One Year Later

Here I am, one year and one week to the day from my first day in Basic Training.  After my training in basic, free time has been scarce and will continue to be for quite a while longer while I continue training.  However, I found a little bit of time in my day today to post a brief update.  If you have been in any amount of contact with me in the last ten months, you already know that I am living in Monterey, California spending my days in class and my evenings working out or studying.  My weekends, however, give me a small glimpse of freedom and adventure, if my schedule allows it.  I have spent a great deal of time Geocaching around the local area, improving my scuba diving skills, and attending as many volunteer events as possible.  I am currently in the midst of my Advanced Open Water Scuba certification with a local dive shop and will be done with it before too long.  The nice thing about living here on the California coast is that the weather allows for diving all year round.  In fact, it has only realistically rained three times since I’ve been here.  I say realistic because thick mist doesn’t count as rain for me.

In September, my old, yet reliable, blue car was backed into by a large Dodge Ram and totaled out by my insurance company.  Fortunately, my beautiful motorcycle was delivered to me back in July and I have that as a means of transportation.  Unfortunately, she has been acting up and detests the new set of HID lights I have installed in her, often leaving the battery dead or me riding without headlights.  Twice the headlights have shut off on me while riding on the highway at night… oops.  I just need to order the new parts and find the time to install them.  Then all should be well… I hope.

Scuba diving around here has been pretty exciting, though I focus more on perfecting techniques than enjoying the underwater fauna while I am submerged.  I have found that the initial couple of minutes of a dive are the most nerve-racking, when my natural instincts say everything about the situation are unnatural and unsafe.  At first, I feel somewhat claustrophobic, every inch of my skin is suctioned to a neoprene wetsuit, except a small area on my face that is covered by a mask over my nose and eyes and the breathing apparatus over my mouth.  The weight of my scuba tank and the ocean surrounding me add to the feeling of entrapment.  Once I begin descending, the pressure increases and I must make adjustments to become comfortable.  I swallow to equalize the pressure in my ears and exhaust the air from my buoyancy control device (BCD), which is a vest that encases my torso and keeps my oxygen tank strapped to me, in order to sink slowly and safely.  Often, I am unable to equalize effectively the first time and my head is filled with pain from the pressure, so I resurface within a few seconds.  Once I regain my composure, I am able to try once again and I descend with ease and equalize my ears.  Typically I settle on the bottom, resting my knees in the soft sand of the shallow depths.  Once the dive group is all ready and accounted for, we begin our slow, tranquil adventure of the surrounding area.  Each dive is usually 20 to 30 minutes out then the same time to come back in to shore, depending on the remaining amount of air in each diver’s tank.  I usually work on practicing my buoyancy – making sure to not sink or float and continuously equalizing the pressure in my mask and ears.  I don’t mind that my dives consist of focusing on this, because I have fun doing something challenging and athletic, but I think it must be strange for others around me while we’re underwater.  When I dove in college, I had figured out my dive groove early enough in the pool that my outdoor dives were actually entertaining and I was able to pay attention to the natural beauty around me; I’ll get back to that soon enough while here.

I have picked up on my geocaching a lot here, introducing several of my friends to the hobby.  There are many small caches in the city areas here and many more hidden in all of the local woods around.  However, there happens to be a lot of poison oak in the local woods, too!  I have discovered that fact three times now, but I don’t mind.  I have also discovered that Icy Hot works well to relieve the accompanying itch of poison oak 🙂  You’re welcome, world!

It’s time for me to wrap this up and get back to the busy throes of life.  This coming Veteran’s day weekend, I am headed back home to enjoy four awesome days with my family.  I truly can’t wait!

Until Next Time,

H

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