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Hot Coffee, Cool Weather

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link   All Posts
 Katie Schumacher The summer has been terrific. This is the first time I have been to Washington state and I am positive that the Northwest was made for me with its cool weather and coffee shop ambiance. My personal favorite: when I was in Juneau, Alaska last week, we were talking about the awful heat in the Midwest and Northeast. One of the Alaskans asked, “What is a heat index?”

Currently, I am working at the Jackson Federal Building in Seattle, Washington for a civil engineering and energy internship, and there is a Starbucks across the street from two of its four corners. And more coffee shops within walking distance than I can count. There is even the original Starbucks a few blocks over from where I work. The best coffee is free coffee, though. I usually load up on the Polar Sea, the icebreaker I am living on, before I head into work.

I spent the first five weeks of my summer on an 87’ cutter, the USCGC Seafox. We went underway a few times, but mostly we worked in the morning to early afternoon and I learned the ins and outs of the ship. Since it was commissioned in 2009, it has had few problems and some things are breaking down, unlike the cutters that have been in the Coast Guard fleet for 40 years. I lived onboard and was able to learn more from the In-Port OODs at night. The In-Port OOD is the representative of the commanding officer and is in charge of the safety of the vessel, especially when everyone goes home in the evening. The Seafox let me invade their kitchen and I made a four-layer pistachio dessert, cookie bars, blueberry muffins, and biscuits. During my stay, I was given access to their government vehicle and one weekend I hiked Hurricane Ridge and the Hoh Rainforest and visited Forks with several other cadets.

The Polar Sea, on the other hand, is set to be decommissioned. When I arrived, one of the chief warrant officers showed me my room, the wardroom, and the galley, as well as laundry and the gym. I was lost; it is so big. I still have not been to the engine room, but I will make sure I do before I leave. Next year, I want to come back out to the Northwest, and an icebreaker might be on my list. They have labs onboard and usually carry science personnel. With my internship, I have been learning about the Arctic ice decline, ocean acidification, and potential mass extinction of the oceans; all pertinent to the Coast Guard future. After reflecting on my experiences this summer, I think an icebreaker might be a logical next step (especially since I like the cold). Today the heat index is supposed to be 102 in St. Louis, Missouri (my home town). No thank you.

More about Katie.