot on my bum, but how on earth did it end up on my belly and arm? All the little bits of it are no more than a baseball in diameter total, but jeez it itches!

I'm sure there was other stuff I meant to write about, things I've been thinking about along the way. Most are just random thoughts, like making sure to tell Mom to take the mango slicer out of the bag of stuff she's going to ship to me because I'm not likely to have as much use for a mango slicer in MD as she is in HI. And a lot of my time is spent thinking that I'm so incredibly lucky to live in this beautiful country, full of wonderful people (as long as we don't get into politics or religion), and with the time and flexibility to travel across it. I still can't believe this is my life sometimes!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Notes From The Road

It's day 5 of the trip. I'm in Redding, CA trying to get some computer work done. My smart phone is good, but sometimes a full size screen and harddrive is nice. Let me say...Redding, CA has a *super* nice library!

When I left my sister's house outside of LA, I had plans to get to Big Sur that night. Well, not so much. I stayed in Taft, CA, and continued on the next day. The weather has been very changeable, from stupid hot to bone-chilling cold. It's been cold on the coast and in the mornings in the shade in the mountains. I'll put in a shameless plug for Fox Creek Leather, the folks who made my jacket. Once I got all the zippers zipped up right and the liner in, my core stayed well, warmer. But my hands still froze.

Other observances in somewhat random order:

--I dropped my bike. Figured it had to happen sometime, and what better time than when there were friends around to help. I was trying to get it out of its covered parking at Treebones (another shameless plug, for a beautiful yurt camping spot on the Big Sur Coast) and didn't quite make it through the turn. It tipped on me. My friend Rickey and his friend Super Dave helped me get it up right. I think Rickey may have taken advantage of the situation to ride the bike for a second. But he got it back onto solid ground for me, and nothing, besides my oh-s0-fragile pride, was hurt.

--I got stung by a bee on my neck the second day out...Sorry for reposting a bit from Facebook, but I cussed the bee until I realized it wasn't his fault. I'm the one who ran into his butt at 60 mph. It's not like he was flying at 65 mph and ran into me.

--I left the key in the bike last night. I was parked in front of my hotel room in Weaverville, and came out this morning, patted my pockets and couldn't find the darn thing. My neighbor, who was with his wife, was working on his bike out front and told me I had left the keys in the bike last night. Guh! Shit! He very kindly had taken them out of the ignition and put them in the saddle bag so no one would be tempted. He replaced them in the ignition this morning so I could find them again. Ooooh, bikers are so big and mean and scary :)

--I laugh out loud everytime I catch sight of my shadow while riding. I've got two braids (my hair doesn't stay in one braid well enough), and my shadow looks like some crazy biker Pippy Longstockings, with the braids flying out behind me. Haa haha.

--Northern California is a beautiful place. Of course I had always heard that, but it really is amazing. If you'll indulge me in a moment of cosmic consideration, I was riding along in the fog and grey until I reached the Mendicino County line. I had traveled that area before, up to Petaluma and a little beyond...you know, riding down memory lane, especially on Hwy 1. But once I got to an area I hadn't been to yet, the fog cleared away and the sun came out. You think some crazy stuff after about four hours on the bike with no one to keep you company but yourself and the road.

--I renamed my bike. Rickey had asked me if I had named it, and I said yes, The Bitch. But then I decided that was a little too aggressive. I changed her name to Miss Daisy. You know, Driving Miss Daisy. I even drive like a granny :)

Alright, gotta get back on the road. At least to find a laundromat. And then, shooting for Lakeview, Oregon tonight.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"Alright, Let's GAR It"

I'm officially starting my trip today, leaving from my sister's house outside of Pomona, CA enroute to a friend's place in Big Sur. The bike is all loaded (and looks kinda silly if you ask me...a Nightster was never meant to be a pack horse), I've got a box of stuff that I couldn't fit into my bags to be shipped to me once I get closer, and well, it's now or never. I've got three weeks to get to Maryland.

Before nearly every evolution on KISKA and MAUI, we would always GAR it. Before Special Sea Detail, Small Boat Detail, boardings, flight ops, training and drills, pretty much anything. I always felt like we were tempting fate when we didn't do a GAR, so I was pretty judicious about skipping it.

