Please DO Touch the Reef!

How often do you hear those words, eh?  Well those are our action verbs for the next two days, as Team IVS connects with the Coral Whisperer himself, Ken Nedimyer, and we work together to help restore the Staghorn and Elkhorn coral populations on the Key Largo reef system.

But before we get into that, let me make a confession.  I decided today was the day that I needed to come clean, and be honest and open with our readers.  I am considering entering into a 12-step program!

Now the wheels are turning, aren’t they?  Well imagine me sitting in a little circle of folding chairs, in the back room of a church or some other meeting place, and when the facilitator calls on me, I stand, perhaps a little cough to clear the throat, and announce, to the world….”Hello, my name is Dave, and I am an…….. adrenalin-holic!” There, I feel better already, past that critical first step known as denial.

Now you wonder, how did I end up in this church meeting room, sitting in that circle of folding chairs?   Well it came to me this morning, as I prepared for, and then actually headed to the airport for our trip to Key Largo.  I had an earlier than usual flight, departing at 8:45, and as usual, a ton of stuff on my desk that was all screaming for attention.  So after a weekend of Dutch Springs and multiple reef club speaking engagements, my Monday to-do list sorta resembled a cheap toilet…backing up!  So I spent the day being as efficient as possible, meeting with three different contractors on site, two hour meeting with our website designer, hundred or so phone calls, lots of review with Bev and the staff, crunching through my to-do list and crossing things off, working, working working….then an  instructor development class all evening, and as we break that up, it is 11’ish.  I’ve got an 8:45 flight in the morning so I am thinking that perhaps an all-nighter is in order here, crank through the list, get more caught up, pile up even more things in Bev’s to-do basket!  So I get into it, working through the night, stop for a wee bit of a nap, thinking what’s left on my list to do…..pack scuba gear, pack clothes, among a few other things.  Wake back up at 3:30, more time to get things done, so I crank on.  Yeah, plenty of time left to pack, not to worry.

Hmmm….5:00 now…yeah, still time to clean out more emails, maybe edit an on line photo album or two…..yeah, still ok….ok, maybe I should take a look at my dive gear.  So where is my gear?  Holy smokes, I broke down my setup two weeks ago and converted over to an all-Hollis rig two weeks ago.  Then, when I wasn’t looking, John Glo took apart my system and set it up for Joyce who wanted to go Hollis too.  So, I go to my gear locker and what awaits me?  A few odd d-rings, and a buckle or two.  No backplate, no wing, no harness.  Geeeez! OK, dig a little deeper into the locker, here’s an old backplate & harness, OK, here’s one of those old ‘H’ brand wings, yeah I can manage with this. So let’s put it all together, yep, looking like a diver, and it’s still only 5:50 now.  Looking at the clock, I am doing the math….depart at 8:45, checked baggage cut-off is 8:00, so allow 1/2 hour to drop the car off at remote parking and get shuttled in, ok, add another half hour for safety, allow 45 minutes for the run to the airport…OK, need to leave by 6:15.  Holy smokes!  I should start packing!  Grab a bag, answer another email or two, start tossing some things in, how many t-shirts?  How many changes of underwear?   OK, add a nice shirt or two, some toiletries, all good.  Now, sweep all the unfinished paperwork off the desk into a bag, pack up the laptop, pack up the rental gear and products that I have been assigned to transport to the Keys, load the 5 bags into the truck.  Yikes, it’s 6:28 now……..cutting into our safety margin big time!  You can start to see the russian roulette game playing out here, making a schedule as tight as possible, knowing the last minute adrenalin rush that will ultimately come as I shave the clock down to the last few ticks.

