Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tacoma Dive and Travel Expo... and a dive saved the weekend.

Thumbs up to this weekend as it fades out. Highlights were many; I'm a lucky gal. I had a fun ride up to Tacoma with Allen (I blame him for my insanity, he was my instructor). A night dive didn't materialize, but instead I had a great late Italian dinner with Scot who surprised me with a visit; he and Kris had gone up to WA on Thursday and I didn't plan on seeing him until we met at the Expo on Saturday. He calls me and says, "You're in the Econo Lodge right?" Um, yeah. "I'm in the parking lot."

How sweet! He was stalking me! Awwww. How romantic, after (get ready for it) 21 years together! Yes, the end of this month is our 18th wedding anniversary, and we were attached at the hip for three years prior to that. OMG! I'm not old enough for that!

Spent most of Saturday at the NW Dive and Travel Expo; it was fun to actually know enough people to frequently run into someone to hug amidst the crowd! (Seems most divers are also huggers... score! What you share in and out of the water just breaks down barriers, I guess.) Met some new friends, and put faces to friends I'd talked with only online via ScubaBoard and NW Dive Club.

The Diving Want List grew by one or two fairly small items, and I decided it is time to take the next step toward buying my own drysuit, and that is to give something other than the White's Fusion a try. I may well end up with a Fusion, but I can't make that commitment without diving something else. At the DUI booth I did everything BUT wiggle into one of the suits, and I was really intrigued by the lightweight and supple feel. I'd talked to another large woman at Redondo who had one, and she loved it, speaking very highly of its flexibility. I'm going to find a shop in PDX that carries DUI and try out something like the FLX/5050 some weekend.

Saturday afternoon I finally had the much anticipated chance to meet Chris and Christy, and was not disappointed--they rock! Although I am deeply saddened by the fact that we don't live right next door to one another so we could hang out all the friggin' time! (I should mention they are friends of Kris'... someone needs to change their goddamn name already. Oh, and also, Kris' middle name is Scott. Oh, enough!)

By Saturday afternoon I had not yet gently penetrated the watery depths of Mother Earth, however, and I was getting antsy. I just needed once, and it felt really, really important: a recommitment to my beloved local cold waters after my cheating ways in Maui earlier this month. My challenges were no ride of my own as the boys had absconded with my car; other divers were around, but with small or otherwise full cars. Turning to the power of social networking I just put it out there... looking for someone to dive with! (I'm still new enough [around 35 dives dives] and anal retentive enough that I like to know, somewhat, who I am diving with.)

Dan answered the call, yippee! But you gotta understand something: Dan was a DM in my OW class, and while I know him well enough to chat up and hug if we met at the shop, we've not dove together, and he stands out in my mind as a skilled diver to emulate. Meaning, someone I wouldn't want to look like an idiot in front of. (Or at least not again... he was after all witness to my OW class, after all.)

What, me worry? Oh hell yes. But hey... my whole challenge for the weekend was to go with the flow, so I put any worry or concern out of my mind.

We planned an early dive Sunday morning, aiming for Saltwater State Park. He txt'd his arrival at 6:30am and I went downstairs to find a sleepy Allen (ran into Dan by chance fetching something from the truck) and fresh faced Dan on the couch in the lobby. Exchange at Saltwater State Park was 11 feet, and we'd be hitting slack when we got there, but it would be on the move by the time we came up. Neither of us had been there before, and an 800ft+ surface swim on the wrong side of the slack could really, really suck.

We decided to head to Les Davis, a new site for him but one I'd dove once. Thankfully, I'd looked at the map of that one again last night.

All geared up and ready to go, once in the water he said, "You've been here before, so take the lead." Under my breath I implored the Goddess to please, please don't let me fuck this up. Compass in hand and a general idea of where to find the start of the line of rubble I ventured out.

47 minutes later, we'd been down to 75 feet (high tide much?) and I had a general idea of where we were throughout. I really like this site because the artificial reef has great dimension; many of the slabs of rubble aim and angle on one another creating great lines, and making lots of space for fish, as evidenced by some of the big freakin' ling cod we saw! One jetted out of the rubble under me as I watched it, and I wondered if the thing was ever going to actually fully EMERGE because it just keep coming, and coming, and... Lots of rock fish, some beautiful sea stars, and I finally saw a nudi that I found myself! Jellies were around, too, and I love those. Crab, shrimp, and a long little fish with a big head that I want to identify. When we surfaced, there were a few jellies that looked less dense than a lions mane but ugly enough to be more worrisome than a simple moon jelly.

We came up pretty close to the entrance after a leisurely rise up the sandy slope, and an easy safety stop. I'd dropped 4 lbs of weight this time and had good air consumption. The drysuit is looser in the legs now, and for the first time I had the "air all goes to the feet" issue. (The legs used to be tight in the calves stopping that.) Twice I had to wiggle around to get the legs down and get the bubble to redistribute.

I told Dan one reason I looked forward to diving with him is I admired his skill and wanted constructive feedback; he gave me a tip but overall said I did great and he'd be happy to dive with me again. NICE!

I'm sorry to say my dive was not dry, however. Probably due to a problem with the back of my neck seal, when I extended my neck down and back to look under myself at something, I felt a massive jet of cold water slide down my back, and sure enough, when I cracked the suit I was soaked to the bone on top. No wonder I was cold!

He dropped me back at the hotel and I had 12 minutes to get ready before heading back to the Expo to hook up with Kris, Chris and his son Nick. (Yes, I stripped out of wet dive clothes, showered, and packed up the hotel room in 12. I'm not kidding.) Chris, Nick and I walked around, which gave me the chance to play Family, for people assumed Chris and I were married and Nick was our lovechild. Thanks, Christy, for the loan of the family for the morning! ;-) My Expo Husband and I wandered around, and I was stopped cold in the middle of the isle by a video of the manta ray night dive off of Kona, HI. OMG! Check out the video! WOW. Oh. WOW. They're going to Kona in the future, lucky bastards.

Back at home now with my boys, looking forward to a very busy week which ends in camping with friends at Green Peter Lake. We swore we'd never camp Memorial Day Weekend, but when friends call up and say, "Hey, we got two large sites, wanna come?" how can you really say no?

If you've read my wandering diary entry this far, here's your payoff: Winston's new name is Speedbump.

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