So what is this GAR thing? I can give you a working-sailor's definition of it, though I know I've heard the background story of how it was developed during at least once TCT (Team Coordination Training) course. GAR stands for Green, Amber, Red and is used as a discussion method for risk analysis. There are seven components:

-Planning: How well is the evolution defined? Does the team know what the final objective is? Does the team know what contingencies they could face, and what their reactions should be?

-Supervision: Is there at least one person with the "big picture" of what's going on that can see that "error chain" before it gets too long? Is "Safety" that person's only responsibility, or are they multi-tasking? Are they distracted with guests, training evaluators/riders, etc?

-Crew Selection: Does the crew know what they're doing? How many are qualified at the task they are performing? Who is breaking in on what position? What's the crew's experience level?

-Crew Fitness: How well rested is everyone? Who had the mid-watch? Has the ride been smooth or rough enough to beat people up? Have the last few days been stupid busy or is everyone pretty sharp still?

-Event/Evolution Complexity: What is the length and severity of risk exposure for the evolution? Is it really risky, but a quick one; or not so risky, but an eight-and-a-half-hour escort, with five of those hours within restricted waters?

-Environment: What are the outside conditions like? Is there lots of traffic? How's visibility? Is it blazing hot, with the risk of dehydration and sunburn, or is it raining and people need their rain gear? How close is shoal water or other hazards to navigation? Is it whale season?

-Equipment: What equipment is broken or in questionable condition? Are we op-testing (operationally testing) something? How critical is that equipment to what we're doing? And don't forget to take into account the bridge equipment...it's not just engineering stuff.

The way I liked to GAR was to have everyone chime in with numbers, from 1 to 10, and if there was an especially high number or concerns about any issue, we'd discuss whatever the concern was as a group. BM2 Bueno always had that "10" in equipment in his pocket if we ever needed it. The numbers are added up once the discussion is over, and based on the sum, you determine your overall risk exposure. 1-25 is in the Green (low risk); 26-48 is in the Amber (moderate risk); 49-70 is in the Red (high risk). Just because something is in the Red doesn't mean we don't do it...we just look for ways to mitigate or reduce the risk; and just because something is in the Green doesn't mean we take things for granted and don't follow procedures.

Most of KISKA's evolutions were usually low Amber, though we did have a few Reds...like coming out of drydock after 5 months with a mostly new crew, or getting underway from Radio Bay with only one functional MDE for the tsunami evacuation, or entering port on one shaft with the other one locked due to a shaft vibration. We still did them, but carefully and with plenty of discussion.

A while back, I think it may have been when ADM Allen came out with the Guardian Ethos message, we were exhorted and encouraged to use GAR in our daily lives to be better shipmates on and off the job. So here's my GAR for this first day:

Planning: 5; I've looked at maps and I've got a decent idea of where I'm going, but I neglected to get anything to post on my tank to give me an easy reference for my next turn...I don't have easy access to an electronic navigation system. And I've thought about alot of different contingencies, and have tried to mitigate them as best I can. I'll be wearing my PPE (personal protective equipment=helmet, leather jacket, boots, gloves, sunglasses, sunscreen). I've op-tested most everything. I took a break-in ride down to visit a friend in Orange County. It was great to see BJ and Laura Miles (Beej is an OCS classmate), and he gave me a great recommendation for the route to Big Sur. I'll be camping at a friend's place tonight, and if I've forgotten some camping equipment, he should be able to help out. My next stop after that is in Alameda with another set of friends, and it'll be good to make sure everything is good before heading out with no certain destination for the day.

Supervision: 4; I've got someone (plenty of someones) who know when to expect me someplace. I'll post on FB when I get where I'm going. If I don't get there, my friend will call out the cavalry to start looking for me.

Crew Selection: 7; Umm, I only learned to ride a motorcycle in February. I feel like I know kinda what I'm doing, but I definitely don't have a lot of experience with it.

Crew Fitness: 4; I've not been sleeping all that well. And it's going to be a hard ride. My gawd, the suspension on that bike is not meant for touring long distances.

Event/Evolution Complexity: 7; today's ride is pretty long and I'm taking a rather circuitous route. And what's the worst that could happen? Well, it's not pretty.

