Category Archives: Adventure

Learning to Dive

Diving in BonaireThis is a short post on how I got to learn to dive and love it.

But first, reasons why I never wanted to learn how to scuba dive:

  • I’ve had a lifelong fear of water.
  • I was never a great swimmer.
  • I stepped in a crabs nest in four feet of water in Florida and the crabs hung on to my toes and one ripped off my little toenail. Yes, it’s true.
  • A sharks fin came up next to me while I was boogie boarding.

So the fears grew.

Then one day some friends invited me and my husband to Bonaire in the Caribbean. It’s a tiny island known for diving. It’s next to Curacao an Aruba in the Dutch Antilles. Just north of Venezuela. My husband was on board immediately. I figured I’d just snorkel there if I went. I mean how could I learn to dive?

water-1

Then I thought about it for a weekend. What am I going to do – be afraid my whole life of water? People dive every day. People of all sizes and ages. Maybe this is one thing I can get past. So I signed up for a two-weekend scuba course to get certified in open water. In a nutshell you read 500 pages of instructions and take multiple tests. You do a couple of dives in a pool and basically figure out how to make yourself buoyant. And how all your gears works and why a regulator is important.

Then the following weekend there is more reading and tests.

It was March 2006. And the challenge is you have to do four more dives and they are in the Puget Sound, in the town of Mukilteo by the docks. The air temperature was 42 degrees. The water temperature was 39 degrees. You’re in a dry suit so it doesn’t feel as cold in the water. However, I did feel like the Michelin woman.

If all I had to do was do a short little dive from the shore and get out that would have been easy. I can see Dungeness crab walking along the sea floor and sea stars and star fish. I’m nervous but I think I can do this. Actually, I can’t wait to get out of the water. I just want this craziness to be over.

Now comes the fun.

Part of the exam is in the water. There are several exercises so the instructor knows you can take care of yourself.  One of them is you have to take off your mask underwater and put it back on your face in front of the instructor. I tried to do this and freaked out. There’s no visibility. The water is cold. I’m fumbling. I feel like I’m choking. I start thrashing a little. I finally get my stupid mask back on. Somehow I passed.

The instructor pulls my husband aside and says he grappled with letting me get certified. I’m supposed to be comfortable with all the exercises and I’m not. We tell the instructor we’re going to Bonaire the following week and he feels better about letting me dive. “It’s a whole lot easier diving in warm water” he says.

If you’re a diver you may think all of this is not a big deal. Sometimes, the things in our heads and our fears are so much bigger that if feels like we’ve overcome something huge when we’re done. That’s how it felt to me.

The following week I went to Bonaire and did two dives a day for a week. It was phenomenal. Bonaire is also a huge kiteboarding destination. I highly recommend checking out Bonaire if you’re a diver. The tourism on the island is about diving. And a little bit of kiteboarding. But, mostly diving. Since then I’ve dived mostly in Maui. And I am done diving in cold water.

 

 

 

Stehekin, town of 50

Kayaking Lake Chelan Near Stehekin

Kayaking Lake Chelan Near Stehekin

At the north end of 55-mile Lake Chelan is a super remote tiny town called Stehekin with about fifty year-round residents. The stunning and tranquil scenery will stay with you for a long time. Who needs therapy when you can visit Stehekin.

You can’t get there from here

You can only get to Stehekin by hiking in via the Lake Shore Trail, your boat or the Lady of the Lake ferry.  And also by float plane (hundred bucks each way). It is 55 miles up lake from the small town of Chelan, Washington.  I’ve taken a ski boat and slowed down around some cliffs forty miles up it. There are petro glyphs on the huge slabs along the lake. They are so old from what I’ve researched that we do not even know how far back they were inscribed or by what indigenous peoples. Let’s just say they are old and this adds to the mystery.

And it’s a place so remote that the autocorrect on my Microsoft word wants to give me other options. There are no roads to it or from it that go anywhere except to the end – where there are a few remote cabins. And camp on your own via trails farther out of the town.

A place so remote they only got telephone service five years ago. And I don’t think they were jones-ing to get it. But it helps in emergencies.

stehekin-3Hi I’m Larry, and this is Darryl and this is my other brother Darryl

I’ve been there a few times. It’s nestled up against the mighty north cascades that divide the state between climates. In February I did a weekend snow shoe trip there with friends. The two hour ferry ride drops you in the town of Stehekin. You head up to one of the buildings to check in (rented an A-frame that sleeps six). We ask where we can rent the snowshoes. The woodsmen motifed clerk tells us we need to go to the building next door to rent the shoes. We walk over to the second building and see it’s the same clerk who checked us in has walked over to the 2nd building. He says “Can I help you?” I said yes you just told us to come over here to get our snow shoes. He asks us our name all over again and acts like he’s never seen us in his life even though he checked us in not five minutes prior. Ever watch Newhart in the 80s? Maybe you’ll understand the Darryl reference: http://youtu.be/TN6UAzYY8qg

Catch of a glimpse of white mountain goats

Catch of a glimpse of white mountain goats

We get our shoes and are told that a bus (turns out to be a really old bus) will give us a ride a few miles up the trail and drop us off to the snowshoe trail.

A couple hours later we stand in front of the lodge and the old bus pulls up. It’s the clerk from the check in and the snow shoe rental that is driving the bus. He says hello and asks where we’re from. We tell them who we are again and that he’s checked us in and that he rented show shoes to us.  He looks blank-faced and drives us a couple miles up. We’re dropped off at a trail in the middle of nowhere and the bus turns around since its at the end of nowhere. The wilderness is amazing.

See it by float plane

See it by float plane

So, what do you do when you get to Stehekin?

  • You don’t have to do anything; if you want you can just take it all in.
  • You can hike trails of varying skills. Easy to bun burner.  Snow shoe, cross country ski, fish, boat.
  • Relax, have an adult beverage on a lawn chair.
  • Check out more on Rainbow Falls.
  • Seek out wildlife. It’s there. Though bear sightings are frequent. And once a mama mule deer almost danced on my back when I unknowingly got too close to its fawn.

 

 

 

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