It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tech 2, Part 2

This past weekend, we finished up our GUE Tech 2 class. We had the boat for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, but only had 2 days left of the class. So the plan was to do one experience dive each of the first two days, and then a fun post-class dive on Saturday. Leading up to the class days, the swell forecast was looking marginal to okay, so we weren't sure where we'd end up for our experience dives. But we were shooting for D3 on the first day and Deep E3 on the second day.

Day 4 Report
Day 5 Report Post-Class Dive

In case you missed the reports from the first half of the class, they can be found here:

T2, Part 1 Report

And check out all of the pictures here.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


We had the Escapade on Saturday as well, in case weather, suckiness, etc. caused us to need another day on the boat for T2. So we went out for a fun dive. We were trying to get over to Deep E3, again, and it was quite calm so our chances looked better. The ride down to Carmel was pretty smooth, but it was foggy :( For a while it was too foggy for our comfort. Then it opened up further south around Monastery. But there was still a fog bank hanging over the E3 area. So we decided to try to wait it out, and we just drifted around off of Monastery for a while. The fog didn't improve over E3, so we decided to dive Montana instead. Since we had been planning for a deeper dive, we decided to head to the deeper side of Montana.

For whatever reason, that plan didn't survive immersion. We ended up scootering around in about 130' to 140' for the most part. We saw the usual Montana suspects, plus a ton of juvenile rockfish. One big cloud of juveys had a bunch with a distinctive diamond on their sides. Tom Laidig apparently stumbled across one of the pictures Rob took, and emailed us to ID the fish for us -- the ones with diamonds on their sides are halfbanded rockfish (which I'd never even heard of before), and there were also stripetails in the mix. It's nice to do Montana by boat, so we actually have a decent amount of time to soak in the scenery, versus scootering from shore, when I always feel like by the time we get there, there's barely time to spend there. Near the end, we did a quick loop around the top, and met up with Beto and Susan back at the upline (Dean sat out the dive due to the sniffles). Due to the fog threat, we had agreed to all meet up at the upline at a specified time, and shoot bags and drift together. Since the dive was so much shallower than planned, Rob negotiated a 5 minute extension to the dive. Then we all met up and shot bags and drifted together. The water was pretty toasty warm on the ascent. The 70' stop seemed practically boring without the dreaded bottle rotation to do :P

On the boat ride back, we ran into some more dolphins, but still no whales :( Beto was so excited to see the dolphins, he almost feel right over the bow, but a stern warning from Jim prevented that :P I decided to celebrate the successful class with a visit to the wheelhouse, where I never go. The view up there is really nice! I admitted to the crew my extreme fear of falling off the ladder was the reason that I never go up there, so Michael proceeded to tell me about each of his hairy experiences in the ladder. Thanks for that.

We went to Tillie Gort's for lunch. I'd never been there before, but I thought it was great, so hopefully it will work its way into the rotation.

Friday, June 26, 2009

T2, Day 5: Deep and Dark in the Bay

On Friday, we were doing our final experience dive for T2. The forecast for the day was worse than the previous day, so we weren't sure where we would end up. However, our target site was Deep E3. We wanted to see this supposed purple sea fan at the bottom that Beto has seen a couple of times. With that in mind, we were planning a 210' dive. It was sort of sporty in the bay as soon as we got out of the harbor, and it deteriorated from there. We decided to be bold and try to make it around Point Pinos, at which point it got super sporty and we scurried back into the bay with our tails between our legs. Rob had a backup spot in the bay, which Beto had given him numbers for. The site was a shale ledge from like 210' to 220', where Beto had seen some flag rockfish before. The lack of relief sounded disappointing, but I wouldn't mind seeing some flag rockfish! We anchored in 220'. Since it was deeper than planned, we had to rejigger our plan before getting into the water. I didn't want to have to memorize a new deco schedule at the last minute, so we decided to shorten the bottom time to work with our existing schedule (assuming we got down there to find a 220' site -- if there was enough to occupy us at 210', we'd stick with the original plan). We also had to plan to shoot the bag from the bottom.

