Road Trip from FL to TX, after returning from Republic of Panama sometime in 2010
From Florida to Texas in 25 hours; what a long ride!Florida - Alabama - Mississippi - Louisiana (loosey-anna) - Texas
Jeesh, it takes FOREVER to get out of Florida! Hours and hours of BORING driving, no signs, no houses, not even a cow to pass the time away....6 hours of looking at the same trees, the same road, a ditch, and exit signs; I became familiar with the radio once again and enjoyed myriad radio stations though!
Chai was happy stretched out in the back on the spacious floor of the rented mini-van, and the newer minivans look more like SUVs so they aren't so darn ugly!
Miami to St. Augustine - 5 hrs St. Augustine the hell out of Florida - 6+ hrs 1 1/2 hrs thru Alabama (nice water ways, huge ports!) only 2 more hours thru Mississippi (damn that's a big river!) and I'm in NOLA in another 45 minutes....YEAH!!!
About NOLA... I love this city!!!! I could spend days and weeks just walking the streets of beloved Naw'lins (prah-puh suthin' pununceeashun daaah-lin'!). The houses are lovely, even the abandoned, half-fallin' down ones!
(Why is it I return to The South and my Southern accent comes back in force!? A gentlemanly man opened a door for me, as I entered a restaurant, and stepped aside. I replied: "Thaaynk ewe, sir!" What's up with THAT!!!??) :-)
I am happy to see that many of the hurricane damaged buildings I viewed in August 2008, my previous visit to NOLA, upon entering the city from the east, had been rebuilt! Yeah! It looked as though some had been completely rebuilt rather than just repaired. However, I specifically recall a modern, though destroyed movie theatre, still in disrepair. In 2008, the weeds forcing their way through the cracked concrete in the midst of a modern city, struck me, as did the boarded up windows and movie poster signage. It seemed like a the beginnings of a ghost town... and it was saddening to behold. But now, new businesses are in place, most of the buildings spanking new. And you should realize that Katrina did NOT destroy or damage all of NOLA, but mainly the northern and eastern parts, at least what I could see from the highway after coming over Lake Pontchartrain. (This same I-10 bridge that carried me over Lake P., had collapsed after the storm.) The Garden District, French Quarter, and surrounding historic areas little damage because it miraculously escaped flooding. From what I could see in 2008, there was little damage to those areas; the east side sustained the worst damage.
Another important fact to note is that Katrina occurred in 2005, hard to believe that was 5 years ago. And it happened to make landfall in LA on my Birthday, August 29, 2005. At that time, I was working as a Chef on a charter yacht in the BVIs/USVIs, so wasn't up to date on current events. (I'm still never up to date on current events!)
to be continued with pictures.... Friday, 10:30am CST
A Day in my Life of Dive Training 09-26-09
A Day in my Life of Dive Training 09-26-09
I was terrified, but without reason. I was unable to sleep the night before; waking frequently due to unsettling dreams of things gone wrong. And yet, it turned out to be unique experience; all went well. Despite the nightmares and lack of sleep, I did just fine.
Yesterday was one of the rougher days of Dive Master Skill Testing. I had to do a 400m timed swim (no gear), tow an “unresponsive” diver 100 yds with both of us in full gear, and then do a surface rescue scenario. The 400m swim without gear (no fins or mask either) seemed harder than the 800m swim in full SCUBA gear! I was so tired afterward! I was racing against the clock, and it felt like a swim team competition from high school. I was in better shape then… No time to rest, we immediately started the Rescue Scenarios.
The surface Rescue Scenario is hardest: I have to give rescue breaths while towing the “victim” back to the boat, while removing both the victim’s gear and my gear. Can you imagine how hard it is to keep a person’s face out of the water even when the seas are flat calm like they were yesterday? I can’t imagine what would happen in high seas. Every 5 seconds you have to give a Rescue breath, and propel yourself up high enough to get your mouth over the victim’s (we use CPR pocket barrier masks). It is so tiring. Yes, saltwater buoys you up, but our gear creates so much drag through the water: I’m towing myself plus the victim while we are wearing full SCUBA gear: BCD, tank, regulator, fins, mask, snorkel. Imagine flying an airplane shaped like a box instead of a streamlined bullet.
