Posts Tagged 'florida'

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.

IMG_3698

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.

1-tanks

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

Key West Winter 2013

Some random photos from, oh, the last few months…

I volunteered to go to Key West Botanical Garden on a kindergarten field trip with my kids’ class. I didn’t realize we were going so the children could look for and identify native SPIDERS. I found one with the back of my neck. *shudder* I hope you’ll forgive my shaky camera work.

spiders

Here I am, out for a morning ride last week or so. Gorgeous weather, getting my thighs tan again…

out for a ride

The Atlantic Ocean was like a lake that day. Here is the view down into the rocks of the White Street Pier. I saw a dad with a little boy; the kid  was on a cell phone telling his mom about all the kinds of sea creatures he could see from the pier today.

pier water

Winter means that Debby comes down from Maryland and gives me classes in glass beadmaking! Here’s the view of my workspace with the blowtorch, mandrils, glass rods, and all kinds of cool supplies she was showing off!

glass bead making

Unrelated: somehow I blew a blood vessel in my eye. Didn’t hurt, but it looked like it did.

blood vessel

The Boogedy rides for joy, now, and wants to use the bike to go everywhere. He got this new big-boy bike for xmas and I just bought him his own rear- and headlights as well as a cable lock. He was thrilled that he got to choose his own combination.

riding for joy

 

 

Flamingo Mittens

I flipped for this pattern and just HAD to make these flamingo mittens! But for whom?

My mom, of course, because even though she lives so far away, her hands are about the same size as mine, so I could just make them to fit me and know that they would probably fit her!

Every stitch of these was fun, thanks to this mottled, hand-painted pink yarn that I bought on Etsy. The black is super-soft Capretta from KnitPicks and the pattern is from SpillyJane.

I have been working on these for weeks, but they arrived just in time to cheer her up after a fall that broke her shoulder a few days ago. I hope she feels good enough to be out for walks again before the weather gets too warm to wear these.

I love my mom!

Detour to West Martello Tower

We were walking from our house to Higgs Beach, and we noticed that the Key West Garden Club at West Martello Tower was open! We’ve been peering through the fenestrations for weeks, but always manage to have bad timing.

This was a civil war fort and now it’s a lush tropical garden that is free to the public. It’s the first place we’re taking friends who come to visit. Map boy will tell you where to go.

He will lead you to the hanging orchid “room”.

I love this one.

It is very important, when you live in a tropical climate, never to look up. No matter how large your computer monitor, I guarantee it cannot display this overhead web full size.

Here is the maker of this web, the Spiny Orb Weaver. This spider is the most common one I’ve seen in Key West. This is a super close-up, she’s no bigger than a pea. Again, I will say it: Never google Florida spiders if you live here…*shudder*

These guys are also everywhere, but they don’t give me the willies. We even find them inside our house, and once there was a gecko that only Zach saw.

There was even a funny assortment of pool noodle arrangements. My sisters will think this is as hilarious as I did.

This is a strangler fig or maybe a banyan growing over the archway.

and a lovely banana flower pendulum.

Out the archways and on to the beach!

I know this is my first blog post from Key West. It is absolutely amazing how quickly we have adapted to island time, and find the hours just whittled away each day and week.  I’ve resolved to post more about this great place we stumbled upon, and will get my camera out more often.

Roadtrip to Miami

This bit was very helpful until someone broke the DVD player.

This is what all of inland Florida looks like.

We ate alligator jerky. It was yummy.

We pulled off at a rest stop near Ocala Florida and had a night picnic. Zach and I were stiff from driving, so we each took a turn riding fast hard laps around the empty RV parking lot.

Family Weekend

On Wednesday, the Boogedy was babysat and we walked to our beach for a lovely sunset

And went to dinner at a Japanese steakhouse, where they cook the food on the grill at your table. I did not photograph the chef, but will show you the fountain outside.

On Thursday, we found a listless frog on our porch. He allowed his head to be pet, and I picked him up and placed him under the bushes. He wasn’t there on Friday.

On Friday I took Zach a picnic lunch at work. It was pouring rain, so we asked permission to sit at one of the tables outside the coffee shop, under the eaves.

On Saturday, we rode our bikes hard for 8 miles, then stopped at Thomas’ Donut Shop across the street from the beach.

And tried something I’ve never seen in donut form, Red Velvet.

We bought an umbrella because the rain has started to be just a little chilly, and it looked like it wouldn’t stop.

While we were at the farmer’s market picking up raw milk, the Boogedy rolled down the grassy slope in the rain, getting completely soaked.

There was some puddle twirling and jumping.

And we grabbed Pizza at Brunos, which has the most wonderful garden/swamp in the back of the building.

To finish the day, the dog was wrapped in blankets and piled with pillows.

And dad was forced to take his own medicine: The Bravery Test.

Scenery and Skill building

A glorious sunset:

Followed by a surreptitious drink of water:

And round and round game:

The next morning, paddling in the crystal clear water. Getting better at this. I did get a sunburn in the shape of Florida on my butt, from wearing a skimpier than usual bikini and burning my tender whiteness!

Last week, a trip to the local marine park, where a sea turtle swam back and forth in front of our window and stared at us.


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