Thu, 03 April 2008, 11:09 pm
6. Seriously Could U Bring enough Air (SCUBA)
Dad decided he would surprise Mike and me with early birthday presents. Available at the resort was a PADI Discover Scuba Diving program. This was an intro course where we watched a video and took some pool instruction before going on a real dive with an instructor. The first day we got the video program out of the way which, for me was like watching an in-flight airline safety video. I figure when I really need the information they’ll probably remind me how to put the mask around my head in the event of cabin depressurization, so let’s not sweat all of the details. We then went to get our gear and head to the pool.
Scuba involves a few things that are strange to the uninitiated. Perhaps the most perplexing to me were the BC (Boyancy Compensator) and the Regulator. The BC is a vest that holds the air tank to your back and inflates/deflates to ascend and descend in the water. The regulator is the set of tubes hooked to the tank that you breathe from, the back-up breather, and the air gauge that tells you how much air is left. Of course you must also fiddle with fins, a mask, a wet suit, a weight belt, and the all-important air tank to complete the ensemble. We got instructed on how to put it all together and then we hopped into the pool.
Once in the pool we had to learn all of the worst case scenarios first. What happens if your mask fills with water. How do you signal that you are out of air? What if your regulator falls out? How do you prevent your ears and lungs from imploding? You know…the truly enjoyable parts of Scuba that make you hop up and say “Hooray, I’m so glad that man figured out how to fake being a fish without evolving some gills.” We learned a few hand signals and it was time for my first taste of underwater breathing. What a rush!
We got going at 11:30am on day two by getting all of our gear and heading out to the excursion boat that would take us to the ocean reef. Our instructor told us we would be down for about 45 minutes. The air was cold that day with a 20 MPH wind whipping and some pretty good waves, but the water was warm. I was worried about remembering all that we had learned the day before and getting cold before our dive was over. Mike, on the other hand had his marriage to worry about. The cold weather made his fingers shrink and his wedding band loosened up. Rather than leave some booty at the the bottom of the ocean he decided to clip it to the boat. The good news was that if he encountered a mermaid she wouldn’t be scared away by the symbol of matrimony. hmmmm….
Despite our jitters we managed a smile in anticipation of warm water and a great reef view.
The next thing we learned was how to jump off of the boat and into the water. Once we had all taken the plunge it was time to head down. As each of us went down, we equalized our ears. Mike had a little trouble getting equalized, and Dad seemed to be floating off to China after letting go of the rope. I felt pretty good as I went down, but all I wanted to do was stick close by the instructor. When we finally got comfortable, one of the instructors snapped this shot of us.
The dive itself was spectacular. It didn’t take long for us to feel at ease in 10-15 feet of water. The reef was breath taking with all sorts of plant and marine life. I took a few shots with the disposable underwater camera, but it can’t do the experience justice.
45 minutes went by in a heartbeat. When we got back on the boat we were all tired and happy. A few days later Dad and I were each battling a water-plugged ear which was a small price to pay for a great new experience.
7. Workouts in boat shoes are not advisable
Let’s get this out of the way first. Tricia did not pack my sneakers. There I said it. Therefore it is undeniable truth that it was her fault I had no suitable athletic footwear on vacation. So, after I let it be known how annoyed I was that I had no sneakers to work out in, I decided that I would pick from my remaining footwear to hit the gym. We were on vacation so technically I didn’t need to work out. However, my body was protesting my buffet addiction and was aching to burn off just a bit of it.
Even worse was the only socks I packed that would go above my ankle and protect my foot were black. I’m positive that I got dirty looks when I entered the gym because I looked like this guy I met on vacation a few years ago.
So I ran my usual 3 miles in the loafers and black socks on 3 separate occasions. I developed a large blister and a well deserved complex about what a Tool I looked like.
8. It does rain in the Bahamas
Here was the view from our airplane as we approached Freeport on March 22.
In the month of March Freeport is supposed to get a total of 1.57″ of rain. We had that much rain in the first 4 hours of our stay. By the time Monday night rolled around we at least doubled that rainfall estimate. The best part was that it beat the 25 degrees and snow we had left behind in Rochester. The rain really didn’t damper our fun, and by Friday we had enjoyed 3 perfect Caribbean days of sun and beach fun.
9. Non-umbrella drinks are not welcome here
It is common knowledge that you don’t go to the islands to drink dirty martinis. For me, the new experience was the volume of variants to be had. Here’s some of what I sampled:
- Sex on the Beach
- Rum Runner
- Bahama Mama
- Poison Ivy
- Green Monster
- Pina Colada
- Strawberry Daiquiri
- and my personal favorite…Dirty Water
Even more fun was ordering all of the above “Virgin” for the kids. One of the highlights of the trip they recite to every adult who asks is “We had lots of cool drinks like Sex on the Beach”. D’Oh! Why can’t they remember ‘Bahama Mama’?
10. I figured out how to use my Canon camera’s stitch function.
It works reasonably well. The photo below was composited from 8 stitch pics on the beach in front of the hotel. I had to do some blending between the photos to make one continuous scene, but it is still pretty cool. Click and Enjoy.
There you have it. A synopsis of our Bahamas Family vacation through the lens of 10 new things that I learned. Thanks again to my parents for inviting us on the trip and to Lindsey, Mike and Lily for some great memories. I can’t wait til we come up with our next vacation. The tour guide within me is ready for another round.