So, one last potty break before I stroll leisurely out to the truck, and start to head down to the airport.  Hmmm..traffic is Harleysville is a little heavy,,,yo, how did I get behind this school bus?  Man oh man, that wasn’t in the plan. OK, ok, breath deep, keep it moving forward……….how many more kids can possibly live between me and the friggin’ turnpike entrance?   Yellow flashing lights, red flashing lights…..ok, start again…..finally, here it is..swing down the ramp, trying to choose the best lane, ok this one looks good..commit….OK …. now the traffic is looking thick ahead…darn construction…hmmm…pick  a lane, flex a little jacked-up Dodge truck muscle…gain a spot or two,..thinking this traffic was also not in the plan!   Cutting way into my safety allowance here….traffic is so slow….don’t they understand????   I’ve got a flight to catch!  Well now I am approaching the ramp to I-95, and I am thinking, since the clock is showing 7:45, that parking the car before checking the bags might be a terrible idea.  So I blast up to the airport, more slow-pokes to deal with…finally whipping in to the Delta skycap station, squeezing in to cut off the hotel shuttle and it’s load of passengers…..I jump out, and look around…man, none of my home-boys are working today, meaning I will actually have to show ID before they punch me into the system.  More time wasted….”Hurry those fingers up, young man” I direct, as he is yacking away with his counterpart “we’ve got to get these bags checked in!”.  “Well what time is your flight” he asks, as the clock ticks to 7:58.  “Please”, I implore, “we are down to the wire here”.  Finally he finds me, and as the boarding passes print out at 7:59, he comments “wow, you just made it”.  Thank you stating the obvious, genius.  And with one minute to spare in my baggage check in, a perverse smile comes to my face, knowing once again, I made it just under the wire.  OK, that celebration is a quick one, cause I still have a car to park, and we’ll be boarding in 15 minutes!  So I pull out, run down the highway, past the most obvious close lots, to the slightly cheaper one that is of course further away…heck, we’ll be boarding in 7 minutes now, I have time….park the car, damn, where’s that bus, OK, jump on, “I’m ready” I say, and he says “we have to pick up one or two more”.  That wasn’t in the plan either!!!  Finally, 5 minutes into the boarding process, I pull up to the airport, jump out and run the security gauntlet.  Thank goodness the ratio of blue shirts to paying passengers is favorable, and I pass quickly, except, once again, that mysterious video camera and housing I am carrying requires a closer inspection.  Well, recognizing the time factor, I opted to just suck up and let them once again swab my camera housing clean, making sure that no explosives had been put inside since they swabbed it last week.  I must admit I have the cleanest camera housing around, thanks to all the swabbing by the TSA.

The flights south were uneventful, and finally I am in Miami.  Now I am not one to rush the guys in baggage, so I head over to the Delta Crown Room for a bit of hydration and to check email.  Now my phone starts to come alive with texts from my cohorts Butch Loggins and Ray Graff, who are anxiously awaiting me in baggage claim.  “Are my bags there yet?” I respond, and they send back “no”.  “OK, text me when they show up!”.  This goes back and forth a few more times, and finally the pressure becomes too much for me to fully enjoy the complimentary cocktails.  OK, OK, here I come.  Good news is by the time I got there, my bags had arrived and the boys had them under control!  Great team work!

So we board the shuttle and head over to the rental car outfit.  Time to negotiate a better deal on a bigger set of wheels!  So, in true Tijuana fashion, they start high, I start low, we banter back and forth, get the manager involved, throw some customer loyalty BS on the pile, and finally seal the deal.  A $700 brand new minivan for the week, for $350, including taxes and fees – sweet!

On the road south now, next stop Key Largo (almost).  As we pass through Homestead, we are plenty ahead of schedule for tonight’s 7:00 lecture on Coral Reef Restoration, taking place at Amoray Dive Resort.  Ken Nedimyer is bringing his staff to get our group ready for the work we have planned for tomorrow.  All systems go, everything on track, plans are set, what could change now?

