“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.Read More
After we left Houghton, we headed on to the Porcupine Mountains for a couple of days. On our way, we stopped at the Adventure Mining Company in Greenland, MI. They also do mine tours, but there are much more rugged than those offered at the Quincy mine. The mines haven't been electrified at all, so ...Read More
You're sitting there on the boat, in between two dives. You're relaxed, enjoying your surface interval, perhaps grabbing a snack and some water, talking about the dive you just finished, when suddenly, another diver pops up, flailing and yelling for help. What do you do?Read More
After our German lesson on Saturday, we headed to White Star Quarry for some diving and camping during the long weekend. First up was a night dive on Saturday. After a quick dinner at the local bar/restaurant, we geared up and hopped into the water at dusk.Read More
This weekend was the first weekend of the year where we could camp at White Star. Remember what I said back in this post about diving being a highly social activity? Well, when you get the opportunity to camp with some great people, it really shows. We roughed it in our new tent this weekend, a Christmas present from Aaron's grandparents. While our old tent was nice, it was also HUMONGOUS! Like, two queen size air mattresses, a bathroom (with the appropiate plumbing) and a fully outfitted kitchen complete with double ovens could fit in there. Ok, maybe just the two queen sized air mattresses. Point is, the tent is far too large for just Aaron and I, but it will be nice the day we take our future children camping with us. The best part about the new tent though - it's the Hooligan 4 by Coleman - is the cool little vestibule thing that is incorporated into the rainfly. We can throw our gear in there and keep it mostly covered from the elements. And we can leave dirty shoes outside of the tent, but not have to worry about them getting rained on or all dew-y over night.
On Saturday, we got in three dives - the most we have done in one day in MONTHS. We were exhausted. The first dive was unhooking a floating dock so that it could get hauled out of the quarry and then hauling out some bouys to mark a couple underwater objects. We got two of the three objects bouyed - the third we couldn't find. The quarry is currently in the process of "turning over," meaning that the water on the surface is warming and the different layers within the quarry are mixing and, thus, churning up the bottom. This usually creates poor visibilty, which on Saturday was about 10 feet. Really kind of crappy for the quary (and significantly less than the 100+ foot visibility we were spoiled with this winter). On the second dive, we hauled out the swim platforms from the beach and hooked them up to the concrete blocks at the bottom. Diving over in the swim area is kind of cool. They've put down sand for the swimmers, and it's fairly shallow, so if you squint just right, it almost feels like your in the Caribbean. Except for the 41 degree water. The third and final dive of the day was lifting another one of the platforms. We were aiming for the middle one (we did the left on a couple weeks ago), but couldn't find it (again, the viz was crappy), so we did the right one instead.
Platforms raised, bouys out, gear doffed (taken off for those unfamilair with the term), we headed to a local bar/restaurant for some dinner. After dinner, it was back to the campground for some time by the fire and beverages. The weather during the day was nice - windy, but sunny and mid-50s - but we were hoping that at least the wind would die down once the sun set. It did not. Add in a dropping temperature and it made for one cold night next to the fire. But, good people and good conversation totally made up for the bone-chilling wind cutting through the 4 layers I had on, most of which I also slept in. Between the 50 degree sleeping bags, extra fleece blankets, sweatpants, Under Armor, hat and hoodie, I was actually quite toasty. I did come to one conclusion this weekend though: winter camping is not for me.
Sunday saw two more dives. This time, they were fun dives. Aaron and I have aquired new dive computers - the Shearwater Petrel - and we were playing around with them. They are actually technical diving computers, capable of doing decompression profiles, but they do have a recreational mode, which we use. Until we are more used to them, we are still diving our Suunto Cobra's as back ups (and pressure gauges since the Petrel isn't air integrated yet). Aaron decided that on his first dive, he wanted to try to get his Petrel into decompression, just to see how it would react. He was diving Nitrox (33% I believe), and programed that into his Cobra but set his Petrel to air. And then we went and sat in the crusher pit at 78 feet. He was 6 minutes away from his no-decompression limit (NDL) when our third dive buddy signaled that he was at half tank. So, following good gas management practices, we headed back. Alas, we are still unsure about how the Petrel will react when it reaches its NDL. I suppose we will have to go diving another weekend to figure that one out.
The final dive of the day was another fun one in the crusher pit. A friend of ours (not the same one as from the first dive on Sunday) had bought a couple of Torrent pulses and we played with those. Essentially, they are a "gun" that shoots rings of air underwater. They are "supposed" to be used to signal people when you're diving; however, I will leave it up to you to decide what they were actually being used for (keep in mind two boys, I mean guys, were using these). Nevertheless, they were fun to play with.
On our way home, we stopped by the famous Tony Packo's in Toledo for dinner. I went for the classic: one hot dog with a bowl of chili and a side of their Paprikash. It was tasty and now I want to try all the menu items!
After 5 dives this weekend, we were both exhausted. It ended up being somewhere around 3 hours or so underwater cumulative. Once we got home, we unloaded the truck and crashed. Hard. It was another one of those weekends where I need another weekend to recover. We made one quick stop at the National Museum of the Great Lakes which recently opened on Front street in Toledo. We will be visiting the museum and posting much more information in the future, but for now you will need to settle for these pictures from the outside.