Second dive of this day, I was able to get around without my wet suit moving constantly in the ocean. I hadn’t seen any barracudas for the Go Pro video below; however, I had seen schools of grunts and jacks, a grouper, a queen angel fish, a yellow hog fish, and wrasses. The only creature undocumented on the final edit was a turtle. Holding on the dive flag had also provided an even flow to some of my camera work. The video I had composed using Go Pro Hero 3+ Black Edition, MacBook Pro and iMovie. Think I was fairly jazzed putting the video together. Adding the track Solar Sailor from Daft Punk to the video, I had thought ideal counterpoint for drift diving. As far as air consumption, I was clocking an acceptable number with my PSI on the scuba tank on a 40 minute dive with 1500 psi leftover. Below were the stats from my Suunto Viper Air dive computer for this outing. In retrospect, lots of elements were ideal on this dive with air temperature at 91 degrees F, warm seas at 82 degrees F and oodles of video. It had epitomized everything that makes scuba diving fun!
Read More: Sea Experience (seaxp.com)
On a brief road trip through the Florida Keys, I had ended up staying two nights in Marathon, Florida. On this adventure, two things had worked in Marathon’s favor versus Key West. The two differences were the cost of getting a room, about 50% less and being equidistant between Key Largo and Key West. Upon checking into the room at the Sombrero Resort and Marina, the amenities were acceptable but, worthy of a 2 out of 5 stars on various travel websites. The WI-FI, though free, was unable to transmit any data. Despite the dreary Internet connectivity and the windy weather, the friendly front desk staff were polite and accommodating. They also had produced an interesting suggestion for dining at a nearby place called The Stuffed Pig.
The great thing about the Stuffed Pig were the selections of eclectic seafood options on the menu and the outside seating area. On consecutive mornings, I was seated inside their front of house. After review of the menu, I had ordered up Shrimp & Grits. This entree was composed of grilled shrimp with grits with sprinkling of cheddar on top. It had also come with portion of smokey crisp bacon, two eggs and toast. The only difference between the first and second day, I had added on a side order of conch fritters day one. The summary on the Stuffed Pig, I had enjoyed both meals enough to clear the plates clean. For myself, that dining experience had made the stay in Marathon, Florida worthwhile.
The Stuffed Pig is located at 3520 Overseas Hwy, Marathon, FL 33050
Sombrero Resort & Marina is located at 19 Sombrero Boulevard, Marathon, FL 33050
Marathon, Florida (Wikipedia)
The Stuffed Pig (thestuffedpig.com)
Tenneco Towers East was one of the more challenging dives out of my twenty-five to date. This day on the boat had started out with my buddy’s cylinder order being mixed up with 21% regular oxygen blend versus a Nitrox blend of 32%. After securing the correct tanks, he had run into a busted o-ring when setting up his gear. Both of us also had issues with our regulators leaking air from one location or another. Luckily, the dive master from the Sea Experience was extremely helpful in securing my wireless transmitter and my friend’s run to his BCD.
After getting out to sea, I had run into a two issues right out of the gate. First my buoyancy was way off preventing a controlled descent. Second, one of my fin straps had come loose approaching the boat ladder. After getting back on the Sea Experience, I was provided an additional 4 more lbs. of weights. After re-entering the ocean, I had easily converged with my buddy patiently waiting at the top of Tenneco Towers East. We then had started our decline down the slop of the top of the structure. Originally, we had planned to spiral around the tower but, the strong current and my earlier missteps didn’t allow for keeping with our dive plan. After our last air check, my friend had realized the necessity to work up to a safety stop; however, I had lost view of him moving to the boat anchor. With rising bubbles and silhouettes from other divers, my view of him was totally obstructed. Amazingly, he had seen me the entire time looking down the rope for the anchor.
After getting topside again, I had found my dive buddy seated at the front of the deck. We soon had engaged about the miscommunication under the water and the break in visual contact. The fundamental faux pas had centered around dumping our planned movement and properly signaling with our hands to ascend outright. I had thought for myself, “Lesson learned. Keep it simple stupid!” With my dive relatively unsuccessful with about 23 minutes submerged time, the silver lining was firing up a newly acquired Go Pro gathering my first dive footage. To that end, I had posted a video below that I think truly communicates the unworldly feel of Tenneco Towers.
Created with Go Pro Hero 3+ Black Edition, MacBook Pro, and iMovie.
Sea Experience (seaxp.com)
Long Key State Park had fit the bill for a random interlude for pulling to the side of the road and viewing the tropical surroundings. The great attraction was the quick access to the shoreline. There was very little foot traffic aside from one park ranger. A few benches had lined the side of the parking lot. The bulk of my visit, I had sat in my vehicle looking across the horizon thinking of what tomorrow might bring. The only other drawback was the timing of low tide making swimming in the flat impractical.
Combining the Florida State Park Annual Pass for families with one time seasonal fee of $5.00 for Monroe County surcharge, had made exploring this and other state parks affordable on this road trip down into the Florida Keys.
Long Key State Park is located at 67400 Overseas Hwy, Layton, Florida 33001
Park hours: 8:00 AM until dusk 365 days a year. Admission Fees:
$5.00* per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle.
$2.00* Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass.
$4.00* Single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle.
* Plus $.50 per person Monroe County Surcharge.
Long Key State Park (floridastateparks.org)
Florida State Park Annual Pass (floridastateparks.org)
On a trip to the west coast of the US, a longtime friend had invited me out for a hiking excursion into Runyon Canyon Park @ Los Angeles, California. At the entrance, we had picked up bottles of water available via a local hiking association. This was important because of the sunny arid weather and trail length. For the ascent, there were paths ranking from basic, intermediate and advanced.
My buddy and I had selected the basic incline for our morning hike. Heading up into the first leg of trail, we were provided with view of downtown LA on the horizon. Before arriving at the first lookout ridge, the trail had switched from asphalt to loose dirt. At this overlook, we had a more complete view of LA including the emblematic Hollywood sign.
Heading toward the next ridge, we were treated to various flowers including even a yellow bloom from a massive cactus. Moving up the clay mountain top, I had noticed a sign with the following text “Beware of rattlesnake nesting areas.” Then the thought had crossed my mind,”What are the odds of sliding down the orange clay fishers into a bunch of snakes? Hmm.”
After reaching the final overlook, we had started maneuvering down the hill side. Exerting less energy on the decline, I was able to better focus on distant views of LA and the surrounding hillside for snakes. Yet, despite all the foot traffic and fear, the park still had provided a calming place to connect with the outdoors. This had fulfilled all the promise of exploring California while traveling for business. This was time well spent, even if for just a few passing moments in time.
Runyon Canyon Park is located at 2000 N Fuller Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
Facility Hours of Operation:
Monday – Friday: Dawn to Dusk
Saturday – Sunday: Dawn to Dusk
Runyon Canyon Park (laparks.org)