Diving Crosby

I’m in the final stages of finishing up my PADI Divemaster training and one of the last things we needed to do is our deep and search/recovery scenarios. It’s hard to find the water deep enough in a Minnesota lake so we usually head up to the iron mines by Crosby. Some of them are hundreds of feet deep and filled with water once they were abandoned. You can check out some photos below. In one you can see how red the gravel is from all the iron, one of the few downsides of diving here apart from being miles from a toilet is that red dirt and muck gets everywhere and stains too.

So while Lily and Heather were catching a movie, heading to the horse races at Cantebury and going to the park I was driving 2 hours north and stuffing myself into a hot wetsuit in the sun. If you’ve never dove or wore a wetsuit before, once it’s on you are overheating quick especially in the hot sun wearing usually all black. One of the most pleasant experiences in life is getting in the water wearing a hot wet suit and feeling it seep in the zipper down your back as you cool off.

The pit we dove is called Lake Louise and is pretty small and very quiet. It’s tucked back into the woods and it’s not super easy to find. I’ve never seen motor boats on it, but people do camp and you’ll spot canoes there occasionally. Because the mines are literally just holes in the ground and it’s very sheltered the water is usually very calm and the clarity is about the best you can get in Minnesota, 20-25 feet on a good day. Today was a pretty good day, the sun was shining and the water was almost glass.

The bliss was short lived. At the surface the water was about 73 degrees, but as you go deeper it gets colder and we were going relatively deep today. We went down to about 80 feet and the temp was hovering at a balmy 39 degrees. If you want to see what that’s like you can fill your sink with ice water and submerge your face for 20 minutes without taking it out.

After that we warmed up on the surface reviewed some knots and navigation quickly and then did our search and recovery scenario for some “lost” weights. Which ended up being really lost when the instructor that placed them was a bit off in his clues as to where he dropped them off underwater. We did end up finding them, so it was a pretty decent test of our search abilities.

As we surfaced on the final dive there was some ominous clouds forming in the distance and some rumbling thunder. We packed up and headed out to run into it on the drive home. I met up with Heather and Lily at the park and finally came home around 6:30.

A Jamaican Honeymoon – Day 7

Day 7

Today’s Weather: 93 degrees
Today’s Crepe/Pastry Count: 0 Sad smile

Welp.  This is it, the final day.  We made up for doing nothing yesterday by trying to cram in as much Jamaica as humanly possible before we had to leave at noon.

We went snorkeling one more time right away in the morning.  I think Heather was determined to see the entire Caribbean sea in one snorkeling session the way she was swimming around.  This time was a bit more fun than the first time now that we were more comfortable with it.  Plus, we got to see some interesting wildlife this time.  For one, the elusive white land whale made a surprise appearance.

We were sharing the majority of the snorkel boat with part of a wedding party and we were sitting waiting on the dock and for some reason they weren’t leaving.  Evidently, someone in the party wasn’t there yet and we were waiting for them.  That’s when a positively large woman came shambling down the dock carrying like two plates of food.  Evidently, snorkeling conflicted with a previous eating engagement she had scheduled.  Now, if you’ve been reading this blog at all, you’ve seen that there was no shortage of food at all in the resort.  You could basically eat all day long anything you wanted whenever you wanted.  It’s a damn surprise I managed to fit into the airplane on the way home.  But even though I shouldn’t probably mock anyone for their size or eating habits, even I can put down a chicken wing long enough to go snorkeling for 20-30 minutes.  She literally had to carry her food a couple hundred yards to the dock and sat there munching the the entire way.  I was entranced by watching her eat.  Everybody else was just kind of looking around making slight eye contact.  It’s like we were all in on some secret and she was the only one who didn’t know.   Completely oblivious. Like I said, snorkel trip lasts about 30 minutes max.  There is absolutely no reason she couldn’t have gone, came back and had some food, evidently she was going to starve to death if she didn’t eat all those pastries and bacon right NOW!