Environment: 4; it may be sunny when I start out, but I was warned by my friend that it's been cold on the coast. Lots of twisty, curvy roads with plenny potholes.

Equipment: 4; the bike is in good shape, but it runs hot. And I've got all my gear on the bike now. I took it out for a quick test ride yesterday with everything on it, and I think it actually handles a little better with the extra weight. But the saddlebags ride a little high and bump the backs of my legs when I've got my feet on the ground; not intrusively so, but enough to know it's there.

If my math is right (always a point of contention), that adds up to 36, mid-Aamber. But that's ok. I've thought things through as best I can, mitigated what risks I can, and am aware of what I need to pay attention to for those things that I can't mitigate. I'd say it's an accurate reflection of my readiness.

Now I've got to get those last few things on the bike, in the bags. It always seems there are one or two things that "oh, I'll just cram that on top." But that has added up to five or six things now and I'm wondering if I actually will be able to fit it all.

One last thing...so many, many thanks to my family and friends for their support and encouragement. I know you guys are worried about me, and for that I'm really sorry to cause you anxiety. But you also are excited for me and see the grand adventure I'm on. A hui hou!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Oh. Emm. Gee.

I thought I knew what it was like to have things rather hectic, with a million things going on at once.

The last two and a half weeks taught me that I was WronG. With a capital "W." And "G." Now, this post is likely to sound kinda whiny, but it was all so very, very worth it. I just feel a little bad for my friends and family who had to deal with me as a stressed mess.

It all started, oh, I guess when we got back from our last patrol, so the middle of July. I had two and half days of being in Hilo to get things organized before my sister and her husband, Suketu, showed up in the first wave of visitors. They are truly wonderful people, easy to be with, and we had a great time. They got in on Friday evening, after riding the local bus, HeleOn from Kona to Hilo. I picked them up and we went to New Chiang Mai for dinner. On Saturday, we hung around Richardson's Beach Park in Hilo, after a Saturday morning yoga class and visit to the Hilo Farmer's Market. Sunday we visited the Volcano Farmer's Market (yes, Farmer's Markets are a theme for the two weeks), enroute to a snorkel session at Honaunau. It was a longish drive, but totally worth it.

Monday, I had to work. It was the first day of the relief week. Craig had gotten the relief binder on Thursday and had a chance to look at it, so the first day went pretty smoothly. Still pretty low stress at this point.

Tuesday, Craig and I flew to Honolulu to meet people on Sand Island. Still pretty low stress.

I knew Wednesday was likely to be a different story. Mom flew in at 12-noon; Aunt Linda and Uncle Adam flew in at 5 pm, and Uncle Steven and Aunt Jan flew in at 7 pm. Vicki and Suketu were going to pick up Mom, then stop by the office to get directions to the rental/vacation house in Kapoho, then they were going to head out that way to check the place out and call me if there was anything we needed to pick up. I was meeting Linda and Adam at the airport, taking them back to my Hilo house for a quick minute to pack up a few necessities, and then we were going to drive back to the airport to pick up Steve and Jan, and then caravan (I was on my motorcycle) down to the Kapoho house.

Whew!

But it didn't entirely work out like that.

Unbeknownst to me, Mom had a little surprise in store for me. She had made arrangements for my best friend, Amy, and her 9 year-old daughter, Ally, to come out for the COC. I've been after Amy to visit me in Hawaii since 2002, when I first got stationed here. She always had a good excuse (being not too fond of planes, especially when ticket prices were so high). But Mom had worked her Mom-magic, and convinced Amy and Ally to come.

Vicki walked into my office, I handed her the directions to the house, and then she asked me if I could come out to the car for a minute. Sure; I plopped my hat on my head, and strolled out the office door into a crowd of people just standing around. I recognized Mom and Suketu, but these other two blond strangers were so out of context that it took me a couple seconds to figure out that it was Amy and Ally. I'm not quite sure what I said, but I said it in a reeeeaaally high, squeaky voice, a pitch I'm certain none of my crew had ever heard from me before. Thank goodness there were only a few of them in the office at the time. Mom captured my surprise on her camera. Awesome, amazing, great, wonderful surprise.

I got through the rest of the afternoon and got everyone safely out to the house.

