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The special thing about our trip yesterday, compared to many of the boat trips we go on, was that it was on a different boat, a slightly larger and more powerful boat, and thus we were able to head to farther dive sites. Our group also filled the boat, so we knew and trusted (for the most part) every person aboard.

We headed far south for the first dive, south of Point Lobos, in the Point Conception. The swells were a bit big–12ft–and they weren’t too bad in the bay when we were heading into them, but as we left Monterey Bay and turned south, they were coming at us sideways.

I went to the doctor Thursday to get the scopolamine patch to combat sea sickness, and having looked at the wave models that were predicting storm threshold-sized waves, I was very glad I did. On the way down, there were one or two moments when I had a bit of nausea, but overall I felt really normal. Also no noticeable side-effects from the drug, either.

Our first dive was at a site called Honeymoon, and it was a gorgeous pinnacle starting at about 110 feet. We meant to go down in a group with Nate and Shelly and Rae and Aaron, but Rae was underweighted and had to go back to the boat, and Nate and Shelly ended up waiting for Greg, who was helping Bob with a leaky suit. That left us sitting in the water waiting, so eventually we went down.

We followed the anchor line down to abut 110 feet–the captain had told us he tried to drape the anchor over the pinnacle, but it had clearly bumped over the pinnacle. Luckily, it had snagged a small rock and stuck. We swam around the front of the pinnacle for awhile, looking for stuff in all the nooks and crannies. The visibility had opened up beautiful below 70-80 feet.

There were a lot of rock fish out, as well as a bunch of Monterey Dorids. The kelp is fading with the oncoming winter, but there were still a good number of plants out, waving in the surge that followed us down to about 80 feet before abandoning us. There were also patches of metridiums, but they were all closed in the swell and tucked down tight.

After we got back on board, the sea sickness started to hit a number of people–there was not quite enough room along the sides of the boat at one point, which was pretty gross. A lot of these were people that don’t normally get seasick, and I was grateful to the scopolamine that I felt normal.

We motored back up the coast to Carmel for the second dive, and dove just offshore of Pebble Beach at a place called either Outer Pinnacle or Pescadero Pinnacle. About 10-15 minutes before we hit our hour-ish surface interval, I started to feel a bit queasy. Not horribly, but noticeably. As soon as the “pool was open”, John strapped me into my BCD (looking around for the buckles and what not was not something I was capable of doing) and all but threw me overboard to get me off the boat.

He followed shortly thereafter, and we descended along with Bob, Matt and Nate. Shelly was sick, as was Kasey, so there was a lot of buddy switching going on.

We dropped down onto the pinnacle around 70-80 feet, and just hung out in one little area. I saw my first Monterey cowry–a Chesnut Cowry. I excitedly showed John, only to realize, when I started looking, that they were all over. It was pretty cool. There were also some gorgeous painted greenling fish, and a beautiful Hermissenda nudibranch. More kelp filtered the light down into a greenish cathedral light setting, and the “atmosphere” of the dive was just gorgeous.

There was a lot of surge movement during the dive, but the key to surge is to just go with them. First you’re here, then you’re 6 feet to the left, then you’re here, then you’re 6 feet to the left. That’s 6 foot surge for you. And you’re not going to hit that rock, because the water will lift you up and over with it. The key is just to not fight it. And if you’re swimming with it, kick while it’s pushing you forward, then just pause while it pushes you back. You’ll get where you’re going eventually. So there was just a bit of movement during the dive, but we still could hold still long enough to look at the small stuff.

Around 20-25 minutes, I was pretty cold. The water was a balmy 51°F, and my toes and fingers were losing feeling. However, I knew going up meant getting back on the boat, and that wasn’t something I was eager to do. So we tooled around until 30-35 minutes before heading back up. Plus, the time underwater was nice.

Lunch was served back on the boat, and I think that less than half the boat ate it. There was soup and sandwich makings, and many of us, me included, kindly if forcefully requested that those with food stay down in the cabin area and leave those of us to whom food was stomach churning outside in the fresh air. Most people complied, but I did discover, much to my horror, that my chosen perch was just below where one of the boat divemasters had stashed his sandwich. No wonder I couldn’t avoid the smell of cheese and meat and mustard. Ugh.

