Posts Tagged 'fish'

Scuba Diving Class 2 – Two Open Water Dives

This is Part 2 in a Series. Read Part 1 HERE.

Did I mention how terrified I am to scuba dive? No? Well, rest assured that I told my instructor. And Zach. And Kate, the other student diving with us. Here I am, yesterday morning, having problem after problem with pool gear. Mask too tight, respirator too difficult to breathe through, can’t get properly weighted. Bleh. Still. Not giving up yet.


Then we spent time calculating nitrogen concentration in one’s body, safe dive times, etc. I liked this because it was math-y, and also showed that dive sickness is avoidable, and not just a matter of chance circumstance. We got onto the boat for a 40 minute ride out to Sand Key, part of the coral barrier reef 7 miles from Key West. I cannot imagine a prettier day on the water. Calm and glassy and teal.

The crew had the tanks all lined up.


We squeezed into wetsuits and hoods. This is Zach making his “THIS IS AWESOME” face.

1-pre dive zach wetsuit

This was the view off the side of the boat. Those greeny patches? They’re corals 20 feet below.

1-pre dive water view

My nerves kicked in while strapping up. I actually had to put on a ton of gear and then just JUMP off the side of the boat. It took a full 2 minutes of hyperventilation on the “gangplank”, and ultimately I asked Rick, the first mate, to push me off. Once in, I had a bit of a panic, until Zach saw a loggerhead sea turtle 20 feet away on the surface, and I realized that I needed to get under that water. Here’s a bit of bubbly surface panic, but check out those fish! They kept coming close, giving me curious side-eyed looks:

2 surface panic 2

I clutched the rope, all the way down to 5 feet, adjusting and readjusting my mask, my respirator, and finding all my gauges. I hovered there with Duane, the instructor, while Zach sort of paddled around nearby, getting his bearings. I realized I needed to cry, and then prompltly discovered that there is no crying in scuba diving. I surfaced, jittery, breathed a bit (but didn’t cry!), then went back down. Slowly, slowly descending to 16 ft, whimpering and grasping at my teacher’s jacket, bug-eyed with terror.

2-dive bug eyed terror

Duane had a tablet for communicating, so he wrote encouraging things like “slow down, you’re doing fine” and “no drills yet, this is the fun part”:

3 dive notes

It took me ages to relax and let go of that rope, and then I was only willing to swim in circles around it. Finally, I calmed down and we set off to see all sorts of fishies and corals.

3 blue fish

Zach gave me the camera, which was soothing, and took my mind off basic breathing. Time was almost up, so we went to the back of the boat and rested with our knees on the sandy bottom. Zach did his drills, taking out his respirator, getting it back in, and clearing the water from his mask:

2 respirator

We surfaced and I said something I never thought I’d say “I didn’t want to come back up.” We climbed aboard the Sea Eagle and the crew switched up our gear for fresh tanks.

kate 7

Then we cruised to our next spot. I noticed that my hands were really itchy and tingly. Duane said this was from hydra stings and fire corals that grow on the ropes. A good lesson…I won’t be clutching the rope next time. The second plunge was much easier, though I still asked Rick for a tiny push; it’s psychologically pretty difficult to jump in with that much gear on. It just seems impossible that you’re going to float.

On this dive I got comfortable faster, and did my own drills of taking out my respirator, tossing it behind me, relocating it, and putting it back it. Then we just cruised and swam and took pictures of pretty things. Our coral reef is gorgeous.

2 reef

I didn’t think I could do it, truly. Zach says he knew I was capable, despite all my worries, because he’s seen me work through all kinds of fears.

3 feeling groovy

A brave new adventure! Two more dives next week, then I’ll be a card-carrying, PADI-certified open water diver. This time, I can’t wait to go back under. Zach was glad to send his 20s off with a bang. Happy 30th birthday today, mister!

4 after diving

Getting off the Rock: Orlando and the Upper Keys

We’ve done a fair bit of in-state traveling this winter:

Back in December, the Boogedy and I went up to Key Largo to go camping with Zach and Daisson during their Keys biking and kayaking trip. Here’s the boy in the mosquito netted hammock:

mosquito hammock

Later, dinner at Num Thai with Zach and Daisson.

thai boys

Chilly morning at the campground!