Well, let’s just say we decide to stop in at Pontunes Tiki Bar, located at the base of Jewfish Creek Bridge, on the way into Key Largo.  And as we’re sitting at the bar, enjoying some drinks and munchies, we notice a pretty snazzy pirate ship tied up alongside the bar.  What’s up with the boat, we ask, and the barmaid, Linda Long, starts to tell us about the ship and how the owner uses to run evening sunset cruises and eco-tours.  On top of that she starts to admire my Breast Cancer pin, and turns out she is a cancer survivor herself.  Well hugs all around, and as quick as that, she is wearing my pin.  Cool!

All of a sudden Ray, of all people, says “Why don’t we hold our lecture here tonight?”  “Gee Ray, I don’t know, that’s a lot to pull off in a hour or so that we have before the meeting starts” I say, being the conservative sort that I am.  Where does Ray come up with this stuff, I am thinking.  Butch wisely chooses to remain on the sidelines here, but Ray is adamant “Boy are these guys gonna love this idea!” OK, OK, so I pick up my phone and give Ken a call, and he is OK if the meeting moves.  So now we tell Rick, the owner of Pontunes, to hold the boat, cause we’re coming back with our crew!

Into the car we jump, and fly on down to Amoray.  Walking in the front door, it’s quick hugs and handshakes all around, and then we announce the meeting has been moved to a different place at a different time.  You would have sworn we had three heads the way the Amoray staff was looking at us!  “We can’t do that”, they said, “everyone knows where the meeting is supposed to be”.  Little did they know they would have to try a lot harder to derail this idea train that Ray had hung the IVS flag on.  “Nope, it’s cool”, I said, “let’s just get a hold of everyone and get them down to the pirate ship!”  So, after some grumbling, shaking of heads and other expected reactions, the staff knew that IVS had officially landed, and that life in Key Largo, as they normally know it, was about to be turned upside down.

Eventually the crowd started to gather at the resort, and we sent the first couple of carloads up to hold the boat for us.  We had to wait til the last pokey puppies showed up, and then get them up top speed, into the last car, and off to the boat.  Unfortunately, the boat had to leave to get the cruise started, but not to worry, the bar had a motor launch standing by waiting to shuttle us out to the ‘Queen Anne’s Revenge’ as the pirate ship was known.  So we piled in, and raced out to intercept the mother ship like a bunch of Somalian pirates.  We caught up to it and fired a line onto the vessel, and the crew immediately surrendered to us, allowing the rest of our crew to board without incident.  We sailed off into a glorious sunset, perfect combination of breeze and warm early summer air to make the evening even more memorable.  At first the plan was to gather in the ship’s galley for the presentation, but the night was so nice we just opted to wait til we returned to the dock and do it there.  The cruise was uneventful, well, except for that part where Dave Hartman, working the crowd in his usual manner, reached into his wallet for a business card, and overlooked the fact that he was sitting on a ship’s railing, with his butt over the sea.  Ker-splash went the wallet and the captain immediately launched a man (‘s wallet) overboard drill, bringing our one hundred foot of ship around on our course and all eyes were on the water, trying to see Dave’s billfold.  After two passes the black wallet on the black water under the blackening sky was given up for lost, and we headed back to port!

Once there, we headed to the restaurant, and enjoyed a wonderful presentation over food and drinks, given by Ken and his staffers, Andy & Katie.  Everyone finally headed home to rest up and prepare for the next days activities at the coral nursery.  Well, almost everybody…..cause our boy Ray realized he was missing his carry-on bag, and after a few frantic phone calls, found he had left it at the rental car place.  Sooooooo….at 11:00 p.m., Ray and I jumped in the car and headed north to Miami, moving quick cause the rental office closes at midnight!  (sensing some more adrenalin here?).

