The Glow Of A Blue Springs July Descent @ Orange City, FL

 

Dive #74. So what ya’ might already know about Blue Springs in Orange City? The surrounding waters are popular for swimming, free diving and floating away on inter-tubes during warmer weather. If lucky, you might even see gators basking in the sunlight and other indigenous aquatic life moving around the waterline.

Approaching the spring head, the strength of the current increases significantly. At times, one can walk or swim on the far right in the shallows avoiding possible over exertion. The fallen tree laying across mouth of the entrance is about 15 – 20 feet deep depending on rain fall. After breaching this depth, if certified for cave diving, you can choose to go down all the way to the cavern between 90 – 120 feet. We stop at a depth of 55 feet. For my outing, it is one of two diagnostic runs for checking equipment and physical recovery from a surgery in March 2018.  Some may describe the dive as pedestrian but, Blue Springs provides a nice warm up if out of practice before heading to the big blue ocean or new to diving. Looking skyward in the crevasse, bubbles illuminate in the water column while exhaling into the penetrating sunlight. The imagery is eerie yet, calming.

Before the trip, the folks at Seminole Scuba dive shop did offer tips on an early arrival with a possibility of sighting a baby manatee. How early is the question? Due to the high volume of traffic, the park does get full on summer weekends. On this Sunday, we arrive at 6 AM, a full two hours before gates open at 8 AM. The rangers close the park around 9 AM due to full capacity. Being the first divers in line, the payoff is viewing three adult manatees and two calves around the boil prior to our descent. This marks the first time I see these gentle creatures while scuba diving.

Bits of advice should you make your way out to Blue Springs State Park in Orange City, call the front gate a day ahead. The spring run closes in fall and winter because manatees use Blue Springs to stay warm during colder weather. Get there at least an hour before open. If diving, bring hard copies of your certification cards. This Florida State park will not accept electronic copies. If diving or swimming isn’t in the cards, one can opt for other water borne activities like kayaking or hopping onto a riverboat ride on the St. John’s.

 

Drift Diving Rainbow River On A Sunday @ Dunnellon, FL

 

Dive #73. What could I tell you that you don’t already know? Florida is more than beaches, sun and humid weather. The Rainbow River basin offers a break from that cliche with some of the most crystalline and refreshing aquamarine waters in the state. The eel grass bowing to the changes in current offer a dream like quality on recollection. In the footage from March 2018, the Gar and the Blue Gill that pass in and out of focus reinforce this sentiment. Feeling the pressure from small fresh water boils on the riverbed pushing against your hand only heighten the visceral experience. As a flashback, the moments interrupt even the most mundane tasks like washing dishes unexpectedly. Some folks might even use the word surreal.

To learn more about Florida freshwater fish;
http://www.myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/profiles/freshwater/

To catch river boat ride for diving;
http://www.rainbowriverwatertaxi.com

Dark Water in Paradise Springs @ Ocala, Florida

 

 

 

 

Dive #71. What else can I tell you outside the video? Paradise Springs is one of two Florida locations where diving a cavern to 100 ft can be done without an additional Cavern Diver certification; however, you’ll need proof of your Advanced Open Water certification. The other site is Blue Grotto in Williston, Florida. Before heading out to Ocala, Florida, double-check each diver brings enough money for covering the cash only entrance fee of $30 in US currency. If claustrophobic and/or fear the dark, there are other unique spring experiences perhaps more suitable like Devil’s Den. Lastly, while this family owned operation does offer air-refills and some equipment, be sure to square up any boutique gear needs ahead of schedule. During our visit, the nearest local dive shop less than a mile away, remains closed for business all Sunday.

After parking and paying the entrance fee, divers get to watch a homemade instructional video. This underwater guide provides a play by play of the descent including fossils in the walls, the guideline, assorted man made figurines and the max depth death sign. Some aspects of the surrounding area do get left out like the fog evaporating into the morning sunlight just above the watery entrance. Right above that view, a closed circuit camera is peering over the dive platform. Which makes one wonder, ”Why so many gun shell casings are littering some of the steps to the opening below?”

With that introduction out of the way, Florida freshwater springs are well known for providing excellent visibility and year round temperatures of around 70 degrees F. They make ideal targets for testing out dive equipment, physical and mental conditioning. Submerging into the mouth of the spring, the sun illuminates the water giving way to the next chamber. Looking backward, a bluish hue emanates over the debris mound recalling a church alter or a theater stage. The second portion of the cave is vast in width and height. The space is more than adequate for three pairs of divers. Moving into the third portion of the cavern, the space narrows. Glancing back to the surface, I can always see the lit opening. Following the guideline, the experience feels effortless.

At the bottom of Paradise Springs, it’s easy for your vision to fill with saturating white from a camera lighting rig. This is exactly what occurs on our little adventure. What follows are moments of complete darkness. For myself, a surge of endorphins make my heart race. With eyes still attempting to adjust, my emotions peak into a panic attack. At the same time, my dive partner slowly moves to photographing another limestone wall facing in the opposite direction. He is unable to hear the tapping on my tank because of a hoodie covering his ears. The catch for myself is cycling off blood pressure medication, specifically Beta Blockers. Beta Blockers happen to suppress your body’s natural adrenaline response. Without them, it’s like being exposed to “raw untamed power” that fire up your fight or flight response.

Now, any calm person knows Paradise Springs is devoid of any current, sharks, gators, devils and demons. We’ll “mostly.” With both of my dive lights operational and the entrance above, the challenge is relaxing and managing air consumption until re-establishing visual communication. After about five minutes of holding the guide rope, and burning through a ton of air, fear gives way to calm and an engaged dive buddy for an air check. In the open ocean, there are many other factors beyond your control. This is why I love Florida springs for diving. It’s about as close to ideal conditions a diver gets for trial run outside of a pool.