Jim circled around to drop us at the downline, and after a couple of "go, no don't go"s (always fun with 3 bottles clipped to you), we got into the water. We decided to regroup at the float, since the going in negative thing was likely to not work in bay-viz. When I got to the float, I grabbed onto the line, expecting current to try to blow me off of it, but was relieved to find no current at all. So we could just hang for a minute before beginning the long descent. I was planning to lead the descent, because I was worried about the state of my ears. At the last minute I backed off on that, because I was too scared to lead us into the blackness, and told Kevin to lead. In the end I ended up rocketing down to the bottom ahead of the boys anyway. It was very strange to be the faster descender on the team! The descend was interesting. The line dropped basically straight down, since there was little to no current. Once we were below about 40 feet, it was very dark, until it eventually became completely black. It was eerie looking down the line into the blackness. At about 120', I could see the line get more shapely below me, as it made a loop into the current. Eek. I repositioned myself to be facing into the current and waited to feel it. It was a brisk current, and just as I was beginning to worry about being able to keep up kicking against it and maintain visual contact with the line, the bottom appeared, about 10 feet below me. Phew. It was a long descent.

Next thing you know, Rob and Kevin are swimming into the current. The observant blog reader may recall that on our T1 experience dive, the boys swam us into current the whole dive (not very significant current, but still...). I decided I was not going to allow that to happen again, so I just sort of hung back, waiting for one of them to look back and signal which way they wanted to go. Rob got to the anchor, checked it (which is kind of funny, since we were on a barren sand bottom), and then quickly decided he was going the wrong way. The anchor had apparently slipped from the alleged shale ledge, because there was flat sand as far as the eye could see. We all quickly agreed that we were going with the 220' plan, and then we drifted around for the very short time we had left on the bottom. The sandy bottom had some usual sand critters, like sea pens (the skinny ugly ones, not the cool fluffy ones), and those little worms that look like brittle star arms sticking out of the sand. We also did see some brittle stars, and a few flat fish. Rob saw a sailfin sculpin but I guess we'd all drifted past it before he could point it out :( There were also some interesting pink branching things, which I am trying to identify -- my best guess is some sort of worm. These were definitely the coolest thing I saw. I also saw some a brittle star with something clear and translucent perched on one of its legs. It looked almost like a janolus standing on end, but without any distinct color.

Before you know, it was time to shoot the bag and start the ascent. I was deco queen, yay. At around 70 feet, we saw an egg yolk jelly hanging out nearby us. Aside from that, there was the usual (these days) assortment of anonymous deco critters, which helped to pass the long boring deco. When we got to the surface, we all agreed it was a pretty lame site, that worth the deco. Susan had joined us (well, Dean really) for the dive, and I felt pretty bad that we dragged her along on such a boring dive. The worst part was that she and Dean were hanging above us, so they really couldn't see much at all, except our lights moving around in the darkness :) Dean was clearly trying to keep us in suspense when we got back on the boat, so Susan asked if we were allowed to celebrate yet. After pretending to not hear her the first time, he finally said yes. Phew.

After a quick steam back to K-dock, we headed to Fisherman's wharf for lunch, and posed as tourists. In the afternoon we talked about repetitive diving and some final questions that we had. Then we went to the Breakwater to see the baby sea lions (which were piled *everywhere*). Kevin had to execute the lost frisbee protocol, because Naia refused to bring her frisbee back from the water and then it drifted further out. Kevin volunteered to swim out (in his drysuit) to rescue the frisbee. What a dork. We had dinner at the Fishwife. Yum.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

T2, Day 4: D3

On Thursday, we headed out hoping to make it to D3. It was a little bumpy in the bay on the way out, and even bumpier as we rounded Point Pinos. But once we got down to Carmel, it seemed a bit calmer. I was leading the dive, so I gave a briefing on the way down. Bob was definitely bitter than he had traded leading a dive at 40 Fathoms for a dive here :) The plan was 190 feet for 25 minutes, with 35 minutes of deco (plus a 6 minute ascent). We got down to D3 and got geared up. I was pretty concerned about getting into the water with 3 bottles, but it turned out to be not too bad. I got my stage and 50% bottles on while seated, and when I stood up, Michael clipped the O2 bottle to my leash right before I jumped. I think the guys both got all of their bottles on while seated, but I was not so into the idea of walking across a boat deck with 3 bottles on. The plan was to back the boat up to the downline, and go in negative. This seemed like it would be a useful technique in the future, so we decided to try it.