Thursday morning we got underway to conduct drills as part of the relief process. Most guests stayed out at the house for a leisurely morning to help overcome the jet lag from North Carolina. But Mom came in with me to take her ride on the ship. I'd been promising to take her out on the ship for, well, since I took command, and this was her last, absolute last opportunity. The weather wasn't great, but it wasn't totally snotty either, so I figured we'd be ok. SN Mike McKinstry's mother and brother were also in town, and they came along also.

We transited out of Radio Bay with XO driving, and we started the drills with an easy Man Overboard. BM2 Neal Bueno did a stellar job driving the ship to recover Oscar, and we deployed SN Ryan Andres as the rescue swimmer to bring Oscar back onboard...mostly becuase I didn't want to suffer through reproachful looks if I hadn't let him get into the water.

Unfortunately by this time, our guests weren't feeling too good, though they all hung in there like champs. So I reconsidered staying underway to conduct all the drills, and decided instead that we could get the same training/relief value doing the drills at the pier as we could underway. We launched and recovered the small boat, ate lunch (well, the crew ate lunch; the guests...not so much), and then headed back to the pier. I had planned to drive the ship to the pier for the last time, but felt bad that no one else had pulled into Radio Bay because I was being greedy. So XO drove us in.

It was only his second time seeing the transit and pier approach to Radio Bay, and he did a good job. I'm sure as he drives that transit more, he will become more and more confident with it. He did say that the backing-up part of it took some getting used to.

We finished up our drills at the pier, and by then Linda and Adam, Steve and Jan were waiting patiently at the office for their tour of the ship. They took lots of pictures (from left to right: Steve, Adam, me and Linda), asked lots of great questions, and were suitably impressed with how cool the ship is.

We all headed back home, after yet another stop at the grocery store.

Friday, whew Friday. I got up early, and headed in to meet my friend and Mom's neighbor, Auntie Jane at Ken's House of Pancakes for breakfast. Thank goodness I did, too, because I didn't get anything else to eat until the reception, around 4:30 that afternoon. Jane flew in for the COC, and so sweetly blogged about it on her own blog.

Fortified with a yummy breakfast, Jane ran me on a few errands that being on the motorcycle made difficult (I didn't think the fondant for the cakes would fare so well in my backpack during the ride from the grocery store to the bakery), and then dropped me off at Coconut Island where preps were already in progress.

Lots of back and forth between the office and the park, stressing over logs that weren't signed yet, and tying up a million details ate up most of the morning. Long about 1:30 pm, I went up to the changing room to put on the dress whites.

And at 2:15 pm (yea, the ceremony was supposed to start at 2:30 pm) I realized we were missing something...and sent 1/C Gookin on a mad dash back to the office for the flags! Yikes!

We started a little late.

One of my favorite parts of the ceremony was giving out lei to the crew. I know it's not totally traditional, but it just seemed like the right way to show my respect and admiration for them.

And the other favorite part of the ceremony was having it at Coconut Island. Since it was a Friday afternoon, there were lots of people in the park, just hanging out.

There were tons of pictures taken. This is one of the best, by far, of me, Mom and Vicki.This one is of the family/friends crew that came from off island/far away. From left to right in the back row: Suketu, Vicki, Uncle Steve, Aunt Jan and Uncle Adam. Front row: Linda, Mom, me, Ally and Amy.And this is of me and the ladies that work Security at the gate at the pier facility. It was sooo cool they could come.

Hanging out by the water with crew and friends.
And at the end of the evening, Ally and I prepared to jump off the rock into the harbor. Ally was brave enough to jump off the middle ledge.
That was Friday.

The rest of the time was a flurry of time spent with family and friends, until the movers showed up on Thursday, and then it was a flurry of minutaie. All I can say is, thank goodness that part of this whole thing is over. Just another reason why transfer season is no fun at all. I meant to write a post on why transfer season is so painful, but I never got to it. I also never got around to the post of KISKA crew's tattoos.

But now I'm in California, prepping for my ride across country. I will likely not be blogging much during the next three weeks...it will depend entirely on the availability of computers, so if I get to an internet cafe or a local public library, I might be able to get an update posted. I will be back to it, though. My daily GAR score for the ride will be on Facebook each morning, though :)