Thursday, August 31, 2017

10 Dives for 10 Years

In a few days, Jason and I will celebrate our 10th anniversary. It's a big one. A milestone. I love looking back over these past ten years together. There's so much good and wonderful and amazing to remember. There's the not-so-great too, but those times seem to have made the good even sweeter.  

This 10th year of marriage, we took up something new. Or I took up something new, and Jason returned to something he hadn't done in years. Scuba diving. It started with my desire to swim with manatees, and from there I decided I also wanted to learn to scuba dive. That part was a bit of a whim (not the manatees, they'd been a lifelong dream), and I had no idea when I started on this scuba track just how much I was going to love it.

And man, do I love it! I seem to never get my fill when we go on diving trips, so before we’ve even reached home, I want to plan our next trip (and we often do).  I love the graceful majesty of the underwater world. I haven’t come into contact with a shark or a whale or even a sea turtle yet (although I remain hopeful), but everything I’ve seen has captivated me. I want to learn more, see more, do more. I want to go every weekend. I placate myself by watching Blue Planet on Netflix or by perusing Eloise’s sea life books from the library. I follow divers on Instagram and dream of one day taking pictures like theirs.

What makes all of this even more special is sharing it with my husband of 10 years. And he is such a natural! I’ve learned a lot from him as a diver (as with most things). I enjoy talking about our experiences with him after a dive, and can spend hours doing just that. Our dive trips are more than just scuba diving trips, however. I view them as little deposits into our marriage. As we drive away from home, leaving our kiddos with our parents and all other responsibilities behind, it is like we are dating again. We laugh, we joke, we discuss topics uninterrupted. We linger over meals and take our time doing everything. I always feel rejuvenated by the whole weekend, even if I am tired from the traveling and diving itself.

Last year we set and achieved the goal of running a half marathon every month. That too was fun because I had a guaranteed getaway with Jason every month. I loved the racing too, but the real joy was found in getting away with him. As we faced 2017, we wanted another goal but were both sort of run down from all the races we’d run. When I got certified as an Open Water Diver in February, we found our goal. We would do 10 dives to signify our 10 years of marriage.

What I discovered with diving is that dives are not counted as I would count them. A diver can come up for surface intervals, and if each descent consists of 15 minutes or more, it counts as an individual dive. So while my dive computer and log book may contain more than 10 dives, I’m counting our dives by location. I’m also counting two of my four certification dives, which I’m told are also not included in one’s dive count. It’s weird, but there it is. So here is my dive count (by location) for the purposes of our goal:

  1. Vortex Springs, Ponce de Leon, FL - February 18, 2017 - my first 3 open water certification dives were done here. I’m counting this location as one dive with Jason. He was working on his advanced open water certification, and I was working on my open water certification. It was cold, but I enjoyed experiencing real open water diving for the first time.
  2. Rainbow River, Dunnellon, FL - February 19, 2017 - a drift dive which was really beautiful. I completed my last skill here, and was officially a certified open water diver after this dive.
  3. Blue Water Park, Pelham, Alabama - May 13, 2017 - Jason and I decided we wanted a refresher before jumping into the ocean the following weekend. This was my Mother’s Day dive trip, and we dove with two dive masters in training, which I found helpful since I’d only been on my certification dives and was feeling a little rusty. My dive log counts 4 dives on this day, but I’m counting it as one dive with Jason.
  4. Hathaway Bridge Span 1, Panama City Beach, FL - May, 20, 2017 - I almost didn’t make it down there, but I got over my moment of fear and was greatly rewarded. This may be one of my favorite dives of all time so far because it was my first dive in the ocean and the beginning of my love affair with the underwater world. I wanted to stay down there forever.
  5. B&B Barge, Panama City Beach, FL - May 20, 2017 - About an hour or more after the bridge span, we descended to explore the sunken barge. We had a bit of a current, but I loved it all the same and saw a huge goliath grouper for the first time. The water was extremely rough getting back on the boat, but at that point I felt I could take on anything.
  6. Jetties at St. Andrews State Park, Panama City Beach, FL - July 29, 2017 - Water was too rough for us to go out on the boat, so we settled for a rainy dive around the jetties, which was a fun second to our cancelled wreck dive. I saw all kinds of fish, crabs, sea anemones and sea urchins, a flounder and a tulip snail. I also tried out a new underwater camera our dive shop had, and enjoyed trying to capture everything that captured me.

  7. “Red Seas” tugboat wreck, Panama City Beach, FL - July 30, 2017 - One of the coolest wrecks I’ve seen so far (yes, I realize I haven’t seen many). This one was big, still looked like a boat, had a cool history and lots of cool marine life living in and around it. I think I reached my deepest depth here at 80 ft.
  8. USS Strength wreck, Panama City Beach, FL - July 30, 2017 - Our second dive of the day right after I threw up over the back of the boat. I was completely surprised by sea sickness on this trip, and even more surprised when I lost my breakfast just as I was gearing up to jump in, but once off the boat I was free from my nausea and surrounded by beauty once again. This was my first dive of the Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail - another diving goal Jason and I have set for ourselves.

That is as far as we’ve gotten as we approach our September 3rd anniversary, but I know we will reach and probably exceed our goal of 10 dives for 10 years of marriage. We have some pretty big plans for a short but exciting diving experience at the Georgia Aquarium this weekend, and I am so excited I could burst!

I love having Jason for a dive buddy, best friend, fellow adventurer, and husband of 10 years. I have a feeling that even if he’d had no previous diving experience, he would have joined me on this path anyway. I love our life together, and thank God every day that I married such a wonderful man. I look forward to many more diving adventures, running journeys, hilarious moments with our kids, and the day to day contentment of our life together, and I remain overwhelmingly thankful for every moment of these blessed 10 years we have had. I love you, Jason Reneau!

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