Saturday, March 30, 2024

Follow Our History Adventures On YouTube!

Florida Beaches To The Bering Sea is now on YouTube! Please visit the channel to see what we have been up to! In September, we brought Bob Brocklehusts family to Minot, North Dakota to visit their father's Aluetian P-40. What an incredible experience. More of this to come.

Friday, February 2, 2024

Land of the Living

Where have I been? I know you are wondering.  Good news is that- I'm still here!  These last few years have gotten the best of this blog (do people even say this word anymore, blog?)  BUT not to worry, I have still been thoroughly immersed in history projects that frankly, have kept me too busy to write on this platform!  Each post I write typically requires hours of research  (I like to be accurate with the facts) and tons of emotional energy.  I LOVE it but sadly, there has simply not been enough of me or time over these last few years post regularly.  You'll understand in a minute.   To keep you up to speed, here are just a few things that have been keeping me busy: co-editing the Williwaw newsletter for the Park Service, I started taking flying lessons which ended in disappointment (I'll have to write a separate post about that.., ) led two back to back history expeditions through the Aleutians, flew to Dutch Harbor on a 1942 Widgeon, attended numerous warbird conferences and clinics and this one other little thing.... 

I wrote a book for the National Park Service Aleutian Island WWII National Historic Area!  You read that right.  A book.  This publication required every spare moment of my time to complete and I could not be more proud to present it to the public. More details to follow but holy cow! 

Aside from that, a bunch of regular life stuff like the whole coming down from the pandemic thing, sending that sweet little girl you see on the homepage off to college, moved business locations, have been caring and worrying about two aging parents with dementia from far away, recovered from two shoulder injuries and then two knee injuries and and get the idea, fun times.  Perfect time to write a book, no?

Ah well, as my grandfather said "C'est le guerre"  but in this case,  "C'est la vie."  Life.  It's filled with ups and downs, air pockets and depressions.  just like the air the airmen flew through in the skies over Alaska.   The main thing is to keep flying;  the airplane will keep flying.  So that is what I am doing, forward momentum,  slow and steady.  Turns out, it is true, life does keep flying!

Through it all, I return to aviation, a community I really do love so much.  Although it is sometimes hard to pull myself away from my other 'for profit' or familiar obligations,  I need to do it.  I need it for my soul.   One of my go-to's is NATA (North American Trainer Association.) North American was an aircraft maker. They were responsible for making the trainer the T-6 Texan (in Canada it was called a Harvard made by Canadian Car & Foundry, the US Navy called it the SNJ) as well as the P-51 Mustang, the T-28 Trojan, the B-18 Beechcraft, the B-25 Mitchell... NATA organizes formation clinics several times a year so that pilots can practice the art and skill of flying in formation.  Even though I do not fly, I go for fun and to learn and I love it.  Of course. 

Coming to these clinics reminds and motivates me to keep moving forward in the name of preservation and the perseverance to honor my grandfather and his willingness to stand up in defense of our countries.   Being here is part of the process. The Harvard (T-6) is how he learned to fly.  It is how most pilots learned to fly during the war or at least it was the last step into the fighter realm.  Sitting in the plane connects me to the process in which I am trying to share with the world. I am so lucky to have the chance. 

So there you have it.  I am still here in the pursuit of history. I may not be writing about it here but I am living it. And now that the book is finished, I'll work on finding a way to share stories more often and in fact, I have something else in mind... YouTube! 

Stay tuned for more on the new book and the new channel plus lots of other fun history projects and stories in the works.  If you are interested in receiving a copy of the book let me know. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Smooth Seas To Our Captain Billy

Captain Billy Choate or as I called him, Captain Q.  Billy was not only our boat Captain for the Aleutian History Expeditions, he was an inspirational human and my friend.  His calm demeanor at sea was always soothing to myself and our tour goers.  In rough water, he remained undisturbed, I can remember several instances when the rest of us were barely keeping our stomachs down and dishes were crashing onto the floor of the galley causing our chef extraordinaire, Nicole (Puddin Pants) to swear loudly, Billy at the helm, sat there serenely and ate his dinner without a care in the world.  Nothing he had not see before. 

Captain was 71 when I met him in 2016. I was always in awe of his zest for life and his quiet way of going about it. During random times of the year when we’d talk, he’d be busy roller blading, cross country skiing, hiking or playing granddad to the light of his life, his granddaughter, Sienna.  Billy had a very rare cancer that returned four years ago.  He handled his diagnosis and treatments admirably.   We spoke several times this year and I am so happy we did,   "Good to hear you." he'd always say.  I can hear his voice clear as day, a voice that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. 
This is one of my favorite photos of Billy at the helm.  I believe we were prepping for our Summer Solstice party on the deck of his beloved boat, the M/V Puk Uk, while just off shore of Umnak Island in 2017.  He built the Puk Uk (Inupiat for ‘Poking Around’) boat by hand in St. Augustine, Florida then sailed it through the Panama Canal and up to its home in Homer, Alaska.  He was always up for anything we wanted to do, as crazy as it was, including these ridiculous bow ties we make everyone where during our Old Salt cocktail/poem reading party ;  this old Bering Sea crab fisherman was a lover of poetry and all things arts.  Billy was one of the few who would venture as far wast as Attu and he loved it, he loved the Aleutians.  He was always willing to try new things for the sake of history, like getting us to Chichagof Harbor, docking at the rock dock on Umnak, or dropping us off at Jeff’s Cove on Kiska.  But he always did so safely.  He knew those waters like no one else. 

Not sure what this means for the future of the Puk Uk or our Aleutian History Expeditions.   I know he was trying to sell it.  Whoever buys it will have some enormous shoes to fill. Truthfully, no one can replace Billy Choate    I will miss you Captain Q and our trips will never be the same without you.  RIP friend.