Nerdy Cat Scuba Travels

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

Category: Seattle

Top Hipster Things to do in Seattle – Pacific Northwest

Welcome to Seattle. We should hang out. Maybe.

Is Seattle the land of passive aggressive friendships? Is it the weather that gives Seattle locals a bad rap?

At first look one would think Seattle is full of hipsters, but then I realize they aren’t hipsters, they just have beards and flannels on.

Powering Through the Awful Weather

Grey Skies don’t mean a thing. I’m embracing outings with college buddies, making new friends and even doing things solo.

Anytime a local has recommended something, I’ve jumped. Concert? Yes! Hike? Yes! Coffee? Yes! Since quitting my “real job” I’ve tried to stay active regardless the day of the week.

Top 6 things I’ve done in Seattle that aren’t your typical Lonely Planet’s Recommendations

  1. Driving out of Seattle.

Ask anyone and they will say the landscape is what makes this place beautiful and unique. On most days, the clouds will hide the mountain ranges around the city. Based on a local recommendation, I drove out to Deception Pass State Park.

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Since It’s spring time, I made a quick stop in La Connor to see the Daffodils bloom. Acres of beautiful yellow flowers. I imagine any local man could take a person here for a movie –esque proposal.

The most visited state park in Washington. Its got a perfect combination of giant trees and hidden trails for hiking, Cook out spaces on the beach, navy jets roaring around the Naval Air station Whidbey Island, and countless breathtaking views.

  1. Live Music.

It seems like every other week there is another band in town.  Seattle has many local convert venues. I’m able to walk / bus to different venues without worrying about parking or uber.  In Los Angeles, oftentimes, shows are sold out or just far away enough to deter me from going.  So far I’ve been able to see The XX, RJD2, and Powers.

  1. Pioneer Square.

Most people visit Pike’s Place Market, but I would say the real hidden gem is Pioneer Square. Its Seattle’s first original neighborhood. The first place to host an artwalk in the US. The neighborhood reminds me of what San Francisco was like in the late 90’s. Filled with young people going to work, occasional tourists, and homeless people. Every First Thursday of the month, the area features an Art Walk. Intrigue Chocolate Co. does a great job on these art walks melting down all their truffles to create a free sipping chocolate for visitors.

  1. Edmunds Underwater Park and Ferry.

Of course no list would be complete without a scuba spot.  If you scuba dive, I highly recommend this spot. Not just because I volunteer here, but because it’s a great example on how scuba divers can make any location a diving location. Bruce Higgins has spent 40 years adding different structures to this park for divers. Each week I help to pull cinder blocks into the water to create trails for divers. The site has grown so large that the cinder block trails have morphed into streets. The sunden wooden boats have deteriorated and provided lots of carbon food for the wild life. I’ve seen link cod with heads larger than mine.

In case you don’t scuba dive,  you can walk along the beach and then drive onto the ferry for a quick trip across the bay to Kingston. Each ferry costs less than $10. You simply drive onto the boat, park and enjoy the ride. I parked, and took a walk around the ferry. There’s a great viewing spot at the top of the boat, along with a cafeteria.

  1. Spring Time – Cherry Blossoms in Seattle.

If you are lucky enough to visit Seattle in March/April, I would take advantage of all the cherry blossoms around town.  University of Washington has a great quad that highlights the bloom. Most don’t talk about the history of these cherry trees, but a local told me some interesting stuff. The first trees were planted just before WW2 (1939).  3 years later, 400 Japanese American students were sent to internment camps.  Most recently, 18 new trees from Japan were added in 2014.

Outside of the university, I found that my Capitol Hill / First Hil neighborhood is filled with Cherry Trees. Pink Blooms, White Ones, Reddish flowers. The rain doesn’t seem so bad with a pink backdrop. I know I’m not in California anymore when I spend 45 minutes walking in the rain without minding it.

  1. Museum of Pop Culture

A nerd’s dream come true. I spent 3 days at this museum. Each installation struck a cord in my inner nerd being. Here are some of the exhibits featured:

Horror Movies – The art behind what makes something scary. See props from Friday the 13th, Hostel and other movies. Watch clips of the Exorcist and see why it’s the scariest movie ever.