I was the first into the water, and I got to about 5 feet and realized that the line was nowhere in sight, which was not surprising considering the very green murky viz. Oops. So I returned to the surface and found Dean still on the surface. When I saw where the float was, I laughed at the idea of being able to find it underwater. It was at least 30 feet away. We swam over to the ball on the surface, with Rob and Kevin's bubbles following us below. They were apparently trailing my fins. When we got to the ball, I headed down the line. We met up at 10 feet, and then all headed down to the pinnacle. Below about 20 feet, the viz cleared up nicely. Very nicely. The pinnacle came into view around 80 feet. When we got down to the pinnacle, I told Rob to go check the hook, which was resting on a little plateau at about 150', since Jim had asked us to do that. While he was checking it, I found a nice little hydroid shrub covered in Dotos, so I showed it to Rob when he returned. Then we headed down the pinnacle. We were on the southwest side of the pinnacle, so I headed west (clockwise) toward the tip, where I could see the sand sloping down. It actually slopes down sort of precipitously at the end there. Right on the western tip, there were a bunch of rockfish cowering in the shadows of the pinnacle. And a big lingcod. We also found a cluster of four Dironas.

We just sort of meandered slowly along the base of the pinnacle. The wall on the north side is pretty impressive. I would definitely like to check it out again sometime under less stressful circumstances :) A couple minutes before it was time to call it, we started meandering up the side of the pinnacle, and eventually I handed over the deco to Kevin. Rob and I did a team bag shoot (I got to do the fun part, he got to reel) as we left the pinnacle on our first deep stop. The ascent was pretty uneventful until we got to 20 feet, and I got a cramp in my leg. So I spent the rest of the deco breakdancing in the water column, because I was completely uncomfortable in a horizontal position. I felt (and looked, I am sure) like a complete moron. I was really relieved when the dive was over and I could flail around on the surface until the cramp went away. We were all kind of mopey when we got back on the boat, although Rob and Kevin were surprisingly not annoyed about my performance (Dean was surprisingly not harsh about it too, when we finally got around to the debrief). On the ride back, we found a big pod of dolphins, that included several different species -- Pacific white-sided, Risso's, and Northern right whale dolphins (my favorite!). Dean had been promised some sea mammal sitings on the boat ride, and Jim did not disappoint. I think I have only seen that big a group of so many different kinds of dolphins like once before. Unfortunately we could not find any whales for Dean.

After getting lunch, we went over the final exam in the afternoon. Then later on in the early evening, we did the swim test. We went to the Monterey sports complex for the swim. It was a really nice facility -- so many lanes to swim in, and the lanes are so wide! Rob and Kevin were both faster than me, despite Kevin's constant queries about my swim times over the past couple months, and his constant claims that he was a minute slower than me. What-ev. I was pretty happy with my breath hold though. The best part about the sports complex is that they have a water slide on one end of the pool :) Dean insisted that we tackle the water slide, and I reluctantly went along with it :P It was fun. Rob complained that the class really didn't prepare us for the rigors of the water slide. After the swim, we headed to Ah Sushi for some dinner. Yum.

Rob and Kevin were convinced that my leg cramp was because I was dehydrated or malnourished (I was so nervous about the class that I barely ate or drank anything that morning), so they force fed me a banana and a ton of water that night. Rob sent me to bed with a water bottle, while the boys stayed up later playing Rock Band.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Mediocre Diving at Lobos

Kevin, Rob, and I all met at AWS on Friday afternoon to pick up a big load of tanks to take down to Monterey, for our T2 dives next week. Then we stayed down there to dive on Saturday. I hadn't even looked at the forecast, since our main goal for going down there was to move the tanks. But Kevin told us the forecast did not look so great. Anyway, Saturday morning we headed over to Lobos. As we came over the hill and Monastery came into view, we could see that the ocean was angry. Definitely not a good day to dive Monastery (though that didn't stop me from doing my best Bob impersation and saying "yea, I'd dive it" since he seems to say that no matter what the conditions!). We got to Lobos and saw brown sloshy water in the cove. Actually before we got that far, we passed Chuck who was pulling out of the parking lot, after deciding not to dive. We eyeballed it, and decided it was worth giving it a try. But to be honest, if we were doing a dive that required more activation energy (like schlepping bottles out to the float or a painfully low tide), I probably would have thumbed it.