So we head up Route 1, cruising through Homestead,  onto the turnpike, motor humming, on track to make the closing time, traffic is good.  Exits are zipping by, we look to be good by at least 10 to maybe 15 minutes before the bewitching hour, keep moving, no time to stop for libations or bodily functions.  Finally we are at the airport exit, and we pull out the directions.  First turn OK, second one, good still.  Third turn….ruh roh….construction cones completely across the highway.  Dang, let’s turn here and do an end around….up the side street…equally closed down….ok, this isn’t funny, I think there’s a back way…we head there, cones across the road but no witnesses, so we get out, and unofficially re-open the road.  To no avail, two blocks up, the road ends in a deep trench (OK, maybe those cones were a good idea!) so we head back, letting ourselves back out through the cones, and for the sake of the next guy, we put them back in place.  Just then we look up and realize we are not alone here, our actions are being observed by the ever-watchful eye of the Miami Police.  The cop rolls up slowly, with a fair degree of suspicion of what these two guys are doing here in the middle of the night, moving construction barriers.  Well turns out he’s a diver, and understands the need to have your regulator not spend the night in the auto rental office, so he escorts us down another closed road, and sneaks us right into the gate!  Honks of the horns and waves, and once again, fate has smiled on us, as it is 5 minutes after midnight but a late-arriving customer kept them from locking up!  

Finally, Ray’s errant regulator bag in hand, we head back to Key Largo, getting our week off to a rousing start with a 2:00 a.m. bed time.  The first of many, I am sure.  Since there are four of us here tonight, including Alex Mathie from New Jersey, we opted to just bunk in room #7, giving us two beds up and two down.  Alex had arrived first, putting his claim on one of the upstairs beds.  Ray, catching Butch not paying attention for a moment, made sure his bag was on the second bed upstairs, sealing Butch’s fate having to share the downstairs room with me and my (rumored but not yet confirmed) snoring.  Now I’m not sure if  they are collaborating on this story, but Butch claims he awoke during the night, aroused by the gentle melody of my ‘night sounds’, and started to yell at me to turn over, knowing, from experience, that, if I did snore (remember, not confirmed) that I was more likely to do so on my back, so turning onto my side usually took care of things.  But, to Butch’s dismay, I was already on my side!  Not too much can be done at this point, so just put another pillow over your head and tough it out!  Meanwhile, over breakfast, Ray comments that he woke up cause someone left the downstairs bathroom exhaust fan on, so he came down to turn it off, but realized what a good job it was doing covering up the (alleged) snoring, that he decided to leave it on and go back to bed!

It was raining cats and dogs when we woke up this morning, and we braced ourselves for a rather yucky day on the water.  But as we began to load our gear onto the boat, the sun started to sneak out, and those were the last clouds we were to see all week long!  Carlie & Leslie Adams joined us for their second coral restoration trip, and we were joined by four other participants and two of the Amoray staffers.  The morning brightened right up, and we spent two hours underwater in the coral nursery, tending to Ken’s little crops.  Cleaning off algae, picking parasites, cutting and mounting new fragments, preparing the corals we would be planting tomorrow, all in a morning’s work. Back in for a quick lunch, and then we headed out to the site selected for tomorrow’s restoration, where we chiseled and cleaned the rocky substrate in preparation of the corals we would mount the next day.  Each location needed to be cleaned down to the limestone base, to ensure a good adhesion for the epoxy we would be using, and also to clear away any invasive algae or other growths that might wish to take advantage of our new additions to the reef.  So it’s a bit of a change in habit, when we preach daily to NOT touch the reef, then we head in with hammers, chisels and wire brushes and give the reef a dose of tough love.   After four good dives, we head back to Amoray where we gather for this evening’s lecture, sans pirate ship, and go over the details of what the group can expect tomorrow.

Thursday it’s another two dives in the nursery to start it off, then we load up the corals selected for transplanting onto the boat, and head in for a quick lunch.  That afternoon we went out to our restoration site, and got right to work planting our babies, carefully setting each in an epoxy base, mixing three genotypes in each cluster, with an orientation that will allow easy documentation in the future as they grow.  After that, we measure each one, getting a total linear length of the live coral, so we can also record the growth rates over time, and ultimately the success of the program. Two great days, lots of education, 8 dives with Ken and his crew, and the reefs are better than when we arrived.  How cool is that?