That scenario doesn’t account for someone who is panicking; who will try to drown you and rip your regulator out of your mouth to save them self. (there are several manners of dealing with that situation successfully). I was thinking to myself, while carrying out this exercise, ‘Would I really be able to save someone in this situation?’ It takes several minutes to get the victim back to the boat, and we were only 50 ft. away! There was very little current the seas were calm! The bad news is, although I am getting my certification as an EFR (Emergency First Responder- CPR, First/Secondary Aid, O2, and defib), I’ve learned that CPR alone does not usually resuscitate a person, it only serves to keep the blood pumping and enough oxygen flowing to prevent damage.
The most psychologically daunting task was the underwater equipment exchange while buddy breathing (note: the victim/buddy in all of this was the other Dive Master in training: Bill). This was the source of my disturbed sleep! This occurrence in real life is such a rare scenario, but I still have to be able to demonstrate it successfully so that I can pass my cert. test and in the future teach it to students as an Instructor.
For those of you who don’t know much about diving (which we can remedy if you come for a visit!!!), the BCD is a vest that holds air and helps you maintain neutral buoyancy in underwater and float on the surface. It also holds your air tank in place. Your air tank connects to a series of hoses, two of which you can use to breath out of through mouthpieces. I am simplifying greatly here for you, using simple language and terminology; for those of you who haven’t been diving. You have two mouthpieces to breath out of, a main one and a secondary. The secondary is for another diver who may run out of air for whatever reason. (Note: this should NEVER happen if you are a prudent diver: checking your air supply often.) They can breathe from your tank through the secondary mouthpiece while both of you safely return to the surface. All modern dive equipment supplies two mouthpieces.
However, the scenario we have to perform as Dive Masters assumes there is only ONE mouthpiece for both people. So you take two breaths and hand it off to your buddy, they take two breaths, back and forth, until you surface. But this must be done in a calm and controlled manner! Here’s the kicker: our skills test requires that while buddy breathing from one mouthpiece, we remove ALL OUR GEAR, trading gear with each other, and then safely ascend to the surface. This means, while breathing from one apparatus, switching back and forth to breath, we have to remove our fins and trade them, then our BCD (which is like a vest), then our mask/snorkel. All while remaining calm, breathing slowly, not getting tangled up in air supply lines, and while remaining on the sea bottom!
Now you can understand my worries! But, as usual, worries are a waste of time. We did very well, successfully traded gear, passed the test, and no one drowned. In retrospect, Bill and I thought it was FUN! This skill test actually serves as a problem-solving exercise rather than a test, so the challenge was the fun part. We are going to do it again on our next dive just to hone the skills a little further and enjoy the challenge, even though we are not required to repeat the skill.
I love diving! Here’s an update on my cert. status:
3 more dives to go! 3 tests, a few more written exercises including completing an underwater dive site map, creating an emergency action plan for a dive accident scenario, and I’m finished! Yeah! Looks like I’ll be done Weds! Then celebration time!!! Anything for an excuse to drink champagne! Oh yeah…I live on an island, I don’t need an excuse!
Thanks to all of you who have encouraged me along the way! Soon I’ll be a Dive Master, and then next week I start my Instructor certification course!!!
More news, I’ll be getting my Captain’s License next year, too, which makes me more marketable (higher pay grade). I’ll get it even though I hate boats…ha ha!
For those of you that want to see what we did, here’s a good video of SCUBA equipment exchange underwater on youtube. However, these guys are NOT breathing from the same regulator, like we were. So imagine us using ONE air source while we were switching gear.
In the second video, they are breathing from one regulator; however, this couple is in a pool. We were in the ocean about 25 ft. down. They also were not positioned correctly, and you have to hang on to the air source and/or your buddy the entire time with one hand. You end up being positioned more side by side. The whole exercise takes a good 5 minutes.