Nerdy Cat Scuba Travels

A Cat Lovin' Engineer taking a career break by traveling, doing a divemaster internship, and diving around the world

Month: October 2016

Warm Weather Ruins Monterey Diving

Red Tide – Algae Growth

Hmm. The water looks like God spilled his coffee in it and is now shaking it to get it to dissipate. Its horrible. I talk to my Instructor and he says he’s never seen it “this bad.” Monterey usually sits at mid 60’s during October. Two weeks before leading up to our course, its been high 60’s to mid 70’s. The warm weather has allowed a growth of algae to grow at many of the Monterey Bay Dive sites. To make matters worse, some how there is a swell.

The first time I prepared to dive Monterey Bay, I asked my buddy about tides, currents, and wind. He laughed and told me that Monterey Bay is flat and you can dive it any time. Well, not this weekend.

The plan for the Advanced Open Water course is 5 dives: 3 shore dives with one at night, and 2 boat dives.  I even book an AirBnB to stay over night.

I get to Lover’s Point #3 and it looks like surf’s up. Its definitely upsetting to look out at the beautiful ocean and not be able to get in the water.  Scuba rule to follow- If conditions are bad, cancel the dive. Don’t risk it.

Instead we (the instructor and divemasters) talk to the students and explain to them the situation.  The shore dives are pushed to a different week in November. Boat dives are still on because they are planned for an estimated 80 feet depth.

The rest of the day we spend taking the students to some of nearby dive sites. While I won’t go into specific dive sites (private message me if you would like more information). Here’s the general information.

Monterey Bay Dive Sites

Monastery Beach

This beach is for advanced divers only. So much so the city even put out a warning sign:

monastery-warning

If you dive Monastery, its either going to be on the North or South side. There’s nothing to see in the middle.  The break is very steep. One minute you are on the beach, the next step you are neck deep in water. If there is any swell, like 1ft, then the dive should be called off. Why?  Well, getting out of the water can be extremely difficult if you are trying to climb out as the waves break on you. The image shows a diver tumbling down- imagine a washing machine full of sand and ocean. Thats Monastery.   The last note gave me the chills “At least 30 people have died at this beach.”

monastery

Looks nice and flat… but underneath its a washing machine waiting to grab you.

Carmel River State Beach

Carmel River State Beach includes a wetlands area. Over here there is a small free parking lot.  This is close to  Monastery Beach, but not as difficult.

carmel-river

Lover’s Cove / Lover’s Point


There’s three places to dive here. 1. Lover’s Cove 2. Lover’s Point 3. Lover’s Point #3. The third one is on the other side opposite of Lover’s cove and has a stairway down to a beach.

If you go down Ocean View Blvd towards Naiad St, you can dive Otters Beach.

The downside of lover’s cove is that it is very shallow 15-20ft for 200-300 yards. You have to surface swim quite far if you want to dive deep.  Another disadvantage is that you can only park here for a max of 2 hours before having to move your car.

McAbee Beach


Right on Cannery Row, this beach is great if you already have a hotel room nearby.  We parked at the El Torrito to check out conditions.  This dive site is also close to Breakwater Cover, so one could do a dive at breakwater first then drive over during a surface interval and dive again.

Of course there are many other dive sites, but if you want to know something specific, send me a message and I will give you details.

Happy Diving!

Must See in Seattle

Every year my friends from Elementary school meet up for an anniversary celebration of friendship. This year was our 27th year anniversary. Usually for big anniversaries we go big, like 20th anniversary: Costa Rica. #25: Santa Barbara. This year we chose Seattle.

Here’s a quick video of all the fun we had while in the city:

We all have been to Seattle before, and did the usual tourist stuff. So for those interested in doing other things… here are some “not so obvious” things to do in Seattle.

Recommended Touristy Seattle Sights

1. Go in the summer time. The weather is perfect and the sun stays up late. Everyone seems to be in an overall happy mood.
2. Pikes Place. Everyone has to come here at least once. The fish market guys toss fish around while everyone has their iPhone out to capture the fun toss. Next to it you can take a pic next to a fat bronze pig.
Just a few steps down some stairs you can chew some gum and stick it on the wall with all the other tourists. I don’t know if Seattle occasionally chips off the gum, but the wall doesn’t look dramatically different from a few years ago.
Piroshky Piroshky: absolutely the most delicious flakey tasty treats on the block. The store is guaranteed to have a line wrap around, But it doesn’t seem to take so long before you can start chomping down.
3. Seattle Needle. A great view of the Seattle skyline. I bought tickets online and was able to skip most of the line.
4. Fremont Troll. The troll under the bridge. At first when someone told me about this, I thought they were joking. Some say a volkswagon bus was about to fall the road and a troll appeared from under the bridge and grabbed the bus to save it. By doing this, the troll froze from the morning light and turned into stone.
5. Lake Union. This is a fun spot to picnic and hang out.  A few years ago I went to Seattle for the Fourth of July and was able to grab some kettle corn and watch the fireworks.

Off The Beaten Path Seattle Sights

1. Tacoma, Owens Beach. My first thought when I got here was that this would be a great “date” spot. Its beautifully romantic.
2. Mt. Rainer National Park. This isn’t really off the beaten path. Its just far away from Seattle. It costs $25 per car to get into the park and is about a 1.5- 2 hours to get there. Once you make it to the park, there are lots and lots of different hiking trails.  We packed a picnic and did a loop hike for about 3 hours and then had lunch at a nice shady picnic table.  Afterwards we drove to another spot for a quick hike by a river.
3. Warren G. Magnuson Park. Similar to Lake Union, this park is north of the city with plenty of spots to relax and lay down. We saw people swimming and playing in the water. However, we decided to keep the ducks company and hang out on the grass. Seattle has plenty of places to relax and enjoy nature.
4. Sund Rock. This is actually a scuba diving spot outside of Seattle. Check out my experience if you fancy a dip.