We got in and scootered out a while on the surface. The surface was not too comfortable, but not that bad either. And the viz looked like crap (hard to avoid scootering into kelp, since you couldn't see it until you were right on it). We dropped in 40 feet. I had been planning to play with my butt D-ring once we hit the bottom, because I had just adjusted it to make it easier to reach. In the two minutes while I was playing with it, I got totally seasick from watching the kelp bits swaying around underneath us. Yea, it was surgy. And the viz was crap. Under 10 feet. We headed out along the sand channel, navigating off the instruments, you could say. We couldn't see any of the landmarks. The viz stayed solidly bad most of the way out. I kept thinking, maybe we should just thumb it. It finally opened up a little bit, around Sea Mount. By Beto's Reef, the viz was 15 to 20 feet. We poked around there briefly. Rob pointed to the spot where the wolf eel usually is, to which I responded... where is he? Rob told me he had been there but had just zipped off (probably didn't like Rob shining a light in his eyes :P). Not long after we got there, we headed off to the Sisters. Since the viz was pretty bad, I was surprised when we arrived at the first sister. It seemed to come out of nowhere :) We paused there, and at the second sister, and then spent a bit of time at the third sister.

The original plan had been to go to Beto's and the Sisters. Sort of at the last minute in the parking lot, Kevin asked if we wanted to hit Shortcut Reef too, and we agreed. Rob signalled to head off in that direction, and about 10 seconds after agreeing, I decided that in this viz, I didn't want to go that far. So I stopped him and suggested we just hang out at the 3rd sister. We stayed there for a bit, swaying in the surge near the top. We found a harbor seal zipping around at the bottom of the pinnacle, which I think we all found amusing -- good breath hold :) From there we headed back to Beto's. Almost as soon as we got there, Rob signalled to head in. I asked if he meant to head straight in, since there was really nothing to do in the shallows (due to the crap viz). So if we headed in from Beto's, we were basically calling the dive. He agreed to that. We headed in and around 35 feet (just past the boulder in the sand channel... which I nearly ran into before I saw it :P) we thumbed it. The best part of the dive was trying out a new drysuit, that I had just picked up on Friday night. I wasn't really looking for another suit, but I found a sweet deal on a suit that is in great shape, and fits better than either of my other suits. Now I just have to decide which, if either, of my existing suits to sell. What a dilemma!

Oreo and Pepper Pics

By popular demand (by Jeff), here are some pictures showing what Pepper and Oreo have been up to lately. It's pretty much the usual hijinks. Now that it's warm out, they spend a lot of time laying in front of the patio door, enjoying the sun and birds.

Pepper scowls at the idea of having her picture taken.
But Oreo can lounge on her cat tree and pose for a picture all at the same time:

Oreo has also become quite the water conservationist lately. I think the plight of the salmon has really touched her. She hates seeing a spent glass of water go to waste. She looks:

She goes in for the kill:
She enjoys the spoils of victory:
Pepper has become quite the craft-oholic. Here she inspects a bag I made for Adrienne:
And she christens a quilt with her butt-print:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Introducing Bucky and Boots

The dive kitty family has recently expanded. Dive buddy (and talented cat-sitter) Ted recently got two kittens to keep his daughter, Liz, entertained. Liz has always been a big fan of our cats. In fact, I think she might be Pepper's biggest fan. And Pepper is a huge Liz fan -- Liz is the only person we know who can outlast Pepper on a playdate. After a rigorous candidate search (okay, I think it was more like two trips to Petsmart), they found Boots and Bucky (short for Buckwheat, I guess). They are two boys, littermates, 3 to 4 months old. Two days after they brought the kitties home, Rob and I went over to meet them. We came armed with a variety of different toys, so the cats could figure out what kind of toys they like. Boots was fabled to be the shy one (the "Oreo") while Bucky was the "Pepper" of the house.

