First stop: Maws, a roadside favorite of mine on the road to Venice, where I order the large banana shake. It's life-changing. This is the view of the canal out back.
NBC News President Steve Capus, who flew in on Sunday to throw a team dinner for our employees covering this story. Steve was as taken with the view as I was. Our camera crews cooked the meal, and we ate family style at a big, long table. We're all friends -- we've travelled thousands of miles together over the years, and it was heaven -- a great night with wonderful food and good company.
Photo by Kevin Allocca
While I didn't take the above photo (Kevin Allocca at TVNewser did), here's our team.
The harbor community of houseboats and converted barges in Venice, as shot from the back porch of our "bureau" there--the houseboat/boat slip we rent out. The nicest, kindest, most hospitable people in the world live in this harbor. They welcome you in and will offer you a meal, a beer, or the shirt off their back. I love it here.
Sunset on a Sunday night over Venice. Photo by Dwaine Scott/ NBC News
The heartbreaking oil in the bay, as shot by Dwaine Scott, our superb cameraman. He shot all three of the stories I did on this trip. We've been all over the world together.
Our chariot for the seaplane flight from Venice, LA to Pensacola, FL. It's a Canadian-made DeHaviland Beaver, and while the radial engine has been re-built a few times, the original 1956 airframe remains intact. In truth, I'd rather fly in this plane than most commercial airliners. Our pilot is Lyle Panepinto, who has been flying here since 1971. Our radio call sign is "Beaver Two One Zero Five Eight."
Flying over the Gulf, 1,900 feet. Airspeed: 106 mph
Drive-up window, Taco Bell, Pensacola, 10 pm
Our chariot awaits for the flight from Pensacola back to New Orleans.
View from my hotel room. Pensacola Beach. If you know where to look, the oil is actually visible on the beaches from this far away.
White sandy beaches on the Alabama coastline. They all now have a visible brown ring near the waterline.
We discovered all these vessels inside Mobile Bay. They have halted their skimming and boom work due to heavy seas from Alex, hundreds of miles away.
Runway 10, New Orleans Intl Airport. Overnight here, then home to New York.