Fantasy – (Magic, Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit)

Invention of Games and Independent Games – Watch interviews, play games, interact with

Born in Seattle, Jimi Hendrix’s career was short but intense. This exhibit features information on his rise to fame as well as his journal.

Interactive Music Sessions ( Guitar, Drums, singing, Mixing, Turntables, singing): I spent 10 minutes pretending to be a DJ with a complete lesson on how to “scratch.”

Sci-Fi Movies – Fifth Element, Star Trek, Star Wars, Men in Black clothing and movie props.

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Enjoy it while it Lasts

I don’t know how long I will stay here, nor do I know where I will go next. But as long as I am here, I will continue to enjoy the live music. Coffee. New and Old Friends.

 

Until Next Time…

 

What My Rescue Diving Course Didn’t Teach Me

Are you sure its a dead body?

Yup- this was a thought in my head this weekend. In my rescue diving course and my divemaster course, I learned so much about reacting in a calm manner to distress calls. Methodically performing CPR in the ocean, disassembling a diver’s gear, dragging them out of the water. What I didn’t expect was what happens in the real world. What happens when someone is dead in the water?

During the Rescue Course – Lifting Heavy People

Lets be honest, I’m about 5’ 4”, and about 130 lbs; most divers outweigh me. During my divemaster course, I cried because I failed during my first attempt. The cold water. The heavy “volunteers”. I couldn’t calm down and rescue them. Sobbing because I wasn’t strong enough. Was it unfair that I went last? I was exhausted. Boo hoo on me.  Eventually I got over feeling sorry for myself and passed with out issue.  It felt great knowing I could actually rescue someone in distress. I think it was this experience that helped me prepare for Saturday.

Edmunds Underwater Park

It was a calm Saturday and the skies were clear and bright blue. For a change, I decided to bring my weights to the bench by the beach. No rhyme or reason. Just changing things up.

Then I heard it. A LOUD whistle from the ocean. Someone waving their arms in distress.I look around, no one else is immediately around me.  I call out to them- “Are you ok?!” They show me an OK, but then continue to wave at me.

Adrenaline pumping. I look around. A woman and her son on the beach are looking at the divers. I ask her to “zip” me up so I can swim up to them. She zips my drysuit closed. I tell her to call 911.

I pace over to my hood, gloves, fins and mask. My hands are shaking.

Running into the ocean, I dive in. Water seeping into my suit… the zipper slightly open. I try to pull it shut, but there’s too much adrenaline. I forget about the wet cold feeling. It doesn’t matter now.

I get to the divers and there’s a man face down. Should turn him over and do CPR?

He responds “I think it’s a recovery.”

When a Rescue Dive becomes a Recovery

That’s when I realize it. This is a dead body. The man is half floating in the water. Body rigid. Fully clothed. Not a diver.

Without thinking I grab the man’s arm and help swimming him to shore.

He feels like a bag of cement. Strangely plastic.

The swim feels long and never ending. Firetruck sirens are getting louder. My heart is pumping so hard now. Keep swimming. Don’t stop. Get him to the shore.

Once in standing water. I throw off my fins into the waves.  We flip the man over. His arms frozen near his hips. Legs stiff. He still has his shoes on with the laces tied neatly. His eyes closed. We try to lift him, but he’s so heavy it as if we didn’t try at all.

The waves start crashing on the man’s face. Eyes flick open. Blood shot and empty gazing.  I gasp. I look down at his shoes instead.

Grabbing the shoes, I push hard towards the sand. We finally get him to the shore. EMT staff are waiting for us. They move him to a stretcher. I look away.

Exhaustion. I almost fall over. I can’t catch my breathe.

A policeman puts his shoulder around me. “Thank you for your help. Can you tell me what happened?”

“I know nothing. I just swam him to shore.”

Shaking- I walk over to the bench take off my hood and gloves and walk away. I go to see my friends and try not to think of the dead man.

Shortly afterwards, the authorities have moved the body off the shore and question the divers that found the body. He was in about 15ft of water, visible from the surface. Nothing else was in the water around him.

Later, a tow truck arrives and we find out that the man’s car was left in the parking lot. I google the story a few days later to find that the police suspect “suicide.”

Rest In Peace

I hope that this man found peace and comfort in his last moments.

