It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cave 2, Day 3: The Longest Day of My Life (Jackson Blue)

We "decided" (more like David decreed) to meet at the pool in Gainesville at 5:30. This meant we had to leave High Springs at 5. This was clearly some sort of hazing. To be fair, David did give us the option of doing the swim at the mill pond instead. When he offered that, I asked if I failed the swim test, would I be allowed to try again in the pool? After that, we decided to just do it at the pool. The idea was that if we got there early, the pool would not be crowded. In fact, it was crowded anyway, and we had to wait a bit for a lane (half a lane, really). One spot opened up and I hopped in to do my swim. Ladies first, right? I did the swim without any problems, and beat my Cave 1 pace by 4 seconds :) By the time that I was finished, Rob was in a different lane doing his swim. I got out, and Antonio hopped into my lane and started his swim. While he was swimming, the other half of the lane opened up, so then we had a lane all to ourselves for the breath hold. Waiting 10 minutes between my swim and my breath hold was a mistake. In the intervening time, I got cold and nervous about the breath hold, my arch nemesis. The breath hold is a subject of much contention between Rob and me. Whenever I practice it at the pool (which I did like once before this class), Rob gets annoyed that I don't make it to the end of the pool, because it is "all in my head". I have no doubt it's all in my head, but I was pretty confident that I would rally in the moment like I did in C1, the only time in the history of the world that I have managed to make it all the way across the pool on a breath hold. After all of the build up, I just had to get it over with, so I went first. A couple of strokes into it, I was not feeling great, I felt like I got a bad start, and really thought I was going to have to abort and try again. Then I decided that would be lame, and I made it to the end. When I surfaced, David said "very good". He is clearly getting soft in his old age. After the boys did their breath hold, we got out of there and headed back to High Springs, to ditch our car and head to Marianna.

David is one of those people who is a skilled enough driver that he can do other stuff while he is driving. I can barely turn the volume up on the radio without swerving into the next lane. So on the drive up to Marianna, he lectured at us. I was sitting in the back seat, which was quite dark and cave-like, and looking at the slides on his laptop, which was perched on the center console in the front. An hour or so into the drive, the slides went a little blurry and I realized I was having, or about to have, a migraine. I very rarely get migraines, so I am generally quite bad at recognizing one until it's really bad. But this time I actually figured it out, and managed to pop a pill with some assistance from Rob. I was pretty much debilitated for the rest of the drive. I think Rob thought I was having a stroke, which I assured him I wasn't, in as few words as possible. I moved to the front seat and just bobbed my head in agreement from time to time for the duration of the lecture. I guess it's a good thing that the lectures are the same in every GUE class. When we got to Marianna, we stopped at Walmart to get some provisions, and at that point, I didn't think I could dive in my current state. We went to Edd's to dump our gear and load it onto the boat, and then headed to the trailer. We did some more lecture, then had lunch, and by then I had recovered enough to dive.

For some reason, we went to Jackson Blue after all. At the time I didn't know why, but I suspect it was because we got a late start, and it would be faster if we didn't relocate between dives. We were diving stages for the first time, woohoo. We got to JB, and it was quite a different scene from the last time we were there, when there were like a thousand screaming kids swimming there, because it was super hot. We did our gear checks and stuff and dropped down for a round of S-drills, which was only slightly confusing because we were already on our stage bottles. Somehow we managed to only do two S-drills and in both, I was the recipient. That was slightly confusing too :) After regrouping on the surface, we headed down, and then noticed something was bubbling, so we immediately thumbed the dive. We hadn't done a bubble check, and once we did that, we found a variety of bubble sources, including my drysuit inflator, which was quite bubbly. Luckily I had a cheater hose, and had 32% in the backgas. Once we took care of all of the bubbles, we headed in again. We got delayed on entry again for some reason but eventually made it to the mainline. Then, very shortly after that, as we were heading down to the first deep section, Antonio signaled that he was having a problem with his drysuit inflator. He thought it wasn't connected properly (or at least that's what I thought he was signaling), so I reconnected it for him, and it still wasn't working. Then Rob took a crack at it, and in the end we decided that his Argon bottle was just empty. He didn't have a cheater hose on his backgas, so David passed him his Argon bottle and David used backgas. So in the end, there were a lot of delays. The flow was way down, thankfully. I don't think I pulled at all on the entire dive, whereas when we went there before, I was all about the pull and glide. I eventually turned the dive based on time, not that time was really a constraint, but based on what we had discussed on the surface. We had made it just a couple hundred feet past the T. Given all of the delays that we had on the way in, the exit was way faster. I don't know if we had any failures on the way out, but if we did, they were pretty minor. I think David thought I called the dive on confusion or stupidity or not feeling well. What was I thinking, sticking to the dive plan? :)

After a quick debrief and a bit of bickering on the surface, we decided we had enough gas to do another dive. Even our stages still had a bit of gas, since our exit was so fast, so we brought those along for more practice. I inquired about the length of the dive because I had to pee, but decided I could last another hour :P We didn't have that much gas. We obviously didn't make it quite as far on this dive, but had some interesting failures on the way out, interesting because now we had the stages in the mix. Everyone made it out alive, and was less moody after this dive :) One thing that I thought was particularly cool about both dives was all of the fish at the opening of the cavern. I guess the last time we were there, they were scared off by the thousand screaming kids. But as we were exiting, there were a zillion pretty fish at the mouth of the cavern. It was really cool.

We made it back just in time to not get lost on the pond in the dark, and got our spent tanks off of the boat to be filled. Then we headed to dinner at Madison's Warehouse. I had the pork chop, which I almost never eat, because I can't resist pork products paired with apples; it was really really good. I think even Rob liked it, and he would never order a pork chop :P We were sad to find out that they didn't have key lime pie. After dinner, we headed back to the trailer, and David lectured at us a bit more. Eventually we were excused and allowed to sleep. It wasn't actually that late when we finished, but considering that the day started at 5, and there was the one hour time change, it was a freaking long day.

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