Thursday afternoon the gang started to arrive, and we were joined by John Alcott, Jody Bryan, Bev Logins, Mike & Lin Gusenko, Luke & Dillon Miller, Hilary Goodman, Matt Ryan, Robert Bruce, Michelle Bruce, and Robert Bruce Sr.   Also joining our group from the land of fruit and nuts (& Csaba) was Sue Douglass and Jeff Bader, while the Sunshine state brought us Dave Hartman, long-time IVS’er Tom Brennan, and the Flying Romano, Camilo, and his lovely bride Tamrah.  Great group!   A bunch of us geared up and started the weekend off right with a night dive out to the Benwood, then our usual post-dive fare of Cheeseburgers in Paradise at the Pub.

Morning came and with it again blue skies, no wind and flat seas.  Most of the gang headed out to the reefs, while Hilary, Matt, Robert & Michelle joined Ray and I at Jules Undersea Lodge for their first two checkout dives.  Great way to start it off, with no waves, no rocking boat, and no rush as we got our dives in and skills knocked out with no issues at all.  Wonderful to work with divers who are so well prepared for their checkouts, and it is a compliment to the instructors who worked so diligently to prepare them for this moment.  Kudo’s to the IVS instructional staff for helping pave the pathway for scuba success for our newest divers. 

After lunch, we all boarded the boat and headed out to the Spiegel Grove for the first of three visits there this weekend.  Conditions were near perfect, you could see the wreck from the boat, and the 82 degree water just iced the cake.  Turtles and dolphins joined us as our boat neared the wreck, adding to the magic.  We followed that with another reef dive, and headed back to the dock enjoying the afternoon breeze.  That evening we headed down to the IVS South headquarters, where host Dave Hartman served up an array of blender-based drink concoctions, appetizers and snacks for the gang.  We also enjoyed some of his fine footage from local dives as well as his trips to the Red Sea. 

That evening was also the monthly Full Moon Party at mile marker 82, but most of us were a tad too tired to drive that far down the pike for more drinks and fireworks.  So only Jeff raised his hand to join Dave at the party, and the rest of the crowd started to drift off, supposedly back to Amoray.  I say supposedly, cause their cars all somehow malfunctioned as the approached Route 1, and suddenly they found themselves in the paradise Pub parking lot. Hmmm…how does that happen?  And what about that being too tired for more drinks thing?

Well what a surprise to find we were there for karaoke night, hosted by Gwen from Mars (that’s Mars, PA) and chock full of some local karaoke ‘talent’ and her groupies.  Karaoke is one of those activities that sounds and feels great when you are properly lubricated, but it sure is tough to take otherwise. So, let’s get some pitchers of beer on the table and work on our karaoke appreciation, by golly, now it’s sounding better.  Yup, “wow, that guy can really wail a tune.”  “Hey, is that the songbook over there?”  Wonder what else they have.”   You can see where this is heading now, can’t you?

Before you know it, Key Largo is rocking to the tunes of Bev and the Regulators!  Led by Ms Loggins herself, the group included Leslie Adams, Lin Gusenko, Sue Douglass, Jodelle Bryant, and Amoray’s group manager C.Lee.  Time after time they took the ‘stage’ and belted out tune after tune to the delight of the enthusiastic crowd.  You could virtually see the lighters being waved and the speedo’s being tossed onstage by the admiring fans.  What a special night it was indeed!  This will be one tough one to beat on a future trip!

Well Saturday morning found the gang a little on the quiet side, at least to start, after the previous evening’s raucous activities.  But everyone soon got back in the groove, and we knocked out five great dives, including a night dive, that day.  Conditions everywhere continued to be absolutely stellar, with fantastic viz, seas close to zero, dolphins jumping around us, more turtles, all great stuff.

