Tag: Adventure Travel

Where’s My Ice Axe?

Where’s My Ice Axe?

FullSizeRenderIt was an interesting travel day. Just the diving + underwater photography and the gear penalty that comes from that equation is grueling but today gave other experiences besides whining about the gear.

First, my mom dropped me at the airport and as I asked her to push the button to lift her back tail gate, I remembered my camera gear bag was leaning against the door. I ran in what seemed like slow motion to the back of her SUV as I watched the bag do a perfect roll out of the vehicle onto the pavement. The good news is, the new EVOC bag I just hocked my three cats and dog for (no…not really…calm down) protected all the cameras and lenses and laptop. The investment of the bag paid off already.

Then the woman sitting behind me on the plane was in her late 70’s or early 80’s, was from my tiny home town…lives next to friends of mine…and she was on her first plane ride ever…first leg of a trip to Ireland. That’s a crazy-cool brave thing to do for your first experience in a plane. The flight attendants gave her wings, checked on her often and she did just great. I thought a lot about her courage.

The first flight was 20 minutes early arriving into Atlanta but probably because they were trying to beat the horrible weather that moved into the area. There was a two hour delay due to Mr. Thunderstorm, the name given to the weather by the gate attendant. It wasn’t such a big deal to have time to grab a sandwich and eat a late lunch.

Once we boarded the completely packed…but very nice, sort of new jet with blue mood lighting…the captain came on the intercom and warned us it was going to be a horrible flight. Well, maybe he said very, very bumpy. He said the extra bouncing would mean the attendants couldn’t serve anything but water. Luckily for us it really wasn’t bad and most likely they simply didn’t have time to restock drinks and snacks because the plane was two hours late arriving due to the weather..those quick turn-arounds don’t give much time for those luxury items airlines have these days…you know the pretzels and sodas. Nevertheless, it was fine and we made an impressive landing from over the Atlantic Ocean into Fort Lauderdale.

IMG_4721Then baggage claim…to add to my collection of huge bags. People sort of stare sometimes at the massive pile of luggage for just me; however, I’m used to it. A big gear bag for dive gear, another for clothes and strobe arms, a hardshell case for the underwater housing, and the lovely, new camera backpack…which needs an introduction.

It seems as if I’ve spent years looking for the right backpack that was carry-on size and would hold my gear.  I just recently I ordered and returned two such creatures from a photo supply store in New York. One was massive and wouldn’t even fit through the doorway of a jet and the other was smaller than the one I already had. So I searched and researched and watched youtube videos and read reviews and finally found the one.

The EVOC CP 35L is made in one of the alpine countries (sorry, can’t remember which one) and is a camera bag for adventurers. It is designed to protect photography gear and be handy and well-made to accommodate the outdoor photographer and still fit inside a plane as a carry-on. I’m not one to write about such trivial things as gear packs but given the grief I’ve had trying to find the right bag, its not trivial to my work. And I could help others who might be pulling their hair out over this matter. It reminds me of Hermoine Granger’s bag in the Harry Potter movie.

The only issue I have is with the weight of my gear…topping out at 37 pounds it’s really heavy to carry, much less lift into an overhead storage compartment on a plane. But here’s what it’s carrying on its maiden voyage: Two Nikon camera bodies, a 70-200mm lens, a 2 x converter, a fish eye lens, a 24-70mm wide angle zoom lens, a laptop and charger, extra camera batteries, battery chargers, two (huge) underwater strobes and their batteries, my travel wallet-purse, lipstick and lip balm, a little other makeup, meds, two pair of sunglasses in hard cases and a pair of regular glasses in a hard case…and other stuff I cannot remember.

FullSizeRender 2Learning the new bag I’ve found extra-handy gadgetry. For instance, there’s a fold out, water-proof avalanche emergency plan and a loop for my ice axe. I’m sure the avalanche plan will come in very handy seeing how much I love romping through the snow (not). But dang it all–the airline refused passage of my ice axe and I really thought I could use it in Bimini. Oh, well. Next time perhaps.

bitmoji-20160617204607It’s never to late to have an adventure, to go somewhere you’ve never gone before, to travel and enjoy the beauty of this planet. And if there’s anyone out there willing to voluntarily help carry gear, have I got a trip for you!


Sea of Cortez…Part One

Sea of Cortez…Part One

_TSL4598Friday and Saturday…July 17th & 18th

If the sky from Pensacola to Atlanta on the evening flight can predict how spectacular the trip to the Sea of Cortez will be, I can relax. The towering clouds of red and orange are magnificent and perhaps the most amazing sunset sky I have ever witnessed. But I am paying close attention to my ears as there is still the lingering respiratory bug caught on a flight from Bonaire just two weeks ago. If my ears won’t clear I cannot dive…on a dive trip.

I like to space my trips out but this opportunity came up and I turned it down twice before a woman cancelled and another spot opened so how could I say, “No.” When things happen like this I just go with it and trust that I’m making the right choice.

The midnight arrival (Pacific time) at my Phoenix hotel room makes me crave sleep but the internal clock awakens me far too early. I feel miserably tired and like the cold virus caught a deeper hold in my immune system from lack of rest. In meditation this morning I relax and visualize my body healing with blue-white light.

Breakfast, lunch and then time to catch the shuttle to Rocky Point, Mexico.

_TSL4604The journal comes out as the shuttle passes through the Sonoran Desert of Arizona…and Mexico. This place of desert inspires solitude, a deepening of the inner experience of quiet. The elemental energies of wild places call to me.

Why do I like the desert so? Perhaps because there is no place to hide, a person is totally exposed. The desert drys the bodies of wildlife, cactus, humans until there is only white bone left…and that also disappears eventually.

_TSL4603In the distance, a streak of lightning hits near the mountain. Dark, blue-black clouds hang near the earth bringing life-giving water to the thirsty desert. Or floods.

Can’t hide in a desert, there’s so much light. Shining so strong, Oh, so bright. Lay bare these bones.

Let the storm winds blow ancient dust, where I have been buried, to the four directions. Lightning strike the mountain and bring down the rocky fortress that has been my protection, my prison. Sheets of rain release me from this grave of fear. Lay bare these bones so I might quench my thirst as I drink in the fullness of life.

_TSL4675Dry river beds…geometries of water and currents…swishes and bumps, last remnants of carved sand and stone. Spires reaching toward heaven, eroded from centuries of wind and water. Etched and worn. I feel like that today.

_TSL4680Arrival at the marina creates chaos…loading gear and casting off from land. People are in frenzy-mode setting up dive gear, camera gear. The rushing and intensity of this makes me want to crawl up on a warm rock and bake in the sun in solitude. Instead I find myself nearly tossed off my bunk from heavy seas. I set up only dive gear I might not even be able to use. Clothes are in drawers. Underwater camera equipment still locked in the hard case, unassembled and still in multiple pieces. I feel like that….little bits and pieces.This is not a nice sea this night. It is bumpy with waves over six feet and torrential rains and lightning.

_TSL4697I feel exhausted and unprepared for rough seas after being opened and laid bare by the Sonoran Desert.

What am I doing here? I feel exposed and the sea demands more. And it punches with heavy-handed blows and lightning that makes me yearn for safety. Somewhere around 3 a.m. I awaken to water pouring on my bunk and wonder if we are sinking. A quick trip down the hallway to the dive deck affirms we are still afloat and in a horrible storm.

_TSL4724The sea calls to the deepest, buried emotions within and they come out like the full force of the storm. I tell the Sea Mother, “You called and I showed up. What now?”