They were both hiding under the vanity in the bathroom when we arrived, but when I poked my head down there to get a look, Bucky came right out to greet me. I picked him up and he started purring immediately. He is definitely a people-lover! I was surprised by how tiny they are -- I thought by this age they would be a little bigger. Boots wouldn't come out to say hello at first. Then we started playing with Bucky, got him out into the hallway, chasing around the laser pointer, and all of a sudden Boots appeared in the doorway, wanting to know what his brother was up to. By the end of the night, Boots was going crazy with a mylar teaser stick -- just like Pepper, they were both jumping and flipping for it. He was still pretty skittish about being pet though. Once we were able to get a better look at Boots, we saw what a pretty cat he is. He looks like a little leopard, with these really pretty markings on his body and face.

Here they are in portrait form (Boots left, Bucky right):

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Way South

Saturday we were on the BAUE tech boat. Rob was organizing the boat, and he had decreed that we would have one long charter (rather than the two shorter ones we sometimes do) so we could try for Midway Pinnacle. Apparently all Rob had to do was decree that we would shoot for Midway, and Neptune rolled over and wagged his tail. The seas were oh so calm, a perfect day to head way south. Midway Pinnacle is so named because it is halfway out from Point Sur to Big Sur Banks. It is a long way, but the boat trip seemed to fly by, probably because of the smooth ride. Once there, Jim deployed a downline with a float, and the teams were dropped one by one, and were to drift to the ball. There did not seem to be much current when we got in. On the descent, the current seemed practically non-existent. When we first hit the pinnacle, I was wondering if the scooters were even necessary.

Turns out they were. There was a fairly significant current on the bottom. On two sides of the pinnacle, there was a wicked current that would have made it nearly impossible to swim around. On the the upcurrent side, there was a wicket current dragging us up the pinnacle, and on the other side, a current dragging us down the pinnacle. We dropped on the downcurrent side, and it wasn't immediately apparent what was going on (since we were on the way down, anyway). We paused on that side, and I found some hydroids with Dotos on them. Once I was looking at that, I noticed a little hole with a warbonnet sticking out right next to it. Kevin signalled for me to come look at something, and he showed me some more Dotos (wow, Kevin pointing out Dotos... I have trained him well). Then he suggested we head around the pinnacle. This is when the current became very evident. As I came around the side of the pinnacle, I could feel my mask being pressed against my face by the current. And I felt like I was barely moving on speed 3.

We finally made it around (phew) to find a more vertical dropoff, covered with Corynactis. And a current that was sucking us up towards the top of the pinnacle. We didn't spend too much time on that side, and when we got to the other end, we were treated to a garden of big hydrocoral bushes. It was like a miniature Big Sur Banks! The hydrocoral was on top of a plateau, with no protection from the current (not that there was really protection anywhere, although the up/down currents were marginally less significant). Rob was trying to kick against the current so he could stay still long enough to take some pictures. Meanwhile Kevin and I were having fun scootering across the pinnacle against the current, and then taking a ride back across the top. We did this over and over again, taking in the scenery as we went. Eventually I think Rob got the idea to do something similar, except he was shooting on the ride across the pinnacle. Before you know it, it was time to start our ascent. Rob and I did a team bag shoot on a reel, which went fine except that we tried to hide behind the pinnacle and instead ended up getting sucked down. Oops. We got blown off the pinnacle as we started our ascent on the bottom, but once we were in mid-water, the current seemed to settle down. We spent the deco entertaining ourselves with the deco critters.

