Monday, August 30, 2004
  learning to dive
So, as some of you know, I became a certified SCUBA diver this weekend. Yay! :) I compressed the whole thing pretty well - my first swimming lesson was 8/16 and I was a certified diver by 8/29. That wasn't my plan or anything, but everything clicked in the pool after a Friday lesson so I signed up for SCUBA on Saturday.

For those of you who aren't divers, to become certified through PADI, you take classes, have pool sessions, then go through four check-out dives. I had class Wednesday night, at which we went over the book which we had all read, then Thursday and Friday nights we had pool sessions. Saturday at 8:00, we met at the boat and went out...... into the ocean! I felt much like I did the first time I went skydiving, although not quite as quivery.

Basically, your pool sessions are practice for what you're going to do in the ocean -- taking your mask off and putting it back on, "emergency" ascension, using your buddy's alternate air source to breathe, navigation, etc.

I lucked out and both Saturday and Sunday were beautiful and sunny days with calm seas. On top of that, my instructor rocks -- he's a big, huge guy.. former US marshal.. who could be very intimidating if he didn't speak of not being able to spear grouper because "it'd be like killing your dog." We did our class at his house since it was so small and I was delighted to find it was crawling with animals - four cats, two dogs, and a ferret. Needless to say, I had a blast there. He also gave me my first Red Stripe. :) (Lots of firsts this month!)

There are so many things I like already about SCUBA. First, it's one thing you can do where you feel alone - which is rare, I think. I didn't see anyone during our dives that wasn't in our group. Try to feel alone in the Everglades, I dare ya. And it's quiet. You don't hear much besides your own breathing.

Descending and ascending are completely amazing.. especially the former because it's like you're slowly, slowly parachuting down into another world.. and since the sites were so different, you're not quite sure what you're going to find. All you see going down is blue, blue, blue. Once we got down, I saw a million beautiful fish and an ugly eel sitting with this little old-man mouth gaping (I don't mean "ugly" as an insult either -- I love eels!)...

During the last dive, it hit me that it was just like swimming in a huge aquarium -- there were shockingly beautiful fish everywhere. While other students were being tested, I had time to just stand (literally) around and look... or just swim a few feet and have amazing things come into view. Visibility wasn't so good, so what was just fuzzy blue became a school of big fish moving in unison by just swimming a few feet. It was amazing and it's nice to think that all that beauty is still there right now.

Now I'm just looking forward to going again. Look at this: My god, a shark!!! Can you imagine? That site has a lot of good pictures - check it out. And soon, I'll have housing for my digital camera, so I'll be able to take pictures too!

I've wanted to do this for years and I finally have.. I'm just slightly excited about getting back out there. :D Ed has a few things in mind, luckily, including going to see MANATEES in the Crystal River when it gets cooler outside.. OMG!!!
I'm Stacey. I'm a 31(!)-year-old Wisconsin girl living in sunny South Florida. The highlights in my life are my lovely boyfriend, my aloof cats, my adorable/adoring stepdogs, my two lumbering tortoises, select family members, being outside, being underwater, taking pictures, yadda yadda. Stay tuned for lots of babbling!

Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States


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Making a difference

A small boy lived by the ocean. He loved the creatures of the sea, especially the starfish, and he spent much of his time exploring the seashore.

One day the boy learned there would be a minus tide that would leave the starfish stranded on the sand.

When the tide went out, he went down to the beach, began picking up the stranded starfish, and tossing them back into the ocean.

An elderly man who lived next door came down to the beach to see what the boy was doing. Seeing the man's quizzical expression, the boy paused as he approached. "I'm saving the starfish!" the boy proudly declared.

When the neighbor saw all of the stranded starfish he shook his head and said: "I'm sorry to disappoint you, young man, but if you look down the beach, there are stranded starfish as far as the eye can see. And if you look up the beach the other way, it's the same. One little boy like you isn't going to make much of a difference."

The boy thought about this for a moment. Then he reached his small hand down to the sand, picked up another starfish, tossed it out into the ocean, and said: "Well, I sure made a difference for that one!"

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