I'll keep this one short since it will be impossible to write about this trip without the whole thing sounding like a BRAG session! One of the best things about my job is getting to lead group travel with other divers (read: adventurous people!).
People who know us know that we have a long love of Fiji, but we do guide trips to other places every now and then, including places in the Atlantic. Eleven of us met in Roatan last week coming from Maui, California, Kansas, Colorado, Arizona, and Texas!
We arrived in Roatan right at the beginning of the swine flu stuff going on and were greeted by officials in face masks - what a way to be welcomed!
Before we knew it, we were at Anthony's Key Resort enjoying welcome cocktails and getting our room assignments, and gleefully chatting about when we'd get to meet the resident dolphins and start our underwater adventures.
My personal highlights were diving with the dolphins (duh!), and hearing that Don C. was having a great time and wants to do this more often (he can be a tough cookie!).
Okay, last Friday night we took the red eye to Seattle to attend the Northwest Dive & Travel Expo in Tacoma.
Before I get too into this, let me just say that we flew Delta non-stop from Maui and that our tickets were only $347 - awesome!! Northwest divers should take advantage of this new route since they are running it on a trial basis and then reevaluating in September. The service was excellent.
After experiencing lots of "rough air" on the way (when did they start calling it that?) and arriving at 5:45 AM, we were beat but knew we'd have to get to work at our booth soon. The fabulous Hotel Murano let us check in early (bless the girl from Lanai who was working the front desk) and we were able to sleep for exactly an hour.
As we approached the convention center, we saw long lines around the building. Though we could dream that those were all divers waiting in line for hours to get into the show, we knew it wouldn't be. We were right. America's Got Talent auditions were also being held at the convention center all weekend - too funny.
Anyway, our day started on a high note when, as we entered the convention center, we heard our names being hollered and were greeted with hugs from longtime customers (friends!) Cliff and Joan. WOW!!
We spent the next eight hours meeting lots and lots of people and have to say, Northwest Divers ROCK! We got to visit with several divers we see regularly here in Maui and meet new divers, many of whom took the time to share their adventurous stories of diving in the Puget Sound. Next year, we will make sure we have enough time to get a dive in while we're there.
After the show closed for the day at 6, we headed back to the host hotel to enjoy the film festival and the diver's social - good fun! Maybe a little too much fun, in fact, but we did manage to enjoy our second day too.
I would have to say that the most fun part of each day was drawing and contacting the prize winners. People were soooooo excited and appreciative, even humoring us by jumping up and down at our request :-). We partnered with Hawaiian Rafting Adventures out of Lahaina to give away a guided shore dive, a scooter dive, a night dive, a Molokini trip aboard the Maui Diamond II and a Lanai trip with Hawaiian Rafting.
Well, I could go on and on, but in the interest of time, I'll stop now and just post this one with a couple of photos. Thanks to all the NW divers who welcomed us in Tacoma. We hope to see you here in Maui!
We are so lucky! "Lucky we live Maui", lucky we get to do what we love for a living!
That said, folks are always asking us what life is like here on Maui, what it's like to be a dive instructor, and all sorts of other more personal questions. Well, here's our spot to ramble on and share some of our thoughts on diving, working at the shop, and life in general with you all. You can expect to hear from all of us here, but I get to start, so here goes.
Today, Earth Day, we did an underwater clean-up on the Maui Diamond II. Just so you know, when we do these things, the boat crew and the team leaders from Maui Dreams all donate our time - none of us are "on the clock" for these events. Yep, these activities are truely for the love of diving, the planet, and for our fellow divers who come along to help us with the clean-up efforts.
So back to today. I and my fellow "E Team" (E stands for Exemplary, by the way!) members managed to "pre-board" the boat. It was a riot. Let me just say that we're not competitive or anything, oooooh no! But, there is a little rivalry between team leaders and their teams to see which group will recover the most lines and weights during these underwater clean-ups and who the topside crew says did the best in terms of how neatly divided the stuff we sent up was. I hate to admit that for the first time ever, the E Team did not come in first place. Not to worry though, we are SURE that Paul's team cheated. No doubt about it :-)
During these underwater clean-ups, we typically work in groups of five. We have one person on the surface to catch the lift bags full of trash and transport stuff to the boat and four people underwater finding, freeing and separating the trash before sending it to the surface. I have to admit that this sounded pretty mundane to me before I participated in a clean-up, but now I am addicted - it is FUN!!!
As an added benefit today, John Wilson was along to take video which he tells us will be featured on tonight's Channel 4 News!
By the way, since this is the first post and since it is mine, I feel totally fine about mentioning names. Thank you to fellow E Team members Tau Over, Bobby Baker, Katherine Jordan, and Mike Elam. Oooooookay, and thank you to EVERYONE else who joined us this afternoon. And Paul? We will get you next time and reclaim our title!!