Sunday, January 16, 2005
  winter diving in florida, part 1
or: i've never been so happy to have to pee

this weekend after ed & i finished work, we drove FIVE hours to williston, florida, so that we could dive devil's den on saturday morning.

we arrived at about 11 p.m. and found our cabin. after we put our things down, i opened the door to see what There's Nothing Outside looked like. instead, i found a cat. a big, orange one. he walked in like he owned the place. i christened him garfield and gave him some of ed's beef jerky.

ed had to try to brush his teeth around this. garfield really, really liked the running water.

this picture was taken within 10 minutes of this cat walking in our door. ed was in bed with a book pretty soon after we got in and this cat was snuggling right up with him. pretty comfortable little guy, huh? this cat did the happys-paws thing violently, pushing his little arms out forcefully, claws unsheathed. at one point in the night, i heard a thump. "what was that?" "the cat," ed answered. the next day, he explained that garfield had happy-pawed himself against ed's back and pushed himself right off the bed. hee!

the next morning, i made garfield some oatmeal and we took a quick tour of the grounds. cats were everywhere!

this is a cat on an ice-cream machine.

hi ed!

we met matt and andrea for the first time, who planned this whole trip, then went to gather our gear and get in the water. while registering, i found out that garfield was actually "thor".

hi thor!

this is devil's den, from above. just a hole in the ground!

these are the stairs that you hike up to get out.

we did a dive in the cavern, with a number of other divers and the biggest catfish i've ever seen. i spent the first few minutes on a platform, trying to make sure i wouldn't 1) sink or 2) float up once i left the platform. silt and rocks were neither something i wanted to make contact with. finally, i grabbed onto ed's hand and we took a little tour of the place with our flashlights. as expected, we saw lots of rock and lots of fishes.

diving is still very new for me - and i'm not exactly comfortable yet - and this was definitely a new environment for me. lucky for me, i was with ed and he held my hand through the whole thing - literally. i can't remember the last time i had to hold someone's hand because i was scared. it worked, though. :)

devil's den

to calm my violently chattering teeth, ed and i ran back to the cabin to take advantage of the hot water - cold, wet wetsuits and wet hair are not exactly comfortable when it's 50-60 degrees outside. ay de mi!

we came back out in dry clothes and enjoyed the afternoon with matt, andrea, their friends JC and sofia, and andrea's parents, aldo and maria elena, who brought food for the grill. i was happy to have met everyone, and not just because they brought oreos.

this is the picnic area outside the entrance to devil's den. yes, people are wearing coats.

matt and jc tried to start a fire.

when they gave up, some little girls took over.

they were equally unsuccessful.

this is me a bit after our dive. yes, i'm wearing gloves. and four layers up top.

we went back to the cabin for a nap, then went out on the town (wal-mart), and made an early night of it with the alarm set for 5:30. i agreed to this ungodly hour because i was promised manatees. disappointingly, thor never appeared. he probably found some non-vegetarian campers who had something better to offer than oatmeal and bread.

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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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