Ok, my ranting aside, we got out to the reef again and hopped overboard.  One of the guides was swimming around too and Heather and I followed along as he pointed out animals and stuff hiding under the reef.  At one point towards the end, he found a puffer fish and pulled it out of it’s little cave.  It immediately inflated to slightly smaller than a volleyball.  This is the one point of the trip I wish I had a waterproof camera.  Because the guide brought the puffer fish up and had Heather hold it.  Being completely fearless and or ignorant of the potential danger, she went right for it.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her at that point that puffer fish are some of the most poisonous animals in the world.  Needless to say, I passed on the opportunity at that point.  We finally had to wrap up and head back in to shore.

We had just enough time to clean up and change and go to the main lobby.  I didn’t even have time to sneak another crepe or muffin from the pastry place.  Our luggage was loaded up and back into the bus and it was off to the airport.  The ride was a lot nicer this time because it wasn’t pouring. You could actually see a bit more of the countryside.  Even though it’s over an hour drive from the airport to the resort, if the weather’s clear it’s really enjoyable.  Great views and scenery most of the way.  Halfway through the ride, our driver pulls off to some gas station and says he has to go to the bathroom and he’ll be right back.  Before he closes the door, he adds, “Uhh, stay where you are…”.  Makes you feel good.  I was convinced this was some sort of elaborate drug stop or the trip was about to turn into a real life version of the movie “Taken” but luckily, our driver made it back out, suspiciously high looking as ever and we continued on.

We arrived at the airport without further incident and immediately started playing the waiting game.  Line to line to line and we were finally in the terminal and waiting for our ride home.  Nothing really exciting this time, so the boredom made up for the anxiety of flying down there the first day.

When we finally landed in Atlanta we went to breeze through customs except for Heather, who was doing her best to get us flagged as terrorists and interrogated somewhere.  She wasn’t really paying attention to the questions the security agent was asking so she kept giving wrong answers and he started to get a little worked up.  I think at one point he even told her she needed to perk up and take this seriously.  That probably got her attention and from there it was just a couple quick questions and we were moving on.

We enjoyed the Atlanta airport for a couple hours and finally hopped on our flight home.  Landed in Minneapolis a couple hours later and as a great capstone to the trip it was at this point that we found out they screwed up everyone’s bags on the flight and they wouldn’t get in until like 4am.  Either they’d been put on the wrong plane or the plane was overweight (swear it wasn’t my crepes or muffins). So we just went home and crashed.

It was about 2:00 am by the time we got to bed.  We woke up sometime the next morning and went back to the airport to get our bag.  It was in by this time and that was pretty much the official end to the trip.

I hope you enjoyed the write-ups.  It was fun reliving the trip a little bit while writing them.  Hopefully this get’s me updating the blog more and more from now on so you can see all our delightful little adventures.  On the other hand I am writing this 6 months after our trip ended, so…

Until then…

A Jamaican Honeymoon – Day 6

Day 6

Today’s Weather: 96 degrees
Today’s Wedding Count: 1

Day 6.  Our last full day on the island. We pretty much had one strategy and one strategy only for today.  Relax and enjoy it as much as possible.  So this might be a bit of a boring update.  We spent a ton of time sitting by the pool, swimming, reading, napping, soaking up the sun.

Also visiting the café and eating tons of meringues Heather fell in love with meringues over the course of the week and ended up making some after we got home. They actually came out pretty well and I wonder if that’s what spurred her new found interest in all things baking/treat making. She has been on a tear recently whipping up all sorts of crazy stuff for Cayden’s baby shower, Aaron’s graduation and just to practice on.

But anyways, back to Jamaica, after soaking up as much relaxation and sun as physically possible we made our way to a nice spot on the beach to watch the sunset for the last night. We ended up taking about 800 pictures of the sunset because we just kept passing the camera back and forth and neither knew what we were taking pictures of. After sunset we got dressed up one more time for a nice supper at the Italian restaurant. The food was pretty good and Heather had the creme brulee for desert which she couldn’t get enough of. As we started back towards our room, we walked by a band playing music on the beach. We sat and listened for a bit and then I pulled Heather down by the water and we danced in the waves for about 15 minutes before going back and crashing one more time.

Thanks for your patience. Tune back soon for the tale’s thrilling conclusion to our heroes harrowing adventure. For next time will be the last installment in this series. We will finally find out the mystery behind the missing bags and know once and for all whether Heather is actually a foreign terrorist trying to sneak into the US.