Our third dive was just north of the second, off the rocks of the houses that are north of Pebble Beach. It was at a dive site called Lingcod reef, and this was the site that convinced me to spend the money to buy John and myself drysuits. When we first dove here, the water was a cool 47°F, and the air temp was even lower and mixed with rain. It was a beautiful dive, but we drove home with the heater on high and never even got warm, let alone broke a sweat. This was followed by turning the heater on high and piling all our blankets on the bed, then huddling. It took us hours to get warm–this was likely slightly more than mild hypothermia. So we decided we needed better exposure suits if we were going to continue this sport.

Our dive Saturday was gorgeous. Still chilly, but not as bad as the first time. We followed Bob, Greg and Nate down, exploring among the rocks. We found a small little swim-through, and lots of strawberry anemones and little orange polyps all over the rocks. I came a cross a couple of abalone shells, likely abandoned by octopi after they were done feeding on the contents. One was not much bigger than a quarter, but I accidentally broke it while I was holding it at some point. The rest survived, though, and will be run through our dishwasher soon.

We crossed a sand channel after awhile, and headed into some kelp beds, where the filtered light was beautiful. Not much to see but kelp fish and snails, but still lovely. When we turned around, Greg apparently didn’t have his bearings quite right. Eventually, about the time we all had a couple minutes left of no-deco time, we ascended despite not seeing the anchor line for the boat. Bob and Nate popped up to the surface after our safety stop, and John and I followed. The boat was only 200 yards away or so. John dropped back down to tell Greg, who was finishing his stop, and they two of them did eventually find the anchor line. In the meantime, Bob and Nate and I swam to the boat through the kelp on the surface, doing the infamous and exhausting “kelp crawl”, where you basically swim on your stomach, using your arms to push the kelp beneath you. It’s an awesome workout, let me tell you.

Magically, once back on the boat, I was fine. And thank goodness because we had to get back to Monterey. The only bit of queasiness was when the crew set our a platter of oreos and my stomach protested that while it felt fine, it wasn’t ready for food. So the journey back was fairly uneventful. The wind had shifted around to blow from the northeast enough that the ride was smoother, and even the sick people among us felt better.

We probably didn’t get back to the dock until 3pm or so, so it was a long day (we had a dinner date and didn’t get to bed until 10pm), but it was gorgeous diving, and lots of fun with a few exceptions. I love warm water diving in many ways–warm, easy of diving (not as much gear or heavy weight), many colorful things–but Monterey diving on a good day rivals anywhere else I’ve ever been. And this was one of those days. Well worth the 4am wake-up and the slight seasickness.

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Well, that was certainly more exciting that the World Series!

Last night I got to experience my first California earthquake. Woot!

We were in class, taking DEMP, an emergency first aid class I highly recommend for any professional diver, and the shop just started shaking, as if someone was running/pounding across the upstairs floor. I actually thought it was that at first, until Matt said, “Well, that’s an earthquake.”

Afterwards, we helped pick up around the shop, and made sure all the other students in the other classes and in the pool area were okay. Then we started up class again.

It was pretty cool, actually. I remember the noise, and the way it seemed to ripple across the store, although the ripple in my memory is going the wrong direction from the epicenter, so maybe that’s just a figment of my imagination. It gave me a nice dose of adrenaline, but that’s about it.

That, in and of itself, was quite nice.

I got up way early in the morning to go to the doctor, and then had a crazy day running around at work. I finished up two experiments, the data from which I wanted to include in my talk, the slides of which are due today. Slacker? Naw. That’s the life of a grad student. Crazy.

Since I’d had a doctor’s appointment, I’d parked in the really close parking garage. And of course, I walked all the way to the far one, and to the third floor, before remembering. At least I had a nice chat wiht my parents during the back and forth walking.

Without that extra adrenaline, I might not have made it all the way through class.

Anyhoo, Happy Halloween to all those of you taking kids out or waiting at home for them. I’m still at work, so sadly, although our porch light is (hopefully) on, there’s no one at home to hand out candy. More for John to eat, I suppose.

Also, I’ve signed up for NaBloPoMo, so wish me luck! I thought it would be a nice encouragement. Because, seriously, I need more to do in life right now. As if work plus a departmental retreat, an approaching committee meeting, football season, and basketball season weren’t enough.

Gotta save my words for November now!

And apparently, I lied well enough that even I believed it, although I will say that sometimes fooling yourself is easier than fooling other people.

I may or may not have pretty much had a complete breakdown last night, in front of multiple people, at the Dive Shop. John’s coworkers, our particular staff members, random other staff members, random customers, random people in general.

