Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cookie break

I made some cookies Monday night to take to work Tuesday.

They were sooooo good.

You should try them.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My first dive at Marineland

I remember going to Marineland of the Pacific as a kid.
Being from the desert, the idea of a place that was all about the ocean was so cool.
I think the best time I had there was when I was in junior high and we had a field trip.
One of the things we got to do was the swim-through reef attraction.
I was so impressed that we were swimming with sharks.
OK, so they were tiny leopard sharks. But still. It was pretty cool in my book.

Marineland, located on an amazing piece of real estate on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, was open from 1954 to 1987. The park was part entertainment, part education with shows put on with whales and dolphins.
It was like SeaWorld, only before there was a SeaWorld.
And in my young mind, Marineland was better than SeaWorld.

Sadly, poor attendance and declining revenue led to the sale to the owners of SeaWorld in late 1986. The new owners vowed to keep the park open, but that did not happen and Marineland's stars, whales Corky and Orky, were transported south to SeaWorld in San Diego.

The site remained for several years, playing host to movie shoots and even the MTV Beach House one summer. Up until 1995, the park's signature tower loomed over the property and up until 2004, the Catalina Room was still open for wedding receptions and parties.

Finally, in 2006, all remaining structures were demolished.
In 2007, work began on what will be the Terranea Resort. The resort will feature a hotel and several casitas, as well as a spa and other amenities.

Through all the changes, the site, called Long Point, has been a haven for divers.

On Sunday, after visiting on a few occasions to talk to the divers who are there pretty much every week, I finally made my first dive at Marineland.

Old Marineland (Long Point / Terranea Resort), Palos Verdes Peninsula, Calif.
Oct. 26, 2008
Logged dive: No. 17
In with: 2400 psi
Out with: 500 psi
Max depth: 40 feet
Bottomtime: 35 minutes

We got to the Terranea gates at about 8 a.m. Public beach access had been located further down the road, but has now been moved.

We followed some other people to the parking area. They had parked there a week earlier.
The guard came by and hassled us for a while about parking there.
Finally he gave up.

While we waited for more divers to show up, we checked out conditions at a spot known as "the point."

There would be a few minutes when it looked ideal, then a few minutes where it looked downright dangerous. It seemed very unpredictable to me, plus the entry involved climbing around on large slimy rocks. That may be a little advanced for me at this point.

So I was relieved when the general consensus was to dive from the cove to the other side of the property.

The group included Manfriend's pal who goes by the dive name of Psycho Solo Diver. His post on the day is here. We also had a few other people in the group, including Reverend Al.

Once everyone was suited up, we headed down the trail/dirt road to the cove and its rocky access to the water.

After pairing up with dive buddies (mine was MF), we all got in the water and surface swam toward what is called the 120 reef. The entry was pretty uneventful. Excellent.

As soon as we descended I could tell this would be nothing like diving Redondo. There was a ton of stuff to see on the reef: urchins, starfish and sun stars, fish, sea cucumbers... and the kelp!

The kelp was so thick here. It was kind of eerie and cool the way the it got darker and lighter with the thickness of the kelp.

We were doing fine, seeing some neat stuff when MF and I lost the group. No worries, we found them again.

Oh wait, we lost them again. Those guys dive here pretty much every week, so maybe they cruise through faster than I wanted to go. It felt like they were going fast. I wanted to explore and take photos. And since MF was staying with me, I think that is how we lost them.

MF and I decided at this point to surface to get an idea of where we were. Then we reset our course and, since I was running low on air, started back toward the cove.

We did a little surface swim/crawl over some kelp before submerging again.
Once we dropped down again, we headed toward the cove.

We came up in about 10 feet of water and caught our breath. Soon, the others started surfacing.
I got to where I could stand and took off one fin. Then I moved a little closer to shore to take off the other fin.

Before I could do that, I got tossed a little by a swell. MF was already out of the water. He came back to grab the one fin I had removed while Reverend Al helped me out with the other fin.

After that, it was an easy walk out of the water, picking my way back across the rocks to get to the trail.

I think I am going to look into getting some new spring type straps for my fins. They are apparently much easier to get on and off.

With everyone out of the water, we trekked back up the hill to shed our gear and debrief.

We debriefed with chicken that I brought and sausages Psycho brought. Oh yeah, and some beers.

It was a great day and I look forward to diving here again.

The only downer for the day was that the underwater housing for my camera was leaking just the tiniest bit. Just a couple drops of water in the housing. The same thing happened last week at Redondo. I thought maybe it was a fluke. I was very careful with cleaning and checking the seal this time. Still, the leak. At least the camera is OK.

So I called Canon and they told me to send it to their service center in Illinios. Which means I will not have my camera housing for this weekend's dive with the sea lions or, most likely, for my vacation.

MF said I could use his again. But still, it's a bummer to get a new toy only to have it be broken.