A Jamaican Honeymoon – Day 5

Day 5

Today’s Weather: 95 degrees
Today’s Wedding Count: 0

We are getting closer to wrapping this adventure up folks.  Today was one of the few days on the trip when we actually had something planned to do.  The day before we saw that they were doing a day trip to a local school.  If you wanted you could go and hang out for an hour or so, maybe read the kids a story and get off the resort.

When you go to an all-inclusive resort it’s actually not easy to get out.  Once you’re in, they want you to stay.  For one, it’s a safety and security issue, but they also want to keep your souvenir and shopping money at the resort, I’m sure.  The trips that they do take off the resort were usually kind of spendy.  Because Heather use to teach pre-school she thought it would be fun to go see an elementary school in Jamaica.  So at $5 a person, it was cheap way to get off the resort and least see a little bit of the “real” Jamaica.

An interesting fact about Jamaica, because most parents can’t afford daycare, the public schools start accepting students basically as soon as they are potty trained.  So you have classes in school of 2 to 3 year olds.  After a bumpy bus ride we pulled up outside the school.  I’ll post some pictures later, but it was a little eye-opening.  I was familiar with the fact that Jamaica was a poor country, but the school was a cinderblock square building, completely open to the elements.  There were basically tarps/sheets they could cover the holes where windows should have been.  It look like the building was half finished.  When we pulled up they asked us what room we wanted to be in.  Heather thought it would be cute to see the littlest kids and read them a story.  Completely forgetting that kids that age have absolutely no attention span and not necessarily able to really understand stories of any length.

So, what followed was a really stuffy (tropical climate, closed in space, lots of kids) and awkward 10-15 minutes of us trying to read them stories and the kids just completely tuning us out.  We were saved by their teacher, who got them to sing some songs.  Heather tried to get them to sing some songs she knew but the cultures were just a bit too different and they didn’t really know her songs.

This is where I swooped in with the digital camera and started taking pictures.  If there’s one thing that’s universal is kids love toys and gadgets and they were entranced by getting their pictures taken and the all were crowding around trying to get in on the action.  After a few minutes of that we moved up to the older kids classroom and that was a little bit easier.  You could at least talk to them and keep their attention for longer than 7 seconds.

It actually reminded me of when we had the flood of ‘97.  We had to go to school in the 4H building with tarps hung between “classrooms”.  Except they do it all the time every year.  Just goes to show that a lot of what you think you “need” you can get by without just fine.  Heather was impressed that most of these kids were beyond the kids she used to teach as far as reading/writing were concerned.  And they definitely had good manners.

One funny thing that came out of it was that they all have a school uniform.  Boys wear khaki pants and a red and white gingham shirt and girls have a gingham dress.  (Do I lose street cred for knowing what gingham was?)  But what was funny was I was wearing some brown almost khaki type shorts and a red t-shirt that matched them almost exactly.  In fact, I bet you’d be hard pressed to pick me out of the lineup below:

Honeymoon Jamaica 2011 206

After some photo ops we loaded back up into the bus and went back to the resort.  We really didn’t have anything else planned for the day.

That burned up most of our afternoon.  When we got back we cleaned up a bit and ate outside at one of the restaurants.  We were pretty worn out for the day so we went back and just crashed tonight.

The rest of these are going to come hot and heavy over the next day or two so stay dialed in my friends.  Once this thing hits 88 mph, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

A Jamaican Honeymoon – Day 4

Day 4

Today’s Weather: Partly Sunny and 88 degrees
Today’s Wedding Count: 1

…and now back to our regularly scheduled program.  It’s been a while since we last met up.  I need to keep cranking through these because as time goes by and I slip back into the cold, frozen, mindset of February in Minnesota it becomes harder and harder to recall the sun in my face, the surf on my feet, and the sand between my…well…sand just gets everywhere.

Today was a very low key day.  Although, I will say that we were really early risers for the most part while we were there.  Usually up between 7 am and 8 am.  Which to me is ungodly for a vacation.  So we grabbed some breakfast and Heather wanted to do a beach walk.  The resort owns a huge stretch of beach that they maintain, and most of the area outside the resort boundary is some type of nature reserve.  I’ll say this, when you are at a Sandals, they don’t really want you going anywhere else.  Probably a safety issue, but also nothing is as nice outside the resort.  Plus, if you have an itch to spend money, why not do it in our gift shop?  No need to even put down your drink.

