Some people live their lives trying completing to complete a bucket list. I too have that list that I think about and at 48 years old I sometimes wonder if I will leave my bucket half empty or half full. I guess it’s the way you look at it really.
For my entire life I have wanted to become a certified scuba diver. I have wanted to do this since I saw the movie Creature From the Black Lagoon on tv on Creature Feature when I was a little kid.
Then I saw Jaws and it was all over! I knew at some point in my life I would breathe under water.
When I finished up by degree last year at the University of Alaska Anchorage (yep another one of those items in the bucket), my wife Michele gave me a graduation gift that would take a lifetime to achieve. Dive with Great White Sharks in Mexico.
I quickly went online and found a trip and plopped down a thousand bucks for a deposit and scheduled my trip for November 2019. First I had to become scuba certified.
I headed down to one of the two dive shops in Anchorage and signed up. That was in March 2018. I breezed through the online course work and completed my confined water dives at the local high school pool in April. Then life got in the way–graduation, a summer expedition, dog mushing, rock concerts and roller coasters and even an earthquake!
I quickly realized that I had to have my dive course done in a year and if I didn’t jump on it fast I would have to start all over.
The dive shop that I did my confined dives with was either booked or had nothing scheduled so I went to the other guys, Dive Alaska. These guys were much more technical and require a lot out of their students.
I signed up for the next open water sessions, which are a weekend of dives in Whittier and a couple more pool dives.
Not only would I be getting my dives completed in the ocean, in February, but also in a dry suit and the certification that comes with that.
It had been almost a year since I have breathed underwater so it took a little bit to get my sea legs back. By the time we were in Whittier it was the middle of a massive snow storm where it dumped six inches of snow while we were underwater for our first dive!
I will admit it was a rough weekend. We couldn’t figure out the extra weight I needed to carry for me to sink. I know, if you have never done this you are thinking–you are crazy to want to sink to the bottom of the ocean!
By the time we figured out the weights, I thought I had 38 extra pounds on me. It ended up being 49 pounds.
I had so much weight that I couldn’t keep my head above water with my BC (sort of like a lifejacket that you inflate and deflate to keep yourself buoyant while diving) on. I felt like I was drowning every time we were on the surface of the water while we were waiting to do the next skill.
Underwater it was so awesome! There is no feeling like it in the world than to be literally floating in a world that many will never see.
The first day was rough but I felt good after I quit shivering. My dry suit did not remain dry and had quite a bit of water in it when I took it off. I finally got warm and headed back to Anchorage to the hotel.
Guess what was on that night? Creature from the Black Lagoon. I’m not making this stuff up. It just had to be!
Day two in the ocean was rough but I made it through the last two dives and the group headed to the local bar to debrief and learn we were certified divers!
YES! All of this for one reason–to dive with Great Whites in Mexico this fall. I can’t wait.
I was driving home in a blinding snow storm and this song came on SirusXM radio, Walk on the Ocean by Toad the Wet Sproket, a 90s classic. Again, I am not making this stuff up. Take a listen. Some call it irony. I call it premonition. What do you think?
Are you a certified diver? Let’s hear about your first dive and walking on the ocean.
After months of planning, the first winter expedition class will be held through the University of Alaska Anchorage HPER Department.
Here is the course info:
2 credit course through UAA
Only EIGHT (8) spots are available!
Cost: $1000 and that includes all course tuition and fees
This course took over a year of planning to develop and we are excited to offer this opportunity. This is the only course in the UAA system like this. You do not need to be a full-time college student to take part but you will need to be registered as a non-degree seeking student. Contact UAA for details on this. You will need departmental approval. If you are interested in going let me know and I can give you more info on how to get this.
Early November: Registration more info on dates can be found here: UAA Spring Calendar
January 20: Pre-trip planning. This class will meet 6-9pm at UAA and we will go over the trip, planning, logistics, training, gear, paperwork and more.
February 18-19: Boot Camp/Skills Assessment. This will be held at Team Ineka in Willow. We will spend a night in the woods and will teach you everything you need to know about fat bikes, snow machines, dog mushing and more.
We will start the trip on Saturday March 11 by meeting as a group at Team Ineka.
March 11: Eaglequest Lodge. We are renting a cabin here at Eaglequest and they are going to provide an all you can eat spaghetti dinner. Breakfast will be available the next morning before we hit the trail.
March 12: Eaglequest to Yentna Station. We will travel approximately 35-40 miles on the river to Yentna Station. We will be staying in one of the cabins. Food will be available. The folks at Yentna are know for their world famous burgers!
March 13: Yentna to Talvista. We will travel via river and trail to the Talvista Lodge were we will enjoy a comfortable night which includes a prime rib dinner and a bonfire. This segment is also 35-40 miles.
March 14: Talvista to Eaglesong. We will travel overland to the famous Eaglequest Lodge. Dinner will be available. This segment is also about 35 miles.
March 15: Eaglesong to Redshirt. We will travel overland and on the rivers as we head toward the Nancy Lake Recreation Area where we will be staying in one of the public use cabins near Red Shirt Lake. Meals will be on you. Again about 35 miles.
March 16: Willow/Depart. This will be the last day of our trip and a relatively short run from Red Shirt Lake, around the Willow Swamp Trail and ending at the Willow Community Center. We will then return back to Team Ineka to unload the dog teams and the gear.
March 20: Debrief/Trip reports. We will meet at 6-9pm at UAA. This is a college course so their will be homework! Each day will will have “assignments” that we talk about on the trail. We will ask participants to provide an evaluation and a course end assignment that is due on this night in class.
• First, ask your butcher for a 3.3-pound well-marbled bone-in ribeye in vacuum packaging. The bone is important, because it helps to keeps the meat moist. The vacuum part is important too, because it will avoid oxidation.
• Put the meat out of the fridge at room temperature (not in a hot room, just normal temperature) for 24 hours inside the vacuum packaging. Don’t take it out! It’s important you do this step to have the perfect result.
• On a large, very hot non-stick pan, add a bit of olive oil and put the steak in 3 minutes on each side. Don’t move or lift the steak after you place it. Just let it be and flip it when it’s time.
• Take it out the pan and put it on a metal rack to rest for 10 minutes.
• Let the pan heat up again to the max and put the steak back in 2 minutes on one side.
• Flip the steak and add 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of butter. Continuously pour the resulting melted butter mixed with the meat juices over the top for another 2 minutes.
• Put it on a metal rack to rest for 5 minutes, covering it with some aluminum foil with three holes on it (so the vapor doesn’t condensate.)
• Cut in filets and sprinkle some good quality sea salt like fleur de sel or Maldon.
Night Vision Musher: Our limited edition, signed Night Vision Musher poster, designed by artist Cameo Anderson and taking inspiration from 1982’s The Thing a movie by John Carpenter, is available exclusively to our GoFundMe backers.
This poster (size 32×24) is signed by Robert, Michele and Nicole, and limited to just 100 prints. Once we get 100 pledges they will be gone!
Help us mush down a dream in the wilds of Alaska!
Click on the poster icon on this page to order yours today!http://www.gofundme.com/teamineka