Sunday came and the magic continued…..if there was ever heavenly intervention on a dive trip, this was the one, with bright clear blue skies, flat seas, minimal current, and a great group of divers enjoying even more bottom time.  We started at the City of Washington, watching a pretty anemic feed take place (only one grouper, no sharks, no barracuda, no eels…..those guys got jipped!).  From there it was Mike’s Wreck, a quick lunch, then our signature double deep Sunday afternoon dives, visiting the Duane and then the Spiegel.  Current was brisk on the Duane, but not unmanageable, and viz was forever, so we had a really nice dive.  Today the wreck was covered with huge, and I mean huge, schools of predators, with hundreds of Atlantic Spadefish circling the wreck, big schools of Horse Eye Jacks, lots of Barracuda’s and more.  Dave H and I spent some time standing in the crows nest at the end of our 40 minute dive, everyone else safely sent back to the boat, and we just were absolutely surrounded by sushi of all flavors.  Have never experienced anything like this on the Duane or any other wreck for that matter – it was truly a magic day!  From there we headed to the Spiegel, finding not a single boat on the site, and the mooring lines  were completely slack, all the way to the wreck!  Even Lynn Swartley and the Z-brothers could have floated up to the right boat today!  Our new divers were eager to enjoy some mild penetration into the wreck and they were not disappointed, as we played all through this giant sub-sea fun house for nearly a half hour.  At the same time Dave H was leading the more adventurous souls deep inside the wreck on one of his tours, always a hit with the diving crowd.  So finally everyone was sent back up, and I had the entire wreck to myself, tons of gas left, oodles of time thanks to Mr Cochran, and a chance to go see if there was any way to make this day even more better!   Well, “what’s that shadow” I think, as I turn and realize I am not alone, but being investigated by a grouper, that without exaggeration, was easily 8 feet long.  “Well hello there”, I am thinking, realizing that I could possibly actually fit into those massive jaws.  Slowly he turned, slow enough to tease me to follow, and so I did, swimming towards the stern and up alongside one of the cranes.  He slipped behind the crane, swam off a bit, then turned back, but this time, he was not alone, bringing two, yes two friends of equal if not greater size.  All three then came to check me out, and we spent over 10 minutes in a graceful dance, with me sitting on the railing and the three of them making pass after pass at me, swimming so close i could touch all three, probably over 2,000 pounds of fish just interacting me like I have never ever seen before.  And the best part?  I am holding my video camera, and capturing this live, along with still shots, as the three of them just continue to amuse themselves, and me, with their play.  Finally my camera dies, my gauge is indicating it might be an appropriate time to head up, before I need to uncork my stage bottle, and I bid adieu to my friends, swimming alongside them all the way back to the superstructure and to the mooring line.  I am speechless, (well of course I am, I am underwater) over what I just experienced.  Moments like this are rare, and I am still smiling as I sit here and type this missive.  I might rank this as my best dive ever!

Finally I board, and we head back in, as I share my moving experience with the boat.  I feel like I need a cigarette now, it was so good!  We motor back in, clean up, and most of us head over to Captain Jacob’s place for a BBQ on the water, another perfect evening to cap a truly enchanted weekend.

Monday morning comes, and I think I am gonna sneak in a last couple of dives on the boat, still basking in the afterglow of the weekend’s event.  So I start with the Monday morning ritual of departure hugs and kisses, but what’s up with this?  Bev has her bathing suit on, so does Butch. In fact, so does Ray, and Tom, Camilo, Tamrah, Carlie, Leslie and Dave H too!  The living DAN Flying After Diving experiment continues!  Everyone wants to get another couple of dives in, since the conditions may never be this perfect for a long time.  So onto the boat we jump, and along with Amoray staffers C. Lee and Liz, we manage to get our 23rd and 24th dive of the weekend in.  And, to top it off, Carlie bags his first lionfish!  One less very hungry-mouth to feed on the reef tonight!  Way to go Carlie!   And a very un-amused sheep crab nailed me on the finger as I tried to coax / coerce him into a photo with Bev – way to go Dave! 

