Never Forget


It's impossible for me to not have a heavy heart on a gut-wrenching anniversary such as today. So much has happened since September 11, 2001. It feels unreal to recognize that it has already been 15 years. Fifteen years. Surreal.

I was a freshman at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and was in the midst of an 8:00am German 101 class when the first tower was hit. The liberal arts dean came into the classroom and made the announcement. We all left the room quickly and gathered in the lobby of Morton Hall. This was before the days of social media, before Facebook Live and Snapchat. We all stood there, staring at an old TV atop an even older rolling cart, watching in horror as the news unfolded.

To be completely and ashamedly honest, some of us thought the plane hitting the North Tower was some kind of freak accident, perhaps an inexperienced pilot flying too low. Boy were we wrong. The South Tower was hit by the second plane as we all watched that grainy pixelated television. Then came the news of the Pentagon attack. Many of us wondered if Redstone Arsenal, the large military base near campus, was next.

So much has changed since that fateful day 15 years ago. The world is a different place now. The United States is an altered nation. 9/11 taught us unequivocally that the future is unpredictable and moreso that life is short. The tragedy also taught us that we must always remember. We must never forget.

There are some poignant words I've heard over the years which are fitting for the present day turmoil faced by this world. War creates 1,000 bin Ladens. And only the dead have seen an end to war.

Peace and mercy and blessings be upon you and yours. May God protect us all. 

Historic Words

President Barack Obama arrived in Anchorage, Alaska, on Monday.  He got straight down to business and delivered valuable, long-awaited remarks at the Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience (GLACIER for short). 

His speech was peppered with insightful, astounding facts and an aching of urgency.  His words were a call to action, hopefully inspiring concrete, lasting change throughout the Arctic. 

Referencing climate change deniers, he stated a favorite quote of the evening: "Those who want to ignore the science, they are increasingly alone. They’re on their own shrinking island."  Read the full transcript at the Alaska Dispatch News.

Aerial photo from Southeast Alaska near Admiralty Island, home to one of the world's largest concentrations of brown bears.

Sailing Away, Alaska Style

Mark Twain said it best: "Throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover."

What I've noticed from my years of living in the Last Froniter is that exploring, dreaming, and discovering are the cornerstones of many Alaskans' lives.  Take my friend, Captain Louis Hoock, for example.  He's got a zest for adventure that's infectious, so much so that he owns and operates Alaska Adventure Sailing, a charter company based in Alaska's capital city. 

There are three things you need to know about Captain Hoock:

  1. Louie served active duty sea service as a NOAA Corps Commissioned Officer aboard the NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette where he explored the farthest reaches of the sea.
  2. His whistle is so loud, it could rival Guinness World records.
  3. In 2010, Captain Hoock founded Coastal Footprint, a nonprofit environmental/scientific research organization.  That same year, he sailed The Jolly Roger from Alaska to Panama - almost 5,000 miles away - teaching more than 40 people to sail while simultaneously removing more trash from the shoreline than the entire NOAA Marine Debris Program accomplished in 2010.

In May, I took a day sailing trip with Louie and his friends.  It was the adventure of a lifetime.  Aboard his well-appointed and comfortable 54' sailing vessel, the S/V Arcturus, we were in very capable hands for our day of exploration.  Departing from the Douglas Island harbor, we traveled south of Juneau down the Gastineau Channel and tucked into Taku Inlet.  It was a sunny, picture-perfect day for sailing around Southeast Alaska.  There was also a bit of stand up paddleboard skiing, too - which was an absolute riot to watch from the dry deck.  All-in-all, what a terrific experience that's now got me hooked on Alaska even more! 

Check out Captain Hoock's website - Alaska Adventure Sailing - for your own adventure on the water.

[Click the photos below to expand] 

Be a Blessing

"The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else's cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God - if they call God at all. I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That's what I think."

Words to live by, by Maya Angelou.