Life Lately and Some News

Life Lately and Some News

Guys, it’s been a little nuts around here. Either Aaron or I has been traveling just about every single week for work since June….of last year. Peppered in there was some fun travel too: Michigan, dive training in Florida, an amazing (but short) trip to Germany, Czech, and Austria, spending part of the holidays in Michigan with family. It’s been crazy and stressful around these parts. And amidst all that craziness going on, we had one more thing that we had to tackle: we had to buy a house.

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Diving Into History: Exploring the Depths of a Decommissioned Atlas Nuclear Missile Silo

Diving Into History: Exploring the Depths of a Decommissioned Atlas Nuclear Missile Silo

In a dimly lit passage, line with corrugated metal some 50 feet underground, we donned our dive gear: pulling on our dry suits, shrugging our arms through the harness on our backplate and wing, tugging our hoods down and over our heads, and pulling our gloves on. Fins in hand, we then walked over to a set of stairs - 48 in all - suspsended precariously 75 feet above the surface of the water. We were in a giant concrete tube about 60 feet in diameter and 200 feet tall. Above us, access to the surface was sealed off by a set of 25 ton nuclear blast-resistant steel doors. Below us, 100 feet of inky black but crystal clear water. Carefully, we placed our feet on each step, gripping the handrails for dear life, and made our way down first the wooden steps, which gave way to metal steps, and finally a metal ramp, to a floating dock.

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Our Experience With Hiring a Travel Photographer

Our Experience With Hiring a Travel Photographer

On our last trip to Europe, we’ve done something that I recently only discovered was a “thing” thanks to some family travel Facebook groups I’m in: we hired a travel photographer to take some family photos. And you know what? I don’t regret our decision one bit! I also now know what celebrities feel like with paparazzi following them!

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Diving the Straits of Mackinac

Diving the Straits of Mackinac

Back in June, you may recall that we spent two days diving at the Flower Gardens National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico. After that trip, Aaron and I remembered that we loved diving, we loved diving together, and realized that we need to do more of it. The only way to ensure this is to book another trip. So we did. On our way back home from our Flower Garden trip, we booked a shipwreck trip in the Great Lakes with the dive shop we use back in Michigan. I won’t lie, I was STOKKED about doing some shipwreck diving in our beloved Great Lakes again with one of our best friends!

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Camping With Toddlers: An Epic Failure

Camping With Toddlers: An Epic Failure

“Camping with toddlers” is a sentence that strikes fear into most parents’ hearts. It’s most definitely not a “vacation.” There’s the tent, the sleeping bags, cooking outdoors, what to do with the baby that puts everything in her mouth or the toddler who has no fear in a land of snakes, and the tetris-like skills required to figure out out how to fit all that gear in a car. Some people love it and there is no shortage of pinterest-worthy, idyllic photos of parents blissfully enjoying a bonfire in the woods while their young kids play gleefully next to them. I fell victim to these. I had grandoise fantasies of watching my kids explore the outdoors, not worrying that they were covered in dirt - “It’s good for them!” I tell myself - but the reality is, I strongly dislike mud and dirt on my pillow and in my bed. But, I still love camping and bon fires and sleeping under the stars. So, we decided to try the whole family camping business when we headed to the Valhalla Missile Silo to do some diving. And boy oh boy, was it one of the most epically bad weekends of camping I have ever, ever, had.

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Spoetzl Brewery - Home of Shiner Beer

Spoetzl Brewery - Home of Shiner Beer

Two hours west of Houston, at the convergence of US-90 and TX-95, on the edge of Texas hill country, lies the tiny town of Shiner. One of the most well-known small towns in Texas, Shiner is home to Spoetzl Brewey - the makers of Shiner Bock (among others). Ask any Texan about Shiner and they will know it. In true Oaks fashion, we had wanted to make a visit to the brewery, something that falls right in line with all of our other brewery tours. Our trip to Austin for Memorial Day Weekend, provided the perfect opportunity to finally do it.

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Diving the Flower Gardens National Marine Sanctuary

Diving the Flower Gardens National Marine Sanctuary

Years ago, I remember Aaron telling me about Flower Gardens and how it was this incredibly unique place in the Gulf of Mexico and that he wanted to dive it (if it’s underwater, he wants to dive it, but that’s beside the point). The problem is that the only charter to go there leaves out of Freeport, TX and is usually sold out when it isn’t blown out. If you live outside of a day’s drive from Freeport, it’s too risky to plan a trip down, pay for flights, only to be told that the seas are too rough and that a storm is blowing in. So, it was put on the back burner and there it stayed. Until this past June.

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