Sund Rock Scuba Diving in Pacific Northwest

scuba-hoodsport

Recently I made my way up to the Pacific Northwest, Seattle, to visit some close friends.  My close friends weren’t keen to the idea of scuba diving in the cold water, and instead, let me go on a solo field trip in the outer Seattle area to do some diving.

Using the meetup app, I joined the Pacific Northwest Scuba Diving Group.  The moderators and members gave me great advice and helpful tips around the area. In fact, I became friends with Phil Berg, who offered to meet up with me on my one day Scuba Trip. Coincidentally worked at Hoodsport N’ Dive. This shop leases the land up the street to make Sund Rock an easy shore dive.  Currently the shop sells day passes to the site for $20 a pop. Not bad for the location.  I’d really rather pay $20 than have to walk with all my scuba gear a long ways.

Doing some research on the Scuba scene in Seattle, I found that there were two locations I really wanted to check out:

Continue reading

Day 2- Grand Teton National Park

So after the check engine light problem was solved we made it pretty easily to Jackson Wyoming and Grand Tetons National Park. For those that don’t know the local geography there- GTNP is another national park south of Yellowstone National Park. GTNP Is surrounded by the Tetons mountains. We talk to the visitor information guy and he suggests the Gros Venture campground just south of the park.  It’s $25 a night with a personal bear locker, flushable toilets, and a personal fire pit. We love it.

We set up camp and it starts to rain. Trung and I over-analyze the set up of a rain covering tarp area. We keep trying to secure and make a false ceiling to keep dry… By the time we finish the rain stops and we never actually use the dry area.

Next stop- the park. The sun is setting and we pull over to a turnout spot and listen for animals. On the way back to the camp site we some sort of deer running along the road.

Back at the camp, we use our skillet and cook up some awesome thick pork chops with a side of rice and potatoes. Crack open a bottle of wine and sit by the camp fire. The dinner tastes better than if we cooked it at home. We toast some s’mores and get all sticky and gooey from the marshmallows. The night sky is bright with all the stars shining down on us. You can see the Milky Way and we use an app to find some constellations.

Next morning- Trung looks at the car. A flat. Ok no big deal, we start to get the donut out and the crow bar… Uh oh. We can’t find the key to the lug nut on the rim. We search and search. NADA. So then I call AAA and explain the situation. They call the tow company and a local car repair shop back in Jackson that can fix the tire and get the rim off without a key.

I cook breakfast and the tow truck guy, Victor shows up. He’s a self-proclaimed redneck from Florida Everglades. I offer him breakfast but he declines. He gets to work and we clean up the site so bears won’t come and eat our stuff.

We get in the car and the guy is in disbelief that Trung likes country music. They talk about Tim McGraw and some other artists and he blasts country the entire way to the shop. We talk about the federal lands and the good sites to see around the area. Locals like to camp, drink and shoot guns. He shows us his Instagram of a video the captured last week of his buddy sheriff shooting a deer in he neck. The deer was hit by a car and had broken its nose and bit its tongue off. The deer couldn’t walk or move. One second you see the deer on the road, BANG, it tumbled over. Dang. That’s crazy. He says there’s a school bus across the street full of middle school ages kids. They all bust out screaming and crying.

We get to the shop (mom and pop local shop) and everyone is pretty friendly. They are able to get the rim off without the key,but he tire is toast. Two nails are in the tire and there’s a slow leak on the inside side wall of the tire. Apparently we drove on a jacked up tire for 50 miles and didn’t know it. It’s fucked. Then choices: $250 for a Bridgestone tire with afternoon replacement at 3pm or a Goodrich tire from Salt Lake City that will get there at 8am the next day. They can get us a local discount on a rental car for $36. Ok- we choose the cheaper option.

By noon we take off to the park and do a 4-5 hour hike around lake Jenny to inspiration point. We are hiking high up. The steepness is making me pant like a dog. I stop, catch my breath and a grizzly bear cub is staring at me. Oh wow! Cute! Wait… Aren’t bears dangerous? Crap- do I play dead? Or run away?

Trung catches up and then starts telling me to take a pic. I grab my phone and do a really quick one because I don’t know if he will get offended. Finally he looks away and we tip toe off higher on the mountain. We pass three hikers and tell them in hiker sign language whisper… There’s a bear down there!!! They look really excited and walk down. They make a lot of noise. The bear doesn’t care.

We get to the top and instantly the clouds turn grey. We take photos of a nice Japanese family and they take our pic. Boom…. The rain is here. I scramble to try my raincoat on and we run down the mountain in record time.

The rain stops and it’s starting to look pretty again. The backdrop of the sun setting and the fall leaves are breath taking. Every area looks so beautiful it’s looks fake. We see more wild buffalo running around on the drive back.

For dinner we cook up some spaghetti and squash veggies. I don’t know if I’m starving, or if I’m just a really good cook.i can’t stop eating.

We play around and the fire and look for animals in the back area. I get scared and run back. We both sleep pretty easily in the tent.

Good night GTNP.