Sunday, July 8, 2012

fourth of july weekend

 it's been a busy week! for my birthday present i decided i wanted to get scuba dive certified, so i worked all last week on the book learning portion of it through an online course with padi. and if you know me you know that i procrastinate like crazy, so i tried to space out the course, but i ended up having to do two sections on the fourth of july anyway. so that evening after my parents got back from the parade and cub scout duties, we took the boat out to watch the fireworks off the pier. it was delightful. i like to avoid crowds like the plague so i always hate watching them from the beach with thousands of people. but on the boat we ate dinner and had an incredibly close view of the show {complete with a lot of MoTab playing from the pier! awesome right?}. and you can't beat laying down under the stars on the way back to the dock instead of the usual bumper to bumper traffic.

then thursday afternoon we drove down to key west once more for my weekend to scuba dive certification! we went straight to the {southpoint divers} dive shop so i could take my final written test {there were like a million of those things on the online course}, and i passed quickly and superbly. for those of you that think diving is all fun & games- it's not! there is A LOT to remember. including math and navigation. not to mention all the various ways you can harm/kill yourself. {nitrogen bubbles in my tissues? over-expanded lungs? no thanks}. 

the next two days composed of mornings of pool dives and afternoons with two open-water dives each.  {so basically i was wet the entire weekend. which is great when you are in florida in july}. that first breath with the regulator underwater is strange. of course i have snorkeled before, a lot, but being truly under the water and breathing is something else. the dive instructors kept saying i was a natural, but i'm not gonna lie it does not feel natural at ALL at first. after the first day my jaw was locked in place from biting down on the mouth piece for so long & hard. i am 100% a nose breather normally and the number one rule of diving is to never hold your breath, so it takes a lot of concentration for me to dive. slow and steady breathing + clearing my ears + remaining neutrally buoyant. that's all i could think of the first dive. not fish, not reefs.

on each dive i would have to pass of skills. which include completely flooding & clearing my mask on the bottom, breathing without a mask on {which means salt water can go up your nose if you aren't careful}, taking all my gear on & off in the water, recovering my regulator {which means i am not breathing until i get that thing back in my mouth}, filling up my BCD with air manually underwater, alternate air source breathing, emergency controlled ascent {ascending to the surface from 15ft with only one exhale}, using a compass underwater, and a lot of other things. not to mention setting up all the gear and tank for each dive. the weirdest sensation of all though: sipping air from a free-flowing regulator underwater. it's like a water fountain but with air. strangest experience ever. 

diving was a great experience and even though the visibility wasn't the best i've seen, i had such a fun time. i even saw a sea turtle! {along with two lobsters and the biggest parrot fish in the world}. the deepest i dived was about 35ft. i even let henry, my dive instructor, put creepy crawly things in my hand. under normal circumstances i would have refused but underwater you can't really say "um, no thanks buddy, i'm good with just looking", so there i was with spider-like sea creatures on me...remaining perfectly calm. and now...i am going to toot my own horn a little bit. all the dive instructors kept commenting on how much of a natural i was! i was surprised to keep hearing them say that. they even asked if i had done secret pool practice without them or something because i seemed so comfortable under the water. {which, of course i hadn't}. henry said i set the bar high for future trainees. {i am sure correctly answering a question no one else had ever gotten before helped}. he even had me helping others set up their gear, and in my head i was like "uh you're sure you want me training other people?? what if i accidentally make their tank explode or something!" but hey, maybe it's just all those snorkeling hours i've logged over many years and countries. next stop? australia! {ha, i wish! someday for sure though.}

ps- i had my dad taking photos with an underwater film camera, but he uh...wasn't all that great at it {bless his heart for trying}, so i don't think i'll be posting those photos on the blog. but my instructor was nice enough to snap some with his awesome gopro camera, so those are at the end of the post. 

pps- all other photos are taken & edited with my iphone 
{check out my instagram here or follow me: @andreabelle}

boats waiting for the fireworks to start.

 i call driver's seat!

sunset while eating dinner on the deck.

missing utah & wishing florida had mountains. {taken on the drive down to the keys}.

the underwater film camera.

sand key light house near dive 1. 

in most of these pictures you can't see any of the cool reefs or fish, but i swear they were there! {plus it doesn't help that the visibility wasn't all that great either}. maybe the second roll of film i haven't developed yet will be post-able...

well, i'm worn out. 
night, all! 


Amber said...

soooo jealous of the boat + fireworks combo at the pier. also, you are brave. i almost certified, but i got too "claustrophobic" underwater depending completely on the equipment to breathe. you are the coolest kid i know. ;)

The Thompson Family said...

Hey natural! The pictures are freaking cool. I don't think I can ever do are just a hero! :)