Monday, April 28, 2008

Florida Trip II

“My boss wants me to pick up a motorcycle in Fort Pierce, Florida.”
“When do we leave?” I asked over the phone.
“We’ll leave on Thursday for sure but earlier if I can get off work.”
A trip to Florida and we don’t have to pay for gas, a dream come true. We loaded up an E-250 van with our dive gear and I crawled into a Toyota Corolla. Six foot three and driving with hand controls and no cruise control. We got underway about six on Wednesday night, April 18th. One motorcycle pick up had turned into a car and motor delivery in South Carolina and a motorcycle engine delivery in Delaware, Ohio.
Three-thirty in the morning, we crawled into a hotel in Virginia off I-77. The place stunk like smoke and when we left at seven in the morning, I felt like I was walking in a smoker’s lung. We delivered the car and the motor and then headed on south on I-95. We stopped in mid-Florida and took a break before stopping in Ft. Pierce to drop off the trailer we were dragging and then headed to my friend Don’s place in Hollywood. We ate at a nice outdoor cafĂ© and then headed further south to Key Largo.
We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, boy were we smart when we left, and arrived at Capt. Slate’s Atlantic Dive Center early Saturday morning. We got onboard the Star Fish Enterprise II with our gear for the ride to the Spiegel Grove. The water was perfect, seventy-five degrees to the bottom, flat seas and little current.
I went off first and headed up the drift line to the mooring buoy and the George and I got separated. He went down a different buoy that the boat drifted. I had to get back on the boat and wait for the next dive. I wasn’t happy at all.
The second dive, we moved up to another mooring ball and had a better dive. I bottomed out in the well deck at 121 feet and we toured the gantry cranes. So they weren’t the best dives and we didn’t get to see the front of the ship but it was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to go back.
When we got back to the dock around noon, we were looking for something to do besides sleep. A group was going out on a twilight cruise. George and I signed up for the three tank dive and ate lunch off our grill and then loaded the boat. The tide was out and boat was about three feet down from the edge of the dock. They moved the gangplank and I hopped out of the chair onto it. A guy held my legs and I walked down the plank on my hands and popped into the chair on the other side of the gunnels.
We dove on the Benwood, an old wreck with lots of life on it and then Horseshoe Reef. I got an hour out of the tank and still had almost a thousand pounds of air left. We dove at the Horseshoe again for a night dive and got back to the dock around nine.
After packing our gear and tipping the boat crew, George drove us to Marathon. He had called Abyss Dive Center about a ride on the boat Sunday morning but didn’t make arrangements for staying the night someplace. We ended up sleeping in the back of the van after hearing that the only hotel room in Marathon was going for $409 a night. It was a long, hot, humid night on a steel floor.
The dive boat broke down right after we exited the channel, a cooling hose blew off. We waited for a half hour for a makeshift hose and then went on our way. The boat broke down four more times for the same thing. The capt wasn’t very happy with the boat owner. We dove two reefs and after a half hour on each one, we got bored and went back to the boat.
We met with Don and Scott at Cocomos on Holiday Key and drank a few adult beverages and ate lunch then headed for Ft. Pierce.
In the morning, George and Chris packed the van full of motorcycle parts and a Norton bike and then loaded a Ducati Super Sport on the trailer and we headed for Tampa, we picked up a Cagiva and then made to Ponce de Leon before getting a hotel room. Morning found us at Vortex Springs, I tried out a Dive Rite TransPac and fell in love with it. We explored the cave on the first dive and then explored the basin and cavern on the second. All too soon, it was time to pack up and head home. We pressed on to Paducah, Kentucky where we spent the night. We made it home about noon, Wednesday the 23rd of April. We were tired and sun burnt but it was well worth every minute. Next time we wont drive that stupid van though. Ten states, seven days

Friday, April 11, 2008

Winter Sports Clinic

The National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic was held the first week of April and 491 disabled vets made it to Snowmass Colorado to tame the mountain. We had ten to twenty inches of deep powder and they said this is the best skiing in 22 years of the clinic. I enjoyed myself in the deep powder and a bucket that fit me really well. Way to many margarittas were consumed and if you think its a foofoo drink and your a man because you drink beer, well one word for you Tequila! Over all it was a great time and I cant wait to go back next year! With my own ski.
That snow on the table fell overnight.