After the first dive, we were polled about doing a second dive, and enough people wanted to that we decided to do it. Kevin opted out, because he is no fun I guess. We headed to Lobos Rocks. On the way, we enjoyed some food, including some chicken that Jim had grilled, some super tasty pineapple, and the croissanwich variety platter. The water was dead calm when we hopped in, and I could not detect any current. We took the scooters so we could do a run around one of the rocks. We circled the west rock counterclockwise. On the north side, we found a big hydrocoral shrub, which Rob stopped to get some pictures of. Meanwhile I entertained myself by pinching the trilieatas' cheeks. I also saw several Dendronotus albus flapping in the breeze. Once we got back to the south side, we stopped at two of the spots with green anemones and ochre stars, and watched the sea lions dive bombing above us. When it was nearly time to call the dive anyway, I went OOA (out-of-argon). Oops. Rob tried to convince me to go 20 feet above him for a silhouette shot, but I didn't feel like managing my Argon constraints through more ups and downs than necessary, so I passed on that. We scootered out from the pinnacle and found a nice kelp stalk to ascend. Turns out, Rob had also gone OOA, pretty early in the dive. He decided to use a puff of backgas, which he found... cold. Duh. When we got to the surface, we fought our way around the kelp to get to the back of the boat. On the way back into the boat, my foot slipped on one of the rungs of the ladder not once but twice. I guess there was kelp goo on my boot. Eventually I managed to get my knees onto the swimstep and got a boost from Jim :) No long term damage except a giant bruise on my knee.

As we motored between the rocks on the way out of there, someone noticed a big red streak on the rock, which was presumably blood. Then we noticed a tiny little wriggling sea lion that must have just been born. Right next to him was a pile of afterbirth (eww) with a sea gull pecking at it (even ewwwer), and a mother sea lion with that "I should have had the epidural" look on her face. The baby was just so tiny! Very cute.

I barely even remember the ride back, probably because it was so calm that I was in a semi-conscious state for most of it. When I wasn't eating chocolate.

All of the day's pictures are here (including topside pics by Kevin!).

Skills, Take Two

This is another one of those posts that I never got around to writing so now I am writing something short, several months after the fact :) After the not so successful attempt to do some skills before T2, Part 2 the previous week, we had more work to do. So we decided to go out and get the skills done, and maybe do a second dive later if we felt like it. We decided to just kick out to a deep enough spot, and leave the scooters behind. This was mainly motivated by the fact that scootering with three bottles sometimes bothers my back (a problem which I have since resolved, by moving some weight around). Kicking out on the surface was a pain, but once we dropped around the worm patch, it was not too bad. Actually I think it was good practice to do a nice long kick with the three bottles on -- I felt much more comfortable in them after swimming them around for a few minutes! We got out sufficiently deep (70'-ish), and did a practice ascent, with the bottles switches and moves. Things went pretty well, and everyone was in much better spirits. Then we went back to the bottom and we each shot a bag on a reel, and reeled up together. As we rolled into the 40' stop, I locked down my reel, or so I thought, and promptly let go of the reel (I thought it was locked down!). And then I watched it unravel, very slowly, down to 70 feet. I decided to just let it unwind and fall so I wouldn't get tangled in line as I tried to retrieve it mid-flight. When I realized the eternity it would take for it to make it to the bottom, I wished I had just grabbed it when it was nearly in arms' reach! I will definitely never live that one down with the boys :P The drills were otherwise uneventful. After we were done with the ascent stuff, we dropped back down and swam in to around 40 feet, and I laid a little line, and then cleaned it up and we headed in. Big fun. We decided to pass on a second dive.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Granite Point and Skills

I never got around to writing a report for this dive, but I had the template for it sitting in my unpublished posts. I decided it was time to cleanup, so I either had to publish these unpublished posts or delete them. Since I am philosophically opposed to deleting data, I guess I will have to write a report. After the first half of our T2, we had a little homework to do. First and foremost, we wanted to practice some bottle rotations with our "home" tanks. We also wanted to practice shooting the big bags on a reel. And I wanted to run a little line. We planned to do a fun dive (scootering out to Granite Point), and then on the way in, we would stop in about 70' of water beyond the sand channel and do some practice ascents with all of the bottle moves.