Lessons Learned from my First Rescue Assist

  1. Practicing helps. If not for my previous strenuous course, I would not have been prepared to swim so far with such a heavy load.
  2. When a rescue dive turns into a recovery effort, you can pace yourself. Don’t exhaust yourself.
  3. Be respectful of the body. Don’t drag it or toss it around. This man just died. Be gentle and do what you would if it were your own family member.
  4. When you hear the distress call- don’t rush into the water. They teach this in the course, over and over. But it’s the #1 thing to remember. You can’t save anyone if you are drowning yourself.
  5. Second victim – I feel disconnected. I’m still at odds on what to feel. I didn’t discover the body, and I can’t imagine the affect that would have on a person.

In all, I’m thankful that I was trained properly. This was my first real world assist. I just wish it had a better outcome.

 

Until next time…

Moving to Washington Right Now

Coffee. Music. Flannel. Rain. The perfect combination to convince a hipster to relocate to Seattle. If you asked me a couple years ago if I would ever leave Santa Monica for Seattle, I would have laughed in your face.

Santa Monica vs Seattle

Santa Monica – Sunny skies. Permanent year round 70 deg F weather. The beach. Local shops. Three twins ice cream. A dream come true.

Seattle – A new opportunity. Pacific Northwest. Seasons. Snow. hiking spots. Beautiful skyline overlooking the water.

The Journey

It seems that I couldn’t have picked a better contrasting city to Santa Monica. I don’t know how long I will live here, however, I do feel the pressure to commit to a life of normalcy. Being a nomad is quite difficult when you have a cat and responsibilities.

Adios Santa Monica. I wake up at 8am. Have some coffee and pack up my car. I spend an hour trying to figure out how to use ratchet straps for the first time. Seriously doubting my engineering skills. So frustrated with my performance, I skip breakfast/lunch and drive. I manage to make only one stop on the drive up for gas and a bathroom break. I grab a bag of Organic Sweet Potato Purple Chips and bounce. Gotta Love hippie California.

I make it to San Jose within 6 hours. Not bad at all. I unload all my belongings into Wendy’s attic. My entire life now resides in a small crawl space area in vacuum seal bags. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Of course, nothing is easy. I start checking weather and the Doppler 4000 shows a storm front coming in. The swirl simulation doesn’t look good. Ice and snow. My s2000 isn’t exactly a snow mobile.

Family meeting. Wendy and Dad help make an executive decision. No S2000. Use the “Yellow school bus.” Yup. My stylish convertible sports car has been traded to my dad for his Yellow Xterra. 14-18 MPG. A small part of me dies inside.

Destination – Seattle (881 miles away)

Next morning, I wake up at 5 am and meet my Dad for a #1 egg mcmuffin meal at McDonalds. We hug and I take off. Let’s start the 10+ hours of podcasts please.

The weather is nice. Too nice. I drive quickly through northern California without anyone else really on the road. I make it Oregon and its chilly. No snow chain warnings.

I pull over in small city to get gas. Some lady comes to greet me. She’s going to pump my gas. I don’t know what to do with myself.

I take a bathroom break and grab a burger. I ask the clerk about the full service thing. He responds, “ You know. A governor didn’t like to pay the tax on pumping your own gas. So he banned it. Let’s me keep my job.” Um ok.

I tip the lady $2 and pray that I can have enough gas to make it to Washington without getting gas again.

Arriving in Washington

Washington State lines. Rain. The sun is setting and its starting to rain. I’ve been listening to podcasts for over 10 hours. I’m tired.

I start to call my friends and chit chat while driving. I should do this more often.

I get to Tacoma around 6:30pm. My new home is still a little more than hour away. I decide to crash at a friend’s house and call it a day. Sleep Now.

Morning. I pick up Jade from the Cat boarding facility and make it to my new digs. She’s meowing. Kinda pissed. Sorry Jade! It will all be ok, I promise.

Day 2. I wake up to see snow falling gently to the ground. A soft fluffy floor of snow all over the backyard. I’m debating whether or not I can drive. I call Dad. He says its safe. Done. I do some grocery shopping and errands.

Amazing. I’m in Seattle. In January I was living in Thailand, and now I’m here. In a parka. Most of this weather reminds me of Iceland. Time to dust off my thermals and gloves. Back in the cold North.
(Here’s some proof that I can survive in the cold. Throw back to my time in Iceland)

Hello Seattle.

 

 

 

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:

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