Yes, I was the person walking around saying she was fine and then breaking into tears.

So I threw up my hands and admitted defeat and went home to John. He’d balked at going, since he wasn’t having fun with AI training, and I think that may have been the straw that broke my the camel’s back.

After explaining everything to Greg and some of John’s coworkers, including Matt, who’s been gone and missed the beginning of the drama where work imploded on me, I went home to John and we talked.

Apparently, he’s feeling too pushed to do AI, and I have to admit that I’m probably the one who’s been pushing the hardest. I know he tends to sit back and do nothing unless forced to or it’s fun, like computer games, and I guess I felt like if I just pushed him through it, he’d have it done and it wouldn’t matter any longer. And frankly, I wanted to get through it ASAP and have the company.

So we’re going to take it slower, because I do want to do it with him. We’re supposed to be helping Greg with a class tonight–no idea if John will want to go, despite saying he would last night. Today he jibbed when I asked, so we’ll see.

I’m preparing myself for a ‘no’ and crossing my fingers for a ‘yes’.

And this isn’t going to be my week.

Not only did I break down last night, fairly completely, but today I poured a full bacteria culture overmyself. That was fun, and necessitated an immediate shower and laundry, as well as scraping most of my work plans for the day so I could go home to do said shower and laundry. Grrrrrrrr.

Oh well, if the chlorine in the pool can kill the bacteria from all the little kid poop that gets in there during swim lessons, it can probably kill the bacteria we use to grow plasmids, right?

Right?

I am, apparently, never allowed out in the daytime again. Sort of like my dad is never allowed out in cold weather again. He broke an ankle two winters ago, and a rib this past winter.

Me? I just go from white to lobster red in the space of several seconds. Take yesterday for example: We went sailing with Matt and Kasey, and I wasn’t out in the sun unprotected more than the time it took to apply sunscreen, starting with my face and working my way down to my toes. In that time, I somehow managed to burn the tops of my thighs a horrendous painful red. I know it was then, as my shoulders and back are slightly burnt, but not as bad, and thus it was while I was waiting for John to do my back that I undoubtedly burned my legs.

Therefore, he has banned me from ever going outside again. Unless the sun is on the other side of the earth and I’m wearing sunscreen plus a protective layer of 19 layers of clothing around my body, of course. Possibly also surrounded by metal or some such requirement.

Anyways, it’s our anniversary weekend, so we’ve mostly spent it indoors being lazy. Saturday we did nothing except some gardening and reading and general laziness. We also went to see Ocean’s Thirteen, which was great. Not as good as the first one, but still good. More twists that I expected, and since I have trouble remembering incidental things that later become very important, I had to ask John multiple times why somebody was suddenly so prominant. Ah well.

On the way home we had an enlightening discussion over the first movie. In my mind, Danny Ocean (George Clooney) goes to Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon) and asks him to be part of the team, saying he was recommended and trusted by X, and Linus replies “Father’s are like that.” Danny didn’t know X was Linus’ father. Anyways, John swears it wasn’t like that, with the father not actually recommending Linus, as he doesn’t want Linus trading on his name. Which is also a line, but I do believe that he also recommends Linus. Anyways, I’ve seen the movie waaaay more times than he has, so there! We’ll go with my version, as I’m clearly in charge around here.

Yesterday it was our ill-fated adventure out with Matt and Kasey. We sailed from Brisbane harbor up to the Giant’s stadium, where they were playing the Dodgers. On the way back, the wind picked up, and we were heeled out to about 20°. I definitely “eek!”ed a couple of times when the boat went from flat to leaning, but it was a lot of fun. John grew up sailing, and I think it was great for him to get back into it and help out Matt and Kasey. I just sat and acted as dead weight, but had fun, too.

Today, in grand celebratory tradition of our actual 2nd anniversary, we went to….the DMV. Terribly romantic, I know, but it had to be done. We registered our new car, and then went and promised to pay the insurance company a heinously large amount of money on top of what we already pay them. Then, finally, we went to our favorite breakfast place for a very, very, very late breakfast.

Now the plan is to be lazy again, possibly going to one of the small national parks around here, like East Pinnacles or something, and then making a tasty dinner.

Not a bad way to celebrate two years of marriage, if I do say so myself. Of course, it would help if I didn’t look like a lobster…

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