It was a little bit murky over the sand, but conditions were pretty good at Granite Point. Rob and Kevin left me in their dust on the way out to Granite Point, which totally annoyed me. Once we were out there, it was pretty much the usual Granite Point run (sans camera). On the way back over to Middle Reef, we left Kevin in the dust and lost him. We finally reunited after a couple minutes of searching. I think Kevin was a bit annoyed about that. Then the skills practice didn't go as well as Rob wanted, and I aborted early because I really had to pee. So Rob was ticked off. So in the end, everyone was pissed off at everyone. Actually I was just pissed off at Rob :) Everyone was in such a bad mood that we adjourned for day without getting lunch and headed home. But around Gilroy, we passed Kevin on the highway and agreed to get off at the next exit for some lunch. We had lunch at that chain-ish BBQ place at the 152 exit in Gilroy. It was pretty sub-par BBQ, but everyone made up and all was well in the land of kitties.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tech 2, Part 1

Rob, Kevin, and I recently went to North Florida to start our GUE Tech 2 class with Dean Marshall. We broke the class into two parts, with the first three days in the 70-ish degree Florida springs, and the last two (or three) days in Monterey. We did this for a couple of reasons. First, we knew that there would potentially be a lot of time in the water during the first few days, and the cold water in Monterey puts some limit on that. But we really wanted to do the experience dives here, since we have access to a boat that we regularly do these kinds of dives from, and well, we thought it would be more fun to dive here. Finally, I liked the idea of splitting the class up, to avoid the 5-day fire hose that was Tech 1. By the end of the five days, I was retaining essentially nothing from the lectures, and couldn't remember the questions that I had wanted to ask. The rest of the trip report goes day by day, person by person:

All of the pictures are here.

The reports for Part 2 are here.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Allison: The New Epoch: Day 1

In the runup to Tech 1, Rob said that it seemed like after class was going to be a new epoch, because we couldn't even fathom planning our dive calendars beyond that date. And it was such a big thing hanging over our head. Well, I felt more or less the same way with the trip to Florida, though the extreme nervousness wasn't quite as extreme :) Even though class was not over, it seemed like the hard/scary part was, so completing day 3 marked, to me, the end of an era. We had all talked about sleeping in on Monday, but of course that didn't happen. I think I slept in until 7:15 instead of 6:45 :) That was fine, though, since we had to pack our stuff. Oy. It wasn't actually as painful as I imagined, but that might be because Rob was doing more than his fair share :) Then we met up with Kevin, and we called David Rhea to see if he could do lunch. He could, so we agreed to meet him in Gainesville a little before noon.

We had lunch at Moe's, a fast-ish food southwestern place, which is a small chain in Florida, I gather. It was pretty good. We had a lot of fun at lunch. David told us about his adventures in China, among other things. Having lunch with David definitely sort of swayed me towards Florida for any potential future cave classes (I have been more of a fan of MX, whereas Rob seems split between MX and FL). But it would be so fun to train with David again!

After lunch, we headed back to EE to return all of our gear, and settle the tab. Oy :P Actually it wasn't too bad. I won't have to sell a kidney after all. From there, we headed back to the airport, for our return trip. Of course our luggage was bit heavy on the way back (stupid neoprene socks on the drysuits take forever to dry!). Luckily Kevin has mystical powers like the ability to check 2 70 lb bags for free on Continental, so we did a swapperoo and were all set. The line to check in was inordinately slow. Contintental has these automated kiosks for checkin, but as far as I can tell, every single person there needed help from a person (and not just to check bags), so really, what's the point of an "automated" kiosk? For whatever reason, American just doesn't seem to have this problem. Their kiosks are always seamless. The trip back was actually not that terrible. On the first flight, Rob and I were seated together but without Kevin. We noted that it would have been much more fun if Kevin were there, so for the second leg Kevin jumped through some hoops to get us seats together. On the first leg, we were actually fed a small meal. Since we ususally fly American, being fed solid foods on a flight is quite exotic for us (for a time, AA was even charging $2 for a soda, which they have thankfully rolled back). On the second leg, Rob basically repeated to Kevin all of the discussions we had had on the first leg. Hehe. Then the boys fell asleep. The luggage was a bit slow coming out when we got back to SFO, but it worked out well since we had to wait for Kevin to return with his truck anyway. When we got home, I was so happy to see the kitties!! They were both in good health, and seemed happy to see us.