Now of course not everyone is flying, in fact it’s just me, the Loggins, and Ray.  So we finally pull back into the slip at 1:15, and I am thinking, what exactly were those guys thinking, knowing they had booked a 4:05 flight?  I think I’m an adrenalin junkie, these guys are making me look like Mr. Way Ahead of Schedule!   So we shower, pack, dress, load the truck, check out, settle the bill, more hugs, and start the ride to the airport.  Oooops…did someone not get the memo? It’s Memorial Day, and we’re not the only ones thinking of leaving the Keys this afternoon.  Traffic is completely stopped at the Jewfish Creek Bridge, so we pull off and head down to Card Sound Road, adding a few miles (and minutes) to the trip but avoiding this major 22 mile traffic jam ahead.   

We’re OK, probably need to think about dropping these guys right off at the terminal, but I think we’re still OK….keep moving, cutting through the crowd of cars like America’s favorite slasher, O.J. Simpson.  Pass a few more, pushing, pushing.  “We need to gas up in Homestead”, I announce, and Butch points out “if you had bought the pre-paid gas like I suggested, we wouldn’t have to be stopping now!” Yeah, yeah…easy for me to say, I have a 6:50 flight!    So we whip into the pumps, and Ray, a man of his own schedule, decides to walk into the convenience store while I am pumping gas and get us some drinks for the ride north.  Bev just about comes unglued in the back seat when she realizes what he is doing!  Butch is on the phone with US Air on his Blackberry, and I’m doing OK…cause I have a 6:50 flight!!  Ray finally returns, refreshments in hand, and we get back on the road.  We make it 12 miles up the turnpike when an accident occurs ahead, shutting all four lanes down.  Butch is jamming on his GPS application, and starts to direct…turn here!  OK, so I kinda 4-wheel it down the grass ramp, off the turnpike, to the adjacent roadway.  More turns, more roads, more traffic later, we are finally approaching the airport.  The sad news is that boarding has already started for their flight.  The mood’s a little more somber in the car, as Butch announces that the  next available flight for them is 2:30 tomorrow afternoon!  Man that sucks….I need Bev in the office in the morning!   I know, I know, my sensitive side revealed!

Well I leave them curbside, with their bags, to deal with whatever they need to deal with and hopefully catch a standby seat (or three) home.  Meanwhile I head up to my terminal, check in my pile of bags, and breath a great sigh of relief, glad I didn’t rush my afternoon like those guys!  See….my adrenalin addiction is getting better already!  My 6:50 flight is uneventful, and I arrive home later that night.

Turns out the three of them needed to overnight in Miami, and Ray, frugal guy as we well know, decides the three of them can share a room.  But, just to keep the front desk folks from wondering, he introduces Bev as his younger sister, traveling with her husband.  Bev is just shaking her head at this point….you can almost hear her saying “whatever!”.  And they were able to catch a 6:30 a.m. flight and the magic continues, as Bev was in by 11:00!  The end!

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6 Responses

  1. Cliffhanger! Don’t leave us on edge . . .

    Also — are you going to try that Banana Pepper Mustard that Dave Hartman is hawking . . .?

  2. Thanks David, your Hollis gear and I have bonded very well over the last couple of weeks, as did your steel 100’s. I am ready for St Lawrence!

  3. . . . again, he leaves us hanging . . .

  4. It is like a good novel Steve, it can’t be written in one night and must be savored over several days letting the suspense build…..

  5. Another cliff hanger! Just like a Dickens serial novel.

  6. That might have been the same monster grouper / set of groupers Mike G, Brad, Nikki and I saw on Hartman’s dive 1000 last summer; we emerged from the deep penetration tour on the superstructure starboard aft; the grouper was just off the rail there. Other IVS divers working back to the 7 ball from astern near the deck saw a few in the same area just below ours.

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