After camping, the day warmed up and the Boogedy and I fed the Indigo Parrotfish at Theater of the Sea in Islamorada. This was AWESOME. They swam between our legs and ate from our hands. These were the prettiest fish I have ever seen.

blue fish

In January we went to DisneyWorld in Orlando (details tomorrow). Before heading to the theme park each day, we headed to Starbucks because the coffee at DW was….unsatisfactory.

On this sunny morning, we sat outside the coffee shop while the Boogedy pulled pennies from the fountain. He handed them to this baby so that she could have fun throwing them back in. Such a nice boy.

orlando fountain

The McDonalds in Orlando had an awesome playland, which the our kid saw from the car and begged to visit. Here is Zach, asleep near the shoe  cubbies.

asleep in playland

And here is the Boogedy, in the coolest McDonalds bathroom ever.

mcdonals bathroom

On our way home from Orlando, we stopped at an Alligator Farm in the everglades and snapped a couple of pictures:

alligator skin

When I saw these alligator babies (maybe 2 ft long) I thought of my niece, Rachel. As a young teenager, she once expressed the absolute WILLIES about the koi store where the fish swam slick and slippery all over each other! She couldn’t control the shudders.

alligator babies

Then just last weekend, while on our own kayaking trip in the upper Keys, we stopped for lunch at Habanos, a yummy Cuban restaurant in Islamorada. This is the view of the marina and mural from our table. I love the fence.


Here is the view of my boys, horsing around at the table. I love these goofballs.

habanos boys 1

Lamingtons and December Fun

I swear that Lamingtons transcend the sum of their parts. Look, they’re just sponge cake, jam, chocolate, and coconut. But all together they’re amazing. I borrowed a cake pan from Kelly and Adam (super cool owners of Honest Works Island Pottery in Key West). So, when the Lamingtons were done, I took them some cakes and modeled them on one of their lovely turquoise plates.  Recipe Here.

On the way home I saw this big truck parked across the sidewalk and it made me laugh out loud. I can just picture my DVD remote control running out of juice and me calling these guys for some spare Triple A batteries, Pronto!

I strung the advent calendar up in the kitchen. Each day I try to think up some free or cheap activity. Last night was “go pick up dad from the airport and raid his suitcase for presents!”

Saturday’s advent activity was the Key West Holiday Parade. Here’s the haul. We threw most of this away, but kept enough to eat one piece every Monday for a few months. (That was the deal the kid came up with, after I said one piece each day was Too Much Candy.

Sunday’s activity was free locals day at the aquarium. This sweet pigeon ate from our hands!

They have a fish there that looks like a PUPPY. It’s called the dog-faced puffer fish. We couldn’t get a great shot, but I wanted to pet him, he looked just like a beagle.

Here are the finished sugar skulls from my sister-in-law Noemi in SLC! The Boogedy believes he won the contest, for Most Use of Frosting. Zach believes he won for best disco lips.

I made a delicious braided bread braid filled with sweetened cream cheese and homemade lemon curd a few weeks back. I shared some with Paige because it was too pretty to keep to myself. The recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, one of my favorite websites for great food.

Here are the spotty orchids currently in bloom by my front door.

I took the kid and dog to the playground 3 or 4 nights ago and stood on a fire ant hill. Fire ant bites form pustules that sting and itch like mad; if you scratch them, they pop open and spread sticky gold fluid all over and they just itch more. Look how far the redness extends…you should see the toe with FOUR bites on it!! Fire ant stings peak at 48 hours for me, so 6 hours after this photo was taken, I was begging Zach to PLEASE find the anti-itch spray so I could get some sleep!

This is my Sunday view. Looking at the washing machines, and eating bread and butter from Sandy’s Cafe.

This rainy day photo was taken back at the beginning of the rainstorm that caused the flooding. We were tired of being cooped up inside, so we took our umbrellas for a walk to the pier.

Despite the rain, the water was crystal clear, and we could see Parrotfish down amongst the rocks! Hmm, he is hard to see in this picture. Click here for someone else’s better photo.

I pulled over on my bike to take a photo of this glorious passionflower vine in a pot.