Whether you dive or not, on Beta Blockers or know someone, I suggest reading up on the many side effects of this powerful class of prescribed medications. Here is a starter article that might peak your interest; Side Effects of Beta Blockers and Weight Gain

More Information:
https://www.floridadiveconnection.com/paradise-springs/

3 Days of Dives @ Key Largo, Florida

Diving is a lot about metrics, air consumption, depth, ocean current, water temperature and more. The experience is colored by each diver’s focus. My experience for this set of dives could have been characterized by all the small details that can go wrong. Days later, I’m still itching from the stings of baby jellyfish across my legs and arms. Small knicks on my hands, knees and elbow are still healing from contact with fire coral and barnacles. Pondering all the possible adjustments for improving gear and physical conditioning for the next dive, I choose to recall the minutes differently.

I remember the hammerhead shark swimming by on an ascent.

I remember the turtle speeding away from the light of my flashlight during a night dive.

I remember the stingray gliding above the sand and reef.

I remember moving about the hull of a boat wreck with barracudas.

I remember big blue.

Three days out from this trip, I can still close my eyes in silence and feel the rocking of waves on a boat, back and forth repeatedly. Men aren’t meant to be under the glow of office fluroscents. Men are meant to be under the open sky.

 

 

 

 

 

A December Hike Through Wekiwa Springs 13-Mile White-Loop

How do you remember a walk in the woods? With months past now, I had reflected on this winter outing because of the sunlight illuminating the golden, brown and red hues of dry brush and weeds. On this morning, it hadn’t mattered how near or far this location. More important was the immersion into adult introspection contrasting with childish titillation.

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Traveling the first mile of the artery feeding the majority of park trails, a wooden marker had signaled a break in the path. Turning left and moving across a paved road, my friend and I had encountered a campground. At the edge of this encampment of vehicles was a small row of wooden benches converging into a theater like area. Much to our amusement, we had found a lady’s discarded top nearby on the ground. Wasting no time for a photo-op, I had stretched the garment across my chest for minutes of grins.

During the second portion of the hike, we had walked through crisp foliage underneath a green canopy of pine needles. The gray dry sandy trail had eventually transformed into a dark brown. With each advancing step, our feet had slipped further into the watery mud. Despite the diminishing quality of the surroundings, our spirits had coasted along on the power of puns and innuendo. This had continued until encountering a small black constrictor. Collecting snapshots of the peaceful reptile, we had completed two-thirds of the white trail loop.

The final leg of our morning journey was characterized by curiosity regarding walking sticks and bees. The walking sticks insects had seemed eerily out of place. They were easy bait for any predator hungry for a meal; however, pairings of these insects had slowly crawled unabated from any lizard or bird. Next, just past a worn wooden hold for horses, a hoard of bees had hovered in the air. Almost out of sight, the droning sound of the bees had recalled a recent news story. A story in which a father and son were stung by a hoard ending up in the local hospital. With this thought echoing a similar childhood experience for my friend, we had expeditiously cleared the last portion of the hike.

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That small adventure navigating through nature had epitomized a moment of personal freedom and liberty. An adventure that had deferred adult responsibility. With fall coming around again, I had looked forward to not only cooling weather but, the smile of an earnest friend.

Read more:
Wekiva Springs State Park

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Why bother with Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) Online Training?

For all their shortcomings, Microsoft provides one of the most palatable soft sells for products with MVA. It is also providing one of the widest selections of technical subject matter training from any IT vendor. In combination with white papers and TechNet, Microsoft Virtual Academy provides a great starting point for learning and/or review of Microsoft offerings.

For getting the greatest return on your time, in course descriptions look out for phrases like “Jump Starts” and the appropriate difficulty level (i.e. 100,200,300).

Some of the key benefits without logging into microsoftvirtualacademy.com are viewing free courses or downloading free E-books (http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/ebooks).

On the other hand, by associating a Microsoft account when logging into MVA, here are some key benefits;

1. User(s) can bookmark classes for later viewing by clicking on the ADD TO MY LEARNING PLAN radio button.

2. User(s) can track their progress and reprioritize.

3. Participants can print a completion certificate per course. I believe these make a nice fit for annual reviews.

4. Periodically get vouchers for new Microsoft exams when registering for Live Events.

Whether you are an IT profressional, hobbyist or just curious about technology, I would suggest exploring the various subjects categories available encompassing administration, development, and more.  Learning, I believe works best by inspiration. MVA definitely starts one down a rabbit hole of possibility, leaving a person wanting to know more. It’s just a question of how far you go to get your answers.

To create a Microsoft Account go to https://signup.live.com/  

To logon to MVA, visit www.microsoftacademy.com 

Tip, PowerShell SHIFT + TAB

So, using PowerShell for years now, last night while watching a course off microsoftvirtualacademy.com, I had come across a new tip. One that had made my heart flutter and awakening me from the edge of slumber. Anyone familiar with PowerShell had probably come across the ability to cycle through commands with TAB but, “How about cycling in reverse?”

Periodically, having to quickly TAB through GET- or SET- commands, usually had meant inadvertently skipping over the right entry. Then, you were left partially annoyed having to interrupt the search with  CNTRL + C

The remedy for this quandary for going back in time through PowerShell commands was simply utilizing SHIFT + TAB

That, I had found worth repeating few times.

SHIFT + TAB

SHIFT + TAB

SHIFT + TAB

ps