Friday, January 20, 2012

Manatee Springs 1-8-12

It has been a while since I ran the scooter and I was in the mood for a nice long dive.
Bob Beckner and I planned a trip to Manatee Springs.

This is a "cavers" cave. The flow is high the walls are dark and the visability is never perfect. This is one of my favorite caves!
I had heard about the "Blue Water" tunnel but had never been there. I received directions and we made it happen.

This side tunnel is small and advanced, it is definitively a sidemount tunnel. The floor transitions from white clay to a coarse, sparkling, orange sand. The passage meanders side to side/ up and down. It was a beautiful little dive.

Back in the main passage we cranked the scooters up and had a blast riding them out! Visability was as nice as I have ever seen at Mantatee. It makes me want to come back

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Honeymoon Cruise

A few weeks after our wedding, I finally finished my degree from USF. To celebrate that and our marriage, Sara and I took a honeymoon cruise. After researching resorts and other honeymoon options we decided that a cruise was by far the best bang for the buck.
We booked an 8 night cruise with Carnival from Ft. Lauderdale and traveling the through the Eastern Caribbean.

 The worse part of the trip was the two of us and out 3500 closest friends waiting in line to board the Carnival Freedom for 8 days of fun.

We went to our room and found it decorated for our Honey moon. We explored the ship, trying to figure out how to navigate it. We almost figured it out by the last day…almost.

After our safety briefing we slipped into our swimsuits and hit the pool deck, this is where we spent the majority of the first two days at sea. It was nice; we lounged in the pools, hit the water slide, met some nice people, Sara judged the mixology competition, and we enjoyed the Hairy Chest Competition.

 I got a little sun burnt, so we moved inside. We decided to go watch the “Game of Love” this is essentially the Newly Wed Game. Brad, our cruise director asked all of the newly-weds to stand up. In a crowd of 1500, Sara and I were the only two… So we played. We competed against a couple that had been married for 30 yrs and a couple that had been married for 60. The questions were hard and embarrassing, but the young newly weds won!

 Our first Port of Call was St. Thomas. We wanted to do some diving on this trip, but the excursions were out of our watermelon budget. So we got off the ship and wandered.  We met a man named Ali who ran a tour bus, it was cheap and we were bored with the shops, so we joined him. Ali was well spoken and extremely knowledgeable about the Island and its history. It was an informative tour that showed us the highlights and best overlooks. St Thomas is a beautiful island, and we had a great time.

Back on the ship we gorged ourselves with food, enjoyed standup at the comedy club, and lounged around.

The next day we docked in Antigua. Here we booked a shore excursion; Kayaking, Hiking , and Snorkeling. We boarded a bus and traveled across the island to the NE corner where there was a skiff waiting to transport us to Bird Island. Bird Island was a small rocky island surrounded by coral reef. We hiked to the top and enjoyed an outstanding view. The snorkeling was nice, I always enjoy being in the water.

We kayaked around the mangroves for 45 minutes, enjoyed some homemade banana bread and rum punch before heading back on the bus.

 Day 5 we arrived in Tortola. Since we had such good luck with Ali in St Thomas we decided to take another island tour. This guy was not as good…  He was very repetitive and uninformed. We were annoyed at first, but after the first hour it was actually entertaining. The island was beautiful and we had a nice time.

Day 6 was spent at sea, eating, swimming, sleeping, and eating.

Day 7, we are almost home, but had one more stop in Nassau.
Here we booked an excursion to avoid the hoards of people shopping.  We decided to try paddle boarding. I always thought is looked like an overpriced sport that was inefficient and boring, I was right. It was fun to try, but it was not mobile like a kayak, and it was not as fast as a surf board. After 30 minutes of paddle boarding and getting to see Sara fall once we decided to snorkel instead. Lion fish are taking over down there. In the 30 minutes we were in the water we saw 3.
It was a great day in the Bahamas

Day 8 we were back in Ft Lauderdale. It was sad to get be home and weird to stand on firm ground. The weather was beautiful on our cruise, unfortunately it was windy. We averaged 16’ seas the first few days, and had as high as 30 one night.

We had a great time and plan to do more cruisin’ in the future.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Spring Hunting

Polk County Spring Hunting

Working in retail you meet some interesting people…. My father met a man who claimed to own his own spring; awesome right!? The more interesting fact is that this rumored spring is supposesdly located in Polk County. 

Polk County has no more springs, there used to be Kissinger Springs in Bartow and Crystal Lake Spring in Lakeland. Mining operations, road construction and excessive water usage has killed the two springs. There are no springs to be found on the FL Spring Database.

We acquired directions and permission to access the spring so we made a day to go explore. We drove down miles of dirt roads through orange groves, suddenly the ground to our right begins to fall, we follow it. After a 60’ drop in elevation we arrive at a crystal clear pond 200’ in diameter. This is the spring we were told about.  But it was not the source of the water.
In order to find the spring vent we had to venture into the jungle. We left the manicured orange grove and descended down the ravine. As we reached the water we entered the land of the lost. There was a wall of elephant ears 15’ tall and dense. We pushed on following the clear water upstream. Moving was slow through the dense foliage. As we chopped our way through this prehistoric jungle I expected to stumble across a pterodactyl.

The water was a maze, weaving in and out and branching we pushed on, eventually we found it! The long lost Polk County Spring!, We found 3 gopher sized holes discharging beautiful springwater into the slough.
We hoped* for  cave but instead I had an awesome day hiking with my dad in a lost world, stopping through mud and swinging a machete. 

Remember Remember the 5th of November…..

On November 5th 2011 I married my best friend. Sara planned the perfect wedding and everyone had an incredible time.  It was a small-ish outdoor wedding located in South Lakeland at Rocking H Ranch. Jen Noah was Sara’s Maid of Honor, my father Woody was my Best Man and our good friend Alex Musser officiated the ceremony. Below are some of the incredible images from Ricci at BAIpixels. Thank you Sara for planning the perfect wedding, and thanks to everyone who came out that night. Sara and I had an incredible time.