The Boogedy went to the new office with dad to help run network cables after Goombay Festival. This activity was deemed more fun than the festival itself, so much so that he forgot his tummy ache, which he’d had for days, and which the funnel cake and hot dog did nothing to stop.



Fishy Adventures

Yesterday I made homemade goldfish crackers with my friend Paige. I saw the recipe at Smitten Kitchen and took a few days debating whether to order the (frivolously expensive) cookie cutter. But I’m a sucker for cookie cutters, and all things tiny, so it was pretty much inevitable.

Paige mixed and I rolled and cut. She drew all their little faces.

Which mostly disappeared because of melting cheese.

The grownups thought these were delicious. Our children both turned their noses up at them, and the Boogedy even referred to them as “so garbagey”.  He pointed out that these are not real goldfish crackers. I just had to laugh.

In Key West, several of the local tourist attractions have a “locals get in free day” once a month. So on March 6th we went to the aquarium and I spotted this giant fish just sitting there agape. Tiny fishes swam in and out of his mouth. I was fascinated because I could see straight through his gills. I have never gone fishing, cooked a whole fish, or dissected a fish, and I didn’t realize this is how gills work.

Across the street from the aquarium is the Shipwreck Museum, which we’re planning to go to next month. I love walking past it because they’re always playing sea chanties like The Mermaid, by my favorite band Great Big Sea.

Today was a beach day… Zach rode with us on his lunch hour. The Boogedy ran around and around the huge peace sign, which is visible on Google Earth, by the way.

And he balanced on the coconuts.

Early December

A handmade sign, appearing quite a distance before the “official” sign.

The rock piles at this beach.

Also along that stretch of shore is an amazing driftwood structure. A multi-room layout, with dry-laid rock slab walls and firepits. It was beautiful, and I thought at once of my friends Caleb and Janeen, our wonderful roommates from Utah, and how they might like to come live in this large, airy house.

The funny thing is, I completely failed to see this structure the first time we went here. Even though I used some of the driftwood to steady myself on the rocks. I thought it was just some dead trees.

And just look at this adorable, grumpy-wumpy Teddy Bear, clutching his…dying bee?! Aack!

Zach took the photo above, as I was too wigged out by the multiple beady button eyes. I imagined the thing growling to protect its prey. Zach took the time later to google Florida spiders, and determined that this is the jumping variety. Did you ever have post traumatic stress from something that Could have happened?! *shudder*

This is me and the Boogedy throwing fish food into the shark enclosure at the aquarium. The fishies are going crazy for pellets, while the shark slowly circles at the bottom, hoping someone will start dying or at least bleeding sometime soon.

On Saturday I noticed that the town was bursting with people in khaki shorts and white t-shirts, so we went to gawk at the immense cruise ship at the dock. Those ropes are the diameter of my calves. It is a trick of photography that may make you think my legs are bigger than the Boogedy’s head.

P.S. I am amazed at how many restaurants and bars invite you to bring your pet. Here is the Chibberty, salivating at the BBQ smokehouse at the Geiger Key Marina. He had quite a bit of pulled pork.

Pescado en Papillote

fish-wrapped (Small)

Our neighbor gave us two freshly caught fish last night (already gutted and scaled). She called them “carpas” in Spanish, pointed generally south, and indicated they’d gone fishing that day in Provo. The big one probably was a carp, but the little one was a catfish. We invited family over to help cook and eat them.

fish-fire prep1 (Small)

I recommended filleting them and frying or sauteing. Working with the cold dead things with their still-bulging eyes gave me a bit of the oogies, so the eventual plan to make them “en papillote”–paper wrapped, was an easy, tidy solution. We seasoned them with olive oil, salt, and pepper; wrapped them in newspaper with lemon slices and crushed garlic cloves; tied them up with cotton quilting scraps; soaked the paper; and grilled them over our firepit.

fish-potatoes (Small)

We also threw some potatoes into the coals.

I made my new favorite lemon cake, but failed to adjust cooking time for a round cake pan vs. a loaf pan, so ended up with a dark brown rind. In the end, everything was a bit charred, and rather bland.

fish-char (Small)

The Boogedy was just happy to see his Aunties and Uncle.

fish-fire warming (Small)