Continue reading “A Jamaican Honeymoon – Day 4”

A Jamaican Honeymoon – Day 3

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Today’s Weather: Sunny and 90 degrees
Today’s Wedding Count: 1

Welcome back.  We were early risers again today, but alas, the breakfast in bed was a one day only deal.  So after I took my daily sunscreen bath we decided to try out the restaurant that had the breakfast buffet.  Each place had it’s own theme like Italian or Asian, but one place was the standard big restaurant and it served a breakfast and lunch buffet everyday.

We went and grabbed a spot to sit, one of the few times we actually ate indoors during the week.  As I made my way through the offerings, I noticed the beverage area.  If you know me I’m a sucker for orange juice and they had an entire spread of glasses for the taking.  Being the greedy, OJ loving, thirsty man that I am I grabbed a couple glasses and went to sit down and enjoy breakfast.

Continue reading “A Jamaican Honeymoon – Day 3”

A Jamaican Honeymoon – Travels & Day 1

So, there we were, date of our departure was fast approaching. Heather was already nervous because our flight had a short 45 minute layover in Atlanta. Our flight was scheduled to leave Minnesota at 7:45 am and our flight in Atlanta left at 12:10 pm. So not only did we have a tight layover, but ours was the last flight to Jamaica for the day. If anything went wrong we’d miss our connection end up stuck in Atlanta for a day.

With this in mind, Heather decided to get an earlier flight out but the price to change the tickets was insane so we decided to show up a couple hours before the earliest flight and try to get bumped up. The one catch is that the earliest flight was at 5:20. So, bleary-eyed, we got up at 2am and our friend Jordan picket us up at 3 and dropped us off at the airport at 3:30 am. Already a bad way to start your day.
Continue reading “A Jamaican Honeymoon – Travels & Day 1”

A Jamaican Honeymoon – Prologue

As many may know, Heather and I recently went on a delayed honeymoon to Jamaica.  Originally, I intended to do something like this at the end of each day to give a quick update of what we did and how much fun we were having.  Unfortunately, internet at the hotel was like $15/day and not worth it.

So, to recapture the moment I’ll be posting a recap of the trip with Heather’s help.  It was a blast and we want to share with you all the fun we had on vacation.  So watch here for upcoming posts to see what we did on our honeymoon.

Walk a mile in my shoes…

Well….

It has been a while.

But I’m back, of course I say that everytime, it’s the best I can do all you’re going to get out of me regardless.

Recently, I bought a pair of Vibram FiveFinger shoes before Christmas. For those that don’t know what they are, they are shoes designed to mimic walking barefoot while still offering some protection against hard or sharp objects. Having done martial arts for so long, and even before that, I’ve always been a “barefoot” guy. I’ve been eyeing these for a while and finally decided to pick up a pair.

First things first, they are a bitch to get on when you start out. I felt like a moron trying them on in the store and almost gave up at that point. But I powered through, and finally squeezed my fat toes into the right spots. They are very comfortable to wear, and I started by trying to wear them around the house to break them in a bit.

A word to the wise, if you don’t do anything barefoot, it’s highly recommended you go very slow when first wearing them. You’re body is very much a use it or lose it machine and wearing shoes with all their padding and support and stabilization takes away some of the work your feet, ankles, and legs etc were designed to do. If you jump right in you could possibly get an injury as a result. Being pretty confident in ruggedness and durability, as a first serious try out I went to the fitness center at Heather’s office and and did a 5K plus cool down on the treadmill. I ran about 2 miles and walked about 1, alternating to get a feel for how they worked.

I had a little bit of rubbing on my left foot from not quite being tightened up all the way, but other than that it went really well. I’ve also tried using them in Tae Kwon Do when I teach. The soles actually have a bit of grip and stick to them so it’s harder to do all the rotational movements you’d normally do as part of kicking what not, but for normal teaching activities they worked pretty well.

They are definitely not cold weather gear so a lot of other testing and playing will have to wait until things warm up a bit. But supposedly, you can go through airport security without taking them off. So I may try that out of convenience on the trip to Jamaica this weekend.