Tornado Relief Work: Clay, AL

Today I went to Clay, AL with some friends to help with the tornado clean-up efforts. They were hit with an F3 tornado 6 days ago leaving behind a trail of destruction and one lost life. We were working very near where a young girl was killed in the middle of the night as the tornado came through, taking her a few hundred yards from her house. She died on impact.
While we cleaned up fallen trees, many were sorting through their belongings among a pile of splintered wood and debris just down the street. The destruction was unbelievable, I was able to get some pics of the area we worked at, but there were other neighborhoods that were much worse.
Alabama led the nation in tornados in 2011 and so far we are leading in 2012 as well.

As we drove in.

Blue tarps everywhere.

The before shot of the area we worked in. I didn't take a real after, but we cleared all those trees and more to the left of this shot.

Our volunteer coordinator, on the left. Looks very official with the hard hat. 

Still in awe of how wind could snap a tree like this.

Massive tree.


Life goes on.


Repurposed Window Frame Shelf

This is a shelf that I made for my little sister for Christmas. It's made of an old window frame and some scrap pine I had at my house. The only thing I had to buy was the handle and two hinges. Cheap and very easy. This is it hanging in her room now. 


El Yunque National Forest: Puerto Rico

For the final adventure of our Puerto Rican backpacking trip we visited El Yunque National Forest. El Yunque is the only tropical rain forest in the United States and the only tropical rain forest I have ever seen. On two of my trips to Honduras I visited La Tigre, a cloud forest outside of Tegucigalpa, but it is basically a big forest where it rains a lot. El Yunque is unlike anything I have ever seen.
Located south of the Tropic of Cancer, El Yunque has a year-round growing season. The canopy overhead is thick and the humidity was intense while we were there. The trees were incredible, some looked like they were upside-down in the ground and all were covered in thick moss. 

I'm pretty out of focus here, but the waterfall was the true star of the shot anyway. 

Yokahu Tower

View on the way up Yokahu Tower.

Looking out to the coast.

Puerto Rican kid swimming in the pool beneath the falls. 

We hiked as far up the mountain as the park would allow that day to this tower. We were in the clouds and visibility was virtually zero. 

Looking out from the top of the tower into the clouds. 

Every so often it seemed like the gray clouds were going to roll away around us and reveal the rest of the blue sky, but it never happened. We still knew it was there though.